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UN Committee Accuses Israel of Violating International Laws

The United Nations committee that monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is accusing Israel of several violations.

The U.N. committee says many of the measures taken by Israel during its state of emergency are not justified and violate international law. It is particularly concerned about prolonged detentions, targeted killings and the impact of the security wall on the Palestinian population.

The committee accuses Israel of using force against detainees in an effort to extract information, something it says is never justified. Israel says it does not sanction the use of physical force, but adds that under very extreme circumstances, a state has the right to use such measures to defend itself.

Committee Member, Nigel Rodley finds this argument unacceptable.

"We take a very clear position that the covenant knows no such defense and it should not be permissible under Israeli law, either," he said. "Connected with that is the concern in Paragraph 13, where we say that the state party should ensure that no one is held for more than 48 hours without access to a lawyer. Those are the standard pre-conditions for torture when people are held for long periods. and in Israel they can be held for exorbitantly long periods, which is an issue of serious concern to us."

Israel is one of about 150 countries, which have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The 18 experts on the U.N. Human Rights Committee monitor compliance.

The committee's review of Israel's efforts also criticizes it for holding prisoners for extended periods without trial, and even without access to legal counsel. Israel says administrative detentions are allowed under the fourth Geneva Convention. It also denies that its interrogators use torture or other methods which cause severe pain or suffering.

The U.N. committee's report also expresses concern over the so-called targeted killings of suspected terrorists.

Israel says it does not practice extrajudicial executions, but notes it has the right to defend itself against hostile organizations.

Mr. Rodley says the U.N. Human Rights Committee believes the so-called security fence around the occupied territories is harmful to the Palestinian people, and its construction should be stopped.

"We are not concerned with the political role," said Mr. Rodley. "What we are concerned with is the fact that the way it is being constructed is in fact seriously and disproportionately infringing on the freedom of movement of the Palestinian population that is subject to the meanderings of this wall, especially in certain major populated areas."

Israel says the fence is not intended to establish a political boundary, but rather is being built to stop suicide bombers from entering Israel.