WORLD ORGANIZATIONS AGAINST TORTURE
Human Rights Commission
5th Special Session
  October 17th 2000
 
     OMCT Oral Statement
      Mivelaz Nathalie

  Thank you Mr. Chairperson,

On the basis of the information received from members of OMCT
network, and in particular from LAW and the Public Committee Against
Torture in Israel, the International Secretariat of the World Organisation
Against Torture (OMCT), condemns all violence by all actors in Israel,
and the occupied territories, including territories under the Palestinian
National Authority. OMCT expects that among other the authors of
killing of dozens of civilian Palestinians, and the responsible for lynching

Israeli soldiers will be sanctioned. OMCT specifically expresses its
concern regarding the excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Israeli
military, and other grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law
by Israel on both sides of the Green Line.

Mr. Chairperson,

Palestinian demonstrations quickly spread across the West Bank, the
Gaza Strip and Israel after 28 September 2000. These were generally non-
violent, and where they turned violent, demonstrators threw stones, with
occasional and sporadic use of Molotov cocktails and live ammunition.

Israel's response was disproportionate and excessive. Israel rapidly
resorted to the use of lethal force against Palestinians: from live
ammunition to helicopter gun-ships and ending with the missile attacks
on 7 October 2000. Israel's choice of weaponry was of the type usually
reserved for battlefield military engagement and not for civilian
demonstrations even if these had turned violent. Its tactics were
principally those of military engagements. No attempt was made to use
police or law enforcement tactics reserved for civilian conditions. It
employed these measures against the Palestinian citizenry in Israel and
those in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Mr. Chairperson,

By 14 October 2000, 91 Palestinians had died. These deaths have
included a high proportion of children, and 77 % of people were shot in
the upper body. At least one Palestinian child was killed by live
ammunition fired from a helicopter gun-ship while he was in his own
home. Other Palestinians have died at the hands of Israeli settlers, both
through the use of weapons and through torture and beating. The
number of Palestinians injured is estimated at more than 4500, and many
of those are seriously injured, including clinical death, loss of sight,
brain
damage and paralysis.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been imprisoned. Israel routinely denies
detainees rights of due process. Detainees are subject to long periods of
incommunicado detention, denied access to lawyers and early recourse
to a judicial authority. Ill-treatment remains a feature of pre-trial
detention. It has been documented that police and military forces
regularly employ beatings and other practices that violate the physical
and psychological integrity of Palestinians. Within Israel, there is a
significant risk that state security concerns will override the rights of
defendant to a fair trial like it has been the case several times in the
past.
Within the context of recent events, the risk to Palestinians must be
higher.

The events of the last two weeks result notably from Israel's refusal to
accept the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, as well as

from a growing tension fostered by the laxity of Israel regarding the
settlement activity in the occupied territories. The military infrastructure

of occupation remains intact in its entirety and the Commission has
repeatedly condemned Israel for its abuses against the Palestinians.

Israel retains control of over 60% of land in the occupied Palestinian
territory. On both sides of the Green Line, Palestinians are deprived
control and access to their own land, water and other resources through
land seizure, house demolition and restrictions on social and economic
development. Israel employs measures of collective punishment, such as
closure. Both the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial
Discrimination and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights found Israel in violation of its treaty obligations.

Mr. Chairperson,

Israel has acted with absolute impunity throughout its occupation.
Rather than seeking to contain its actions, Israel refuses to recognise the
de jure applicability of human rights and humanitarian standards that
prohibit these actions. Thereby, encouraging its military forces and
civilians to violence and violations against Palestinians.

In the last two weeks, Israel has made no single investigation into the
use of force against Palestinians, or the deaths of Palestinians
occasioned by such force. No forensic evidence has been collected and
no inquiry has been made. On occasion, Israel has sought to explain its
use of force, but on no single occasion has Israel shown that its use of
force is justified.

Impunity from liability arising from grave breaches of international law
lies at the heart of Israel's policies of abuse against Palestinians on both

sides of the Green Line. Impunity encourages Israel in its attitude of
disregard for international standards.

The Commission is well-placed to use this moment to address Israel's
policy of abuse. By establishing a mechanism that secure standards and
ends impunity, the Commission could halt the cycle of violence being
perpetrated by Israel and its forces and civilians against Palestinians.
 

Mr. Chairperson,

We are convinced that these grave violations of international law, which
continue to result in the deaths of Palestinian civilians, are of utmost
concern to you. Subsequently the International Secretariat of the World
Organisation Against Torture strongly urges the Commission to

1.  Urge Israel to endorse its international obligations and put an
    end to its excessive and disproportionate use of force against
    the civilian population, taking lawful measures to halt violence
    and restore order

2.  Condemn all violence by all actors and in particular Israel for its
    use of unwarranted, disproportionate and lethal force against
    Palestinians.

3.  Urge the Palestinian Authority to investigate all cases of
    violence like the lynching of Israeli soldiers, and to help re-
    establishing law and order by re-arresting the violent activists
    liberated during the last two weeks.

4.  Establish an ad-hoc independent international commission to:

a.  Investigate all human rights violations that occur in
    both sides of the Green Line since September 28th ,
b.  Determine responsibility;
c.  Propose a mechanism to bring perpetrators of such
    violations to justice,
d.  Recommend means to compensate victims and provide
    redress,
e.  Make public all its findings; and
f.  Report to the Commission on Human Rights, the
    Secretary General and the General Assembly.

    Ask the Conference of High Contracting Parties of the Geneva
    Conventions which met on the 15th of July 1999 to reconvene
    according to the statement issued by that Conference. We would
    ask the Commission to set a target day which High Contracting
    Parties can work towards.

Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Organizaci?n Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT)
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CH-1211 Geneve 8
Suisse/Switzerland
Tel. : 0041 22 809 49 39
Fax : 0041 22 809 49 29
E-mail : omct@omct.org <mailto:omct@omct.org>
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