HRW calls for the UN to activate investigation mechanisms in Israel

A young man waving the Palestinian flag in front of Israeli soldiers A young man waving the Palestinian flag in front of Israeli soldiers Photo by rrodrickbeiler on iStock

19 May 2021

Human Rights Watch has called for the United Nations to investigate and prosecute Israel’s crime of apartheid against the Palestinians

As outlined by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Palestine is nothing new, as is the asymmetry in the number of casualties caused by this new spark in the hostilities. In light of the new wave of atrocities committed, the organization has called for the United Nations (UN) to activate international mechanisms for the investigation and prosecution of the crime of apartheid committed by Israel against the Palestinians.

The tension that resurfaced in the aftermath of Israel’s eviction of Palestinian residents living in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in East Jerusalem, escalated in a protracted exchange of rockets and missiles between the Israeli and Hamas forces which claimed more than 250 victims. On the Palestinian side, more than 243 were killed in Gaza, including at least 63 children, while on the Israeli the victims amounted to 12, of which two children. In light of the central role played by the UN in ending the system of apartheid in Africa, HRW is calling onto the organization to recognize Israel’s crime of apartheid against the Palestinians. According to international law, pursuant to the 1973 Apartheid Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the crime of apartheid entails an intention to maintain a system of domination, systematic oppression, and inhumane acts committed as part of that project. In order to reach such a landmark achievement, the HRW has called for action by the UN General Assembly to compensate for the deadlock caused by the United States veto in the Security Council, and the establishment of an enquiry commission under to UN Human Rights Council to investigate the widespread violation of human rights in Palestine. The organization has also recalled  the ability of the Secretary General to set up sucha  commission,  remembering, however, Antonio Guterres’ reluctance to use his authority in other cases such as the Jamal Khashoggi case as well as the case of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

By recalling the ethnic and religious-based persecution carried out by the Myanmar authorities against the Rohingya in the Rakhine State, amounting to the crime of apartheid as well, HRW has called on the UN to appoint a global UN envoy for the crimes of persecution and apartheid, to provide investigation and prosecution for these “forgotten crimes against humanity” wherever they occur.

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Author: Carla Leonetti; Editor: Eleonora Gonnelli

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