GROUP STATEMENT BY

OIC Statement at the 59th Session of the Commission on Human Rights on Agenda Item 8 – Question of Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, Including Palestine

Madame Chairperson,

I have the honor to make this statement on behalf of the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

2. The situation in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories has been a matter of grave concern to all Islamic countries. The liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation, establishment of a Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, return of all Palestinian refugees to their homeland, restoration of dignity and security of Palestinian life and rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure and property are among the fundamental objectives of the Organization of Islamic Conference.

3. Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is acquiring even more sinister forms. Deployment of massive military force against unarmed civilians and daily acts of slaughter have caused deep grief and pain to the 1.2 billion Muslims around the world. The behaviour of Israeli authorities constitutes a flagrant violation of international law, international Humanitarian Law and the fundamental norms of human rights. The Conference of the States Parties to the Geneva Convention in December 2001 had upheld this verdict.

4. Israeli atrocities against innocent civilians have risen sharply since the last session of this Commission. Mr. John Dougard, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human rights in the Palestinian territories in his report (document E/CN.4/2003/30) states "in the past year the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory has deteriorated substantially from the perspective of human rights. In large measure, this is the result of repeated military operations carried out by the Israeli defense forces in the West Bank and Gaza". The Israeli military incursions code named Operation Defensive Shield and Operation Determined Path have caused material devastation in many cities"

5. The Israeli gunships, combat helicopters and tanks fired missiles and heavy artillery against civilian targets without any fear of accountability. Since September 2000 over 2000 Palestinian civilians have been killed while more than 21000 seriously injured or wounded. This number included 500 children under the age of 20. Palestinian homes, agricultural lands and orchards have been destroyed. The refugee camps have been besieged and the legitimate Palestinian authority virtually incarcerated. The Israeli settlements continue to be used for attacks against neighboring communities.

6. Israeli occupation army re-entered the towns of Nablus, Jenin, Kalquilya, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Habron. In the words of the Special Rapporteur " the reoccupation has affected every feature of Palestinian life. There have been shortages of basic food stuff; interference with medical services by the denial of access to doctors and hospitals; interruption of family contacts; and stoppages of education. Military operations have led to widespread arrests and detentions. Israeli territorial expansion has accelerated in the past year as a result of seizure of Palestinian land to build a security wall and for the continued growth of settlements. Israel has been using excessive force that disregards the distinction between civilians and combatants, a humanitarian crisis that threatens the livelihood of a whole people, the killing and inhuman treatment of children, the widespread destruction of property and territorial expansion."

Madame Chairperson,

7. The Special Rapporteur in his report to the 58th Session of the Commission had mentioned that it was the occupation of the Palestinian territory that gave rise to savage acts of violence highlighted by suicide bombings. The OIC rejects all attempts to equate the legitimate freedom struggle of the Palestinian people as terrorism. Liberation from tyranny and occupation is a universal right. Those who deny it are the real terrorists.

8. The ordinary Palestinian today is completely isolated and marginalized. The international community and its mechanisms have failed to provide him protection from Israeli terror and repression. A situation of despondency and frustration are the natural products of such isolation. The Palestinian intifada is a manifestation of the popular will to recover their freedom and dignity. Brutal state terrorism is what needs to stop.

9. The OIC calls upon the international community including this Commission and its mechanisms to act urgently and forcefully to prevent further bloodshed and agony of the Palestinian people. Prospects of peace in the Middle East are inextricably linked with justice. Perpetrators of mass killings of Palestinians must be held accountable for crimes against humanity. It is incumbent upon the international community, particularly the United Nations Security Council, to intervene urgently to ensure the physical protection of the Palestinian people and to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to the occupied territories.

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I thank you Madame Chairperson.