21 October 2019 – Israeli Settler Aggressions at Al-Aqsa Mosque and against Palestinian Civilians

Excellency,

I am compelled to draw your urgent attention to ongoing and escalating aggressions by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people in their land and their homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, actions which continue to cause immense human suffering and to aggravate tensions, risking further destabilization of this situation, which continues to pose a threat to international peace and security.Violent attacks against civilians, destruction of property, and appalling acts of incitement and provocation, including at holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem, are being perpetrated by the Israeli occupying forces and extremist Israeli settlers in violation of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, and in grave violation of Israel’s obligations under the relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), which specifically calls for an end to Israel’s settlement activities and an end to all acts of violence, provocation and incitement.

Such violations have no doubt been bolstered by the Israeli government’s rising threats of annexation and incessant acts of settlement colonization, the engine of this illegal occupation. Of gravest concern have been the repeated aggressions by Israeli settlers at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, and continues to be a flashpoint for such aggressive, illegal behavior. This has involved repeated attacks against Palestinian worshippers and other acts of provocation and incitement, including mounting rhetoric for takeover of the holy site by radical Jewish extremists.

This Sunday, 20 October, witnessed yet another such violent incursion by approximately 400 extremist settlers at the holy site, who provoked Muslim worshippers at the site with their inflammatory rhetoric and hostile behavior. It is estimated by the Islamic Waqf that more than 2,700 settlers have carried out incursions at the holy site since the Jewish holiday of Sukkot began last week. And, yet again, they were accompanied and protected by Israeli occupying forces, who also attacked the worshippers and prevented them from entering the holy site. 

At a time of heightened awareness in the international community about the need to protect religious sites and worshippers from such extremist attacks, it is shocking that this occurs on a near daily basis at Al-Haram Al-Sharif without consequence for the perpetrators and with little to no regard for the great risks posed by such provocative and violent actions despite our repeated warnings. We thus warn once again about the dangers of outbreak of a religious conflict that would have far-reaching implications for regional and international peace and security, and call once again for full respect of the historic and legal status quo at this holy site and for full respect of all relevant UN resolutions.

I must also draw attention to continuing intimidation and assaults by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. OCHA has reported at least 243 incidents where Israeli settlers have killed, injured or damaged Palestinian property thus far in 2019. Escalating attacks are being carried out in the context of our olive harvest season, which is a central economic, social and cultural event for the Palestinian people every autumn and which is routinely exploited by Israeli settlers to harass and attack Palestinians and assert their illegal presence and control.

Under the watch of occupying forces, armed and fanatic settlers have been attacking defenseless Palestinian farmers and families across the occupied West Bank, from areas in the north in Jenin and Tulkarem, to Nablus and Ramallah, to the areas in the south in Bethlehem and Al-Khalil (Hebron). Recent attacks have involved the physical assault and injury of Palestinian civilians, including children, the burning and uprooting of more than a hundred olive trees, and the stoning and vandalizing of homes and vehicles, terrorizing the population and destroying livelihoods. Rather than protecting the occupied civilian population, as obliged under IHL, the occupying forces have done nothing to stop the settler attacks, instead detaining Palestinians, including children, as well as international supporters, and forcing farmers to leave their lands, preventing harvest of their crops.

Coupled with the rise in destruction of Palestinian properties – estimated by OCHA to be 40% higher than the same period in 2018 – the coercive environment caused by this illegal occupation is becoming unbearable for our civilian population. Following the demolition of 10 residential buildings, comprising 70 homes, in the Sur Bahir/Wadi al-Hummus area of Occupied East Jerusalem, recent weeks witnessed the demolition of another 31 Palestinian homes and structures in the occupied West Bank, rendering homeless another 52 civilians, including refugee families, and affecting 98 others. The occupying Power also continues to destroy humanitarian assistance, such a donor-funded solar panel in Al-Khalil (Hebron), maliciously and systematically deepening the de-development of Palestine.We call on the international community to act now, in line with international legal obligations, including in line with UN resolutions, to prevent attacks on innocent civilians, to ensure their protection and ensure the protection and sanctity of the holy sites, and to avert escalation of this already volatile and dangerous situation. Action must be taken, collectively and individually, to hold Israel accountable for all violations perpetrated in the context of, and as a result of, this illegal occupation.

Failure to ensure accountability will only continue to embolden the occupation’s contempt of international law and the international community, including as represented by the Security Council, with grave repercussions on the Palestinian people, the Israeli people, and the prospects for a peaceful solution. We call on the Security Council to act forthwith to address this continuing threat to international peace and security and to implement its relevant resolutions. A clear message must be sent to Israel, the occupying Power, that it must comply with international law or face consequences.

This letter is in follow-up to our 675 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 12 September 2019 (A/ES-10/826S/2019/739), 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, valuable consideration and also distributed as an official document of the Security Council

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

Signature_English

Dr. Riyad MansourAmbassador,

Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine

to the United Nations