IPHRC Headquarters, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah (UNA-OIC) – The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), an affiliate of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reiterated its grave concerns over the oppressive policies of Israel – the occupying power – which include punitive demolition of Palestinian homes and forced closure of Gaza and other Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).
In a statement released on Sunday, IPHRC described these actions as just one form of collective punishment inflicted on the civilian population by Israel, in a flagrant violation of Palestinians’ rights to life, health, adequate shelter and an adequate standard of living, freedom of movement and Articles 33 & 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
IPHRC’s concerns are shared by Mr. Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and duly reflected in his report presented to the 44th session of the Human Rights Council.
Lynk’s report also highlights that the crippling effects of Israel’s institutionalized discriminatory policies have resulted in economic desolation leading to a ‘completely collapsed economy, devastated infrastructure and a barely functioning social service system’.
The Commission regretted that these inhuman discriminatory policies of Israel, the occupying power, continue to be implemented during the most challenging times of COVID-19 pandemic flaring up across the OPT, which seriously impedes Palestinian authorities’ ability to effectively address the pandemic.
IPHRC noted with concern that since the start of the pandemic, Israeli authorities have actively obstructed the emergency response for Palestinians by shutting down multiple clinics, adding restrictions on vital movement, including delays and denials in issuing travel permits.
Patients in the Gaza Strip need permits to reach health services in different parts of OPT, with the majority needing access to East Jerusalem, are unable to obtain Israeli-issued permits to access the needed healthcare. Worst still, as a preventive and protective measure, Israel released Israeli prisoners.
Still, Palestinian prisoners are denied this facility with more than 4,520 Palestinian prisoners, including 183 children, 43 women and 700 detainees with pre-existing medical conditions languishing in Israeli jails. This is yet another example of sheer discrimination that violates all human rights instruments.
The Jeddah-based Commission added that Palestinians under occupation, as a protected population under international humanitarian law, should have equal access to basic healthcare and corresponding treatment without discrimination.
The Commission deeply regrets that the pandemic is being exploited by the Israeli authorities to further intensify its military actions, electronic and other mechanisms of surveillance and to create new “facts on the ground” through the annexation of Palestinian land to alter the legal, demographic, geographic, and historical status, which squarely contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention, UN Charter, and UN Security Council and OIC Resolutions, read the statement.
Considering these worrying developments, IPHRC stressed that the international community must intervene urgently to provide needed protection for Palestinians, and to hold Israel accountable for its flagrant violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws, and to take concrete steps enabling Palestinians to exercise their inalienable right to self- determination.