30 June 2014 – Israeli aggression and collective punishment of the Palestinian People

Excellency,

I regret to inform you that Israel is escalating its military assaults and human rights violations against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied State of Palestine.  In the past several days, air strikes and excessive force by the occupying Power have caused death and injury to more Palestinian civilians, including children, especially in the besieged Gaza Strip.   It should be stated that the intensification of Israel’s aggression against the Occupied State of Palestine threatens to further destabilize the situation on the ground and to fully ignite yet another round of deadly violence. This demands the attention of the international community, particularly the Security Council, which is duty-bound to act to maintain international peace and security. 

For the past two weeks, on a nearly-nightly basis, the Israeli occupying forces have carried out missile air strikes and artillery bombardment of civilian areas in the Gaza Strip, in grave violation of international law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.  In this regard, yesterday, 29 June 2014, on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, Israeli tanks bombarded the town of Al-Qarara located to the northeast of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Strip, killing Mohammed Zayed Obeid and wounding three others, including one who is in critical condition.  This latest military attack came on the heels of an Israeli attack that took placeon Friday, 27 June 2014, in which Israeli occupying forces carried out an extrajudicial execution and fired rockets at a civilian vehicle driving near Al-Shatei camp west of the city of Gaza.  The air strike killed two Palestinians, Mohammed Al-Faseeh, 23, and Osama Al-Hassumi, 26, and wounded several others. Also on Friday, Israeli tank fire injured five Palestinians, including two children, two women and two men in their 20s in the town of Khuzaa’ east of Khan Yunis.  In addition to the killing and injury of Palestinians, the above military attacks by occupying forces caused extensive damage to Palestinian properties throughout the Gaza Strip, with civilian infrastructure bearing the brunt of the attacks.

 

Today, I must also draw your attention to the simultaneous escalation of Israeli military operations throughout the West Bank, signaling a deliberate Israeli attempt to intensify tensions and confrontations on all fronts.  In this regard, measures of collective punishment, such as the violent raids into Palestinian towns and villages and mass arrests and detention of Palestinian civilians, many of them youth, have continued further fueling tensions and resentment among the Palestinian population against the oppressive policies by the occupying Power. The number of Palestinians who have now been detained by the occupying Power has risen to over 575, which includes 24 members of the Palestinian legislative Council.

Moreover, in addition to the above measures of collective punishment, Israeli occupying forces have also continued to use excessive and indiscriminate force against the Palestinian civilian population. The rising death toll includes the death of Sakhr Burhan Daraghmeh, 18,   who was killed while tending to his sheep near Al-Maleh in the northern Jordan Valley on Saturday, 21 June.   Also on that Saturday, an elderly Palestinian man died of heart attack when Israeli occupying forces raided his house in the village of Hares, north of Salfit in the West Bank. Israeli occupying forces refused to allow family members to evacuate him to hospital where he could have received life-saving medical treatment. Moreover, on Sunday, 22 June, Israeli occupying forces killed Mohammed Mahmoud Al-Toraifi, 30, during an Israeli incursion into the West Bank city of Ramallah.  On that same day, Ahmed Sa’eed Khaled, 27, was also killed during an Israeli incursion into Al-Ain camp east of Nablus on his way to perform Al-Fajr (dawn) prayer.  When Ahmed refused to return back to his home, Israeli occupying forces shot him several times from point-blank range.

 

The Palestinian leadership condemns in the strongest terms these Israeli military attacks and the measures of collective punishment by the occupying power against the Palestinian civilian population. We call on the international community, including the Security Council, to hold Israel, the occupying Power, accountable for these crimes of aggression and brutality, including deliberate reprisals and collective punishment, against the Palestinian people and to bring to an immediate end this renewed cycle of violence.  We also reiterate the demand for the immediate and full lifting of the inhumane, illegal and immoral blockade imposed by Israel, the occupying Power, on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, which amounts to the collective punishment of 1.7 million people.  This blockade, coupled with the constant death, destruction and trauma inflicted by the occupying Power, has gravely compounded their suffering and misery.  The international community, particularly the Security Council, cannot continue to stand idly by while the law is breached and international peace and security are threatened.  In this regard, serious, timely efforts are needed to uphold the legal obligation to protect the Palestinian people under occupation and to ensure respect of the law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

 

This letter is in follow-up to our 499 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 20 June 2014 (A/ES-10/632-S/2014/429) 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 distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.