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Press briefing notes on Occupied Palestinian territory

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Date: 27 August 2013
Subject: Occupied Palestinian territory

We are concerned about the forced eviction and forcible transfer of Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as a result of a series of demolitions carried out by Israeli authorities in at least six different locations since 19 August 2013.

In one incident, on 19 August, Israeli authorities demolished all of the structures in the Bedouin community of Tel al Adassa in East Jerusalem, rendering all 7 families (some 39 people) homeless, citing a lack of building permits. The Israeli authorities ordered the community to evacuate the area permanently or risk high monetary fines and confiscation of livestock. No alternative locations or housing options were offered. Left with no choice, the community has split and moved to two different temporary locations, where they remain vulnerable to further demolitions and repeated displacement due to lack of legal security of tenure and inability to obtain building permits.

In this case, the permanent removal of the families from Tel al Adassa may amount to a violation of the prohibition the forcible transfer of individuals or communities under article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The case also raises concerns regarding the prohibition on forced eviction under international human rights law, and the enjoyment of the rights to adequate housing and freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family and home.

In response to a question about Palestinians killed in refugee camps:

We are concerned about the possible excessive use of force by Israeli security forces against Palestinian civilians, during recent search and arrest operations in refugee camps in the West Bank. Since 18 August 2013, at least 4 Palestinian civilians have been killed in such operations, and at least 19 have also been injured.

Any use of force and firearms in law enforcement operations must adhere to international human rights standards: it must be proportional to lawful objectives and the use of firearms limited to situations of self-defense or the defense of others where there is an imminent risk to life or of serious injury.

While we do not yet have sufficient information to make an assessment of each of these specific cases, we have raised our concerns several times before, including in our reports, regarding the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces in law enforcement operations in the West Bank.

The Government of Israel has the obligation to investigate in a timely, independent, impartial and thorough manner all cases of use of force by its security forces resulting in death or injury and to hold accountable any persons responsible of violations. We urge the Israeli authorities to make public any findings.

ENDS

For further information and media requests, please contact Cecile Pouilly (+41 917 93 10/ cpouilly@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+ 41 22 917 9434 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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