U.N. rights chief hits Israel over settlements

GENEVA Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:03pm EDT

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addresses media on her arrival at the airport of the capital Bangui March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addresses media on her arrival at the airport of the capital Bangui March 18, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Siegfried Modola

GENEVA (Reuters) - The building of Israeli settlements and attacks by settlers on Palestinians are a major source of much abuse of rights in the occupied territories, the United Nations' top human rights official said on Monday.

Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay also expressed concern at a recent surge in violence in and around the Gaza Strip by both local groups and Israeli forces.

"Israeli settlement-related activities and settler violence are at the core of many of the violations of human rights in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem," she told the U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The settlements not only had a significant impact on the right to Palestinian self-determination, but activities around them "also violate the entire spectrum of Palestinians' social, cultural, civil and political rights," she said.

"Despite repeated calls for Israel to cease settlement activity, ongoing settlement construction and acts of settler violence continue with devastating consequences for Palestinian civilians," said Pillay, a former judge of the International Criminal Court who has visited Israel and the territories.

Most countries deem Israel's settlements in the West Bank illegal and an obstacle to peacemaking. Palestinians decry them as a barrier to achieving a viable state, while Israel considers some of its settlements as a security buffer.

Settlers view the West Bank as a biblical birthright.

CROSS-BORDER VIOLENCE

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas - an Islamist group which rejects Israel's existence -

seized control of the territory two years later, fueling tension which often leads to cross-border violence.

The Gaza violence, Pillay declared, was reflected in increased rocket fire by Palestinian armed groups directed at Israel and Israeli airstrikes on the area.

She said "the targeting of civilians and the indiscriminate firing of rockets towards Israel is a violation of international law. The response through air strikes by Israel is excessive and often causes destruction to personal and public property."

Pillay said an Israeli blockade of Gaza must be lifted, "with due regard to Israeli security concerns." Egypt also blockades Gaza from its side of the border.

Referring to the West Bank administered by the Palestinian Authority, she said U.N. monitors there had documented "a dramatic increase in fatalities and injuries in incidents of use of force by Israeli security forces" in 2013.

There was an urgent need to ensure accountability for such incidents through independent investigations into allegations of unlawful killings or torture and ill-treatment and to prosecute those responsible, Pillay said.

Israel's foreign ministry has been on strike since Sunday. Other officials had no immediate response to Pillay's remarks.

(Reporting by Robert Evans; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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Comments (2)
she is wasting her time. racist government of israel does not care. why should they, the resistance to their crimes comes from poorly armed individuals. the murder ratio of israeli’s versus palestini’s is apparently not close enough to change things on the ground. i believe when israel has exterminated the competition for what they believe is god given land then there will be peace. sad

Mar 24, 2014 4:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Sysaphus wrote:
Its obvious that the fact checkers for Reuters and Robert Evans are woefully deficient.

Regarding the statement that Hamas seized control of Gaza is blatantly false and makes Mr Robert Evans an unreliable source of information not worth of a reporter.

It is well known that Hamas won the general Palestinian elections, verified by international observers. They ( Hamas) were then forced to defend their victory against the US funded putsch by Mohammed Dahlans PA security forces.

Stop propagandizing and begin reporting Mr Evans.

Mar 24, 2014 10:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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