The following statement was delivered by Micol Savia, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers’ representative to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, on Friday, 18 May. This special session of the UNHRC voted to dispatch an urgent commission of inquiry to Gaza following the Israeli attacks on the Great Return March of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; on 14 May alone, over 60 Palestinians were shot dead and over 2,000 injured by Israeli occupation forces.

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Human Rights Council

28th Special Session  

Violations of international law in the context of large-scale civilian protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) welcomes the convening of this special session on the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. We support the urgent dispatch of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international law occurred in the context of the recent military assault against the Great Return March peaceful protests and we call on all member states to do the same.

During its 51‐year military occupation, Israel has consistently and systematically violated international human rights law and humanitarian law with total impunity. Despite the hundreds of United Nations resolutions, Israel’s illegal actions continue unabated; its war crimes remain unpunished and its unlawful policies are being institutionalized. Regrettably, during all these years, many efforts have been  deployed to shield Israel from censure, criticism, and above all, from accountability.

Such lack of accountability has resulted in Israel continuing –and escalating –its violations of international law.

The mass killing and wounding of unarmed and defenseless protesters in the Gaza Strip should not come as a surprise, as it is the predictable consequence of the impunity granted to Israel.

At this regard we wish to recall that when the Human Rights Council addresses the human rights consequences of Israel’s unlawful policies in the Occupied Arab Territories, few countries boycott the debate saying that it represent an unfair and biased attack against Israel. Last March, Australia, Togo and the UK joined the US in voting against a resolution aimed to ensure accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the OPT. Fifteen other countries, including some European, abstained.

Member states must be aware that such indulgent attitude does not remain without consequence, as it encourages the Israeli forces to continue to violate international law and commit further crimes.

The willful killing and wounding of civilians and other protected persons by the Occupying Power are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. Each High Contracting Party is under the legal obligation to search for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, such grave breaches and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.

We call on all UN member states to restore the rule of law, to put an end to the Palestinian People suffering and to enable them to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination and independence.

Finally, considering the seriousness of the situation, we call on the government of Switzerland, in its capacity as depositary of the Geneva Conventions, to demand the High Contracting Parties to convene, as soon as possible, a meeting to examine measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to ensure its compliance by Israel in accordance with common article 1.

18 May 2018