Afshan Khan, BeyondHeadlines
When the world was celebrating Human Rights Day, which falls on 10th December every year, Palestinians were suffering from the continued injustices like any other day. Two major incidents of attack by Israeli army were reported on Human Rights Day. Israeli forces entered the Palestinian city of Ramallah on Monday and raided the offices of the official Palestinian news agency. It said, ‘a number of journalists sustained injuries, including teargas inhalation during the raid’. A Palestinian NGO reports that an Israeli court on Monday sentenced a Palestinian woman to 30 months in prison for an alleged stabbing attempt in the occupied West Bank. According to the sources, the number of Palestinian detainees languishing behind bars reached 6,000, including 270 children and 52 women.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his annual Human Rights Day message has called upon all to stand up for human rights for everyone, everywhere. He recently said in a statement on completion of 70 years of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “The social, political, economic and cultural rights enshrined in this foundational document belong to everyone, everywhere – independent of race, colour, gender, language, faith or opinion.”
This is true that seventy years have passed since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet it is not fully attained as we still have a long way to go before respect for human rights is truly universal.
According to the United Nations, Human Rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.
But when it comes to Human Rights of the people living in Occupied Palestinian Territory, they are not treated as human beings. One can guess the depth of insensitivity and hatred of Israeli officials for Palestinians. “To me, they are like animals, they aren’t human”, the statement about Palestinians was given by Ben Dahan, deputy defence minister of Israel (2013 to 2015) in 2013 in a radio interview. Ever since The Great March of Return against Israel’s long-running blockade of Gaza began in March, approximately 70 per cent of Gaza’s 1.9 million people rely on humanitarian assistance. Roughly 6,500 Palestinians are currently languishing in Israeli prisons and 60 per cent of the protesters have been struck in the lower limbs due to settlers’ attack.
Israel was criticised by a U.N. Human Rights body for its killing of protesters in Gaza and treatment of Palestinians, declaring it a “war crime” under the Statute of Rome. But no change in the policy and actions regarding Palestine has been seen yet. The situation of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip remains the same.
According to the sources, between 2013 and 2016, police closed 91.8 per cent of cases of reported settler violence against Palestinian persons and property tracked by the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din without indicting anyone.
Let’s have a look at the Rights enshrined in the different Articles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how the Rights of the Palestinians are being violated by Israel’s use of excessive force.
Article 1 and Article 5
• All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
• No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The inhumane treatment that Palestinians have endured under the Occupation has stolen their dignity and life. The daily activities of young Palestinians are under continuous surveillance and scrutiny followed by the unwarranted arrests of Palestinian children, youth and women. The torture these children face throughout the criminal justice process weakens them mentally and physically. They are forced to live under brutal and savage conditions which are a clear sign of denial of their very basic right to dignity and self-determination.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
According to a UN report presented at the Human Rights Council, in November 2017, 313 Palestinian minors were imprisoned with 729 children detained in East Jerusalem alone throughout last year. Many detainees, including children, face harsh conditions and mistreatment. These children develop sleeping disorders and many other health disorders due to these arbitrary arrests. Reported methods used by the Settlers include beatings, slapping, painful shackling, sleep deprivation, use of stress positions and threats.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
The siege on Gaza and politically-based entry bans to Israel violates this right. The Israeli Occupation put a restriction on the movement of Palestinians within and outside their homelands which affects nearly every aspect of everyday life; separating families, restricting access to medical care and educational and economic opportunities, and perpetuating unemployment and poverty. There are restrictions on family visits which is also a violation of international law requiring that they are held within the occupied territory. When travel permits are required by Israel, they are given through a lengthy and non-transparent bureaucratic process resulting in obstacles in the lives of Palestinians and unstable economy.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Maintaining family ties is a fundamental human right which is completely disregarded by the Israeli Occupation. The children and youth are arrested in front of their family members and given the unbearable tortures. On this, they are not allowed to meet their family. Permits are granted only to parents, spouses and young children; other relatives such as siblings and cousins cannot visit them. Even if the visits are permitted, these are short, lasting 45-60 minutes. They cannot communicate with their families by phone.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
According to a monthly report of MADA, the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms, Journalists working with media affiliated with the West Bank authorities are barred from working freely in Gaza. Palestine TV correspondent Fouad Jaradeh was arrested by Hamas Internal Security Forces on 6 June and tried before a military court for “collaborating with Ramallah”. Later he was released. The Electronic Crimes Law (Law 16 of 2017) was adopted in July, permitting the arbitrary detention of journalists, whistle-blowers and others who criticise the authorities online. The law allowed for prison sentences and up to 25 years’ hard labour for anyone deemed to have disturbed “public order”, “national unity” or “social peace”. Dozens of journalists have been arrested for publicly criticising the law and offences under the Israeli authorities, which has continued to narrow the space for criticism of its policies toward Palestinians under the Electronic Crimes Law.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
In the West Bank, Israeli security forces have routinely used excessive force in policing situations, killing or grievously wounding thousands of demonstrators, stone pelters, suspected assailants, and others. Israeli authorities prohibited and suppressed protests by Palestinians; arrested and prosecuted protesters and human rights defenders. Israeli Forces have been reported to have open fired and killing dozens of Palestinians while thousands were injured in demonstrations against the Occupation. Palestinians’ right to Protest is suppressed too. They are often labelled as “terrorists”.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Disregard and violations of the Articles mentioned above clear up all the doubts regarding the violation of the Rights mentioned in Article 30.
According to the Palestine Prisoners’ Centre for Studies, Israel has arrested 337,000 Palestinians since the start of the First Intifada on 8 December 1987.
There is a sudden need to focus on increasing the protection of the rights of the population of the occupied Palestinian territory so that Human Rights Day is celebrated worldwide in the true sense.