UN panel blasts Israel over abuses and settlement expansion in Occupied Palestinian Territories



Israel continues the illegal practice of settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a United Nations expert panel has said in its annual evaluation. 

It further accuses Tel Aviv of excessive use of force and collective punishment against Palestinians.

After gathering testimonies from civil society organizations, UN representatives and Palestinian officials, the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories noted a number of violations against the Palestinians over the last year, including the detention of minors by the Israel Defense Force (IDF).

“The Committee heard troubling testimony regarding the arrest and detention of children, including cases of reported ill-treatment and lack of adequate protection,” the Committee said after its fact-finding visit to Amman, Jordan.

The Committee also heard testimonies of “excessive use of force” by Israeli forces and the "lack of accountability" by Tel Aviv which "further exacerbated the cycle of violence."

The UN experts recorded testimonies of continued administrative detention and “difficult conditions” of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

While the full report of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians will only be published in November, the experts highlighted the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories which are illegal under international law.

“Organizations told the Committee that Israeli settlement expansion had continued in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan, with a notably high level of new construction announced this year, in violation of international humanitarian law,” the fact finding team said.

The UN group said that settlements, as well as the separation wall, dubbed “the apartheid wall” by critics, are having a “negative impact” on the human rights of Palestinians by restricting their freedom of movement.

The experts also voiced concern over the demolition of homes in the occupied territories, especially Bedouin communities in so-called Area C.

“The use of punitive demolitions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem was described as a form of collective punishment,” by the organizations interviewed, the Committee said.

“The Committee clearly observed that the Israeli authorities continue with policies and practices that negatively impact the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Pointedly, Tel Aviv does not recognize the authority of the UN Committee, which has been releasing annual reports into Israeli practices since 1968. Relations between Tel Aviv and the world body have drastically deteriorated recently.

Following the passage of the UN Security Council anti-settlement resolution in December last year, Israel cut funding to various UN agencies. Roughly $10 million has been withheld since then as the UN continues to pass resolutions which are perceived as anti-Israeli by Tel Aviv.

Israel accuses various bodies working under the auspices of the UN of having an anti-Israeli bias and failing to acknowledge the Jewish state’s security concerns.

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