Global Media Adviser
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
Advocacy and Media Section, Oslo
The vicious cycle of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory will not stop unless Israel ends its occupation; instead, Israel’s election results forecast a new government intent on permanent rule over Palestinians, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Secretary General Jan Egeland warned today.
“I’m alarmed by the rise in tensions in occupied Palestinian territory I witnessed first-hand this week. I look at the everyday lives of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and there is simply no respite for them. Palestinians’ hopes for a normal future dwindle each day people are forced to live under a prolonged and repressive occupation. We need determined international action to secure this does not escalate further,” said Egeland on a visit to the occupied Palestinian territory this week.
Israel, as the occupying power, has a responsibility for the welfare of Palestinians, but instead, they dole out systematic and institutionalized discrimination and oppression that leaves Palestinians dispossessed and destitute.
“The occupation means that teenagers in Gaza have spent the entirety of their lives under siege and will have known nowhere else because they cannot get out. It means that for villagers in the West Bank, there are chances that they will get shot at, detained without charge or have their home knocked down. It means that settler violence is constantly on the rise, often with total impunity under the protection of Israeli forces,” Egeland said.
Currently, NRC is supporting over 4,000 families with legal cases on demolition, forced eviction, and residency revocation. These represent just a portion of the growing number of cases as Israeli authorities continue with their unlawful practices.
“Israel and its allies in the US, Europe and the Arab world continue to brush off the suffering of millions of Palestinians. Our message to Israel is clear: end your unjustifiable occupation of Palestinian territory. Like any violator of human rights and international law, Israel must be held accountable for its acts. Without justice there can be no solution,” said Egeland.
Tuesday’s Israeli election came amid recent waves of violence. In the occupied West Bank, 118 Palestinians have been killed since the Israeli military launched its new operation on 31 March, including 29 children under the age of 18. This number puts 2022 on track to be the deadliest year on record for Palestinians in the West Bank.
Israeli authorities have also demolished 697 structures in the West Bank in the first 10 months of 2022, including homes, civilian infrastructure, and agricultural facilities. This means that 2022 is projected to match last year’s five-year high in demolitions. These acts constitute violations of international law.
In Gaza, which has been under Israeli siege for 15 years, at least 48 Palestinians were killed during a three-day escalation of hostilities between Israeli forces and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in August.
“This week I met mothers in Gaza. They told me how they had lost the home they had built with their family after it was hit by missile strikes. That their children do not know what the outside world looks like. That they are not allowed to go farther than an hour’s drive because of the Israeli-imposed siege,” said Egeland.
NRC urges the Israeli government to reverse its movement restrictions on people and goods in line with international legal obligations to allow sustainable economic recovery and development. The international community must push Israeli authorities to immediately cease the forcible transfer of communities in Area C, which continue to witness excessive use of force, property destruction and settler violence. NRC further encourages UN Secretary-General Guterres to prioritize an urgent visit and engage the parties, first and foremost Israel, the occupying power, to prevent additional loss of lives, further suffering, and injury to Palestinians and Israelis.
“NRC continues to support thousands of Palestinian families to recover from the multiple shocks of violence, evictions, economic meltdown and occupation,” added Egeland. “But this is neither sufficient nor sustainable if Israel continues its brutal occupation.”