Issam Younis, Director of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, has concluded an advocacy mission in Brussels in which he held meetings with European Union officials, representatives and civil society.
The visit, which was held between 23 and 28 September, focused on the human rights and humanitarian conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt); including the Gaza Strip, under the Israel’s policy of settlement, closure and armed attacks.
Younis conveyed the suffering of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
In 14 meetings, he asked EU officials to act to bring to an end the Israeli collective punishment of Gaza, which violates international law, and support the efforts to ensure accountability for violations of international law in the context of the recurring military actions by Israel.
Stressing the catastrophic impacts of Israel’s unlawful policies of closure and settlement on all aspects of life, Mr.
Younis appreciated the strong EU attitude concerning Israeli settlement activities, but asked the EU to do more to bring Israel’s closure of, and attacks on, Gaza to an end.
Younis asserted that the situation in Gaza must not be treated as a ‘humanitarian case that requires provision of humanitarian aid.
The situation in Gaza is a political one and Israel and the international community must uphold their responsibility towards the civilian population; particularly by respecting human rights and enforcing international law.
‘The very long silence of international community as collective punishment and crimes of war are committed against civilians is unbearable in our age and must stop now,” said Mr.
Younis pointing out that “The Israeli occupation has become the least costly for an occupying Power in modern history and is only expected to continue if there is no shift in international community’s policy”.
He also stressed that Europeans’ tax payers money must not pay the bill of occupation, which can only avoided if Europe invests greater political capital to achieve justice.
Yonius therefore asked the EU and Member States to promptly intervene to end the critical situation in the Gaza Strip as a matter of urgency, but also to challenge Israel’s policy of dividing the oPt to prevent the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.
“The EU efforts to secure a peaceful settlement to the conflict is only to be commended, but such settlement can only succeed in it is based on a solid foundation of international law and human rights,” said Mr.
He added that “Twenty years of negotiations without this foundation have made the situation much worse; we should not overlook human rights and international law violations for another twenty years to ‘give peace a chance.
’” During his visit, Mr.
Younis met with MEP Emer Costello, Chair of the EU Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council, four EU officials; including the Middle East Peace Process Division at the European External Action Service, and the European Union Development Commission.
He also met with seven representatives of Member States; including the PSC Ambassador of Sweden, and representatives of France, Germany, Ireland, Poland and the Netherlands.
He also met with the Middle East Desk and Human rights Director at the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Younis also met with civil society organizations active in Brussels; including Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), Amnesty International, Approdev and CIDSE.
He also attended a roundtable on EU engagement on the fight against impunity in the field of justice and home affairs, which was organized by the EU.
EMHRN, in which Al Mezan is a member, supported Al Mezan in organizing this mission and participated in some of the meetings, which comes under the context of mobilization and advocacy campaigns which Al Mezan Center implement in cooperation with OXFAM organization during 2013.