27 February 2019 – Israeli Crimes and Provocations against the Palestinian People

Excellency,

I write once again to urgently draw attention to the deteriorating situation in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, as Israel, the occupying Power, persists with its aggressions against the Palestinian people in breach of international law, United Nations resolutions and bilateral agreements. While Israeli officials continue spewing hateful and inflammatory rhetoric against our people and leadership in the run up to the Israeli elections, the Israeli Government is intensifying its illegal, repressive measures aimed at proving its brutality against our people in the race for right-wing votes.

Such extremism has heightened insecurity and resulted in the loss of more innocent Palestinian lives, including children. Yet another young boy has been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, which continue using live ammunition against unarmed civilian protesters. On 22 February, as Palestinians in Gaza demonstrated during the 48th week of the Great March of Return, Yousef Sa’id Al-Daya, age 14, was shot in the chest with live ammunition in another display of excessive and indiscriminate force by the Israeli military, which also caused injury to 115 people, including 16 children, 10 women, a journalist and a paramedic. We call for accountability for his murder and the murders of the hundreds of innocent civilians that have preceded him. The perpetrators of these ruthless crimes cannot go unpunished.

Moreover, we reiterate our call for international protection for our people for as long as this illegal Israeli occupation and blockade continue.  More than 250 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and more than 27,000 civilians have been injured by the Israeli occupying forces since the protests began last year. We also call for immediate efforts to help de-escalate this increasingly tense and dangerous situation. The international community, including the Security Council, cannot continue to ignore the warning signals; saving human lives, averting further destabilization and salvaging the prospects for peace require immediate, collective action.

In this regard, we again draw attention to the destabilizing effect of Israel’s withholding of Palestinian tax revenues, a punitive, unlawful act of piracy. We reject Israel’s cynical claims regarding the money being provided as a means of assistance to and constituting a vital safety net for among the most vulnerable families in our society in attempt to exert pressure on our Government and further deprive these families. Moreover, we reject the malicious labeling of our people as terrorists, including children being cruelly held captive in the occupation’s jails or killed by the savagery of the occupying forces and extremist settlers.

As stressed by the UN Special Coordinator and Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Nikolay Mladenov, at the Security Council on 20 February, “unilateral measures, continuing violence, financial pressures and a lack of progress towards peace are exacting a heavy toll on Palestinian society and undermining the foundations of peace”. We call on the international community to demand an end to such provocations and aggressions against our people and leadership and urge efforts for de-escalation and ensuring Israel’s respect for international law and bilateral agreements.

While continuing to call upon the Security Council to break its silence and act, we also call for deployment of the good offices of the Secretary-General and efforts by his Special Representative towards preventing further destabilization and promoting solutions to the prevailing crises, which are exacerbating tensions and mistrust and worsening the already-critical socio-economic situation on the ground.

Here, we also underscore the dangers of ongoing provocations against holy sites and worshippers in Occupied East Jerusalem. In the past week, Israel has taken further steps to alter the historic status quo of occupied Jerusalem, particularly in relation to the closure of Al-Rahma Gate, which has been illegally closed since 2003. The recent lockdown of Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, long-term closure of Al-Rahma Gate, arrest of the Waqf Council Chairman, Sheikh Abdel-Azeem Salhab and his deputy, and attacks on worshippers should not be seen as isolated events. All of these acts are part of broader Israeli policies to alter the character, status and demography of Occupied East Jerusalem and transform it into a Jewish-only city. The international community, in line with Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, must convey a firm message to the occupying Power demanding cessation of all such illegal policies and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and compliance with all of its legal obligations under international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, which explicitly prohibits such actions.

The same unequivocal message must be conveyed in regards to Israel’s illegal settlement activities, including the establishment of new settlements, the enlargement of existing ones, construction of the wall, and confiscation of Palestinian land, which continue unabated in grave breach of international humanitarian law and international criminal law and flagrant contempt of the Security Council and its relevant resolutions. Just this week, announcements have been made regarding the approval and plans to proceed with the construction of hundreds of more illegal settlement units in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including, inter alia, 464 units in the illegal settlement of “Gilo” in Occupied East Jerusalem. The acceleration of such blatant acts of colonization is also part and parcel of Israeli electioneering as politicians pander to those seeking the annexation of the Palestinian land in their drive for “Greater Israel”.

These violations must be unequivocally condemned, and Israel, the occupying Power, must be called upon to comply with the global demands, as articulated by the Security Council in resolution 2334 (2016) and numerous other resolutions, to immediately and completely cease all acts of settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, without exception. This illegal occupation must end and this must begin with an end to the usurpation and colonization of the Palestinian land.

As LAO stressed by the Council in resolution 2334 (2016), significant steps must be taken to stabilize the situation and reverse these negative trends on the ground, which are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality. As widely recognized, if not reversed, these actions will destroy the viability of the two-State solution on the 1967 borders, on which an international consensus continues to prevail and which must be defended and actively pursued with concrete measures, including measures to hold Israel accountable if it persists with its violations, its contempt of the Council and its destruction of peace.

If left unaddressed, the current trends can only lead to further destabilization and violence and further erosion of belief in the possibility of a just peace. The Palestinian people and leadership remain committed to a peaceful solution, but the neglect of this situation, which has permitted Israel to carry on with its crimes without consequence, is deepening mistrust and despair and shaking convictions in the international community’s commitments and ability to ensure justice and realization of their rights, including to freedom.

We urge the international community, foremost the Security Council, to heed the warnings, to hear their pleas and to uphold the responsibilities in this regard. The international community must no longer tolerate the occupying Power’s empty pretexts, deception and blatant contempt for international law and must act collectively to hold Israel accountable for its violations and crimes and salvage the prospects for the realization of peace and justice in this year.

This letter is in follow-up to our 659 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 19 February 2019 (A/ES-10/___-S/2018/___) 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