1 April 2019 – Israeli Crimes against the Palestinian People in Gaza


It is with deep regret that I must write to you again following the tragic loss of life among Palestinians as a result of the indiscriminate, unlawful force that continues to be used by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian civilian population being held captive under its illegal occupation and blockade.

Despite repeated warnings about Israel’s escalating aggression and threats, regrettably no meaningful action has been taken by the international community to avert the loss of life. Despite repeated appeals for protection of the Palestinian people, in accordance with international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, and relevant United Nations resolutions, Palestinian families are again mourning the dead and tending with their meager resources to hundreds more wounded by the Israeli occupying forces, which have once again unleashed lethal force against peaceful civilian demonstrators.

This past weekend, 30 March, marked the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return, and the 43rd commemoration of Land Day by the Palestinian people. For the 52nd consecutive week, tens of thousands of Palestinians marched along the eastern border of Gaza persisting in their calls for an end to the inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza, an end to the illegal Israeli occupation and dispossession of our people, realization of the right of the Palestine refugees to return, and freedom for the Palestinian people. Regrettably, their pleas for an end to this cruel injustice have been to no avail.

Emboldened by the lack of accountability, Israel continues to entrench its occupation, impose its blockade in collective punishment of the entire population, and choose violence to suppress the Great March of Return. Yet again, Israeli occupying forces used live fire against defenseless civilians, killing four people, among them three youths – Adham Amara (age 17), Tamer Abu-Al-Kheir (age 17), Belal Najjar (age 17) and Mohammad Saed (age 20) – and injuring another 316 persons, including 86 children, 29 women, 3 medics and 6 journalists. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, occupying forces killed yet another young paramedic, Sajed Mizher (18), on 27 March, who died after being shot in the abdomen by Israeli snipers despite the fact that he was clearly wearing a medical vest and tending to injured persons at the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem.

Contrary to Israeli distortions, the events since that have unfolded on the Gaza border since the Great March of Return began in March 2018 can neither be characterized as “clashes”, nor as a “confrontation” between two sides. Rather, they have been a series of murderous assaults by the Israeli occupying forces against unarmed Palestinian civilians protesting hundreds of meters away from the barbed-wire fence erected by Israel as among its many means to isolate and besiege the Gaza Strip. Over the past year, we have witnessed in broad daylight Israeli soldiers, armed with the most lethal military weaponry and at the command of the highest levels of the Israeli military and government, indiscriminately firing at Palestinian civilians, including children, and in many cases deliberately targeting them, killing them and maiming them, often to the cynical applause and praise of said Israeli officials.

Such use of force constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. An unequivocal message must be sent to the occupying Power that the international community will hold it accountable for these violations and crimes and that such impunity will no longer be tolerated.

In this regard, I must again refer to the findings of the independent Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council to investigate incidences from 30 March through 31 December 2018 in the context of the Great March of Return demonstrations. The Commission found – with the exception of one incident on 14 May and one incident on 12 October – reasonable grounds to believe that in all other cases the use of live ammunition by Israeli forces against demonstrators was unlawful, and that demonstrators were shot in violation of their right to life or of the principle of distinction under international humanitarian law. It was further found that, within this nine-month period, an estimated 23,313 Palestinians were injured, in addition to 189 fatalities, including 35 children, 3 paramedics, 2 journalists and 5 persons with disabilities.

Tragically, the casualty figures have continued rising as Israel has persisted in its aggression since the start of the year to the present, as witnessed in the events of recent days. To date, more than 29,000 Palestinians have been injured, 7,000 of them seriously wounded by live ammunition. Moreover, as reported by UN agencies, nearly 26,000 children have required mental health support since the protests began due to the widespread trauma and fear that the pervasive violence and sense of insecurity have caused, deepening the already dire humanitarian situation and psychosocial conditions in the besieged Gaza Strip.

That Israel continues to respond to such commemorations with such insensitivity, disdain and brutality is a reflection of the impunity it has for too long been accorded and too long exploited, allowing it to persist with its distorted narrative, dismissive of the rights, history and even humanity of the Palestinian people. Absent consequences for this criminal behavior, it is clear that such gross and systematic commission of crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, will continue, inflicting more suffering and loss on innocent Palestinian civilians and further diminishing prospects for a just and peaceful solution.

It is beyond high time for accountability. The international community cannot remain silent in the face of such flagrant crimes. The Security Council in particular must shoulder its Charter responsibilities and act to protect civilian lives, prevent further destabilization, and tangibly contribute to the achievement of peace and security. In the absence of action, none of this will be possible and the situation will continue to unravel with disastrous consequences, as alarmingly conveyed to the Security Council in the recent 26 March briefing by the UN Special Coordinator, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov.

We call for the implementation of all relevant UN resolutions and appeal for the international community’s principled positions and solidarity to Palestine to be translated forthwith into serious action. The Charter, international law and UN resolutions provide effective tools for this purpose, including to ensure accountability, which is central to peace and justice. This includes the provisions of Security Council resolution 2334, which, inter alia, called upon all States to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between Israel and the territories that it has occupied since 1967. We urge States to act, individually and collectively, to ensure that neither recognition, nor support, is extended to the occupying Power for its illegal activities and to pursue concrete accountability measures in the face of continued violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including all human rights violations against our people.

This letter is in follow-up to our 663 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the territory of the State of Palestine.  These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 25 March 2019 (A/ES-10/813-S/2019/—), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have this letter made available to the members of the Security Council for their immediate and valuable consideration and also distributed as an official document of the Security Council.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations