"Make clear to Israel that its 'illegal occupation' cannot be cost-free," Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in occupied Palestinian territories, tells UN Human Rights Council.

A view shows the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on May 19, 2020.
A view shows the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on May 19, 2020. (Reuters Archive)

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank amount to a war crime, a UN human rights investigator has said, calling on countries to make clear to Israel that its "illegal occupation" cannot be cost-free.

Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, was addressing a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday, boycotted by Israel which does not recognise his mandate or cooperate with him.

"I conclude that the Israeli settlements do amount to a war crime," Lynk said. 

"I submit to you that this finding compels the international community ... to make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion, can and will no longer be cost-free." 

READ MORE: EU deems Israel's settlement policy illegal

Demolition of Palestinian homes

Lynk's statement comes a day after Israel demolished the Bedouin village of Khirbet Humsa, in the occupied West Bank, leaving dozens of residents of the herding community homeless for at least the fifth time this year.

At least 65 people, including 35 children, were displaced on Wednesday.

The Israeli government, now run by a coalition headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, says the village was built illegally in the middle of a military firing zone.

Israeli authorities have demolished at least 421 structures belonging to Palestinians in the first half of 2021, a 30 percent increase over the same period in 2020, the Norwegian Refugee Council, a humanitarian NGO, said in a statement.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Palestinians want it to form the main part of their future state.

READ MORE: Bedouin lawmaker seeks change as ancestral villages face Israeli demolition

Source: TRTWorld and agencies