PCHR Annual Report – human rights violations by Palestinians and Israelis
PCHR Press Conference Announces Publication of 2008 Annual Report; Details Human Rights Violations Committed by Palestinians and Israelis
On Saturday, 25 April 2009, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) held a press conference in Gaza city announcing the publication of its annual report for 2008. The report details the overall status of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) from 1 January to 31 December 2008. Approximately 50 persons, including journalists, reporters for local and foreign press agencies, and representatives of local civil society organizations, attended the conference.
Raji Sourani, PCHR Director, identified three interrelated factors which cumulatively contributed to the deteriorating human rights situation in 2008:
1. Continued escalation of war crimes and grave violations of human rights by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF).
2. The position of the international community, which has failed to fulfill its legally-binding obligations, and effectively participated in the collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population, consequent to the implementation of a financial boycott.
3. Continued internal conflict between Hamas and Fatah. This division negatively affects the performance of governmental institutions, and the internal human rights situation.
Sourani reviewed key aspects of PCHR’s annual report with respect to the documentation of human rights violations committed by Israelis and Palestinians in 2008. He detailed IOF violations, including willful killing, the extensive destruction and confiscation of agricultural lands, attempts to establish a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, the continued construction of the illegal Annexation Wall, the indiscriminate arrest of hundreds of civilians and activists, the torture and inhuman and degrading treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, house demolitions, and the continued imposition of collective punishment via the now 24-month long total siege of the Gaza Strip.
In relation to human rights violations by Palestinians, documented violations include: violations of the right to life and personal safety, violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peaceful assembly, violations of the right to freedom of information, the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, misuse of weapons, political arrests, an escalation in the practice of torture, the continued implementation of the death penalty, a continued conflict of interests between the two governments in Gaza and Ramallah, and the impact of this conflict on the economic and social rights of Palestinian civilians.
In his speech, Sourani highlighted the most significant statistics documented by PCHR in relation to Israeli and Palestinian violations of human rights. He explained that 868 Palestinians were killed by IOF in 2008. 820 of these victims were killed in the Gaza Strip, while the total figure includes 108 children and 29 women. Sourani added that there are more than 9,000 Palestinian prisoners, including approximately 40 PLC members currently detained in Israel. PCHR has documented prevalent detention conditions which do not meet international minimum standards, and the subhuman living conditions experienced by detainees in solitary confinement. PCHR documented 170 attacks that had been carried out by Israeli settlers in 2008. These attacks resulted in the deaths of 5 Palestinian civilians. He indicated that IOF completely demolished 216 houses, including 109 houses in the Gaza Strip, in 2008.
Palestinian violations of the right to life and personal safety claimed the lives of 153 civilians in 2008, including 25 children and 13 women. The victims include 26 persons killed by on-duty law enforcement officials in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, 65 people killed consequent to the misuse of weapons, 25 killed in family disputes, 4 killed to “maintain family honor”, and 17 persons who were detained in Gaza Central Prison and killed by unknown gunmen following their escape from the prison after it was bombarded by IOF on 28 December 2008. Sourani also talked about the political arrest of dozens of Fatah and Hamas activists in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In 2008, 9 death sentences – 4 in the Gaza Strip and 5 in the West Bank – were issued. This represents a significant deterioration with respect to efforts to abolish the death penalty; in 2006 and 2007, no death sentences were issued.
Sourani concluded by noting that 2008 was the most bloody year in the history of the occupation, and the single worst with respect to the overall human rights situation.
PCHR’s annual report is a comprehensive and detailed report on the overall status of human rights in the oPt. The report is comprised of two main sections documenting Israeli violations of international law, and Palestinian violations, including the constraints of democratization.