14 January 2011 An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on the international community to intervene following what he described as a series of illegal acts by Israeli authorities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
According to UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, these acts include 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, 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,” he stated in a news release issued in Geneva.
“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,” added Mr. Falk.
In the most recent incident, on 9 January, the Jerusalem Municipality demolished a wing of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem as part of a plan to build new Israeli settlement units. The move was deplored by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said that it “only serves to heighten tensions,” in a statement issued by his spokesperson.
Mr. Falk also spoke out against the demolition. “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,” he stated.
“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,” he stressed.
Mr. Falk has been serving since 2008 in an independent and unpaid capacity as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. He reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.
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