UN condemns Israel’s raid of NGO headquarters in West Bank, calls for investigation into child deaths
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva, 15 August 2021
United Nations human rights experts have called on Israeli authorities to return confidential documents and office equipment seized from the offices of Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), in Al-Bireh in the occupied West Bank.
“We are deeply concerned by the Israeli military’s interference with the human rights work of a well-known and well-regarded NGO,” the experts said in a statement published by the media center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, noting that computers, hard drives, folders and other materials were taken from DCIP offices during a night raid at the end of July.
“The indispensable work of Palestinian, Israeli and international civil society organizations has provided a measure of much-needed accountability in documenting and scrutinizing the dispiriting human rights trends in the occupied Palestinian territory,” the experts added.
“In recent years, DCIP has critically and reliably reported on the patterns of arrests, maiming and killings of Palestinian children by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The silencing or hindering of these activities violates the fundamental human rights of expression and association, which Israel has committed itself to uphold through its ratification of the two 1966 International Covenants,” the experts explained.
The experts also noted that from the beginning of the year until the end of July 2021, the Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinian children in the West Bank, adding that this is more than the number of deaths recorded for Palestinian children under occupation in 2020. Likewise, 67 Palestinian children were killed in Gaza during the violence that took place in May 2021.
“All civilian lives under occupation are protected under international law. This is particularly true for the rights of children,”
the experts stressed.
The experts called on the (Israeli) authorities to work with the international community to establish an impartial body to conduct transparent, equal and public investigations into these deaths in accordance with international law standards, and to apply the lessons learned from these investigations to avoid such a pattern of tragedy in the future.
The UN experts also called on Israel to fully respect the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998, saying that “an occupying power with a true commitment to human rights would protect and encourage the work of human rights defenders, and not ostracize, harass or silence them.”