30 March 2018 – The Killing of Palestinian Civilians on Land Day

Excellency,

I write to bring to your urgent and immediate attention to the dangerous situation unfolding on the ground in the Occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, due to the escalation of Israel’s latest campaign of military aggression and attacks against the civilian population.   In particular, the occupying Power has intensified its onslaught against the besieged Gaza Strip in grave breach of international law, including international humanitarian law and the relevant provisions regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

As we write this letter, at least 15 Palestinian civilians have been killed, and more than 1,400 injured, many of them seriously.  The intensification of Israel’s aggression against the Gaza Strip threatens to further destabilize the situation on the ground and to fully ignite yet another round of deadly violence by Israel. This demands the attention of the international community, particularly the Security Council, which is duty-bound to act to maintain international peace and security. This also demands that our repeated request for international protection for our people be immediately provided in order to avert more bloodshed and to save innocent Palestinian lives.

The majority of the Palestinian civilians who have been tragically killed in the Gaza Strip were killed while they were taking part in a peaceful, non-violent demonstration to mark the 42nd anniversary of “Land Day”, in which six Palestinians were killed in protests against Israel’s illegal expropriation of thousands of dunums of Palestinian land in 1976. In fact, today’s protests, which are aimed at reiterating the right of return for Palestinian refugees, are meant to kick off six-weeks of peaceful protests leading up to the commemoration of Al-Nakba on 15 May 2018.   This year’s commemoration of Al-Nakba will solemnly observe the passage of 70 years since more than 800,000 Palestinians, 70 percent of our people at that time, were forcibly uprooted and expelled from their homes and lands or fled in fear for their lives after brutal massacres were carried out in over 400 Palestinian towns and villages by Zionist terrorist groups in Mandated Palestine in a clear act of ethnic cleansing.

The names of some of the Palestinians tragically killed are Mohammed Najjar, age 25, Mahmoud Muammar, age 38, Mohammed Abu Omar,  age 22, Ahmed Oudeh, age 19, Jihad Freneh, age 33, Mahmoud Saadi Rahmi, age 33, Abdelfattah Abdelnabi, age 22, Ibrahim AbuShaar, age 20, as well as Iyad Abdelal, Abdelqader al-Hawajiri, Sari Abu Odeh, Hamdan Abu Amsheh, Jihad Abu Jamous, Bader al-Sabbagh and Naji Abu Hjai whose ages remains unknown.  Moreover, earlier on Friday, Omar Waheed Abu Samour, a farmer from the  Gaza Strip, was also killed by Israeli artillery fire while standing on his land near Khan Younis, just hours ahead of the peaceful and non-violent demonstrations.

It must be highlighted that Israel, the occupying Power, has been preparing the ground for attacks against disarmed and unprotected Palestinian civilians peacefully protesting during Palestine Land Day with inciting, provocative and violent rhetoric by Israeli officials.  Such incitement even led for statements to be made by human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, which issued a warning yesterday calling on the Israeli occupying forces to “refrain from using excessive force” following reports it had deployed more than 100 snipers with orders “to shoot anyone who breaches the wall between Israel and Gaza.”  In addition to the snipers, the occupying forces also sent armored vehicles, sniffer and attack dogs as well as hundreds of other occupying forces equipped with all sorts of lethal ammunition to use as the please and without regard to Palestinian lives in the Gaza Strip.  It should be recalled that the two million Palestinian civilians in Gaza, 70 percent of whom are registered refugees, already suffer immeasurably from Israel’s ten-year blockade which has led to a dire socio-economic and humanitarian crisis.

It is beyond clear, in words and deeds, the latest incitement by Israeli officials and barbaric violence by its occupying forces against the rights and lives of the Palestinian people have little to do with Israel’s so-called security and everything to do with continuing with its strangulating control over the lives of every Palestinian man, women and child living under its brutal occupation.  It should be stated that the continuation by the occupying Power to violently silence all acts of Palestinian non-violent actions against its systematic dehumanization of the Palestinian people and the denial of their inalienable rights will never succeed.  The people will continue to fight  for their rights, including their rights to be free from occupation and to live in peace, security and with dignity.

Tragically, as we witness the events of today where tens of thousands of Palestinians are peacefully marching throughout the Occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, as well as among the Palestinian population living in Israel and in the Diaspora, the events of today remind us that Al Nakba did not end in 1948 and continues until today.  In this connection,  it is beyond tragic that millions of Palestinians continue to either live in exile as refugees, denied the inalienable right to return to their homes, or continue to live under Israel’s half-century belligerent military occupation of the State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, where they are forced to endure the constant violation of their fundamental human rights, including Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land for illegal settlements, its destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, revocation of residency rights, deportations, recurring brutal military assaults that have resulted in mass civilian casualties such as the ones that took place in Gaza in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014, as well as the denial of the internationally-recognized legal right of return of millions of stateless Palestinian refugees.

We call on the international community to condemn unequivocally Israel’s criminal and illegal actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially in the Gaza Strip. We reiterate our call to the international community, particularly the Security Council, to uphold its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and to bring an immediate end to the occupying Power’s military aggression.  Israel must be held fully accountable for all of its crimes, including today’s most recent killings of innocent Palestinian civilians, in accordance with international law and the principles of justice. With the high number of deaths today, we call once more on the international community, particularly the Security Council, to act now to provide protection to the Palestinian people and to diffuse this volatile situation, which clearly constitutes a threat to international peace and security. As we have stated in the past, the Palestinian people cannot remain the exception to the international commitments to and obligations under international law, including the obligation to protect civilians from atrocities and grave breaches.

This letter is in follow-up to our 627 previous 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 6 March 2018 (A/55/433-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 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