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Protection of civilians in armed conflict
Report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict (S/2007/643)
The President: I now give the floor to the representative of Israel.
Mr. Carmon (Israel): Mr. President, allow me to congratulate you on your able stewardship of the Council this month and to thank you for convening this important thematic debate. I also wish to thank the Secretary-General for his statement and to extend our compliments to Under-Secretary-General Holmes for the ongoing humanitarian work being carried out on the ground by him and by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
At the outset, however, it is important to fill in some of the missing pieces that, to our disappointment, were absent from the Under-Secretary-General’s briefing this morning. He described the situation in the Gaza Strip as if there are only Palestinian hardships, but no Palestinian terrorism — the very reason for the closures and restrictions in the first place. It is impossible to refer to any situation giving only one side, and this is true for all conflicts in the world.
In our region, for example, just yesterday alone, there were three major security violations by Palestinian terrorists, one of which resulted in the cold-blooded murder of an Israeli citizen in the West Bank. When Israel raises concerns regarding its security, they are not theoretical. The threats to Israeli life from Palestinian terrorism are dangerous and lethal, and they demand that Israel take measures in self-defence — as any responsible Government would do.
That said, Israel works with the United Nations here at Headquarters and on the ground to ensure humanitarian access to civilians in need and will continue to do so.
My delegation takes note of the sixth report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict (S/2007/643). However, we wish to place on record our strong reservations and concerns regarding several elements in the report that, in our view, mistakenly portray certain rules of international law and offer a misguided picture of the conflict in our region. In the interest of time, I will be brief and thus refer delegations to the full statement that is being circulated. The statement can also be found on our Mission’s website.
A snapshot of conflicts around the world reminds us of the growing threats to civilian life and security triggered by forces of extremism and instability. The report of the Secretary-General rightfully notes that terrorist groups
“have resorted to strategies that flagrantly violate international humanitarian law, such as deliberate attacks against civilians, including suicide bombings, as well as hostage-taking and intentional placement of combatants and other military objectives amid civilian infrastructure” ( S/2007/643, para. 7).
Regrettably, however, the report fails to describe that phenomenon for what it truly is: terrorism.
That blatant disregard by terrorists for the sanctity of human life is a brutal maliciousness we have seen even among their own populations. Abuse, manipulation and the endangerment of civilians are at the heart of the terrorists’ modus operandi and tactics. In Lebanon, Hizbullah stored its rockets inside homes and launched attacks from positions nestled within the fabric of civilian life and in proximity to places of worship and hospitals. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian terrorists firing Qassam rockets employ similar methods.
Additionally, in the Gaza Strip, we have witnessed violence against Israel accompanied by intra-Palestinian violence, with a deliberate disregard for the rights of civilians, including incidents of abduction, torture and execution, and attacks against hospitals and media institutions.
Regarding the report of the Secretary-General, I wish to comment specifically on three main issues of concern.
Thirdly and lastly, the issue of refugees in any situation of armed conflict is but one issue among many. That is equally true for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel and the Palestinians have already agreed to discuss that outstanding issue as part of the overall settlement of the conflict in its entirety. My delegation strongly feels that it is incorrect to isolate one issue in armed conflict and that doing so could entail prejudging an outcome that should be left for the parties to determine themselves.
The meeting rose at 5.25 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. The final text will be printed in the Official Records of the Security Council . Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A.