Franciscans International (FI) has called on the United Nations, to unequivocally condemn Israel's security wall as an act of unlawful annexation. It has also urged the Israeli government to immediately stop construction of the $1.4 billion barrier. "As a Franciscan living in Jerusalem, I can testify of the flagrant human rights violations that take place daily due to the wall's erection," said Fr Marco Malagola OFM on 24 March at the 60th UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The Italian-born friar heads the Justice and Peace Commission of the Custody of the Holy Land. "We fully understand Israel's need to protect its citizens from indiscriminate terrorist attacks," Fr Malagola said. But he pointed out that the wall would violate the basic human rights Palestinians who live in the West Bank, including the right to self-determination. Israel began building the planned 700 km long security barrier in 2002 in order to separate itself from the West Bank. It has completed about a one-fourth of the project. "The wall will affect more than 210,000 Palestinians," the FI delegate told the CHR, "denying them the access to basic human rights, including freedom of movement, right to health, food and education." Fr Malagola predicted that the barrier would create a profound humanitarian crisis in the region. He said the Franciscans the views of a highly critical 13-page report presented to the CHR earlier by the UN special rapporteur for the occupied territories, John Dugard. "We urge Israel to end the occupation ... to refrain from pursuing the erection of the wall, and to start to cooperate fully with the special rapporteur as a concrete way to show the government's commitment to internationally recognized human rights standards," he said. Fr Malagola was the founding director of the International Justice and Peace Office of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in Rome. Source: FI
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