Every year on 10 December nations across the globe celebrate Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which laid the foundation for international human rights law. This day features global efforts for the promotion of human rights.
Medical patients in dire need of healthcare available only outside Gaza are not exempted from the repercussions of the ongoing Israeli closure and apartheid regime, as the discriminatory Israeli permit regime, which violates rules of international law, hinders their access to medical care in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, and third States. The closure also results in a progressive humanitarian catastrophe and unprecedented economic turmoil due to high rates of unemployment and poverty—which are likely to worsen due to the global economic crisis resulting from the pandemic.
In May 2021, during Israel’s full-scale military offensive against the Gaza Strip, Israeli attacks killed 240 Palestinians, of whom at least 151 were civilians, while another 1,979 sustained injuries, including 636 children. Israeli forces carried out numerous attacks marked by the indiscriminate targeting of civilian houses and infrastructure, ultimately destroying and damaging entire buildings, homes and industrial facilities. Further, the offensive inflicted significant damage on vital infrastructure, including paved roads, water and electricity networks and sewage systems. Against this backdrop, the Palestinian Ministry of Health took the necessary precautionary measure of imposing a lockdown to tackle the pandemic.
In addition to tightening the closure, Israel has recently finished building a concrete wall isolating the Gaza Strip from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world, further restricting the freedom of movement of more than two million residents. Reportedly, the wall separating Israel from Gaza is 60 kilometers long and extends along the perimeter fence to the Mediterranean Sea, thereby imprisoning more than two million Palestinians in a strip of land that can be likened to a South African bantustan.
To further silence those who stand against its apartheid regime, in October 2021 Israel designated six Palestinian human rights organizations as ‘terrorist’ according to its Anti-Terror Law of 2016.
On this Human Rights Day, Al Mezan reaffirms its strongest condemnation of Israel’s daily practices that hinder Palestinians’ enjoyment of their basic rights enshrined in the UDHR, including their inalienable and collective right to self-determination. As reaffirmed in our recent report, ‘The Gaza Bantustan—Israeli Apartheid in the Gaza Strip’, Israel’s practices against the Palestinian people as a whole amount to the crimes of apartheid and persecution.
Accordingly, Al Mezan calls on the international community to uphold its legal and moral obligations towards the Palestinian people in the oPt and ensure accountability for alleged violations of international law. The international community must also assert pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine, to lift the unlawful closure of the Gaza Strip, and to dismantle its its apartheid regime against the Palestinian people as a whole.