Palestinian human rights situation deteriorating: UN committee

July 2nd, 2008 - 6:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Amman, July 2 (Xinhua) A UN fact-finding committee expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Palestinian territories and said the Israeli practices in the territories have aggravated the situation, the Jordan Times daily reported Wednesday. The human rights situation has worsened in the Palestinian territories due to the siege imposed on Gaza Strip and the separation wall in the West Bank, the Jordan newspaper quoted Prasad Kariyawasam, the head of the UN committee, as saying at a press conference here Tuesday.

“The industrial or production capacity in both regions is becoming almost minimal,” Kariyawasam said, adding that there were at least 20,000 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, including women and children.

“We are concerned that children are not held in proper conditions in Israeli prisons,” he said.

The UN team also expressed concern that Israel was trying to change the face of East Jerusalem by building more settlements, and said the environment was being destroyed under a systematic approach by Israel.

“We were told that during the period between August 2007 and June 2008, almost 20,000 trees were uprooted and replanted in settlements in Israel, this is an attempt to destroy the Palestinian people’s link with the land,” Kariyawasam said.

The Committee, named UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, was established by the General Assembly last year to probe human rights conditions in the Palestinian areas following complaints of systematic abuse of citizens by Israel.

They had earlier been denied access to the occupied territories by Israeli authorities and forced to conduct their investigation from Jordan and Egypt by interviewing witnesses from the Palestinian areas, as well as UN activists and Israeli citizens.

The committee is expected to submit its report to the General Assembly by November this year, but members were concerned that any decision would meet a US veto.

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