SA joins Africa in strong message condemning Israel

An African group wants an immediate end to Israeli occupation and an end to all forms of Israeli-imposed ‘collective punishment’.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Friday will debate four resolutions on Israel’s accountability for its systematic violations of international law following a strong message sent by African countries to the international community that Palestinian rights to self-determination, justice and freedom must be realised.

Speaking during a debate on human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territory during the UNHRC’s 37th session in Geneva, the 54 member-strong African Group, represented by Togo’s Ousmane Afo Salifou, expressed concern at the arbitrary deprivation of liberty, the lack of accountability and obstacles to the justice facing Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

The African Group called for the immediate end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and life, Israeli settlement building, the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and its 1.8 million citizens, and an end to all forms of Israeli-imposed collective punishment on the Palestinian people.

Representing 28 percent of all UN members, the African Group reaffirmed its support for “the historic fight of the Palestinian people to realise the right to freedom and self-determination as well as the right to live in peace and justice,” stated Salifou.

“The Human Rights Council has the ethical and legal obligation to act effectively to protect the population living in Palestine and the other occupied territories, and to assume its responsibilities by taking urgent measures to remedy this situation,” he concluded.

While North African countries have typically been vocal on the Palestinian issue, sub-Saharan countries are now speaking out more strongly against Israeli violations of human rights, and US-Israeli attempts to change the status quo of Jerusalem, the Afro Palestine Newswire Service reported.

Representatives from Nigeria, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Senegal and Somalia also made hard-hitting contributions at the debate, condemning the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people, and the urgent need to end Israel’s occupation.

The debate followed the presentation of reports by the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

These reports focused on arbitrary detention of Palestinians, expansion of Israeli’s settlement activities, the High Commissioner’s update on accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and a database of business enterprises engaged in Israeli settlement activities.

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