On Monday morning, 09 September 2019, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) received a delegation from the Consulate General of Belgium in Jerusalem. The delegation, which included Consul Marie Cherchari, Head of Political Affairs in the Consulate General; and Katelijn De Nijs, Head of Cooperation, met with lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, and his Deputy for Program Affairs, Hamdi Shaqqoura.
The meeting reviewed the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including the disastrous humanitarian conditions resulting from the Israeli closure and collective punishment imposed on the Gaza Strip for 13 years as well as their impact on all life aspects. Sourani talked about how the closure led to the serious deterioration of the economic situation in the Gaza Strip, including high unemployment rates, especially among youth and graduates, and the unprecedented poverty rates.
Sourani also addressed the unjustified excessive use of force by the Israeli forces against the protesters of the Great March of Return since its outbreak in March 2018 along the eastern and northern Gaza Strip borders that resulted in tens of deaths and thousands of injuries, including hundreds of persons with disabilities.
The meeting also discussed the Gazan youth immigration phenomenon, especially to Europe, and its reasons. Sourani emphasized that Israel, with the closure policy and continued attacks on the Gaza Strip, sends a clear message that youth has no future here, making immigration their only hope for a better life.
At the end, Sourani urged Europe and Belgium to intervene to enforce the international human rights law, to protect human rights in the oPt, and end the closure and collective punishment against the Gaza Strip.