Gaza; EuroMed Rights urges to support resolution on ensuring accountability in the OPT at UN Human Rights Council

Press Release

Brussels, March 19, 2019

EuroMed Rights urges the European Union (EU) and its Member States to support the findings of the United Nations (UN) Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), notably by voting in favour of the resolution on ensuring accountability in the OPT at the UN Human Rights Council this week and contributing to the effective follow-up on and implementation of its recommendations.

As the anniversary of the Great March of Return approaches on 30 March 2019, Europe must take decisive action at the Human Rights Council to bring the reality in Israel/Palestine closer to justice, accountability, and respect for human rights.

After nearly a year of weekly protests along the Gaza fence, 192 Palestinians killed in the demonstrations, and over 15,021 injured,[1] the EU has neither condemned Israel’s use of lethal force against unarmed protestors, nor called for international and impartial investigations into the killings. In the face of the grave and extensive documentation, media coverage, videos and figures coming from Gaza, the EU and its Member States’ passive response stands in stark contrast with their longstanding position that respect for international law, including accountability, is a cornerstone for peace and security in Israel/Palestine. It also stands out from the EU’s large support for UN-mandated investigations in other countries.[2]

Europe’s exclusive focus on a non-existent peace process has become a structural impediment to addressing the grave human rights reality in Israel/Palestine, as demonstrated by Europe’s consistent inability to translate its leverage into substantial change on the ground. This week, the UN will provide the EU and its Member States with the opportunity to support the only functioning mechanism in place to effectively protect Palestinian lives in the ongoing demonstrations in Gaza, which continue to be met with excessive lethal force. Besides fully complying with international standards, the Commission of Inquiry is one of the few existing multilateral, impartial, and independent bodies seeking accountability for the conduct of all duty bearers in Israel/Palestine. Rather than anti-Israel bias, the prevailing situation in effect today is an international climate of impunity.

The Commission of Inquiry has found that the Israeli military’s use of live ammunition was illegal in almost all cases examined, was employed against protestors who did not pose an imminent threat and may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Furthermore, it pointed to the lack of meaningful investigations that may lead to prosecution of the violations. Israel’s immediate reaction was to “utterly” reject the report’s findings. It is, therefore, utterly unrealistic, in the absence of international scrutiny, to expect a different outcome at the forthcoming protests.

1]Figures as provided by Gaza-based human rights group Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights (by 8 March 2019)
[2]The EU identified among its UN priorities for 2019 supporting UN-mandated Commissions of Inquiry for Burundi, the DPRK, Myanmar, Syria and Yemen.