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UN expert condemns Israel's 'collective punishment of Palestinians', home demolitions

Israel forces Palestinians to demolish their own homes citing absence of building permits. [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 July, 2020

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Israel is responsible for serious violations against Palestinians, a UN Special Rapporteur said in a report.
A UN human rights expert on Friday called on Israel to "immediately stop all actions amounting to collective punishment of the Palestinian people," which could obstruct peace.

In a statement published by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory condemned some of Israel's practices.

"It is an affront to justice and the rule of law to see that such methods continue to be used in the 21st century and that Palestinians collectively continue to be punished for the actions of a few," Lynk said.

Lynk, also an Associate Professor of Law, said the practices entailed a violation of "virtually every modern legal system" which would only punish those found guilty.

The UN expert claimed Israel is responsible for "serious violations against Palestinians including the right to life, freedom of movement, health, adequate shelter and adequate standard of living."

Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, leaving around 80 percent of Palestinians in the strip reliant on international aid.

"The extent of the devastating impact of Israel's collective punishment policy can be most strikingly seen in its ongoing 13-year-old closure of Gaza, which now suffers from a completely collapsed economy, devastated infrastructure and a barely functioning social service system," the Special Rapporteur was quoted as saying.

While Israel has imposed the blockade to deter militant groups and contain Hamas, the impact has devestated its two million civilians, the expert argued.

Lynk also spoke out against Israel's policy to punitively demolish Palestinian homes.

"Since 1967, Israel has destroyed more than 2,000 Palestinian homes, designed to punish Palestinian families for acts some of their members may have committed, but they themselves did not," he said. 

According to the UN expert, instead of serving to contain aggression, the demolitions further contribute to "an atmosphere of hate and vengeance".

Read also: Israeli demolitions in Palestine 'increase by 250 percent' in just two weeks, UN warns

Tensions between Palestinians and Israelis have soared in recent days, after Israel announced its preparation to annex one-third of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley area and major settlement blocs, according to a plan approved by US President Donald Trump and overwhelmingly rejected by Palestinians.

European Union countries have voiced opposition to the annexation plan, saying it would be a violation of international law.

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