10 December 2013 – Rising Tensions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Excellency,

We are compelled to draw your attention to the continuously rising tensions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem – the territory constituting the State of Palestine.

The Israeli occupying forces continue to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians, including against children and including against peaceful demonstrators, causing death and injury and destruction of property.  Moreover, Israel, the occupying Power, has been unrelenting in its pursuit of illegal colonization practices, with settlement and wall construction continuing unabated, and its imposition of collective punishment measures on the Palestinian people.  The negative impact of such Israeli breaches on the situation on the ground is vast, as reflected in the rising tensions, the deteriorating socio-economic conditions, and the deepening pessimism vis-à-vis the potential for the success of the peace negotiations and the viability of the two-State solution.  Day after day, rather than engendering trust and confidence in the political process, as Israel continues to raise serious doubts regarding its true intentions, undermining the process and compounding skepticism and anger among the Palestinian people.

One of the most recent victims of Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation was a 14 year-old Palestinian boy, Wajih Wajdi Al-Ramahi, who was shot dead by Israeli occupying forces near Al-Jalazoun refugee camp while he was walking home on Saturday, 7 December.  The young boy was shot with live ammunition by an Israeli sniper from a watchtower in the nearby Israeli settlement of “Bet El”.  Witnesses said that the boy had been playing soccer with his friends before heading to the store to buy drinks on Saturday, when he was suddenly struck by a bullet in his back while he was in front of the school.  Tragically, as his family, friends and community mourn his death, their pain is compounded by the fact that the killing of this child by the Israeli occupying forces will likely be without consequence, as we continue to witness Israeli soldiers and settlers continue to kill, injure and maim Palestinian civilians without any accountability for the perpetration of these crimes.

At the same time, Israel has continued to use violence and excessive force against Palestinian civilians partaking in protests against the occupation, particularly against the settlements and the wall, and against Israeli aggressions and provocations at Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Occupied East Jerusalem.  Last Friday, 6 December, Israeli occupying forces attacked unarmed civilians participating in the weekly protests against Israel’s annexation wall and settlements and in marches commemorating the life of the late President of South Africa Nelson Mandela in recognition of his historic march for freedom, his legacy of peace and justice, and his unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Dozens of Palestinians were detained in those protests and dozens more were injured by Israeli gunfire and teargas canisters shot at them and from teargas inhalation during the protests in Bil’in, Al-Ma’sara, Kafr Qaddum, Nabi Saleh as well as at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

With regard in specific to Israel’s incessant aggressions and provocations at Al-Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque, we are compelled to once again draw the international community’s attention to the dangers of this situation, as Israel continues to fuel tensions and provoke religious sensitivities and conflict.  We condemn and reject all Israeli measures and attempts to illegally alter the character, historic and religious identity and legal status of these holy sites and demand a halt to any and all such measures throughout Occupied East Jerusalem. This must include a halt to all illegal practices also aimed at altering the demographic composition of the City, foremost the Israeli settlement campaign in all its manifestations, as well as the demolition of Palestinian homes and the revocation of Palestinian residency rights in the City, by which Palestinian families continue to be forcibly displaced by the occupying Power in grave breach of international humanitarian law.

We call on the international community, including the Security Council, to give due attention to the rising tensions and the critical situation prevailing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem.  We refer here to the Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) today in Conakry, Guinea calling for a meeting of the Security Council to address the critical situation in Jerusalem.  The resumption of peace negotiations does not absolve the Security Council of its Charter responsibilities to address matters affecting international peace and security, including such illegal and dangerous actions by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people and their holy sites.  Serious efforts must be made to demand and ensure Israeli compliance with international law, relevant United Nations resolutions and the will of the international community before the situation further deteriorates.

This letter is in follow-up to our previous 477 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 27 November 2013 (A/ES-10/607-S/2013/708) 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 the text of the present letter made available to the members of the Security Council for their immediate and valuable consideration.

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

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations