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Unprecedented Repression Demands Unprecedented Response

HRW Oral Statement - Item 6 Universal Periodic Review Outcome Adoption - HRC54

A Palestinian boy runs near Israel’s separation barrier in the city of Qalqilya in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The barrier entirely encircles the city, which is home to more than 55,000 Palestinians. © 2018 AFP/Getty Images

Palestinians today in many ways face unprecedented repression. As of September 1, Israel held 1,264 Palestinians in administrative detention without trial or charge, the highest number in more than 30 years, according to the Israeli human rights organization HaMoked. Israeli forces have, as of September 19, killed more Palestinians in the West Bank in 2023 than in any other year since 2005, when the UN began systematically recording fatalities, according to UN OCHA: 182, including 39 children. Israel has outlawed prominent Palestinian human rights organizations and maintained a closure of Gaza for more than 16 years, with devastating effect on the more than 2.1 million Palestinians who live in this 40-by-11 kilometer (25-by-7 mile) strip of land.

These abuses take place in a context in which Israeli authorities are committing the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians, as Human Rights Watch and major IsraeliPalestinian, and other international human rights groups, as well as UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territory and other UN experts, among others, have found.

Given the urgent situation on the ground, the UPR’s adoption of strong recommendations, including calls for Israel to end its sweeping use of administrative detention, its use of force that is excessive and therefore in violation of international law, closure of Gaza and its apartheid against Palestinians, is vital. But Israel has ignored strong recommendations that were made before, including during prior UPR reviews.

Actually changing things will require a different approach, one rooted in human rights, international law and recognition of the reality on the ground. As a starting point, states should carefully monitor Israel’s implementation of these recommendations, speak out so long as it fails to follow them, acknowledge Israeli authorities’ commission of the crime of apartheid, end all forms of complicity in this crime and other grave abuses and support efforts to ensure perpetrators are held to account.  

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