Human rights in Palestinian occupied territories: UN Special Rapporteur’s Briefing

Source The United Nations



Media – Press conference by Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

The Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, Navi Pillay, said that there are “clear indications that international crimes have been committed” in the current conflict.

Briefing journalists in New York today (25 Oct), Pillay added, “So accordingly in line with our mandate, we began collecting evidence of war crimes committed by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups and by Israeli security forces, and we issued a call for submissions later last week.”

Pillay also said, “I assure you that we intend to continue pursuing the fulfilment of our mandate, including in relation to making recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring legal accountability, including individual criminal and command responsibility.”

The Commission’s Chair noted, “International law has clear obligations on every state whether they exercising self defense, or hostile warfare to protect civilians, and I fear that this is not happening. Civilians are being targeted and civilian objects, structures are being damaged, irreparably, so it’s a huge concern and we are going to be looking into this, expanding on this.”

Another member of the Commission, Chris Sidoti, noted that the law of armed conflict applies in this case.

Sidoti added, “That does mean that the State of Israel has the obligation to defend its citizens. But it means that it must be done in accordance with international law, and the principles of necessity, reasonableness, proportionality, discrimination, precaution and so forth. And it’s those principles and the observance of those principles that becomes the critical question. And that’s the question that we are going to have to examine in the investigation that, as our chair has indicated, we’ve already announced.”

The expert concluded, “Is it possible to conduct the kind of military operation that Israel is conducting in Gaza and still comply with international law? That is a live question, we don’t have conclusions, we need to investigate. But that is really the fundamental question that confronts the international system at the moment. Israel has an obligation to defend its citizens, no doubt about that. But is it possible to do that in the way in which it is being done and still comply with international law? That’s the question.”

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