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In the early hours of this morning, Wednesday, 8 November 2006, Israeli occupying forces shelled a residential neighbourhood with 12 missiles in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, killing 19 civilians and wounding at least 54, 15 seriously. These civilians were shelled in their sleep or while they were fleeing the shelling in the neighbourhood of Al-Kafarneh, where two homes were specifically targeted. The victims included 16 members of one family, Al-Athamneh, including a one-month-old baby, a one-year-old baby girl, seven other children and six women. Palestinian medical personnel have been unable to identify several victims due to the severe burns and the separation, shattering and distortion of body parts caused by explosives of a non-conventional nature. Doctors in the Gaza Strip insist that these kinds of severe injuries are caused by a weapon that Israel, the occupying Power, started using in the Gaza Strip six months ago.
This horrific crime took place less than 24 hours after the Israeli occupying forces declared an end to their aggression in the area, which has been carried out since 1 November 2006 and left over 100 dead and over 350 injured, many seriously. Alongside their crimes in Gaza, Israeli occupying forces killed five Palestinians in Al-Yamoun village, near Jenin in the West Bank. There are signs that four of them were executed after their arrest by the Israeli occupying forces.
These despicable crimes took place following a letter from President Mahmoud Abbas to the President of the Security Council in which he called upon the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and to stop Israel’s brutal crimes against Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun and elsewhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. In this regard, and with a sense of great urgency, we call on the international community to exert concerted efforts to launch an independent investigation into Israel’s deliberate targeting and killing of Palestinian civilians. The United Nations should examine these atrocities committed by Israel, the occupying Power, and take action to bring them to an end.
In line with the above-mentioned developments, it is starkly evident that Israel, the occupying Power, is destroying all chances for peace and escalating the situation on the ground by causing as much death and destruction as possible in the Occupied Palestinian Territory through the deliberate use of excessive, indiscriminate and completely disproportionate force against the Palestinian civilian population.
Indeed, in both word and action, Israel, the occupying Power, has indicated that it will in fact continue with its aggression and illegal policies, further compounding the suffering of the Palestinian people, who are already forced to bear inhumane conditions under its brutal occupation. Hence, we continue to call on the international community to take action to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to cease immediately its military aggression and to scrupulously abide by international law, particularly the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
The present letter is in follow-up to our previous 270 letters to you regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000. Those letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 3 November 2006 (A/ES-10/364-S/2006/862), constitute a basic record of the crimes 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 profound regret to inform you that, since our last letter to you, at least 59 more Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, raising the total number of martyrs killed since September 2000 to 4,385 (see annex).
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.