Geneva, ALRAY - UN special rapporteurs on Tuesday called upon ‘Israel’ to stop harassment of humanitarian workers and human rights defenders in the occupied West Bank, where the Israeli army has a military zone.
"Israeli authorities' hubris is proving without limits. They are even harassing human rights defenders and humanitarian workers seeking to support and protect people facing grave human rights violations in Masafer Yatta," four UN special rapporteurs said in a joint statement.
The special rapporteurs insisted that such harassment must stop, and said residents continue to be threatened by the risk of forcible transfer, including mass forced evictions and arbitrary displacement.
“The tragic implications of that decision are now before our eyes: roughly 1,200 Palestinian residents in Masafer Yatta are left defenceless in front of the threat of forced eviction and arbitrary displacement,” said the rapporteurs, who do not speak for the United Nations but are mandated to report their findings to it.
In May this year, Israeli High Court approved the eviction of Palestinian villagers from the Masafer Yatta area, which includes at least 12 Palestinian villages, so as to make way for a military training zone.
They also voiced dismay at reports that human rights defenders and humanitarian workers have been harassed by the Israeli military in Masafer Yatta.
"They have been stopped and detained for several hours at checkpoints and had their identification documents or cars confiscated, often on grounds that they had entered a closed military site without permission," they indicated.
In addition, the rapporteurs expressed particular concern for Sami Hureini, a prominent human rights defender and member of the "Youth of Sumud" activist group "engaged in peaceful resistance against illegal settlements in the southern Hebron hills".