A UN human rights expert said Friday Israel should immediately halt what amounts to “collective punishment” against Palestinian people, which is “most strikingly seen” in its continuing closure of Gaza.

“The extent of the devastating impact of Israel’s collective punishment policy can be most strikingly seen in its ongoing 13-year-old closure of Gaza, which now suffers from a completely collapsed economy, devastated infrastructure, and a barely functioning social service system,” Michael Lynk said.

Lynk is the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

“These practices entail serious violations against Palestinians, including the right to life, freedom of movement, health, adequate shelter, and an adequate standard of living,” he said after he submitted a report to the 44th session of the Human Rights Council this week.

Lynk said Israel’s strategy to control the Palestinian population violates a foundational rule of virtually every modern legal system, that is only the guilty can be punished for their acts, and only after a fair process.

The UN special rapporteur called Israel to immediately stop all actions amounting to “collective punishment of the Palestinian people, with millions of innocent harmed daily and nothing achieved but deeper tensions and an atmosphere conducive to further violence”.

He said the Israel’s closure of Gaza is an “affront to justice and the rule of law.”

“While Israel’s justification for imposing the closure on Gaza was to contain Hamas and ensure Israel’s security, the actual impact of the closure has been the destruction of Gaza’s economy, causing immeasurable suffering to its two million inhabitants,” the rapporteur said.

“Collective punishment has been clearly forbidden under international humanitarian law through Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. No exceptions are permitted.”

The special rapporteur’s new report also criticized Israel’s continued policy to demolish Palestinian homes punitively.

“Since 1967, Israel has destroyed more than 2,000 Palestinian homes, designed to punish Palestinian families for acts some of their members may have committed, but they themselves did not,” he said.

“This practice is in clear violation of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” he added.

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