Mr. President and Distinguished Delegations,
I am giving this oral statement on behalf of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, the Palestinian National Institution for Human Rights accredited with the “A” status from the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
The Independent Commission for Human Rights denounces the unlawful attack by the Israeli occupying forces on the Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid by international peace and human rights activists which was heading to the Gaza Strip in solidarity with the civilian population of the Gaza Strip who are under a severe Israeli military siege for the past 4 years, constituting a collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population in violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War and Under Occupation.
The Independent Commission for Human Rights condemns this attack which has resulted in the death and injury of several peace activists and human rights defenders. The assault on the Freedom Flotilla in international waters is a dangerous precedent that cannot be justified under International Law and conventions relative to the Law of the Sea, among which are the Geneva Convention of 1958, and the UN Convention of 1982, which guarantee the right of ships to safe passage.
ICHR views the attack on human rights defenders as a violation of fundamental human rights including the right to life and physical safety. Israeli usage of un-proportionate and excessive force against civilian activists on board of the ship cannot be justified, even in terms of their resistance to the take-over of the ship. It is also a violation of the right to peaceful assembly, the right to freedom of speech and expression, as well as the right of human rights defenders.
This Israeli aggressive assault against humanitarian aid to the suffocating civilian population in the Gaza Strip reflects Israeli systematic and decisive policy to suppress international popular solidarity and will have negative implications on future solidarity initiatives in aid of Palestinian people.
Therefore, ICHR calls on:
- The United Nations Human Rights Council to take all necessary measures to condemn this crime and stop the attack on human rights defenders and peace activists.
- The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Community as a whole to ensure Israel‘s respect of the Fourth Geneva Convention by imposing sanctions on Israel until it ends the siege on the Gaza Strip and ends its unlawful occupation of the 1967 occupied Palestinian territory.
- International bodies dedicated to the protection of human rights to take action and fulfill their role in standing against Israeli violations of human rights, as these constant violations reflect Israel as a state above the law.
- The lifting of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and bringing its exacerbated humanitarian crisis to an end.