9 September 2019 – Continued violations against the civilian population in Gaza and Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons

Excellency,

Despite our repeated appeals for urgent international action to deter Israel from its criminal behavior towards the Palestinian people, the absence of serious efforts to hold the occupying Power accountable and reign it in, has only made our people more vulnerable to the brutality of this illegal occupation.

I regret that I am therefore compelled to once again draw your attention to loss of innocent lives at the hands of this belligerent occupation and to convey yet another urgent appeal on behalf of the Palestinian people and their leadership for the international community to take responsible and prompt action to stop the intentional killing and injuring of Palestinian civilians by Israeli occupying forces.

For the 73rd week of the Great Return March, Palestinian civilians, women, men and children in the besieged Gaza Strip, have continued to exercise their fundamental rights of expression, assembly, and association in the context of peaceful protests that continue to be held as part of their resistance against the Israeli occupation, oppression and dispossession of our people. For the 73rd week in a row, Palestinian protestors have been attacked, killed and maimed by the occupying Power, which continues to prove its blatant disregard for Palestinian lives.

Friday’s attacks by the Israeli occupying forces on unarmed Palestinian civilian protesters caused the death of two Palestinian children and caused injury to more than 80 Palestinian civilians. The two young boys murdered were Khaled Abu Bakr El Rebai, age 14, and Ali Sami Al-Ashqar, age 17.

In total, since the start of the protests in March 2018, over 310 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces and nearly 34,000 others have been injured, 8,000 of whom have been injured by live ammunition, many suffering lifelong injuries and permanent disabilities. This most recent attack on the Palestinian civilian population only reinforces the deep sense of despair and anger permeating the population suffering under this ruthless Israeli occupation.

It cannot be forgotten that all of this is happening against the backdrop of over fifty-two years of Israel’s foreign occupation and brutal repression, collective punishment, and constant dehumanization and humiliation of the Palestinian civilian population, which has been compounded by its suffocating, illegal and inhumane air, land and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. It is well-known that the Great March of Return was initiated by youth in Gaza calling for an end to this vicious 12-year Israeli blockade that has deprived them of all of their rights and any sense of normalcy in life, and calling for the Palestinian right of return to the lands and homes that their families were brutally expelled from by Israel in the Nakba of 1948.

The international community must not remain silent in the face of this illegal and unjust situation. As Israel persists with its willful and wanton killing and maiming of Palestinian civilians, in grave breach of international humanitarian law, we again call for international protection for the Palestinian people as a matter of urgency. As our people continue to suffer the wrath of this occupation in all its forms – including the suffering by thousands of Palestinians, among them children, being held in captivity in the occupying Power’s prisons and detention centers, where yet another Palestinian, Bassem Al Sayeh, has died of medical neglect – and as the international community continues to fail to take accountability measures against the occupying Power it has only become more emboldened in its impunity.

Continued silence will only convey a regrettable message to our people that their lives are dispensable, not worth the time of the international community, not worth protecting. We call instead for sending a strong message that the protection of all civilian lives is a priority in any and all circumstances and that it is indeed integral for preserving and advancing the prospects for a just peace and coexistence.

The international community, in particular the Security Council, must demand Israel’s compliance with international law, including humanitarian law and human rights law, and with all relevant resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016). It must demand an end to all violations, including the killing and injury of civilians, and must be prepared to act seriously and responsibly to hold it accountable if faced with continued contempt and non-compliance. The time is way overdue to stop dealing with Israel as a state above the law. No country is above the law, including Israel.

This letter is in follow-up to our 673 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 9 August 2019 (A/ES-10/813-S/2019/—), 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.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer

of the State of Palestine to the United Nations