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It is my deep regret to inform you that the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have begun their new year under increasing assault by Israel, the occupying Power, which has intensified its illegitimate military campaign against the Palestinian civilian population, killing and wounding more people, including women and children. Such military aggressions and violations of international law by the occupying Power threaten to further destabilize the extremely fragile situation on the ground and to completely undermine the momentum and good will created during the recent period by the Annapolis and Paris conferences and resumed bilateral negotiations.
The Israeli occupying forces have been carrying out a series of lethal raids and attacks against towns and cities in the Gaza Strip in recent days. On Wednesday, 2 January 2008, the occupying forces launched air missile attacks against the Al-Shujaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City, killing at least six Palestinians and wounding dozens, while military bulldozers barrelled through the neighbourhood, causing destruction to property and later razing vast tracts of agricultural land.
This attack was followed on Thursday, 3 January 2008, by Israeli tank and warplane bombings across the Gaza Strip that resulted in the killing of at least nine Palestinians, bringing terror, grief and devastation to more Palestinian families. Among the civilians killed were five members of one family in Khan Younis, including a mother, Karima Fayyad, her daughter, Asmaa’ Hamdan Fayyad, her two sons, Sami and Ahmad Hamdan Fayyad, and her nephew Mohammad Khodair Fayyad. Several children were seriously wounded as well in the assaults carried out yesterday in the Gaza Strip, with nearly 30 more Palestinians injured as a result of the heavy tank shelling, missile strikes and machine gunfire by the Israeli occupying forces, which also deliberately blew up homes and levelled agricultural fields in the area. In addition to the death and destruction caused, many of those civilians wounded remain in critical condition in Gaza hospitals that continue to be overwhelmed due to the shortage of supplies and medicines resulting from the ongoing Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and the continuing humanitarian crisis.
Today, the Israeli occupying forces continued to carry out attacks in the Gaza Strip, killing two Palestinian men in the town of Beit Hanoun. Earlier in the week, on Sunday, 30 December 2007, Beit Hanoun was also the scene of death and tragedy as the Israeli occupying forces opened fire at a crossing point where pilgrims were returning to the Gaza Strip. The attack resulted in the killing of one Palestinian woman, Khaldiyya Ahmad Hamdan, who had just returned from the hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca, and wounded at least five other people.
Israel, the occupying Power, has also been carrying out major military operations in the West Bank, particularly in and around the cities of Nablus, Tulkarem and Bethlehem, totally undermining the efforts being undertaken by Palestinian Authority security forces, which had been increasingly effective in recent weeks. On Wednesday, 2 January 2008, hundreds of Israeli soldiers in armoured vehicles raided the city of Nablus and the Balata refugee camp there and imposed a curfew on the civilian population. Forced house-to-house searches were carried out by the occupying forces, resulting in the injury of at least 33 Palestinians and the arrest and detention of several others.
At the same time, Israel has not undertaken measures to ease the severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian persons and goods throughout the West Bank and particularly into and out of East Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Moreover, in grave breach of international humanitarian law, in violation of United Nations resolutions and in total disrespect for its road map commitments, Israel continues to carry out settlement activities and also continues to construct the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Such illegitimate, expansionist measures by the occupying Power continue to create facts on the ground that will prejudice final status negotiations and continue to poison the atmosphere between the two sides, seriously harming the prospects for peace.
In this connection, I must also draw your attention to the violence and intimidation that continue to be perpetrated by illegal Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Two of many examples include the killing of a Palestinian man, Wasfi Al-Khateeb, who was run over by an Israeli settler in a car in the village of Na’leen, west of Ramallah in the West Bank, on 29 December 2007 and later died, on 30 December. Also, on Wednesday, 2 January 2008, a group of Israeli settlers set fire to the historic Al-Hamadiyya Mosque, in the village of Al-Khader, near Bethlehem, using beehives stolen from a nearby Palestinian farm to set the blaze. In this regard, it should be noted that the settlers from the illegal settlements surrounding Al-Khader have been making repeated attempts to seize land from the village and have continuously been harassing and terrorizing the civilian population there.
All of these continuing Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, must be of concern to the international community, for their continuation and escalation can only fuel the cycle of violence and bring more instability, tragedy and loss, worsening the situation on the ground and dimming the prospects for peace. Serious efforts must be exerted by the international community, including the United Nations Security Council, to bring an end to such violations of international law by Israel, the occupying Power, and to compel Israel to abide by its legal obligations and commitments and to carry out much-needed confidence-building measures. At the same time, efforts must continue to be exerted to further promote the positive momentum generated by recent important international conferences in order to halt the deterioration of the situation and support the advancement of resumed bilateral negotiations between the parties on critical final status issues.
The present letter is in follow-up to our previous 304 letters to you regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 28 December 2007 (A/ES-10/408-S/2007/766), 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, State terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
In follow-up to the above-mentioned letters, it is my deep regret to inform you that at least 23 more Palestinian civilians, including children, have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, raising the total number of martyrs killed since September 2000 to 4,862 (the names of the martyrs that have been identified are listed in the annex to the present letter).
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter and its annex distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.