In a letter co-addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Council and the United Nations special rapporteur on situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory, the World Council of Churches expressed concern over the high rates of human rights violations and violence currently taking place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
"During the last few weeks, our Ecumenical Accompaniers on the ground have witnessed frequent and systematic human rights violations," reads the letter signed by Prof Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches. "In the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Al Isawiyah, Israeli forces have entered almost daily, harassing inhabitants, charging arbitrary fines, routinely arresting children, and using violence when carrying out operations."
The situation is escalating, the letter continues. "During one of their last visits, the Israeli police arrested three children approximately 11 years of age," the text reads. "Children as young as four years old have received summons for questioning."
In addition, construction of illegal settlements continued at an alarming pace throughout the occupied territory. "There are numerous shepherding communities experiencing daily settler harassment," the letter notes. "There are also reports on several incidents of uprooting trees as well as demolitions of structures for shelter and water distribution, often affecting Bedouin families who already live on the bare minimum."
Accompaniers have also been present as settlers repeatedly try to remove local farmers from their land. "Farmers often have no legal means to challenge not being able to access their land," the letter reads. "We are concerned by the lack of reaction and visible action of the international community towards those practices and the systematic violation of international laws and regulations by the Israeli authorities and by settlers."
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