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I write to you today to express, once again, our grave concern about the increasingly deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as a result of Israel’s grave breaches of international humanitarian law against the Palestinian people. Such actions come at a time when expressed political statements from the Israeli side have painted a deceptive picture of peace promotion and mutual respect.
The Israeli occupying forces continue to carry out incursions into Palestinian towns and neighbourhoods across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, wreaking havoc and spreading destruction and death among the civilian population. In the pre-dawn hours of yesterday, 14 August 2007, Israeli tanks and bulldozers charged into the Gaza Strip, waging a large-scale operation against the town of Abasan in Khan Younis in the south, and Beit Lahia in the north. During these incursions, Israeli occupying forces killed seven Palestinians, including a 60-year-old woman, along with her son and grandson, and injured 25 others. Moreover, almost 100 Palestinians were also illegally detained and subjected to humiliating treatment and stripped of their most basic rights. Also, today, 15 August 2007, Israeli occupying forces stormed the city of Nablus in the West Bank, laying siege to entire neighbourhoods and arresting a number of residents.
Aside from the daily illegal detention campaigns of Palestinians, Israel, the occupying Power, also continues to hold almost 11,000 Palestinians in its prisons and detention centres, including 45 elected officials. Palestinian detainees are subjected to appalling treatment, humiliation and torture, in grave violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Just yesterday, Israeli prison authorities violently assaulted detainees in Nafha Prison, using special forces and dogs to attack the prison cells and to physically abuse the detainees and strip search them.
Israel, the occupying Power, also extends its grave breaches of Palestinian rights to the Palestinian people’s holy sites. On Monday, 13 August 2007, Israeli occupying forces sealed off the Ibrahimi Mosque in the city of Al-Khalil and prevented Muslim worshippers from praying inside. In this regard, we note that all recent reports, including those issued by Israeli human rights organizations, have concluded that Israeli occupying forces are exercising an ethnic cleansing policy against Palestinians in Al-Khalil with the aim of vacating its original inhabitants from the city by implementing a series of illegal measures. These measures have choked the economic and social life out of this historic Palestinian city and allowed extremist Israeli settlers to wreak havoc in the city and attack its Palestinian residents and their property on a daily basis.
The international community, including the Palestinian people, look forward to the upcoming international conference, and hopes that such a conference proves beneficial to the promotion of the cause of peace. However, as clearly expressed by the Palestinian leadership, concrete confidence-building and peace-promoting measures must be taken in preparation of this conference. Rather than building bridges of confidence and peace, Israel, the occupying Power, continues to take aggressive and illegal measures that deepen mistrust and increase animosity between our peoples.
Israel, the occupying Power, will only continue to deliberately commit its systematic human rights violations as long as it continues to believe it can act against the Palestinian people under its occupation with impunity. The international community, in accordance with the rules and principles of international law, including international humanitarian law, has clear responsibilities in terms of ensuring the proper conduct of the occupying Power, including compliance with its legal obligations and commitments, and we continue to express our strongest hopes that the necessary measures will be taken in this regard.
This letter is in follow-up to our previous 291 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 6 August 2007 (A/ES-10/395-S/2007/475), 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 profound regret to inform you that the number of Palestinian civilians that have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces since September 2000 now totals 4,638 people. (The names of the martyrs 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.