JUSTICE - No. 71

51 Spring 2024 the four individuals, as part of the review of the State of Palestine’s initial report. In March 2023, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued its views on the IHRC complaint on behalf of Mangisto and al-Sayed. The Committee upheld the Clinic’s arguments and determined that the Palestinian Authority had failed to fulfil its obligations under the CRPD relating to the rights to life, liberty and security of the person, freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and health. It held that Palestine is under an obligation to provide the authors of the communication with an effective remedy. The Committee further recommended that Palestine take all measures available in accordance with international law to (a) conduct a prompt and effective investigation into the circumstances of the alleged disappearances and arbitrary detention of Mangisto and al-Sayed, with a view to establishing the truth and securing their safe return to their families; (b) provide the complainants with detailed information on the outcome of the investigation; and (c) guarantee Mangisto’s and al-Sayed’s safety and access to medical care, including in relation to their disability, as well as contact with their families and representatives. Following the issuing of this decision, in July 2023 the IHRC, together with the four families of the missing Israelis, organized a side event to the 53rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, in which we presented the Clinic’s activity and emphasized the international legal obligation to ensure the well-being and safety of the missing Israelis. III. The Hostages of October 7, 2023 On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched a massive rocket barrage on civilian areas in southern and central Israel. Simultaneously, Hamas militants and other persons crossed from Gaza into Israeli territory and attacked numerous Israeli towns and communities situated in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip. During this attack, they intentionally killed and injured hundreds of civilians. The confirmed death toll among Israelis and foreign nationals located in Israel victims of this attack exceeds 1,200, and over 11,500 persons were wounded.3 Over the course of the same day, some 250 persons were abducted by armed militants to the Gaza Strip, where they have since been held by Hamas and associated armed groups and terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic Jihad and the Al-Kassam Brigades (Izz ad-Din al-Kassam). Among the hostages are persons in situations of special vulnerability, namely women, children, older persons, and persons with disabilities. Hamas leaders confirmed that they were holding 200 captives, while other factions were holding 50 more.4 As of early March 2024, 112 hostages returned to Israel alive. According to reports, 134 hostages remain in captivity, and it is estimated that only 108 of them are still alive.5 IV. Appeals and Requests to UN Human Rights Bodies A. Communications on behalf of the Hostages and Missing Families’ Forum Within days after the massacre of October 7, the IHRC appealed to various UN working groups and special rapporteurs on behalf of the Hostages and Missing Families’ Forum and on behalf of hostages’ families themselves, requesting immediate action in accordance with each body’s mandate. The IHRC sent an urgent appeal to the Special Rapporteur on Torture; to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (a joint appeal with Bizchut – The Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, the Hebrew University’s Center for Disability Studies, the CLEC’s Clinic for the Rights of People with Disabilities, and 30 disability advocacy organizations in Israel); and to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. In its appeals to the rapporteurs, the IHRC requested them to issue a strong declaration principally demanding that Hamas immediately and unconditionally release all persons held hostage or otherwise detained in Gaza, and pending that release, ensure that they are all treated with humanity and respect. 3. Israel Security Agency 2023 Annual report (in Hebrew), 8, available at https://www.shabak.gov.il/media/3uentt 2i/%D7%93%D7%95%D7%97-%D7%97%D7%99% D7%A6%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%99- %D7%A1%D7%99%D7%9B%D7%95%D7%9D- %D7%A9%D7%A0%D7%94-2023.pdf 4. Michael Bachner, TOI Staff and Jacob Magid, “Oct. 16: Hamas says holding 200 hostages; foreigners will go free when conditions allow,” TIMES OF ISRAEL, Oct. 16, 2023, available at https://www.timesofisrael.com/ liveblog-october-16-2023/ 5. CNN Staff, “Israel preps for new phase of war as displaced Palestinians face dismal conditions,” CNN, Jan. 4, 2024, available at https://edition.cnn.com/ middleeast/live-news/israel-hamas-war-gazanews-01-04-24/index.html

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