Experts call for prosecuting Israel for crimes against the disabled

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SHAFAQNA – Representatives of institutions for people with special needs called for criminalizing and holding the Israeli occupation authority responsible for the crimes it commits against persons with disabilities through repeated aggression on the Gaza Strip.

The representatives pointed out in a panel discussion on Tuesday about the involvement of the disabled persons in the reconstruction process of the Strip that the blockade on Gaza and the lack of reconstruction projects have led to a serious deterioration of the conditions of people with disabilities there.

They noted that financiers refuse to support the National Plan for Disaster Management, and to include the activities of evacuation for people with disabilities in the Plan.

War crimes

For his part, the Executive Director of Baituna (our house) for Community Development Association, Abdul Rahman Almzaanen, confirmed during the panel discussion organized by the Palestinian NGOs network in Gaza City and with the participation of a Palestine Information News reporter, that the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation against the people with special needs are war crimes.

He said that Israel should be forced to respect international human rights agreements and conventions, including those concerned with the rights of persons with disabilities.

He pointed to the need to compel the occupation to be held accountable for its violations against persons with disabilities, including the consequences of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Almzaanen demanded the reconstruction and renovation of work places for persons with disabilities, which were destroyed during the aggression to adapt for the people with special needs.

Regarding the role of the Ministry of Housing and Public Works in the reconstruction especially with regard to homes and institutions of the people with special needs, representative for the Ministry, Hani Algrez, asserted that the ministry is facing great pressure because the donors are not fulfilling their promises regarding the financial aid amounts that have been announced in the reconstruction conference in Cairo.

He said: “Qatar is the only country that has fulfilled its promise to provide one billion dollars for the construction of 1,000 housing units, while the other grants are chained with lots of conditions and complications.”

He pointed out that the Ministry had got only (25%) of the donor funds amounts agreed upon, this resulted in a significant fiscal deficit, especially with the large number of housing units completely destroyed, reaching 11 thousand housing units in addition to the large number of houses partially destroyed; however, many of which are not suitable for habitation.

He pointed out that the construction of Hamad Residential Town adapted for people with disabilities because the planning and execution was entrusted to the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, unlike other projects where the Ministry was only an executor of projects.

Israeli violations

A research study prepared by the Palestinian NGOs Network on the vision of the rehabilitation sector on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, stressed the need to support the National Plan for Disaster Management, and to include the activities of evacuation for people with disabilities in the Plan.

The study called on the international community to intervene to protect civilians and to stop the systematic violations committed by the Zionist enemy against them.

The study, prepared by specialists in the rehabilitation sector in the Palestinian NGOs network in partnership with many of the institutions concerned with the same affairs, called for the reconstruction, renovation and equipping of the workplaces and rehabilitation institutions for persons with disabilities, which were destroyed during the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip to adapt for the persons with special needs.

The study stressed the need to involve persons with disabilities and their caregivers in the planning, implementation, following-up and evaluation of the plan of reconstruction of Gaza, especially in projects related to them, and to involve them during the implementation of the reconstruction plan through offering them appropriate employment opportunities, and developing a system of complaints on the implementation of the reconstruction plan and on their participation and achievements.

The study pointed out that despite the international resolutions and agreements that call for respect for and protection of persons with disabilities; however, their rights are constantly violated in the occupied Palestinian territories due to the repeated heinous violations by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian rights.

It continued: “the aggression on the Gaza Strip by Israel has affected all categories of the Palestinian people. However, the category of persons with disabilities was more vulnerable to the violations of the Israeli occupation due to their weak abilities to move and vacate their homes.”

It pointed to the direct targeting of the institutions for persons with disabilities and of their houses with direct bombardment on the ravaged areas by the Israeli occupation from the town of Beit Hanoun in the north to the city of Rafah in the south.

Illegal blockade

Regarding the impact of the blockade imposed on persons with disabilities, the study said: “the illegal siege imposed on the Gaza Strip resulted in the exacerbation in violations against the rights of persons with disabilities, despite the fact that the siege is one of the prohibited collective punishments by the rules of international humanitarian law.”

It pointed out that the conditions of persons with disabilities are becoming worse with the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Strip, caused by the severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation on the people’s freedom of movement”.

It continued: “Because of the catastrophic and serious lack of supplies that affect all basic services for persons with disabilities namely: power, fuel and supplies of medicines and medical assistive devices, people with special needs in Gaza are deprived from access to health, water, environment, education and rehabilitation services.”

It showed that the economic and social conditions of people with disabilities has steadily deteriorated as they and their families are now suffering from extreme poverty, deprivation of many rehabilitation and care services, and the lack of many medical devices.

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