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Illegal acts by Israeli authorities on the rise in the occupied West Bank – UN human rights expert

GENEVA (14 January 2011) – UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk expressed concern over what he described as “series of illegal acts by Israeli authorities” in the occupied territories, namely the killing of four Palestinians in the West Bank in the past two weeks by Israel Defence Forces (IDF), as well as the demolition of the historic Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian landmark, so as to make way for the construction of more Israeli settlements.

“Together these events demonstrate a general and unacceptable Israeli disposition to use excessive force against Palestinians, who are already suffering from prolonged occupation,” the Special Rapporteur said.

In his view, “it is impossible to separate this pattern of excessive use of force against Palestinians from the indiscriminate use of force against civilians in Israel’s larger occupation policy, as illustrated by the cruel punitive blockade that has been imposed on the people of Gaza for more than three years and by the illegal manner in which Israel carried out attacks for three weeks on the defenseless population of Gaza two years ago,”

“It is time for the international community to step in and offer this long vulnerable Palestinian population protection against the violence perpetrated by Israeli authorities,” Mr. Falk stressed.

On 1 January 2011, Ms. Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, a 36 year-old Palestinian woman, died as a result of inhalation of tear gas fired by IDF at the demonstrators. She had been observing a demonstration against the separation Wall in the West Bank town of Bil’in on 31 December 2010.

On 2 January 2011, a 25 year-old Palestinian man was shot and killed by IDF soldiers at the Al-Hamra checkpoint in the West Bank as he was not able to follow an instruction given in Hebrew, a language he did not understand. An IDF spokesperson explained that he was shot and killed due to “a combination of misunderstandings stemming from the Palestinian citizen’s inexplicable behavior and the high state of alert of the soldiers.”

On 7 January 2011, an unarmed 65 year-old Palestinian man was shot dead in his bed by IDF soldiers. This killing, apparently a case of mistaken identity, occurred during a series of raids in Hebron.

On 8 January 2011, another Palestinian man was shot dead by IDF soldiers at the same Al-Hamra checkpoint. He was allegedly threatening IDF soldiers at the checkpoint.

On 9 January 2011, the Jerusalem Municipality demolished a wing of the Shepherd Hotel in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, as part of a plan to build a new Israeli settlement of 20 units. “This is part of an accelerating pattern in Jerusalem that consists of shifting the demographic balance to reinforce Israeli claims to control permanently the entire city, making the creation of a viable Palestinian state, with its capital as East Jerusalem, virtually unattainable,” Mr. Falk said.

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Nikki Siahpoush (Tel.: + 41 22 928 9430 / email: nsiahpoush@ohchr.org) or write to sropt@ohchr.org.