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Settlement expansion root cause of violence in OPT

Press Trust of India  |  Geneva 

The root cause of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) is the "policy of settlement expansion" and a culture of impunity regarding the activities of settlers, a UN special committee said today.

"It was apparent from the testimonies that the root cause of the escalating violence is the continuing policy of settlement expansion and the climate of impunity relating to the activities of the settlers," said the United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, in an end of mission statement.

The UN Special Committee comprising three members met a range of civil society groups and Palestinian officials during their annual fact-finding visit to Amman from August 4 to August 8.

Israel usually does not cooperate with UN missions in occupied Palestinian territories.

"The Committee was informed that 80 per cent of the population in Gaza remains dependent on international aid, and that unemployment levels remain at around 40 per cent and movement restrictions in and out of Gaza continues to be a major problem for the economy and welfare of the people of Palestine," the statement said.

The UN Committee observed that the continued exploitation of natural resources in the occupied territories is a clear violation of international humanitarian law and stressed that corporate actors be held accountable for the impact of their activities on human rights.

The Committee statement said that they were briefed about increasing human rights violations against Palestinian woman and children and harsher sentences for stone throwing which has been increased to 20 years by an amendment to the Penal Code.

In the latest attack, a Palestinian child of 18 months and his father were killed allegedly by Jewish settlers, in West Bank on July 31 when their house was firebombed. An investigation in ongoing.

A UN independent Commission of Inquiry said in June that there were credible allegations of war crimes by both Israelis and Palestinian armed groups in the 2014 Gaza conflict that killed 1,462 Palestinian civilians and six Israelis.

The UN Special Committee, established by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1968 to examine the human rights situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, will present its full report to the 77th session of the UN Human Rights Council to be held in November.

The Committee said that the international community must ensure timely and adequate funding for UNRWA --United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East-which is facing a deep financial crisis, so their work is not seriously undermined.

About 500,000 Jews live across 100 settlements since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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First Published: Mon, August 10 2015. 20:42 IST