The organizations included Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), International Committee of Jurists (ICJ), World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), Europe- Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EHMRN), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF).
Opening the press conference, Khader Shkirat, Director of LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment said: "We as human rights activists are waiting for the day we can stop counting persons killed, injured, homes demolished, medical personnel targeted, and accounts of other abuses." The aim of this press conference is "to break the conspiracy of silence and the unwillingness of the international community to act."
Shkirat added, "The international silence, in particular from the European Union, makes every single state responsible for the ongoing violations committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."
Jessica Montell, director of the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, who introduced the speakers, said that in March the highest number of casualties were counted and that most probably April will see the worse. On Friday, April 5, B'Tselem received information from Israeli sources in the Beitunia detention camp that torture has been used during interrogation of Palestinian detainees.
Mark Neuman, from Amnesty International, also speaking on behalf of Human Rights Watch and the International Committee of Jurists, said that "ordinary people are the main victims" and that the "deliberate targeting of civilians and actions that harm them must be stopped immediately." He added, "The international community should act immediately to deploy international observers with a strong, transparent human rights monitoring component. Unlawful killings must be investigated and those who have carried out or ordered them must be brought to justice."
All organizations said that Israel has clear obligations under international law, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention. The actions of today have no military justification and are serious violations of international law.
Neuman concluded saying that "it's time for the international community to act, as it has moral and legal obligations under international law. There can be no future unless human rights are the center of the process."
Robert MÃ©nard, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that in the past 10 days, there have been forty cases of journalists being wounded, injured, arrested, expelled, or threatened. "The Israeli army is knowingly targeting journalists in a deliberate policy of intimidation." He urged the Israeli authorities to keep their international commitment to respect press freedom, which must include freedom of movement for all journalists - foreign correspondents and Israeli and Palestinian journalists - and a system of accreditation that ends the current arbitrary attitude of the Israeli Government Press Office."
Other speakers included Sidiki Kaba (FIDH), Eric Sottas (OMCT), Henri Leclerc (the French League for Human Rights), and Eva Norstrom (EHMRN).
Marie Helene Jouve from Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) could not make it to Jerusalem. She and others from MSF were in Yatta, which has been declared a closed military zone. MSF has experienced severe restrictions on its attempts to reach the most isolated families. Access to medical care is seriously jeopardized.
LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza invited the international organizations.
There are many victims of the grave abuses of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories over the past week. There are the Palestinians, including medical workers, who have been killed unlawfully by the Israeli Defense Forces. There are the Israeli civilians who have been deliberately targeted by Palestinian armed groups and individuals. Other Palestinians have also unlawfully killed Palestinians.
Palestinians have been confined to their houses, shot if they ventured out, and left without electricity, water and diminishing food supplies for days. There are the hundreds of Palestinians who have been arrested; ill treated and humiliated during their detention; and their families who inquire for news of their relatives and fear they may be dead. There are Palestinians, mostly children, whose homes have been destroyed and their belongings shattered. There are the Palestinian human rights organizations, which try to monitor and investigate the human rights violations, which the Israeli State should investigate and whose offices the IDF, and the journalists who are targeted or expelled as they try to report what is carried out in secrecy have trashed.
These are all victims over the past week in a human rights crisis, which has continued unresolved for decades. But there is another victim: the credibility of the system of international human rights and humanitarian law, which the international community has established in the aftermath of World War II. If the international community talks, but fails to act, while the fundamental principles of human rights and humanitarian law are violated then the Commission on Human Rights has betrayed the trust vested in it.
In the name of Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists, we urge the Commission to support the call to send international monitors to the region with a strong and transparent human rights mandate. We support the proposal of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the Commission on Human Rights send a visiting mission to the area. We urge the Commission to send a strong message upholding respect for human rights. There can be no durable cease-fire or peace agreement unless the fundamental human rights of all Palestinians and all Israelis are addressed.