Special Rapporteur Miloon Kothari visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories January 5 to 10, 2002, invited by the Ben Gurion University and the Adalah Center for Arab Minorities in Israel. The mission was conducted despite the difficulties in obtaining an entry visa to Israel. The country’s government initially refused to invite the Rapporteur for a mission and did not reply to a second request.

The Rapporteur visited East Jerusalem, the Shu´fat, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Ramallah refugee camps and the Gaza Strip, including the Khan Younis and Rafah camps. During the mission, Israeli forces carried out a night attack on the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, destroying at least 58 Palestinian homes. According to the report, the number of Palestinian homes destroyed by Israeli administrative and military acts increase each day.

The Israeli occupation has a devastating impact on the Palestinians’ living and housing conditions and Israel is legally responsible for this situation. According to the Rapporteur, the military occupation and collective penalty policies were marked by seizure of land, punitive demolitions of houses, creation of non-Palestinian settlements, dismemberment of Palestinian territories by means of road construction and other infrastructure to serve the illegal settlements, and control or theft of water and other natural resources in the occupied territories.

The Rapporteur requested the immediate end of the occupation, including the dismantling of all illegal settlements and the suspension of the construction of new ones, a halt in the seizure of land and demolition of houses, the canceling of all existing demolition orders, and the suspension of the construction of roads, tunnels and other infrastructure for the illegal settlements.

He also recommended the return of Palestinian public and private land to their legal owners, the investigation of all criminal acts committed by the inhabitants of illegal settlements (such as use of firearms, occupation, robbery and destruction of homes and other buildings), and the immediate and complete exit of all Israeli forces and security agents from the areas occupied in 1967, as provided for in several resolutions of the UN Security Council.

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