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Israel, the occupying Power, continues its campaign of systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. This has included escalation of its unlawful arbitrary detention and imprisonment of Palestinian civilians, including women and children and numerous Palestinian officials. Arrests and round-ups of Palestinian civilians are carried out by the occupying Power on a daily basis, with the number of Palestinians imprisoned or detained in Israeli jails totalling more than 11,000 people.
Today, the Israeli occupying forces launched a wide arrest campaign throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, arresting more than thirty Palestinian officials, including a Cabinet Minister, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and several mayors, and arresting dozens of other civilians, particularly in the Nablus, Qalqilya, Al-Khalil and Bethlehem areas. The Israeli occupying forces raided cities and nearby villages in these areas and carried out forceful searches of dozens of homes during this arrest campaign. Among those Palestinian officials detained today by the occupying Power are Nasser Eddin Al-Sha’er, Minister for Education, Adly Ya’eesh, Mayor of Nablus, Wajeeh Qawwas, Mayor of Qalqilya, Arab Al-Shorafa, Mayor of Beita, Ramadan Shatat, Mayor of Bedia, Jamal Abu Al-Jadayel, Mayor of Sammoa’, Khaled Al-Tarda, Mayor of Taffouh, Ahmed Asafrah, Mayor of Beit Kahel, and Abdel Rahman Zeidan, Hamed Al-Bitawi and Dahoud Abu Ser, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
These arrests, in addition to the arbitrary detention and arrest of thousands of other Palestinian civilians by Israel, the occupying Power, are unlawful and also constitute acts of incitement and provocation. Moreover, the renewed arrest campaign against Palestinian officials, following the arrest last year of dozens of other officials, most of whom continue to be imprisoned, is an act by the occupying Power clearly intended to further undermine democratic Palestinian governmental institutions at both the national and municipal levels and to further weaken and destabilize the Palestinian Authority’s national unity government. In this regard, it seems undeniable that such arrests also aim at fuelling tensions and undermining the efforts being exerted by the Palestinian leadership, with the assistance of the Government of Egypt, to achieve calm among Palestinian factions as well as to reinstate the reciprocal ceasefire in Gaza and call for its extension to the West Bank, which Israel continues to regrettably and intransigently reject.
In addition, the occupying Power continues to carry out other military assaults and operations against the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including missile air strikes against areas in the Gaza Strip, killing and injuring more Palestinian civilians and destroying more property in recent days. One young Palestinian man, Sa’eed Al-Attar, aged 28, was killed by direct Israeli fire to the chest today in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahya. Also today, a Palestinian woman, Amal Dawlat, aged 42, died of critical wounds she sustained a few days ago during an Israeli attack in Gaza City; and a man, Abdelraouf Al-Ijla, aged 63, died yesterday of wounds sustained while sitting outside near his home when an Israeli helicopter gunship launched an attack on 20 May in Gaza City.
We reiterate our calls for the immediate cessation of all illegal Israeli practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including cessation of military attacks and all other human rights violations against the Palestinian people. In this regard, we call today once again for the occupying Power’s release of all the Palestinian prisoners being unlawfully imprisoned and arbitrarily detained, including all Palestinian officials. These are requisite steps for ending the cycle of violence and stemming the deterioration of the situation, allowing instead for calm between the two sides and encouragement of hope and advancement of the peace efforts critically needed at this time.
Accordingly, we reiterate our call upon the international community to exert efforts to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to cease its unlawful actions against the Palestinian people, including its unlawful actions and threats against the Palestinian leadership, such as attacks against and the imprisonment of Palestinian officials and the destruction of Palestinian institutions. The international community must demand that Israel comply with international law and should consider serious measures to ensure compliance by the occupying Power; otherwise, this crisis will continue its dangerous downward spiral.
The present letter is in follow-up to our previous 282 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 21 May 2007 (A/ES-10/385-S/2007/298), 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 since 21 May 2007 at least three more Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, raising the total number of martyrs killed since September 2000 to 4,538. (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 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.