Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said that the Israeli occupation’s impact on the safety, well-being, and mental health of Palestinian children has been especially distressing as child rights are gravely violated without consequence and children are left without protection.
“As the situation in Occupied Palestine continues to deteriorate and Israel continues to entrench its illegal occupation, we are compelled, week after week, to draw international attention to the human rights abuses and crimes against the Palestinian people and to appeal for action to halt these violations, which are causing daily trauma to Palestinian families and shredding the prospects for a peaceful solution,” he said in three identical letters sent to the UN Secretary-General, President of the UN Security Council, and President of the UN General Assembly.
According to OCHA, in just the first seven weeks of 2021, Israel’s policy of home demolitions has resulted in the destruction, seizure, or forced self-demolition of nearly 227 Palestinian-owned structures, including 93 donor-funded, displacing 367 Palestinians, including some 200 children. Moreover, at least 53 schools are under threat of demolition.
Israel also persists with its crushing of Palestinian protests and the arbitrary arrest and detention of civilians, including children. In the past week, Israeli occupation forces attacked several peaceful anti-settlement rallies across Occupied Palestine in Deir Jarir near Ramallah, in Kafr Qaddum near Qalqilya, and elsewhere, using excessive and lethal force against unarmed civilians, injuring dozens. In the Kafr Qaddum protest, occupation forces shot a 10-year-old child in the chest with a rubber bullet, said the letter.
Throughout 2020, the international community has seen the dangerous effects and consequences of this prolonged occupation and the relentless Israeli campaign violating international law and the global consensus regarding a just solution for the Palestine question. Despite Israel’s attempts to disguise itself as a peace-seeking occupier, its nearly 54-year military occupation and flagrant colonization and annexation drive stand in total contradiction. As Israel invokes claims of anti-Semitism and one-sided bias to silence the criticism of its occupation, it fails to question how it has gotten away with so much impunity.
The answer is because of a lack of collective will to ensure accountability. Since the founding of the United Nations, the international community has focused tremendous energy and resources on the question of Palestine, only to deliver statements with no credible measures towards actually ending Israel’s systemic impunity and justly resolving the conflict. This has only emboldened Israel, permitting it to entrench its occupation and cause irreversible damage to the two-State solution while evading accountability for its violations and crimes.
The responsibilities of the international community, including the Security Council, are clear. Decades of inaction have made turned the Palestine question a litmus test of the international community’s legal and moral obligations. As Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk has stated: A deep-rooted problem at the heart of this conflict has not been the clarity of international law, but the unwillingness of the international community to enforce what it has proclaimed.” This makes ever more important the decision announced on 3 March by the ICC Prosecutor to initiate an investigation respecting the Situation in Palestine. It is time to bring a halt to impunity and to seek justice for the many victims of this illegal occupation, he said.