While there is broad relief that a Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire agreement has been reached as a result of the mediation efforts of Egypt after nearly two months of the Israeli onslaught against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, it is our somber duty to draw the attention of the international community to the deep suffering of the many victims and the wanton destruction caused by this Israeli military aggression, which continued throughout the days the ceasefire was being negotiated. Even in the final hours, Israel persisted with its lethal use of force – its method of choice regarding any and every issue concerning the Palestinian people under its occupation – inflicting more loss and pain on innocent Palestinian civilians.
At least 12 Palestinians were killed in the last 24 hours before the ceasefire agreement was announced. Among those killed by the occupying forces were: Samer Hamad and Mohammed Dhaher, two utility workers, who were killed by an Israeli airstrike on a vehicle belonging to the Gaza electric company; Mohammed Muin Abu Ajwa and Hassan Omar Al-Sawwaf, who were killed by an Israeli missile strike targeting central Gaza City; Yousef Ghannam, Mohammed Al-Ribati and Ahmed Jarbou, who were killed in an airstrike on Al-Jneinah neighborhood of Rafah; and Mohammed Al-Zaanin, who was killed in an attack on Beit Hanoun. Also killed yesterday in an airstrike was another journalist, Abdallah Murtaja, whose death brings to 17 the number of journalists killed by the occupying forces in this aggression against Gaza.
The continuation of Israeli airstrikes Monday night and yesterday has brought the death toll to 2,143 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority civilians, including children and women, and ensured that the number of injured Palestinians surpassed 11,000 people, many of whom have been critically wounded by Israel’s lethal weaponry and are struggling for their lives, and many of whom will not survive without life-saving medical treatments not available in Gaza.
Moreover, yesterday, 26 August, Israeli occupying forces targeted two more high-rise buildings in Gaza, causing the complete collapse of one and severe damage to the other. While the buildings were evacuated due to warnings of an impending strike, the 16-story “Italian Complex” building in the Nasser neighborhood of Gaza City was reduced to rubble, dispossessing the families that had lived in the 60 apartments of the building and destroying the livelihoods of the owners of shops housed in the building. The damage caused by the strike on the 14-story Al-Basha building in the Rimal area of Gaza has rendered the building uninhabitable and resulted in the injury of 15 Palestinians in the vicinity of the building.
This unjustifiable and deliberate destruction by the occupying Power has rendered hundreds more Palestinians homeless and destitute, in addition to the more than 103,000 people made homeless by this aggression and the hundreds of thousands of families that have been displaced from their homes and communities, many of which have sustained such extensive damage as to be rendered unlivable, the physical, social and human fabric of these communities destroyed by the Israeli onslaught. Moreover, we must underscore the fact that the entire population in Gaza continues to suffer the negative effects of this massive destruction to homes as well as of the water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure.
Clean water, proper sanitation and access to electricity remain scarce, impacting every single aspect of life for the population, including the provision of desperately-needed aid to the displaced, a task made even more monumental under these circumstances, as attested to by UNRWA, OCHA, UNICEF and other organizations on the ground. This is at the core of the humanitarian disaster intentionally and punitively inflicted by Israel, the occupying Power, on the Palestinian people, and for which immediate international assistance is a priority to alleviate the immense and unbearable human suffering. In addition, the grave impact on socio-economic conditions caused by Israel’s destruction of hundreds of schools, hospitals and health facilities, factories, farms, mosques, parks and heritage sites throughout Gaza must also be given due and immediate attention.
In the period ahead, the Palestinian leadership will spare no effort to ensure that the needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza are addressed and that all required efforts and measures are taken to alleviate the suffering caused by the devastation and destruction wrought by Israel, the occupying Power, including immediate efforts for the lifting of the illegitimate, inhumane Israeli blockade on Gaza. We reiterate our appeals to the international community to uphold their political, humanitarian and ethical responsibilities in this regard to ameliorate this catastrophic situation through the generous provision of emergency assistance but also through the provision of hope to our people by the exertion of serious political efforts aimed at comprehensively addressing this crisis and its underlying causes, as all have acknowledged that the status quo ante is unsustainable and unacceptable.
In this regard, urgent efforts must be exerted by the international community, including by the Security Council in accordance with its Charter duties, to address this crisis, including to ensure respect of the ceasefire agreement, and to redress the situation in its entirety, bearing in mind the exigency of providing a political horizon forward. The recurrence of this tragedy in Gaza, as with the recurrence of the tragedies continuously inflicted by the occupying Power throughout the rest of the Occupied State of Palestine, including in East Jerusalem, underscore the urgency of acting collectively and resolutely to end this nearly five-decade-long military occupation – which has breached all tenets of international law and morality – and to finally realize the rights and independence of the Palestinian people, thus fulfilling the global objective of the two-State solution as the cornerstone for peace and security in the region.
This letter is in follow-up to our 519 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the State of Palestine. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 25 August 2014 (A/ES-10/XXX-S/2014/XXX) constitute a basic record of the crimes 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 distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and 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