UN envoy calls for probe on Israel crimes in Gaza

UN envoy calls for probe on Israel crimes in Gaza
Tue Jun 11, 2013 17:59:55

Israel has imposed collective punishment on 1.75 million Palestinians living in the impoverished Gaza Strip, a United Nations human rights investigator has said warning that the enclave’s viability is at high stakes.

“Forty-six years ago, today Israel’s occupation of Palestine began. Six days of war has turned into 46 years of occupation,” Richard Falk told the Geneva forum.

Richard Falk made the remarks on Monday while presenting his latest report at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The viability of Gaza needs urgent attention and cannot be left to the mercies of continuing Israeli occupation,” he said of the ruled strip, around which Israel maintains an illegal blockade due to what it claims are security concerns.

He also called for an inquiry into torture of hundreds of Palestinian detainees in Israel’s custody.

He described the treatment of “thousands of Palestinians detained or imprisoned by Israel” as being “extremely worrisome,” and called for an international inquiry into the situation of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

He said there are 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli custody at the moment and 750,000 Palestinians have gone through detention in Israeli jails since the regime’s occupation of the Palestinian territories began in 1967.

The Israeli violations were happening on a “massive scale,” and included detention without charges, “torture and other forms of ill, inhumane and humiliating treatment,” solitary confinement and the denial of family visits, the UN rapporteur said.

Falk, who visited Gaza last December after entering via Egypt, said that 70 percent of Gaza’s population depends on international aid for survival and 90 percent of the water is “unfit for human consumption.”

Kerem Shalom crossing is closed often by Israel as a retaliatory measure to tighten the “stranglehold of Gaza”, he said. About 40 percent of the goods coming through there are food and other basic supplies, including cooking gas, he said.

In the first quarter of 2013, Israel demolished 204 Palestinian homes and structures in the West Bank, displacing 379 Palestinians, he said, citing UN figures.

Israel detains nearly 5,000 Palestinians, many held arbitrarily and subjected to torture, coerced confessions, solitary confinement and denial of family visits, he said.

Falk urged the council to establish a commission of inquiry to examine “Israel’s track record of impunity for prison officials and others who interrogate Palestinians.” He called again for a probe into the death of Palestinian Arafat Jaradat last February in disputed circumstances in an Israeli jail.

The representatives of the Israeli regime and the United States were absent as the UN rapporteur made his comments.

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