23 June 2013 – Letter from H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine to H.E. Secretary-General of the United Nations on Israeli violations in the OPT

Excellency, 

 

I write concerning the large-scale offensive assault launched by Israel, the occupying Power, against Palestinian civilians across the occupied West Bank. Since three settlers, illegally transferred by the occupying Power to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, went missing on 13 June 2014, the occupying Power has taken the Palestinian population hostage. For over a week now, Israeli occupation forces have waged an unrelenting and wide-scale campaign against Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps, subjecting the civilian population to a litany of abuses and punitive measures, including a ban on travel for Palestinians residing in Hebron, the largest Palestinian Governorate, home to approximately 800,000 residents.   

 

During this ongoing assault, Israeli occupation forces have raided and ransacked hundreds of homes in the West bank during the dead of night, broken into university campuses and media offices, confiscated private property, including computers and other material, as well as detained over 400 Palestinians, including elected Members of the Legislative Council. This campaign of collective punishment and reprisals has wreaked havoc across the Occupied Palestinian Territory and exacted a heavy human and financial toll. In seven days, Israeli occupation forces killed 5 civilians, including a 13 year-old boy, Mohamad Dudin, from Dura City in the Hebron Governorate. A video of the killing recorded by eyewitnesses clearly shows the child at a distance from the raiding occupation soldiers, who fired live rounds without provocation or justification.  

 

Meanwhile, Israel, the occupying Power, has escalated its assault on the Gaza Strip and its population, placing the besieged Strip under further restrictions regarding travel of persons and entry of goods as well as daily raids on various locations that left several civilians injured, including children. This escalation has further aggravated an already serious humanitarian crisis created by the continued illegal siege on Gaza, imposed by Israel, the occupying Power. 

 

Senior Israeli Ministers and officials have made no secret of the intended goals of this punitive campaign. They have repeatedly stated that the goal was not limited to finding the missing settlers but rather extends to striking at the Hamas movement, including organizations allegedly linked to the movements, as well as to undermine and sabotage the Palestinian national reconciliation. These goals are evident in the conduct and assaults carried out by Israeli occupation forces.  

 

This kind of behavior is illegal and sinister for it serves no other purpose but the terrorization of the civilian population subjected to this kind of assault directly or indirectly. Furthermore, the stated intention to sabotage Palestinian reconciliation has far-reaching consequences and implications as it clearly signals the occupying Power’s intention to continue undermining the Palestinian government, including its standing and credibility in the eyes of the Palestinian public, defenseless and without recourse in facing this assault.  

 

Parallel to this campaign of aggression, Israel, the occupying Power, continues to violate the rights of over five thousands Palestinian prisoners, notably those held under the so-called administrative detention, which constitutes one of the worst forms of arbitrary detention. For 60 days now, two hundreds Palestinian administrative detainees have been on hunger strike protesting their continued illegal imprisonment. The response of the occupying Power has been most disturbing. The Israeli parliament and government are currently working to legislate the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, despite the Israeli doctors’ union’s position rejecting the measure as inhumane and unethical. 

 

Violations of the sanctity of human life require unequivocal condemnation at all time, in all situations, and without exception or discrimination. Similarly, violations of international humanitarian and human rights law must also draw indignation, condemnation, and action from the international community. These principles are universal and do not, in any situation, afford exceptions or exemptions to perpetrators of violations because that would sow impunity and the escalation of aggression. Regrettably, for over 46 years of occupation, Israel, the occupying Power, has carried out actions blatantly and belligerently violating international law with impunity. Yet, these violations, as we have witnessed again over the past week only draw the occasional expression of “concern”. This moral disequilibrium is unacceptable and has severed to encourage the occupying power to further escalate its aggression and disregard of the sanctity of Palestinian lives, with a tacit assurance of lack of accountability or reproach. 

 

The Palestinian people are under a brutal regime of a colonial military occupation that employs all measures including racist policies to maintain its subjection and oppression of our people. Additionally this colonial occupation has illegally transferred over half a million of its citizens to the occupied Palestinian territory thus advancing its colonial agenda and ensuring the components of tension and confrontations are ever present on the ground. Despite Israel’s consistent breaches, including its building of illegal settlements, the Palestinian leadership has demonstrably and clearly affirmed its commitment to international law and signed agreements.  This is born of our commitment to protect our people from Israel’s unrestrained aggression as well as our endorsement of the principles of international law. This is also a clear reflection of our commitment to the path of peace and international legitimacy. Today this path is under assault.  

 

I close by reminding that under the Fourth Geneva Convention the Palestinian population is a protected population whose safety must be assured by all. The United Nations has an unmistakable standing legal and moral responsibility towards the Palestinian people including their protection and the realization of their rights. For the past 67 years, the international system has failed the Palestinian people and the test of credibility by failing to assume these responsibilities. This is neither acceptable nor sustainable, we expect the international community to take the correct and moral stand and put an end to the occupation’s terror campaign. The international community must answer the looming question of whether it views the Palestinian life of equal worth. It must act immediately to protect the Palestinian people from this aggression campaign, which threatens to create chaos and havoc by dangerously undermining Palestinian State institutions. 

 

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.