MIFTAH holds final event for the 'Youth as Human Rights Defenders' project in the Gaza Strip
Ramallah – 28/7/2021 -- MIFTAH recently organized a final event in the Gaza Strip for the “Youth as human rights defenders” project. A photo exhibit was held on Israeli violations and the role of Palestinian youth in documenting and tackling them and included a presentation of the defenders’ achievements during the period of the project.
In her opening speech, Dr. Tahreer Araj said the event focused on monitoring and documenting the occupation’s violations in access-restricted areas in the northern and southern Strip, namely violations against the rights of farmers and fishermen. She explained that in the second and third year of the project, MIFTAH produced two separate analytical reports on these violations and that the results of the second report were presented to local and international rights institutions. Specialized reports were then discussed with the relevant parties on the occupation’s policies pertaining to violations in the three areas, in addition to producing factsheets and policy papers on these violations.
Araj capped off her address by saying, “The significance of this project is that within the Palestinian context, it constitutes an important tool for monitoring and documenting Israeli violations, which could be used towards strengthening the efforts of civil society and rights institutions in exposing Israeli measures and holding the occupation responsible for its crimes and violations against the Palestinian people in international forums.”
This was followed by a presentation of the outcomes of the second annual report by attorney, Dr. Mahmoud Abu Sway. The report juxtaposed Israel’s violations with international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law, pointing out that these violations are only a small part of the ongoing violations against the Palestinians. The report covered the period between 2020 through mid-2021 and addressed basic rights such as education, health, the right to movement, freedom of worship, access to religious sites and the right to live in Jerusalem and Hebron, in addition to Israeli violations against farmers’ and fishermen’s rights in the Gaza Strip.
In his presentation of the report’s recommendations, Abu Sway called for the internationalization of attacks on the rights of farmers and fishermen, for increasing support for the Gaza Strip, lifting the blockade, ending the internal division and examining the possible legal mechanisms for holding Israel accountable.
This was followed by the presentation of a factsheet on violations against fishermen by youth defender Mohammed Abu Samra and a short film prepared by the host organization in the northern Gaza Strip. Another factsheet was presented on violations against farmers by youth defender Amani Abu Teir, also followed by a short film by the host organization in the southern Gaza Strip.
MIFTAH coordinator in the Gaza Strip, Shadia Al Ghoul summarized the most prominent challenges and obstacles faced by the defenders during their documentation and monitoring of violations in the targeted areas, saying the most dangerous part was when the defenders were shot at either directly or indirectly by Israeli occupation forces. She also noted land leveling as another challenge, the exposure of farmers to insecticides and teargas and the difficulties in reaching access-restricted areas. Al Ghoul said the defenders had to resort to alternative means of travel and movement since it was difficult to use ordinary modes of transportation. She also said the fishermen and farmers were unaware of their legal rights whereby many were afraid to give their testimonies or names out of fear they could be subject to punitive measures by occupation authorities such as being barred from crossing the Beit Hanoun [Erez] crossing for treatment or other purposes.
MIFTAH project coordinator, Waad Qannam, then discussed the results of the project, saying: “This is the culmination of three and a half years of efforts by Palestinian youth human rights defenders in these areas, including a virtual tour of these regions.” He commended the role of youth defenders in Jerusalem, the old city of Hebron and in the Gaza Strip, saying they worked tirelessly to document and monitor Israeli violations and convey the message of the Palestinian people to the world in spite of all the obstacles.