I. SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS THE KILLING OF ISRAELI TEENAGERS
The members of the Security Council expressed their profound outrage at and condemned in the strongest terms the killing of three teenagers, whose bodies were discovered near the city of Hebron on 30 June.
The members of the Security Council extended their condolences to the families of the victims of this heinous act and to the people and Governments of Israel and the United States.
The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators of these acts to justice, and encouraged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together to do so. They reiterated the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and their protection and urged all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law. They also urged all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.
It is my pleasure to send greetings to the participants in the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People. I thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for keeping the international community’s attention focused on this important subject.
Within weeks after political efforts towards a negotiated two-State solution reached an impasse, the situation on the ground grew more fragile. I condemn in the strongest terms the murder of the three Israeli teenagers abducted on 12 June in the West Bank. There can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians. I sincerely hope that Israeli and Palestinian authorities will work together to bring the perpetrators swiftly to justice, and I extend my deepest sympathy to the families of the victims. I call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate this highly tense situation.
I reiterate my call for both sides to resume meaningful negotiations with international engagement and support, and to address the much-needed political horizon in order to avert further instability on the ground and to revive work towards achieving a durable peace. For the two-State solution to be salvaged, both parties must honour their commitment to resolve all permanent status issues, in accordance with Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles, the road map, the 2002 Arab Peace initiative and existing agreements between the parties. They must also refrain from unilateral acts that diminish the prospects for a resumption of negotiations.
I am also concerned about persisting negative trends in the West Bank, including the recent killings of Palestinians, and the negative repercussions on the civilian population due to ongoing operations. I am extremely concerned about Israel’s continuing settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which is illegal under international law and contradicts Israel’s road map obligations. Demolitions of Palestinian homes and property in East Jerusalem and Area C also contravene Israel’s obligation to protect the civilian population under its occupation.
The calm in Gaza has been shattered with resumed rocket firing on a near-daily basis and Israeli retaliatory operations. I continue to condemn indiscriminate rocket firing and call on all parties to avoid any loss of civilian life. The persisting dire economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza remains of serious concern. I repeat my call for immediate steps to improve conditions and ensure a full opening of crossings into Gaza, including Rafah, to allow legitimate trade and movements of people, which is essential for creating economic opportunities for Palestinians.
Strengthening Palestinian institutions and improving governance is key to stimulating investment and development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Going forward, it will be important to shore up support for the Palestinian National Development Plan 2014-2016.
Without a credible political horizon, the Oslo paradigm is in real jeopardy. The international community must help and urge the parties to reshape parameters around the globally agreed goal — an end of the occupation that began in 1967; making way for an independent, sovereign, viable and prosperous Palestinian State, living side by side in peace with Israel within secure and recognized borders; and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
In this spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful event.
The Secretary-General condemns the murder of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem and calls for the perpetrators of this despicable act to be promptly brought to justice. He expresses his deepest condolences to the family of the victim.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call on all parties to ensure that tensions do not escalate further, leading to more loss of life.
The members of the Security Council expressed profound sorrow and condemned in the strongest terms the abduction and killing of a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem on 2 July, and extended their condolences and sympathies to the family of the victim of this heinous act and to the Palestinian people. The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring the perpetrators of this deplorable act to justice. The members also called for immediate calm.
Restrictions on economic activity in Area C of the West Bank have been particularly detrimental to the Palestinian economy. Area C constitutes about 61 percent of the West Bank territory. It is defined by the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as “areas of the West Bank outside Areas A and B, which, except for the issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, will be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction in accordance with this Agreement.1 According to the Interim Agreement, the gradual transfer should have been completed by 1997.2 However, it has not been implemented as envisaged in the Interim Agreement3 and in the meantime, access to this area for most kinds of economic activity has been severely limited. Yet, the potential contribution of Area C to the Palestinian economy is large. Area C is richly endowed with natural resources and it is contiguous, whereas Areas A and B are smaller territorial islands. The manner in which Area C is currently administered virtually precludes Palestinian businesses from investing there.
Mobilizing the Area C potential would help a faltering Palestinian economy. The Palestinian economy has experienced strong growth in recent years, fuelled by large inflows of donor budget support, some easing of the Israeli movement restrictions that intensified during the second intifada, and a Palestinian Authority (PA) reform program. By 2012, however, foreign budget support had declined by more than half, and gross domestic product (GDP) growth has fallen from 9 percent in 2008–11 to 5.9 percent by 2012 and to 1.9 percent in the first half of 2013 (with negative growth of -0.1 percent in the West Bank).
This slowdown has exposed the distorted nature of the economy and its artificial reliance on donor-financed consumption. For a small open economy, prosperity requires a strong tradable sector with the ability to compete in the global marketplace. The faltering nature of the peace process and the persistence of administrative restrictions as well as others on trade, movement, and access have had a dampening effect on private investment and private sector activity. Private investment has averaged a mere 15 percent of GDP over the past seven years, compared with rates of over 25 percent in vigorous middle-income countries.
The manufacturing sector, usually a key driver of export-led growth, has stagnated since 1994, its share in GDP falling from 19 percent to 10 percent by 2011. Nor has manufacturing been replaced by high value-added service exports like Information Technology (IT) or tourism, as might have been expected. Much of the meager investment has been channeled into internal trade and real estate development, neither of which generates significant employment. Consequently, unemployment rates have remained very high in the Palestinian territories and are currently about 22 percent—with almost a quarter of the workforce employed by the Palestinian Authority, an unhealthy proportion that reflects the lack of dynamism in the private sector. While the unsettled political environment and internal Palestinian political divisions have contributed to investor aversion to the Palestinian territories, Israeli restrictions on trade, movement, and access have been seen as the dominant deterrent.
Area C is key to future Palestinian economic development. The decisive negative economic impact of Israeli restrictions has been analyzed in many reports produced by the World Bank and other development agencies over the past decade, and Israel’s rationale for them—that they are necessary to protect Israeli citizens—is also well known. Within this setting, Area C is particularly important because it is either off limits for Palestinian economic activity, or only accessible with considerable difficulty and often at prohibitive cost. Since Area C is where the majority of the West Bank’s natural resources lie, the impact of these restrictions on the Palestinian economy has been considerable. Thus, the key to Palestinian prosperity continues to lie in the removal of these restrictions with due regard for Israel’s security. As this report shows, rolling back the restrictions would bring substantial benefits to the Palestinian economy and could usher in a new period of increasing Palestinian GDP and substantially improved prospects for sustained growth.
This report examines the economic benefits of lifting the restrictions on movement and access as well as other administrative obstacles to Palestinian investment and economic activity in Area C. It focuses on the economic potential of Area C and does not prejudge the status of any territory which may be subject to negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. We examine potential direct, sector-specific benefits, but also indirect benefits related to improvements in physical and institutional infrastructure, as well as spillover effects to other sectors of the Palestinian economy. The sectors we examine are agriculture, Dead Sea minerals exploitation, stone mining and quarrying, construction, tourism, telecommunications, and cosmetics. To do so, we have assumed that the various physical, legal, regulatory, and bureaucratic constraints that currently prevent investors from obtaining construction permits, and accessing land and water resources are lifted, as envisaged under the Interim Agreement. We then estimate potential production and value added, using deliberately conservative assumptions—and avoid quantification where data are inadequate (as with cosmetics, for example, or for tourism other than that of Dead Sea resorts). It is understood that realizing the full potential of such investments requires other changes as well—first, the rolling back of the movement and access restrictions in force outside Area C, which prevent the easy export of Palestinian products and inhibit tourists and investors from accessing Area C; and second, further reforms by the Palestinian Authority to better enable potential investors to register businesses, enforce contracts, and acquire finance.
The Secretary-General is extremely concerned at the dangerous escalation of violence, which has already resulted in multiple Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations against Gaza. He reiterates his call on all actors to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further civilian casualties and overall destabilization. It is imperative now to restore calm. The unsustainable situation in Gaza will also need to be addressed in its political, security, humanitarian and development dimensions as part of a comprehensive solution.
I have spent much of the day in active dialogue with regional and world leaders — including Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, Palestinian President [Mahmoud] Abbas, Egyptian President [Abdel Fattah] El-Sisi, the King of Saudi Arabia, the Emir of Qatar, United States Secretary of State [John] Kerry and several others, including the Secretary–General of the OIC [Organization of Islamic Conference] and League of Arab States.
I am alarmed by the new wave of violence that has engulfed Gaza, southern Israel and the West Bank — including East Jerusalem. This is one of the most critical tests the region has faced in recent years.
Gaza is on a knife-edge. The deteriorating situation is leading to a downward spiral which could quickly get beyond anyone’s control. The risk of violence expanding further still is real. Gaza, and the region as a whole, cannot afford another full-blown war.
Again, I firmly condemn the multiple rocket attacks launched from Gaza on Israel. Such attacks are unacceptable and must stop.
I also urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to exercise maximum restraint and to respect international obligations to protect civilians. I condemn the rising number of civilian lives lost in Gaza.
I commended President Abbas for courageously upholding his commitment to security coordination. This is essential to achieving stability on the ground. President Abbas remains the best partner for peace.
Regional leaders have a vital role to play and I urged President El-Sisi and others to help facilitate a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.
I shared with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders my condolences and condemnation of the recent attacks on innocent civilians. The killers must be brought to justice. I also encourage leaders on both sides to do their utmost to end all attacks — including provocations and attacks by Israeli settlers. Extremism in all its forms is fuelling the cycle of violence.
This is a time for justice, not for revenge. It is a time for statesmanship and wisdom. In my outreach today, the leaders agreed on the urgency of the situation — and the imperative to resume meaningful negotiations towards a viable two-State solution.
The international community must work with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to restore a political horizon to avert further escalation.
The United Nations is ready to rapidly respond to emerging humanitarian needs. We are working closely with Palestinian and Israeli authorities and other partners, including the Palestinian Red Crescent.
I also encourage the Government of Egypt to urgently open its crossing for humanitarian purposes to help alleviate the suffering.
I know emotions are running very high. I urge all sides to exercise maximum restraint. Calm must be restored as soon as possible. The lives of countless innocent civilians and the peace process itself are in the balance.
Message of the Secretary-General
It is a pleasure to convey my greetings to the Special Meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
The meeting takes place against the backdrop of an increasingly precarious situation on the ground. I have strongly condemned the recent murders of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers. There can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians. I am also concerned about the tragic repercussions on the civilian population due to ongoing operations. I reiterate my call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate this highly tense situation.
It is critical that the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, with the support of the international community, do their utmost to find their way back to meaningful negotiations. Any action to prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations must be avoided.
In its advisory opinion the International Court of Justice determined that the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, is contrary to international law.
The opinion also makes it clear that all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall, and that all State parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention have the additional obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law. I reiterate my call on all Member States to comply with these obligations.
The implications of the wall go far beyond its legality. The wall severely restricts Palestinian movement and access throughout the West Bank, cuts off land and access to resources needed for Palestinian development, and continues to undermine agricultural and rural livelihoods throughout the West Bank. Moreover, the wall and increased settlement expansion have worsened the fragmentation of the Palestinian Territory, compounding the increasing isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the Territory.
Based on the General Assembly’s request following the advisory opinion, I established the Office of the Register of Damage caused by the wall, which became operational in 2008. It has collected 42,600 claims and over 1.1 million supporting documents. I am hopeful that it can finish the collection of claims by the end of 2015.
Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace and security, with dignity and prosperity. Violence on all sides must stop. Adhering to the advisory opinion is an essential step towards ending the occupation that began in 1967; making way for an independent, sovereign, viable and prosperous Palestinian State, living side-by-side in peace with Israel within secure and recognized borders; and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Thank you.
Statement of the Committee
Following is the full text of the Committee’s statement on the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory:
“The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People met today to commemorate the landmark advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), which was rendered by the Court on 9 July 2004.
“The Committee reaffirms the findings of the 2004 advisory opinion which concluded, inter alia, that the construction of the wall that began to be built by Israel, the occupying Power, in 2003 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law and that Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law, to cease the construction of the wall, and to dismantle the structure already built. Israel is also under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall, as reaffirmed by General Assembly resolution ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006 by which the Assembly established the “United Nations Register of Damage caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”. The Court also concluded that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, have been established in breach of international law.
“Moreover, the Committee reaffirms the Court’s ruling that all States are under an obligation not Following is the full text of the Committee’s statement on the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory:
“The Committee reaffirms the findings of the 2004 advisory opinion which concluded, inter alia, that the construction of the wall that began to be built by Israel, the occupying Power, in 2003 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law and that Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law, to cease the construction of the wall, and to dismantle the structure already built. Israel is also under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall, as reaffirmed by General Assembly to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction; and all States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention have an additional obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law. The Committee reiterates the call by the Court on the General Assembly and the Security Council to consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from Israel’s construction of the wall and the associated regime.
“The Committee emphasizes that this authoritative ruling of the ICJ provided a substantial international legal framework applicable to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land. It clearly exposes the connection between the wall and Israel’s illegal settlement policies and calls upon the responsible actors to uphold their obligations in compliance with the rules and provisions of international law.
“The Israeli Government claims that the wall was a temporary security measure. However, the ICJ indicated that the specific route Israel has chosen for the wall was not necessary to attain its security objectives and that the construction of the wall constituted ‘breaches by Israel of various of its obligations under the applicable international humanitarian law and human rights instruments’. The overwhelming majority of the route of the wall — 86 percent — runs inside the West Bank, not along the 1949 Armistice Line (the Green Line/pre-1967 border). The ICJ pointed out that the route of the Wall has been planned to encompass the bulk of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory — settlements which are illegal under international law, thus compounding the perpetration of such violations.
“Ten years after the ICJ issued its advisory opinion, the situation has not improved. Israel continues to flagrantly disrespect the advisory opinion, and the wall remains under construction, resulting in the confiscation of more Palestinian land and property, the displacement of thousands of Palestinian civilians, the severe fragmentation of the Palestinian Territory’s contiguity and the isolation of Occupied East Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities and towns. According to the Israeli plans, the total length of the wall, if completed, will be 712 km, more than twice the length of the Green Line. Approximately 443 km of the wall, consisting of concrete walls, fences, ditches, razor wire, sand paths and electronic monitoring, are complete with further 72 km now under construction.
“The wall is but one element of the wider system of severe restrictions on the freedom of movement imposed by Israel, the occupying Power, on the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank. There are currently well over 600 closure obstacles, including checkpoints, obstructing Palestinian movement within the West Bank. In addition, the system of roads constructed by Israel in connection with the wall and settlements is increasingly segregated: travel on hundreds of kilometres in the West Bank is restricted or prohibited outright for Palestinians, whereby Israelis are allowed to travel on them freely. About one third of the West Bank, including Occupied East Jerusalem, is completely prohibited to Palestinians without a special permit issued by the Israeli military.
“These severe restrictions violate not only the right to freedom of movement. They also effectively prevent Palestinian residents from exercising a wide range of other human rights, including their right to work, to health, to education, to an adequate standard of living and to development. Farmers are prevented from accessing their fields and from exercising their right to sustain their livelihood. Children are prevented from accessing schools and students face restrictions in choosing their university. Patients are prevented from accessing hospitals, blocking them from exercising their right to the highest sustainable standard of health. Palestinian families, particularly Bedouin refugee families, continue to be forcibly displaced from their homes and lands as the route of the wall cuts into their communities and the occupying Power seizes their lands and properties. And Palestinians currently lack meaningful access to an effective remedy — judicial or otherwise — for their plight.
“The Committee expresses its appreciation to the United Nations system entities on the ground following the developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, providing assistance to the Palestinian people, and documenting the vastly negative impact of the wall, the settlements and associated restrictive Israeli policies. It appreciates in this regard the work of the United Nations Register of Damage and calls for the expeditious fulfilment of its mandate.
“The Committee reiterates its condemnation of all illegal policies and measures by Israel, the occupying Power, including the continued construction of the wall, expansion of settlements, military raids on civilian areas and the use of excessive force against Palestinian protesters, arrest raids, the arrest and detention of Palestinians and abuse of prisoners and detainees, and the continuation of the suffocating Gaza blockade. With regard to the wall, it calls on the Israeli Government to immediately and fully implement the ruling of the ICJ by dismantling the system of walls, fences and barriers erected in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and making reparations to all Palestinians that sustained damage as a result of the construction of the wall. Israel’s continued disregard of the findings of the advisory opinion, ten years after it was issued, as well as its systematic and deliberate violations of international law, undermines any remaining trust between Israelis and Palestinians. They hamper any efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine on the basis of two States — an independent, sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.
“The Committee deeply regrets that the Security Council has remained silent on the critical matter of Israel’s construction of the wall and has failed in recent years to take action to condemn and bring a halt to Israel’s continuing violations of international law, especially as they relate to the illegal settlement expansion and the wall. The Committee calls on the Security Council to act urgently and decisively to compel Israel to end its violations of international law. Moreover, the Committee calls on the international community to adopt measures to hold Israel, the occupying Power, accountable for its actions and compel it to cease its violations and choose the path of peace. State parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention are, as reconfirmed by the ICJ, under an obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law. Tangible action needs to be taken on the political, diplomatic and economic levels. Recognizing the State of Palestine and supporting its access to international treaties and agreements would be important steps in upholding the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Ensuring that businesses and corporations have no links with companies involved with and profiting from the occupation, including from the settlements and the wall, would be a significant step to uphold international law. The Committee commends the European Union guidelines in that regard prohibiting funding to settlements and all other measures undertaken by States to hold Israel accountable for its violations in this regard.
“More active steps from the international community, Governments, international organizations, parliamentarians and civil society are required to salvage the two-State solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet Road Map, and to assist the Palestinian people to realize their inalienable rights, justice, freedom and peace.”
I thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity to brief the members of the Security Council on the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip. I felt that the seriousness of the situation required a consultation with Council members.
We are now several days into a dangerous escalation in and around Gaza. Over the past several days, the Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad have fired a barrage of more than 550 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have launched more than 500 air strikes on Gaza, primarily targeting Hamas/Islamic Jihad facilities and private residences of their members. Eighty-eight Palestinians, many of them civilians, are reported to have been killed, and 339 are reported to have been injured. As of yesterday afternoon, some 150 homes had been destroyed or severely damaged, with nearly 900 people having been displaced.
Three rockets were reportedly fired at Jerusalem, with the IDF confirming the impact of one in northern Jerusalem, without specifying the exact location. Rockets were also fired at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Hadera, Ashdod and Be’er Sheva, inter alia. Some were intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system; others caused material damage and injured two Israeli civilians. An attempted infiltration by Palestinian militants by sea from Gaza into Ashkelon on the night of 8 July was reportedly foiled by the IDF, which killed the militants. Attacks on both sides continued today.
The situation leading up to the eruption of the past few days was already precarious, following the atrocious kidnapping and murder of four young people — three Israeli Yeshiva students and one Palestinian teenager. Those acts shattered a period of relative calm and were widely condemned by the United Nations and the international community. Those responsible must be brought to justice. I would like to take this opportunity to again express my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of those heinous acts.
Today, we face the risk of an all-out escalation in Israel and Gaza, with the threat of a ground offensive still palpable — and preventable only if Hamas stops the rocket firing. Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel has announced that the Israeli Cabinet and security establishment remain unified in their decision to intensify operations aimed at targeting terrorist cells and protecting the security of Israelis. President Abbas continues to appeal for an end to this crisis and has reached out to President Sisi of Egypt, seeking Egypt’s facilitation in the brokering of a ceasefire on the basis of the Cairo-brokered November 2012 ceasefire of which I was part.
The rhetoric has been equally unrelenting. The Hamas leadership, in public statements issued by Khaled Meshaal and Moussa Abu Marzouk, has called for continued resistance despite earlier indications by both Israel and Hamas that they were not interested in a confrontation. It is now more urgent than ever to try to find common ground for a return to calm and a ceasefire understanding.
Once again, civilians are paying the price for the continuation of conflict. My paramount concern is for the safety and well-being of all civilians, no matter where they are. It pains me — and it should pain us all —to be reliving circumstances that are all too reminiscent of the two most recent wars in Gaza. I have consistently condemned indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. At the same time, the excessive use of force and endangering of civilian lives are also intolerable. It is unacceptable for citizens on both sides to permanently live in fear of the next aerial attack.
All parties, including Palestinian armed groups, must respect international humanitarian law. Israel has legitimate security concerns, but I am also concerned at the many Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations. I continue to condemn the rising number of civilian lives lost in Gaza. Once again, Palestinian civilians are caught between Hamas’s irresponsibility and Israel’s tough response.
Over the past few days, I have been engaging with world leaders, including the King of Saudi Arabia, the Emir of Qatar, the President of Egypt, the heads of the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the United States Secretary of State, the European Union High Representative, and others. All agree on the importance of returning to calm. Our challenge is to help the parties move away from their entrenched respective narratives.
I have also spoken to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and President Abbas of Palestine. I called on both sides to exercise maximum restraint, show statesmanship and weigh the risks of further escalation. Gaza, and the region as a whole, cannot afford another full-blown war and another fault line. The potential negative spillover elsewhere in the West Bank is also unpredictable in an already tenuous and combustible situation. The current crisis underscores yet again that the status quo is unsustainable.
A solution for Gaza is as indispensable as ever. Core elements of resolution 1860 (2009) remain unimplemented, including the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under one legitimate Palestinian Authority, committed to the Palestine Liberation Organization principles. If diplomacy can restore calm and end the violence, a broader ceasefire will have to address the underlying causes of conflict, provide for a full opening of the crossings and ensure an end to weapons smuggling. A solution must also include overcoming the chronic humanitarian vulnerability of Gaza, where water and energy are in constant short supply. I continue to encourage the Government of Egypt to urgently open its crossing for humanitarian purposes.
Turmoil in the West Bank has continued with attacks, reprisals and provocations. Although riots in East Jerusalem have decreased since Monday, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the rest of the West Bank have continued, including in and around refugee camps. Yesterday, some 10 Palestinians were reportedly injured by the IDF near Ramallah and Bethlehem during protests in solidarity with Gaza, which included attacks on Israeli security infrastructures in the West Bank. It is clear that the international community must accelerate efforts to achieve an immediate halt to this escalation and reach a durable ceasefire. All actors must exercise maximum restraint and respect international humanitarian law. I will continue my efforts to bridge gaps and revive negotiations.
At the same time, I understand that many Israelis and Palestinians are disenchanted with the peace process, especially after the lack of results from the latest diplomatic effort. This setback, and the others that we have seen over many years of Middle East diplomacy, have certainly undermined confidence that peace is possible. But surely no one can wish for the alternative of perpetual cycles of violence, pervasive mistrust and polarized peoples. Now is not a time for further incitement or vengeance. We must not let spoilers prevail. We must keep the situation from getting any further out of control. Any further spiral of violence could have alarming unforeseen consequences.
This is one of the most critical tests the region has faced in recent years. More than ever, the situation calls for bold thinking and creative ideas. We must strive to restore not only calm today but a political horizon for tomorrow. The parties themselves, regional partners and the international community must do everything possible to resume meaningful negotiations towards a viable two-State solution. All must recognize once and for all that only a peace agreement will bring lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians.
The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the excessive and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, and calls for its immediate and unconditional cessation. According to the latest reports, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed, of whom at least 73 are civilians, including 24 children and 16 women, while some 700 have been injured.
While condemning the indiscriminate rocket fire emanating from Gaza targeted at Israeli cities and civilian infrastructure, the Bureau contends that such attacks do not justify the disproportionate use of force and the collective punishment of 1.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza, including yesterday’s killing of an entire family of eight. Some 340 housing units have been destroyed or severely damaged by over 1,000 Israeli air strikes, displacing at least 2,000 people and further destroying critical civilian infrastructure including wastewater treatment facilities and water distribution networks.
Israeli actions are in clear violation of its obligations as the occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to protect the civilian population under its occupation. The Bureau welcomes the request by the State of Palestine to the Government of Switzerland to convene a Conference of High Contracting Parties of the Convention to deal with the continuing violations of its provisions by Israel. It is the responsibility of High Contracting Parties, under Article I of the Convention to “…undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances”. Moreover, the Bureau of the Committee will fully support the State of Palestine if it decides to sign the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court, in order to establish full accountability for the killing and wounding of all innocent civilians.
The Bureau of the Committee welcomes the convening of the Security Council’s emergency meeting on 10 July to discuss the ongoing crisis, and appreciated the briefing by the Secretary-General. It supports his call for restoring calm now and providing a political horizon for the future. The Bureau also welcomes the active support of Jordan, as the Arab member of the Council, to press for urgent action. It is incumbent upon the Security Council to exercise its responsibilities under the United Nations Charter to defuse the crisis and save lives, and calls on the Security Council to take urgent action. The ongoing support of the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement for the Palestinian people is also appreciated at this critical stage.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday expressed alarm at the Israeli military operations resulting in the killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, as well as the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. She appealed to all sides to abide by their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
As of Thursday early afternoon, 88 Palestinians, including at least 21 children and 11 women, had been killed in Gaza as a result of Israeli strikes since the beginning of Israel’s latest military operation “Protective Edge” on Tuesday night. Reports suggest that hundreds more have been injured. Israeli media reports over 800 strikes since the operation began, with 60 on the morning of 10 July alone.
Reports indicate that from the start of “Operation Protective Edge” to midday on 10 July, Palestinian armed groups have fired a total of 809 rockets and 61 mortars. Media reports indicate that, as of midday on 10 July, nine Israeli civilians sustained injuries while fleeing to shelters.
“Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have been down this road before, and it has led only to death, destruction, distrust and a painful prolongation of the conflict,” Ms. Pillay said. “This time around, once again, civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict. I urge all sides to steadfastly respect their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law to protect civilians.”
Ms. Pillay warned in particular that attacks must not be directed against civilians or civilian objects, nor should military assets be located in densely populated areas or attacks be launched from such areas.
“For its part, the Government of Israel must take all possible measures to ensure full respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack, during the conduct of hostilities, as required by international humanitarian law. In all circumstances, they must avoid targeting civilians,” she said.
“However, we have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes. Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
The targeting of civilian homes is a violation of international humanitarian law unless the homes are being used for military purposes. In case of doubt, buildings ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets. Even where a home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack must be proportionate, offer a definite military advantage in the prevailing circumstances at the time, and precautions must be taken.
“Every alleged breach of international law must be promptly, independently, thoroughly and effectively investigated, with a view to ensuring justice and reparations for the victims,” Ms. Pillay said.
The High Commissioner expressed deep concern about the prospect of a ground offensive and strongly echoed the Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire.
“It is high time that leaders on all sides abandon their poisonous rhetoric and deadly tit-for-tat behaviour in favour of a peaceful resolution to this impasse.”
“I have been to Gaza and I have been to Sderot myself and have seen how traumatic these air strikes and rocket attacks are on civilians, especially children. They must stop.”
In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the situation remains tense. The High Commissioner reiterated her call upon all parties to address recent violations, including the excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest and detention, destruction and damage to property, incitement to violence, and to ensure accountability for crimes.
Final Communiqué of the Expanded Extraordinary Meeting of the Executive Committee at the Level of Foreign Minister on the Grave Situation in the Occupied State of Palestine, including Al-Quds Al-Sharif
The Executive Committee
Convened in its expanded extraordinary meeting at the level of foreign minister, held at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) General Secretariat in Jeddah on 10 July 2014 (11 Ramadan 1435),
Proceeding from the principles and objectives of the charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and pursuant to the OIC resolutions on the issue of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif,
Paying tribute to the Palestinian people’s resistance in the face of the Israeli aggressions and reiterating its support for the Palestinian people’s just struggle to recover their inalienable national rights, including the concretization of the sovereignty of this independent State of Palestine with Al-Quds/Jerusalem as its capital,
Affirming that the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, which encompass Gaza and the West Bank, including Eastern Al-Quds, constitute a single geographic unit,
Following closely the barbaric military campaign executed by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza Strip through the use of war planes and heavy weapons targeting hundreds of positions in the besieged Gaza Strip, most of them residential homes occupied by civilians, civilian facilities, infrastructure and farming areas, which has led to the martyrdom and injury of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including many children, women and the aged,
Condemning in the strongest terms the heinous crimes of abduction and assassination perpetrated against the Palestinian youth Mohamed Abu Kdhir at the hands of extremist settlers in the occupied city of Al-Quds, expressing its condolences and deep consolation to the Palestinian people on the child’s martyrdom, endorsing the massive international condemnation of this outrageous crime, holding Israel, the occupying authority, fully responsible for the fallouts of such barbaric acts and crimes perpetrated by the extremist settlers against the Palestinian people, as the party that aided their establishment on the occupied Palestinian territories,
Reaffirming that the continued Israeli crimes and exactions in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the military aggression, the judaization of Al -Quds Al-Sharif, the siege and the settlement activities, constitute grave war crimes and violations of international law and a blatant infraction of the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy,
Reaffirming that the brutal military aggression which Israel, the occupying authority, continues to perpetrate all across the occupied Palestinian territories, forms a blatant violation of international law, and a serious threat to the security and stability of the entire region,
Having reviewed a report submitted by the State of Palestine on the grave situation in Palestine and the violations perpetrated by Israel, the occupying authority, in the city of Al-Quds/Jerusalem, and its aggressions against the civilian inhabitants and the sacred places including the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and having listened to H.E. the Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine and the interventions of Their Excellencies the ministers, heads of delegations and the OIC Secretary General;
Strongly condemns the ceaseless brutal Israeli raids of the Gaza Strip, with the use of fighter jets and heavy weapons, which destroyed scores of homes and buildings over the heads of their inhabitants, and claimed the lives of dozens of martyred Palestinian civilians and maimed many others.
Calls on the international community, and in particular the United Nations Security Council, to shoulder its responsibility in preserving international peace and security and taking every necessary measure to put an end to the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and to ensure Israel’s abidance by the resolutions of international legitimacy and international law.
Calls on the OIC Member States to act in favour of the early convening of an emergency open session of the United Nations Security Council to examine the current Israeli violations and aggressions against the Palestinian people, their homeland and their sacred places, and to put an end to the Israeli aggression and provide the necessary protection for the Palestinian people.
Requests the OIC Ambassadorial Group in Geneva to act in favour of the convening of an emergency session of the Human Rights Council with a view to setting up a special international task force to investigate Israel’s crimes and violations against Palestinian human rights and its continued aggressions against the Palestinian civilian inhabitants.
Invites the Secretary General, in coordination with the chairmanships of the Islamic Summit and the Council of Foreign Ministers and with Palestine and the chairmanship of Al-Quds Committee, to set the established ministerial Contact Group in motion without delay, including initiating contacts with the influential international parties, acting for an immediate end to the Israeli aggressions and conveying the OIC’s message on the city of Al-Quds/Jerusalem.
Invites the State of Palestine to complete the process of its accession to all international organizations and Covenants, and more particularly to the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
Calls on the international community to include the leaders of the settlers and the extremist settler communities, including “Price Tag” and “Hilltop Youth” factions, on the list of terrorists and criminals wanted for international prosecution by the states of the world and the international community organizations, and underlines the need to pursue these crimes legally in all international fora and relevant institutions concerned with international criminal law.
Calls on the Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to convene a meeting to define the measures that need to be adopted to impose observance of the Convention in the occupied State of Palestine, including Eastern Al-Quds/Jerusalem, and to take the necessary practical measures to put an end to the ceaseless violations and crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation and the settler militias against the civilian Palestinian citizens.
Strongly condemns the settlement activities of Israel, the occupying authority, and the transfer of its citizens to the occupied Palestinian territories, including Eastern Al-Quds, which constitute the main reason behind the crimes perpetrated by the settlers and which are war crimes under international humanitarian law and violations of resolutions of the United Nations, particularly of the United Nations Security Council, as well as obstacles that stand in the way of the resumption of a credible peace process and that jeopardize the chances of achieving the two-state solution.
Strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli acts of incitement, aggression and violation in occupied Eastern Al-Quds and particularly in Al-Aqsa Mosque, and stresses that the continuation of these racist acts is bound to have serious repercussions on the security and stability of the entire region.
Calls on the international community to take immediate action to compel Israel to lift the illegal and inhuman Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.
Reiterates its support for the National Consensus Government under the leadership of the Palestinian president, and calls on the international community to provide it with the necessary assistance to ensure its success, and not to allow Israel to undermine the Palestinian government, including through its withholding of the collected Palestinian taxes.
Calls for a prompt international intervention to end the Israeli abusive detention campaign, which has affected, over the past few days, more than 800 Palestinians, including parliamentarians and recently liberated prisoners, including pre-Oslo prisoners, and to act for their release. The Committee also underlines the illegitimacy of the occupation courts and their rulings. In this regard, it reiterates that the freedom of all the detainees, foremost the Members of Parliament, is a basic condition for the achievement of peace, and expresses, accordingly, its full support for the international campaign for the freedom of the leader Marwan Al-Barghouthi and all the other prisoners, and for the Robben Island Declaration.
Calls for the boycott of the companies that operate in the colonial settlements established on the occupied Palestinian territories, settlements that constitute a violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and an infraction against United Nations resolutions and international law, in accordance with the list of companies submitted to the OIC by the Palestinian government.
Calls for the constitution of an international legal team in the OIC to conclude and follow up the setback with regard to the criminal cases of Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court and conclude the State of Apartheid case against the current Israeli government, and for the necessary budgetary allocation to be provided for such a team.
Requests the Secretary General to conduct a comprehensive review of all Summit and Council of Foreign Ministers resolutions on Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the Palestinian question and the Arab-Israeli conflict, monitor those that are yet to be implemented and follow them up with relevant Member States.
Requests the Secretary General to follow up Member States’ commitment to the concept paper on supporting Al-Quds that was approved at the 40th Council of Foreign Ministers meeting held in Conakry.
Reaffirms the importance of continued close coordination and cooperation between the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the League of Arab States, the Non-Aligned Movement, the other international organizations and the international community, to ensure a comprehensive follow-up of the grave situation witnessed in the occupied Palestinian territories as a result of the escalated Israeli aggression, and to take the necessary steps to compel Israel to stop these brutal actions.
Invites Member States, OIC institutions and Arab and Islamic funds to provide urgent support for the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, particularly in the health sector to confront the serious shortages of resources, drugs and medical equipment resulting from the unjust Israeli blockade of, and unceasing military attack against, the Gaza Strip.
Expresses appreciation for the efforts exerted by the Arab Republic of Egypt to end the Israeli aggression and achieve calm; commends the decision to open Rafah crossing to receive the wounded and provide the necessary treatment to them, and invites Member States to contribute urgently to the provision of the needed health care to the wounded and extend assistance to the inhabitants of the Strip.
Agrees to the Committee addressing individual messages, through the OIC Secretary General, to each of the five permanent Member States of the United Nations Security Council, the Secretary-General, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the President of the European Union to denounce the recent Israeli escalation in the occupied territories, and to call for prompt action to stop the aggressive Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian citizens, and for the adoption of the necessary steps to put an end to the said hostile practices, which constitute a violation of the principles of human rights, in addition to calling on them to shoulder their responsibilities in preserving international peace and security and in compelling Israel to abide by international law and the resolutions of international legitimacy.
The participating delegations expressed thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for convening the meeting and for its wise chairmanship thereof.
The participating delegations expressed thanks to the Secretary General for efforts he exerted to prepare for the meeting, which contributed to its success and to the achievement of its objectives.
Mandates the Secretary General to assume coordination such as to ensure the proper follow-up and execution of the provisions of this declaration.
The Security Council members expressed serious concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the protection and welfare of civilians on both sides.
The Security Council members called for de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire.
The Security Council members further called for respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.
The Security Council members also expressed their support for the resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the two-State solution.
Children are bearing the brunt of the worsening violence in Gaza and Israel with at least 33 children killed in Gaza in recent days, and hundreds more injured.
No child should have to suffer the terrifying impact of such violence.
The violence is taking a shocking toll on children both physically and psychologically, with alarming consequences for future chances of peace, stability and understanding. Too often children who witness such violence, and come to view it as “normal”, are likely to repeat it themselves in later life.
UNICEF staff on the ground have spoken with families who describe the deep emotional impact that the current violence is having on children - children who are not sleeping or who are having nightmares, children who have stopped eating, and children who are exhibiting harrowing signs of mental distress.
With the possibility of a further escalation in violence, UNICEF joins the Security Council in calling on all sides to urgently exercise maximum restraint and for the protection of civilians - not only for the sake of peace, but for sake of the children who are suffering the worst of this current violence.
The Secretary-General is alarmed that, despite the Security Council’s clear demand for a ceasefire, the situation in and around the Gaza Strip appears to be worsening, with grave implications for the safety of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. He strongly believes that it is in the interest of both sides that steps towards dangerous escalation be replaced with immediate measures to end the fighting, thus preventing further casualties and greater risks to regional peace and security. He demands both sides move in this direction now.
Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of rockets against Israeli civilian targets is a violation of international law. The Secretary-General, abhorring the images of Israeli families hovering in shelters in fear for their children’s safety, repeats his condemnation of Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza and demands an immediate cessation of these indecent attacks.
The Secretary-General is also deeply worried about the impact on Palestinian families of Israeli military action. Too many Palestinian civilians have been killed, and any Israeli ground offensive will undoubtedly increase the death toll and exacerbate civilian suffering in the Gaza Strip. The Secretary-General feels a sense of responsibility for the Palestinians who, especially in the Gaza Strip, have long been denied the sense of freedom and dignity that they deserve.
The Secretary-General does not believe that what is inherently a longstanding, serious political dispute between Israelis and Palestinians can be resolved via military means by either side. He remains engaged with both sides to urge de-escalation and an end to violence. It is time for Israeli and Palestinian families alike to feel a sense of peace and security, with trust in the other side, rather than fear, despair and hatred that characterize too much of the relationship in the current environment.
Good morning everyone. I am here today, accompanying the UNRWA Commissioner General Mr. Pierre Krähenbühl, in difficult circumstances. This past week has witnessed a dramatic escalation of conflict, with the worst impact being suffered by the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, which we see very clearly here at this school.
Our thoughts must first be with those many civilians who have already lost their lives, and the even greater number of who have suffered physical or psychological injuries. Our paramount concern must be with the safety and well-being of all civilians no matter where they are. Our first call must, therefore, be for an immediate return to calm and a ceasefire understanding in order to avoid further needless loss of life.
While we await those much needed steps, we must once again remind all parties that they must strictly adhere to international humanitarian law. This means ensuring full respect for the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants, proportionality, and taking precautions to avoid civilian casualties. Attacks should not be directed against civilian objects, including infrastructure and buildings that are UN-supported or run. Nor should military assets be located in densely populated areas, or attacks launched from such areas.
Today we have had a small glimpse of the damage incurred so far and the wide-range of humanitarian impacts that are emerging. These include damage to 66 schools, and the destruction of over 940 homes, as well as damage to health, education, water and sanitation facilities, and electricity infrastructure that make it increasingly difficult to provide even the most basic services. Moreover, some 16,000 Palestinians have already fled their homes and are taking refuge at shelters such as the one we are in today.
But my thoughts are particularly with Gaza’s children, not only those who are already casualties of this latest conflict, but all of Gaza’s children for whom fear and insecurity are a not only a reality today but a scar that will endure for a lifetime.
These recent impacts are all the more devastating as they take place against a backdrop of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, and a failed economy — what many term the “de-development” of Gaza. Added to this are the chronic energy and water shortages, which pose not only a daily challenge for Gazans, but also represent a looming crisis that will be unmanageable unless we begin to address it today. This is largely the product of years of strict movement and access restrictions imposed by Israel, the closure of the illegal tunnel trade with Egypt, and the internal Palestinian divide. In short, the civilian population of Gaza was already stretched to its limit before this latest crisis.
The United Nations is committed to address Gaza’s needs both today and in the future so that Gaza can realize its full, promising potential. Humanitarian organizations, including UNRWA and the fifteen other UN agencies working in Gaza, as well as our national and international NGO partners and the Red Cross Movement, are continuing to provide essential services to the people of Gaza. I want to take this opportunity to commend them for their work under difficult, and in many cases dangerous, circumstances.
But we cannot do this alone. We therefore encourage all parties to continue to work closely with humanitarian actors to facilitate the safe, rapid and unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance, and to mobilize the resources necessary to respond.
Ladies and Gentleman:
While our immediate priority is to end the current round of hostilities, for the ceasefire to be sustainable it will have to address political, security, and development challenges as well. In other words, for us to avoid yet another cycle of violence the underlying causes of this conflict must be addressed.
The UN and humanitarian partners stand ready to work with all parties to both alleviate immediate humanitarian suffering and achieve these longer-term goals.
The Economic and Social Council,
Recalling General Assembly resolutions 68/235 of 20 December 2013 and 68/82 of 11 December 2013,
Recalling also its resolution 2013/8 of 19 July 2013,
Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and recalling relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 252 (1968) of 21 May 1968, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497 (1981) of 17 December 1981,
Recalling the resolutions of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, including ES-10/13 of 21 October 2003, ES-10/14 of 8 December 2003, ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004 and ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006,
Taking note of the report by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, as transmitted by the Secretary-General,1
Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,2 to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,
Recalling the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,3 the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,3 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,4 and affirming that these human rights instruments must be respected in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan,
Taking note, in that regard, of the accession by Palestine, on 1 April 2014, to several human rights treaties and the core humanitarian law conventions,
Taking note also of General Assembly resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012,
Stressing the importance of the revival and acceleration of serious and credible negotiations within the Middle East peace process on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978, 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003, 1544 (2004) of 19 May 2004 and 1850 (2008) of 16 December 2008, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative5 and the Quartet road map,6 as well as compliance with the agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people,
Reaffirming the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources, and expressing concern in that regard about the exploitation of natural resources by Israel, the occupying Power, and Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, particularly as a result of settlement activities, which are illegal under international law,
Convinced that the Israeli occupation has gravely impeded the efforts to achieve sustainable development and a sound economic environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, and expressing grave concern about the consequent deterioration of economic and living conditions,
Commending the efforts of the Palestinian Government, despite the many constraints, to improve the economic and social situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially in the areas of governance, the rule of law and human rights, livelihoods and productive sectors, education and culture, health, social protection, infrastructure and water, and welcoming in that regard the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, launched on 15 August 2013, which is aimed at, inter alia, enhancing developmental support and assistance to the Palestinian people and strengthening institutional capacity in line with Palestinian national priorities,
Gravely concerned about the accelerated construction of settlements and implementation of other related measures by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in and around occupied East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant United Nations resolutions,
Encouraging all States and international organizations to continue to actively pursue policies to ensure respect for their obligations under international law with regard to all illegal Israeli practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly Israeli settlements,
Taking note of the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,7
Expressing deep concern about the rising incidence of violence, harassment, provocation, vandalism and incitement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in particular by illegal armed Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians, including children, and their properties, including homes, historic and religious sites and agricultural lands, and calling for accountability for the illegal actions perpetrated in that regard,
Gravely concerned by the serious repercussions on the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people caused by Israel’s construction of the wall and its associated regime inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and the resulting violation of their economic and social rights, including the rights to work, to health, to education, to property, to an adequate standard of living and to freedom of access and movement,
Recalling, in that regard, the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory8 and General Assembly resolution ES-10/15, and stressing the need to comply with the obligations mentioned therein,
Expressing grave concern at the extensive destruction by Israel, the occupying Power, of properties, including the increased demolition of homes, economic institutions, historical landmarks, agricultural lands and orchards, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in particular in connection with its construction of settlements and the wall and confiscation of land, contrary to international law, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem,
Expressing grave concern also over the continuing forced displacement and dispossession of Palestinian civilians, including the Bedouin community, due to the continuing and intensifying policy of home demolitions, evictions and revocation of residency rights in and around occupied East Jerusalem, as well as measures to further isolate the city from its natural Palestinian environs, which have seriously exacerbated the already critical socioeconomic situation being faced by the Palestinian population,
Expressing grave concern further about ongoing Israeli military operations and policies of closures and severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods, the imposition of crossing closures, checkpoints and a permit regime throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the consequent negative impact on the socioeconomic situation of the Palestinian people, in particular the Palestinian refugee population, which remains that of a humanitarian crisis,
Expressing grave concern, in particular, about the continuing crisis in the Gaza Strip as a result of the prolonged Israeli closures and severe economic and movement restrictions that in effect amount to a blockade, and calling in that regard for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) of 8 January 2009 with a view to ensuring the full opening of the border crossings for the sustained and regular movement of persons and goods, including humanitarian aid, commercial flows and construction materials, and emphasizing the need for security for all civilian populations,
Recognizing the prolonged negative impact of the military operations between December 2008 and January 2009 and in November 2012 on the economic conditions, the provision of social services and the living conditions of the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip, including as a result of the heavy casualties among civilians, including hundreds of children and women, the internal displacement of thousands of civilians and the widespread damage to homes, vital civilian infrastructure, hospitals, schools, food supply installations, economic, industrial and agricultural properties and several United Nations facilities in the Gaza Strip,
Recalling, in that regard, the relevant United Nations reports, including those of the Economic and Social Council, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and the Human Rights Council,
Expressing deep concern about the short- and long-term detrimental impact of such widespread destruction and the hampering of the reconstruction process by Israel, the occupying Power, on the socioeconomic and humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip, where the humanitarian crisis continues to deepen, and calling in that regard for the immediate acceleration of the reconstruction process in the Gaza Strip with the assistance of the donor countries, including the disbursement of funds pledged at the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 2 March 2009,
Gravely concerned about various reports of the United Nations and specialized agencies regarding the substantial aid dependency caused by prolonged border closures, inordinate rates of unemployment, widespread poverty and severe humanitarian hardships, including food insecurity and rising health-related problems, including high levels of malnutrition, among the Palestinian people, especially children, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Expressing grave concern at the deaths and injuries caused to civilians, including children, women and peaceful demonstrators, and emphasizing that the Palestinian civilian population must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law,
Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians, and calling for the cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction, and all firing of rockets,
Expressing deep concern that thousands of Palestinians, including many children and women, continue to be held in Israeli prisons or detention centres under harsh conditions, including unhygienic conditions, solitary confinement, excessive use of administrative detention, lack of proper medical care and denial of family visits and of due process, that impair their well-being, and expressing deep concern also about any ill-treatment and harassment of Palestinian prisoners and all reports of torture, while taking note of the agreement reached in May 2012 on conditions of detention in Israeli prisons and calling for its full and immediate implementation,
Conscious of the urgent need for the reconstruction and development of the economic and social infrastructure of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as the urgent need to address the humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinian people, including by ensuring the unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance and the sustained and regular flow of persons and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip,
Recognizing the efforts by the Palestinian Government, with international support, to rebuild, reform and strengthen its damaged institutions and promote good governance, emphasizing the need to preserve the Palestinian national institutions and infrastructure, and commending in that regard the ongoing efforts to develop the institutions of an independent Palestinian State, including through the implementation of the Palestinian National Development Plan 2011-2013 on governance, economy, social development and infrastructure, and the significant achievements made, as confirmed by the positive assessments made by international institutions regarding readiness for statehood, including by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the Coordination of the International Assistance to Palestinians, while also expressing concern about the negative impact of the current financial crisis being faced by the Palestinian Government,
Commending, in that regard, the important work being done by the United Nations, the specialized agencies and the donor community in support of the economic and social development of the Palestinian people in line with their national development and State-building plan, as well as the assistance being provided in the humanitarian field,
Welcoming the formation of the new Palestinian Government of national consensus under the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, in line with the Quartet principles, and emphasizing the need for the respect and preservation of the territorial integrity and unity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Calling upon both parties to fulfil their obligations under the road map, in cooperation with the Quartet,
Aware that development and fostering healthy economic and social conditions are difficult under occupation and best promoted in circumstances of peace and stability,
1. Calls for the full opening of the border crossings of the Gaza Strip, in line with Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), to ensure humanitarian access as well as the sustained and regular flow of persons and goods and the lifting of all movement restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people, including those restrictions arising from ongoing Israeli military operations and the multilayered closures system, and for other urgent measures to be taken to alleviate the serious humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which is critical in the Gaza Strip, and calls for compliance by Israel, the occupying Power, with all of its legal obligations under international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions in that regard;
2. Stresses the need to preserve the territorial contiguity, unity and integrity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to guarantee the freedom of movement of persons and goods throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as to and from the outside world;
3. Also stresses the need to preserve and develop Palestinian national institutions and infrastructure for the provision of vital public services to the Palestinian civilian population and to contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights, including economic and social rights;
4. Demands that Israel comply with the Protocol on Economic Relations between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed in Paris on 29 April 1994;9
5. Calls upon Israel to restore and replace civilian properties, vital infrastructure, agricultural lands and governmental institutions that have been damaged or destroyed as a result of its military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory;
6. Reiterates the call for the full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access of 15 November 2005, particularly the urgent and uninterrupted reopening of all crossings into the Gaza Strip, which is crucial to ensuring the passage of foodstuffs and essential supplies, including construction materials and adequate fuel supplies, as well as to ensuring the unhindered access of the United Nations and related agencies and regular commercial flows necessary for economic recovery to and within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and emphasizes the need for security for all civilian populations;
7. Calls upon all parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law and to refrain from violence against the civilian population, in accordance with the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949;2
8. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan to all their natural and economic resources, and calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to exploit, endanger or cause loss or depletion of those resources;
9. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease its destruction of homes and properties, economic institutions and agricultural lands and orchards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to prevent Israeli settlers from perpetrating such illegal activities;
10. Also calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to end immediately its exploitation of natural resources, including water and mining resources, and to cease the dumping of all kinds of waste materials in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, which gravely threaten their natural resources, namely, the water, land and energy resources, and present a serious environmental hazard and health threat to the civilian populations, and also calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to remove all obstacles that obstruct the implementation of critical environmental projects, including the sewage treatment plants in the Gaza Strip, and notably to provide electrical power needed for the work on the northern Gaza emergency treatment project, and stresses in that regard the urgency of the reconstruction and development of water infrastructure, including the project for the desalination facility for the Gaza Strip;
11. Reaffirms that the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements and related infrastructure in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to economic and social development and to the achievement of peace, and calls for the full cessation of all settlement and settlement-related activity, including full cessation of all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, legal status and character of the occupied territories, including, in particular, in and around occupied East Jerusalem, in compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions and international law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War;
12. Calls for accountability for the illegal actions perpetrated by Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and recalls in that regard Security Council resolution 904 (1994) of 18 March 1994, and stresses the need for its implementation;
13. Reaffirms that the ongoing construction by Israel of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, is contrary to international law and is isolating East Jerusalem, fragmenting the West Bank and seriously debilitating the economic and social development of the Palestinian people, and calls in that regard for full compliance with the legal obligations mentioned in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice rendered on 9 July 20048 and in General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 and subsequent relevant resolutions;
14. Calls upon Israel to comply with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and to facilitate visits of the Syrian citizens of the occupied Syrian Golan whose family members reside in their mother homeland, the Syrian Arab Republic, via the Qunaitra entrance;
15. Emphasizes the importance of the work of United Nations organizations and agencies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority;
16. Expresses appreciation to the Member States, United Nations bodies and intergovernmental, regional and non-governmental organizations that have provided and continue to provide economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, which has helped to ameliorate their critical economic and social conditions, and urges the continued provision of assistance, in cooperation with official Palestinian institutions and consistent with the Palestinian National Development Plan;
17. Reiterates the importance of the revival and accelerated advancement of negotiations of the peace process on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 425 (1978), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004) and 1850 (2008), the Madrid Conference, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiatives and the Quartet road map,6 as well as compliance with the agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, in order to pave the way for the realization of the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders, and the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement;
18. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session, through the Economic and Social Council, a report on the implementation of the present resolution and to continue to include in the report of the United Nations Special Coordinator an update on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, in collaboration with relevant United Nations agencies;
19. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its 2015 session the item entitled “Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan”.
The Secretary-General welcomes the humanitarian pause in Gaza today and appreciates that it has mostly been respected by all parties. This temporary ceasefire, brokered by his Special Coordinator, Robert Serry, has allowed civilians in Gaza to resume some daily routines and for repairs to start on essential electrical and water infrastructure. In Israel, civilians have had a reprieve from rocket fire. Throughout, the United Nations has continued providing essential humanitarian assistance.
The pause shows that a cessation of hostilities is possible if all the parties demonstrate the necessary will and put the interests of civilians, who have borne the brunt of this escalation, first. Encouraged by discussions in Cairo, the Secretary-General hopes today’s humanitarian pause can lead to a more durable calm and expresses once again his support for international efforts, led by Egypt, to arrive at a sustainable ceasefire. In this regard, it will be crucial to address the underlying factors that have led to the recent escalation, including governance issues, the need to bring Gaza back under one legitimate Palestinian Government adhering to the Palestine Liberation Organization commitments, the full opening of the legal crossings, and other unimplemented core elements of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009).
The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations readiness to help facilitate all efforts to this end. He has dispatched his Special Coordinator to Gaza to help further de-escalate tensions and achieve a lasting ceasefire that will spare Palestinians and Israelis future such rounds of violence.
Yesterday, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered approximately 20 rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA strongly condemns the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations. This is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law. This incident, which is the first of its kind in Gaza, endangered civilians including staff and put at risk UNRWA’s vital mission to assist and protect Palestine refugees in Gaza.
Immediately after discovery, the Agency informed the relevant parties and successfully took all necessary measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school. UNRWA has launched a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.
UNRWA has strong, established procedures to maintain the neutrality of all its premises, including a strict no-weapons policy and routine inspections of its installations, to ensure they are only used for humanitarian purposes. UNRWA will uphold and further reinforce its procedures.
Palestinian civilians in Gaza rely on UNRWA to provide humanitarian assistance and shelter. At all times, and especially during escalations of violence, the sanctity and integrity of UN installations must be respected.
WFP is distributing emergency food vouchers in areas where shops are functioning as an innovative solution for food assistance at a time when banks in the Gaza Strip are closed and household incomes are at risk. It also transported food including wheat flour, bread and canned tuna from its warehouses ready for distributions to 85,000 people in the next days as security conditions permit.
“The food needs in Gaza are urgent. We are seeing the effectiveness of WFP’s food assistance programmes, which provides the opportunity for a rapid response and flexibility to scale-up emergency food assistance if the need arises,” says WFP Country Director Pablo Recalde.
Recalde was taking part in an inter-agency mission taking advantage of the pause in fighting to assess emergency needs.
Since the onset of the latest conflict, WFP has remained operational with distributions of food to hospitals and families hosting displaced relatives. WFP has provided emergency food rations and food vouchers to more than 20,000 displaced people and has food stocks in position for emergency distributions to newly-displaced families, as needs arise.
WFP provides food assistance to more than 600,000 of the most vulnerable people in Palestine; 285,000 in Gaza and 318,800 in the West Bank. Together, WFP and UNRWA provide food assistance to approximately 67 percent of the total population of the Gaza Strip.
To continue its food assistance programmes in Palestine, WFP, which is funded by voluntary contributions, needs an immediate US$20 million until the end of the year. Meeting the needs as a result of the emergency in Gaza will require additional resources.
The Secretary-General is alarmed at the serious escalation in Gaza today, including resumed rocket fire into Israel and the subsequent launch of an Israeli ground operation into Gaza, despite his repeated urgings to the contrary. He is disappointed that notwithstanding United Nations efforts the parties could not build on today’s promising humanitarian pause to achieve a lasting ceasefire.
This escalation will inevitably increase the already appalling suffering of the affected civilian populations. The Secretary-General calls for an immediate end to the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel and Israeli retaliatory action. He asks the parties to do their utmost to ensure the protection of civilians and United Nations premises and staff, and that humanitarian assistance continues to reach all those in need. All parties must respect international humanitarian and human rights law, and there must be accountability for any breaches of those obligations.
Even prior to the beginning of today’s ground offensive in Gaza, there had been a regrettable number of incidents involving the deaths of civilians, including the terrible killing of four Palestinian boys on a beach in Gaza City. He calls on Israel to do far more to stop civilian casualties.
These developments complicate the efforts of Egypt and others to put an end to the violence. The Secretary-General reiterates his call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and urges regional and international partners to exert all possible influence to bring about an immediate end to the suffering and bloodshed. He will continue his efforts to that end.
As we meet today, the intensification of the violence the United Nations was trying so hard to head off is becoming a reality in and around Gaza. This is all the more dismaying as it comes so soon after signs of hope had emerged, specifically the attempt by Egypt to broker a ceasefire, followed by the United Nations brokering of a humanitarian pause. For five hours yesterday, a temporary ceasefire, mostly respected by all parties, allowed civilians in Gaza to resume some vital activities to sustain their daily lives. The pause allowed workers to start some repairs on essential electrical and water infrastructure. In Israel, civilians were largely spared rocket fire for the same period.
The Secretary-General was therefore alarmed when militants resumed the firing of projectiles out of the Gaza Strip after the expiration of the lull, frustrating our hopes that the humanitarian pause would be the beginning of de-escalation. It pains us that the much-needed reprieve was so short.
Shortly after the rockets fired into Israel marked the end of the humanitarian pause, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the launch of a ground operation into Gaza. To our knowledge, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has so far conducted four ground incursions into Gaza and conducted some 90 air strikes, firing 91 missiles, mostly inside the access restricted area, which has been extended to 3 kilometres. The IDF at the barrier fired some 357 tank shells, while the Israeli Navy fired some 150 shells. Since the end of the humanitarian pause, militants have fired some 127 rockets and 29 mortar shells at Israel. Approximately 20 Palestinian houses were hit. Some 26 Palestinians were killed and another 116 injured. One IDF soldier was killed.
The Secretary-General is extremely concerned that this escalation will further increase the already appalling death toll among Gazan civilians. Israel has legitimate security concerns and we condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel that ended yesterday’s temporary ceasefire, but we are alarmed by Israel’s heavy response. The Secretary-General was shocked by the terrible killing by an Israeli strike of four children on a beach in Gaza City on 16 July. Three more children from one family were killed yesterday. No further illustration is needed. The violence must end.
Since 8 July when hostilities intensified in the lead-up to the current escalation, over 2,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, of which some 1,100 struck Israel and hundreds were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Two Israelis were killed, including one civilian. Twelve IDF soldiers and 365 Israeli civilians were injured. In the same period, some 261 Palestinians, a majority of them civilians, including at least 48 women and over 50 children, have been killed, and over 1,600 have been injured, as a result of some 1,900 strikes on Gaza from land, air and sea. Israeli bombardment inflicted damage to schools, health facilities and water and sanitation infrastructures. Over 1,800 Palestinian families have had their homes destroyed or severely damaged.
Since the beginning of the crisis, the Secretary-General has urged regional and international partners to exert all possible influence to bring about an immediate end to the suffering and bloodshed. Since the last briefing (see S/PV.7214) to the Council on 10 July, the Secretary-General has been in touch around the clock with world leaders to facilitate united and effective action to stop the violence in and around Gaza and the unbearable stress on Israeli families from continued rocket attacks. We had hoped that the successful brokering of a humanitarian pause would also help efforts led by Egypt to facilitate a ceasefire on the basis of the understanding of November 2012. The United Nations has repeatedly expressed our support for all efforts to put an end to the violence. We appreciate that Israel accepted the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire. However, Hamas tabled counterproposals to the Egyptian proposal that were in turn not acceptable to Israel.
The Palestinian Authority has also expressed its support for a ceasefire, and President Abbas has been actively engaged with regional and world leaders in an appeal for an end to the crisis. President Abbas met with Egyptian President Al Sisi in Cairo yesterday to discuss the Egyptian proposal. Both Presidents reportedly agreed on the necessity of an immediate ceasefire and on the urgency of holding a donors conference to start rebuilding the Gaza Strip. President Abbas is now scheduled to arrive in Turkey today for meetings with Turkish President Gill and Prime Minister Erdogan to discuss the situation.
President Abbas has also reportedly indicated that, in the event of a ceasefire, he would be willing to redeploy Palestinian Authority forces along the Philadelphi corridor, between Gaza and Egypt, to enable a reopening of the Rafah border crossing under their supervision. That would be a key component of bringing Gaza back under one legitimate Palestinian Government, adhering to the Palestinian Liberation Organization commitments and enabling that Government to deliver tangible improvements to the lives of Gazans. President Abbas has further written to the Secretary-General requesting that Palestine be placed under an international protection system administered by the United Nations. The Secretary-General is carefully studying that request.
The international community, including this Council, has issued numerous calls for an end to violence and for the protection of civilians. We again call for an immediate end to the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel and Israeli retaliatory action. All parties must respect international humanitarian and human rights law. They must be held accountable for any breaches of those obligations. We also again ask parties to do their utmost to ensure that humanitarian assistance continues to reach all those in need. All must ensure the protection of civilians and the integrity of United Nations premises and staff. In that regard, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has strongly condemned those responsible for placing approximately 20 rockets in a vacant UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip as a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law. The Agency has launched a comprehensive investigation into that incident.
A ceasefire is indispensable and urgent. Until efforts to that end succeed, further humanitarian pauses will remain necessary, and we urge the parties to consider such windows so that civilians can move freely and undertake vital activities. The United Nations in Gaza has been a crucial provider of emergency assistance to alleviate the humanitarian impact of the escalation. UNRWA has been playing a lead role in providing shelter in 43 different facilities to around 47,000 Gazans who have nowhere else to flee following IDF warnings to leave their houses before they come under attack. UNRWA’s capacity is stretched to the limit, raising fears that further civilians warned of IDF operations could not be accommodated in terms of supplies.
Unless we address the root causes of the current escalation, this dreadful violence will recur again and again. We cannot return to the status quo ante — a concern that Palestinians and Israelis share. Core elements of resolution 1860 (2009) remain unimplemented. Once calm is restored, it is imperative to immediately tackle the underlying causes. These include an end to weapons smuggling, the full opening of the crossings and bringing Gaza back under one legitimate Palestinian Government adhering to the PLO commitments.
As for the latter, it is imperative to address the issue of governance. Tens of thousands of employees hired after 2007 and working in Gaza are not getting paid, while over 60,000 employees continue to receive salaries from Ramallah without performing the essential governance functions that Gaza so urgently needs. That is simply not sustainable. The United Nations remains prepared to help facilitate all efforts in that regard, in coordination and consultation with all concerned parties. The parties must seize this opportunity to not only renew a ceasefire but also to support durable political, security, institutional and socioeconomic progress that stabilizes Gaza.
While we focus on Gaza today, we must not forget the bigger picture. The escalation in Gaza has also had repercussions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as clashes have occurred between those demonstrating in support of Gaza and the Israeli security forces. Since this morning, restrictions have been placed on Palestinian access to the holy places in the Old City of Jerusalem, and Israeli security forces are heavily deployed. Reported clashes since have led to several Palestinians being injured. In addition, tensions persist, including from settler violence, putting a strain on the much-needed security coordination between the Israeli and Palestinian security forces. Our appeal stands to the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to defuse tensions and act responsibly.
The situation on the ground is ultimately the result of a collective failure to advance a political solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Temporary fixes will no longer do. The international community must assume its responsibility to urgently help restore a serious prospect for a two-State solution that will bring an end to the decades-long conflict and occupation. That is the only way to make a ceasefire last. It is the only way to break the seemingly endless cycle of attack and retaliation. It is the only way to ensure a durable peace for this and succeeding generations of Palestinians and Israelis.
The Secretary-General is prepared to do his part. He will leave for the region tomorrow to express solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians and to help them, in coordination with regional and international actors, to end the violence and to find a way forward.
The Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip and calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease all military operations in the Gaza Strip and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. These operations have caused high civilian casualties, with a death toll now exceeding 500 Palestinians with more than 3,000 injured. There has been massive destruction of civilian homes and properties. Over 100,000 Palestinians are now displaced, of which more than 80,000 are sheltering at United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) facilities.
The Bureau also condemns, in the strongest possible terms, Sunday’s assault on the Shuja’iyya area in Gaza, where over 70 Palestinians, including many women and children have been killed. The majority of these casualties are civilians. An international investigation should be considered by the Human Rights Council to determine accountability for this heinous act.
The Bureau strongly supports the initiative of President Mahmoud Abbas and other international and regional leaders for an immediate ceasefire. The Bureau especially appreciates the initiative of the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to travel to the region to seek a solution to the crisis, and offers him and his Special Representative, Robert Serry, its full support for their efforts.
The Bureau stresses that the root causes of the conflict must be addressed to ensure there is no return to violence and that sustainable solutions are found to all aspects of this crisis. The Bureau reiterates its calls, in this regard, for an end to the crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip and respect, by all sides, of international humanitarian law, particularly for ensuring the protection of civilians.
Israeli actions are in clear violation of its obligations as the occupying Power, under the fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to protect the civilian population under its occupation. The Bureau welcomes the request by the State of Palestine to the Government of Switzerland to convene a Conference of High Contracting Parties of the Convention as a necessary effort to address the continuing violations of its provisions by Israel and calls on the Government of Switzerland to convene this meeting as soon as possible. Moreover, the Bureau of the Committee encourages the urgent signature of the Rome Statute by the State of Palestine, which would allow it to join the International Criminal Court to pursue justice and accountability, including for the killing and wounding of all innocent civilians.
The Bureau of the Committee welcomes the convening of the Security Council’s emergency meeting on Sunday, 20 July, to consider the on-going crisis, takes note of the remarks to the press by the Security Council President following that meeting, and urges additional concrete action by the Council to stop the senseless violence and the further escalation of this dangerous crisis.
The Bureau also stresses the urgency of addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis being faced by the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israeli military operations and deterioration of the situation, including shortages of food, medicines, fuel and other essential humanitarian supplies. The Bureau calls on the international community to provide urgent assistance to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population, including through contributions to the emergency appeal by UNRWA, which is providing emergency assistance and shelter to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.
Ultimately, the Bureau recognizes that a negotiated, just, peaceful and political solution, based on relevant United Nations resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, is the only possible way to put an end to this decades-long conflict.
UN Women is deeply concerned by the escalation of violence in the crisis relating to Gaza. It has taken a catastrophic toll on tens of thousands of civilians, many of whom are women and children. UN Women joins the United Nations Secretary-General and Security Council in calling for an immediate ceasefire, respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians.
Women and children on both sides bear the brunt of this tragedy and its devastating consequences. UN Women is alarmed by the high number of Palestinian women and children who have lost their lives or have been injured in the current crisis. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), of the some 3,000 Palestinians reported injured, 904 are children and 533 are women.
The current crisis takes place against the backdrop of an already dire socioeconomic and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and will have a long-lasting impact on the most vulnerable of the Palestinian population, including women, children and the elderly. So far, over 110,000 Palestinians are displaced, the majority of whom are taking shelter in United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) schools. With severely restricted access to water, food and medicine, their needs are urgent.
UN Women calls on all sides to immediately halt the violence and allow full humanitarian access. UN Women also calls on the international community to take action to meet the urgent and immense humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza and fulfil the emergency flash appeal launched by UNRWA. While responding to the immediate crisis is vital for saving lives, a political solution is imperative to allow for long-term peace and development that benefits all, regardless of race, age or gender.
I thank you, Sir, for giving me the honour of briefing the Council from Ramallah. I deeply apologize for being late, which was due to my continuing engagement in Israel. I have only just arrived. As you know, I am now well into my third day of an ongoing mission throughout the region. I want to thank the Security Council for its strong support for my efforts.
Ramallah is my fifth stop on a journey that has so far included Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Israel. I will continue on to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other countries of the region, if necessary. I have had intensive and fruitful discussions with the leadership in all countries. I also had a very meaningful meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Qatar and with United States Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Mr. Nabil El-Arabi, in Cairo late last night. I have also had the opportunity to meet the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, who was visiting the region, and to have a telephone conversation with President Hollande of France. We exchanged our views and discussed the current situation in the region. I am very grateful to the many countries that have been engaging in the diplomatic efforts to bring an end to this crisis.
I am sure that members of the Council will understand that at this highly sensitive moment, I cannot be expected to publicly reveal the details. Suffice it to say that it is my hope and belief that these talks will lead to results and an end to the fighting in the very near future. Of course, there are many obstacles and complexities. This is a mission of solidarity and peace. But just as I landed in the region, I was greeted with the news of the terrible fighting in Shejaiya, reflecting the enormous human toll of the fighting and the scale of the challenges before us. I have carried a three-part message at every turn of my visit: first, stop the fighting; secondly, start the dialogue; and thirdly, tackle the root causes.
A ceasefire is essential, but without addressing the deeper issues we will never solve the problem; we will merely delay it for yet another time. The cycle will continue, except the bitterness and hatred will become that much more entrenched each time it comes around. Quite simply, if a people are left with despair and occupation, the problem will not disappear; it will only grow.
The most promising prospect of a ceasefire comes in the form of the initiative put forward by Egypt on the basis of the November 2012 understanding on a ceasefire. This effort has garnered the support of President Abbas and the Arab League. Unfortunately, Hamas has yet to respond positively. I encourage all those with influence to urge constructive action. This is the most meaningful path to peace. I have also discussed Israel’s legitimate security concerns with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon, and I am going to continue my meetings with President Peres and other ministers.
I once again strongly condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel. I am also alarmed by Israel’s heavy response and the corresponding high civilian death toll. Since the Council was briefed on Sunday, the violence has reached even more alarming levels. Yet again, too many civilians, including many children, are paying the price for this latest escalation. I once again urge all parties to rally behind a collective international effort to end the fighting. There is no time to lose.
Immediately following this briefing, I will get the latest update from our United Nations team in Gaza. I want to stress how deeply proud I am of our many United Nations colleagues, with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the lead, courageously assisting the people of Gaza in such difficult circumstances. They are providing crucial relief and shelter to civilians in imminent danger. The escalation of violence is now acutely affecting UNRWA’s regular operations. Some 23 UNRWA installations are closed as a result of the conflict. A total of 77 UNRWA installations have been damaged since 1 June as a result of the conflict. The premises have been used to store weapons. This is unacceptable. Today, about 110,000 people — more than 5 per cent of the population of Gaza — are seeking shelter with UNRWA.
In the past, our premises in southern Lebanon and Gaza have been hit with serious loss of life. I call on Israel to exercise particular care to avoid another unfortunate incident. I urge all present to respond to UNWRA’s emergency flash appeal for $115 million to address the most pressing humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza. We must do all we can to alleviate their suffering. I thank the many countries that have already generous humanitarian assistance to the flash appeal for UNRWA, including $47 million announced by United States Secretary of State John Kerry. I also thank United Nations staff, including my Special Coordinator on the ground, Mr. Robert Serry, for their relentless efforts to negotiate much-needed spaces to respond to humanitarian needs.
The international community, including the Council, as recently as Sunday evening has issued numerous calls for an end to violence and for the protection of civilians. We as the international community have to assume responsibility for what is the result of a collective failure to advance a political solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We cannot return to the status quo ante — a concern that Palestinians and Israelis both share.
Core elements of resolution 1860 (2009) remain unimplemented. They include an end to weapons smuggling, the full opening of the crossings and bringing Gaza back under one legitimate Palestinian Government that accepts and adheres to the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Sustainable peace and security will be achieved only through a negotiated political settlement. Only durable progress, including on socioeconomic and governance issues, can permanently stabilize Gaza.
It is imperative to address the issue of governance. Tens of thousands of employees hired after 2007 and working in Gaza are not being paid, while more than 60,000 employees continue to receive salaries from Ramallah without performing essential Government functions in Gaza.
The United Nations remains prepared to help coordinate and consult with all concerned parties.
This is the third time as Secretary-General that I have had to come on an emergency mission to the region to help end a crisis. That means that the children of Gaza are now living through the third major assault in the past five years of their young lives. The horror and upheaval is beyond imagination. The cycle of suffering must end. The parties must seize the opportunity not only to renew a ceasefire, but also to support a durable political, security, institutional and socioeconomic progress that stabilizes Gaza. The parties must also heed the Council’s call to return to negotiations in order to find an end to this conflict through a viable two-State solution.
As I have repeatedly emphasized on my mission, Israelis, but also Palestinians, need to feel a sense of security. Palestinians, but also Israelis, need to see a horizon of hope. Both sides need to be reassured that international humanitarian law counts and that there will be justice for all. Let us do our part for all the peoples of this region.
Lastly, I hope the Council will understand that I have a series of important meetings in Ramallah. Therefore, I will be able to remain at this meeting until 6.50 p.m. here. I will be very happy to listen as much as I can. I count on your continued support and leadership, Sir.
UNRWA condemns in the strongest possible terms the shelling of one of its schools in the central area of Gaza which was sheltering hundreds of Palestinians displaced by the current fighting. At approximately 1655 hours yesterday, UNRWA’s Maghazi Preparatory Girls School, in the Maghazi refugee camp, where approximately 300 internally displaced people had sought refuge was struck by explosive ordnance believed to have been fired by Israeli forces. One person, a child, was injured in the shelling incident. We have raised this shelling incident with the Israeli authorities.
This morning when UNRWA officials went back to investigate the incident, there was further shelling of the school, seriously endangering the lives of UN humanitarian workers and displaced civilians. This second incident took place at approximately 1029 hours this morning and was 30 minutes inside the 0900 to 1100 hours window of time that had been coordinated with Israeli authorities and the UN to allow freedom of movement for the relevant UN personnel through the Maghazi Camp area.
Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA said: “This is a serious violation of United Nations’ premises that could have had far-reaching human consequences. All UNRWA facilities are clearly marked with a UN flag. The location of the school and the fact that it was housing internally displaced persons had been formally communicated to Israel on three separate occasions. We have called on the Israeli authorities to carry out an immediate and comprehensive investigation.”
UNRWA has been forced to expand massively its emergency operations as more than 118,000 internally displaced people have taken refuge in 77 of the Agency’s schools throughout the Gaza Strip. This number has increased from 50,000 only two days ago. Director of UNRWA Operations, Robert Turner, said, “Our teams are already working flat out to meet the huge demand created by this escalation in violence, and it is absolutely critical that all parties to the conflict respect the neutrality and inviolability of our premises. Operating in this challenging environment is difficult enough; we need to be assured that staff and beneficiaries can enjoy safety and security within our premises. Civilian lives must not be put at further risk.”
Statement by the Special Rapporteur
The Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council has asked me to deliver this statement on its behalf. I fully associate my mandate to it in my capacity as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
We express our dismay at the deaths, injuries, displacement, and devastation, resulting from renewed hostilities among Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups in the occupied Gaza Strip.
As of 22 July, figures of casualties recorded by the United Nations reveal the extent of the suffering: 599 Palestinians were killed (including at least 443 civilians, among them 147 children and 74 women). An estimated 3,504 others were injured, two thirds of them women and children. During the same period, thousands of rocket and mortar fire directed at Israeli towns and villages killed two civilians, injured at least 15, and spread considerable fear among people in the affected areas. Armed confrontations in Gaza further resulted in the death of 27 Israeli soldiers.
Since the beginning of the hostilities, courageous human rights defenders and organizations, working often at great risk to their safety, have been documenting and exposing some of these violations. We recall, among many other reports, the video footage of the four Bakr children who were killed by an Israeli missile while playing on the beach; or the killing in the evening of 21 July in Khan Yunis of 25 people from three families, including 18 children and five women, two of them pregnant, after the building where they lived was hit by a missile.
In addition to the deaths and injuries, the destruction of numerous houses has left several thousand families homeless. An estimated 470 houses were destroyed and several thousand others damaged. Over 135,000 people have had to leave their homes and seek refuge in the schools that UNRWA has turned into temporary shelters, in public premises, hospital compounds or with relatives. OCHA estimates that 116,000 children - who have experienced bombing, death, injury, or loss of home - are in need of psychosocial support. Similarly in Israel, the incessant firing of rockets has resulted in the displacement of persons and severe psychological strain to numerous children.
Israel’s bombings have caused further damage on essential life-support infrastructures. An estimated 50% of critical sewage pumping and water treatment centres have been damaged or destroyed and are no longer operating, depriving some 900,000 people, or more than half of the population of Gaza, of basic water and sanitation services. An estimated 80% of the population receives electricity for only four hours a day. UNRWA reported that several of its schools, clinics or warehouses were damaged by air raids and other fire. Reportedly, a hospital in Deir El Balah was hit by an airstrike which killed at least four persons and injured 16.
In the meanwhile, hate speech and incitement to hatred and violence, have reached unprecedented levels, including from official personalities and in social media from all sides. This cannot be tolerated, should be unreservedly condemned and treated as criminal offences punishable by law.
The right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation cannot justify the launching of thousands of rockets and mortars directed against Israeli civilians. Rocket attacks cannot justify the disproportionate use by Israel of air, sea and ground firepower against targets, including tunnels and rocket launchers, amidst a population of 1.7 million people trapped in one of the most densely populated areas of the world.
Much more needs to be done to protect civilians and respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of necessity, distinction, proportionality and precaution in carrying out attacks.
This latest military confrontation comes on top of the long-standing illegal blockade imposed on Gaza, which has resulted in distressing levels of poverty and severe restrictions on the enjoyment by Palestinians in Gaza of their economic and social rights. We are deeply concerned that it will further undermine the already precarious conditions of survival that the Gaza population experiences because of the blockade. This renewed episode of violence takes place in the context of a long-term occupation, which compromises the enjoyment of all human rights by individuals and undermines prospects of a just and peaceful settlement of the conflict.
We appeal to all parties to this conflict to cease this devastating cycle of violence, and resume talks aimed at a just and peaceful solution. We call on them to abide by the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. We remind them that indiscriminate and disproportionate attack against centres of population amount to war crimes. Perpetrators of such acts, as well as other human rights violations, must be held accountable. We urge prompt, independent and effective investigations into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. We welcome steps that have already been taken in this context.
We offer our independent human rights expertise to assist in the conduct of these investigations which should be guided by the principles of independence, objectivity, impartiality and credibility. All the victims of this senseless violence have a right to justice and to live free from fear and want.
We welcome the standing invitation extended by the State of Palestine to all special procedures mandate holders, and stand ready to offer our expertise on the wide range of human rights issues we cover, to support Palestinian and Israeli authorities to address them. To do so, we request the Governments of Israel and of the State of Palestine to grant us prompt and unhindered access to all affected areas in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, and call for cooperation from the relevant authorities in this regard, including with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
We urge Israel to allow unimpeded access to humanitarian food, water, medical and other vital assistance to all civilians and affected areas, and to end the illegal blockade. We also urge Egypt to ease the restrictions at the Rafah crossing and allow the entry of essential humanitarian assistance
Lastly, we urge the international community and the Security Council to do all they can to explore avenues to foster an effective peace process that will address the causes of this conflict that has lasted for far too long and to bring about a just, peaceful, dignified and sustainable solution.
Ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
The Human Rights Council,
Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
Recalling General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 and Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 of 18 June 2007,
Reaffirming the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by the use of force, as enshrined in the Charter,
Affirming the applicability of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,1 to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Reaffirming that all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention1 are under the obligation to respect and ensure respect for the obligations arising from the said Convention in relation to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and reaffirming their obligations under articles 146, 147 and 148 with regard to penal sanctions, grave breaches and the responsibilities of the High Contracting Parties,
Gravely concerned at the lack of implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of 2009,2 and convinced that lack of accountability for violations of international law reinforces a culture of impunity, leading to a recurrence of violations and seriously endangering the maintenance of international peace,
Noting that 9 July 2014 marked the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and that no progress has been made on its implementation, and affirming the urgent need to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law in this regard,
Firmly convinced that justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable bases for peace, and stressing that prevailing long-standing and systemic impunity for international law violations has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action, including accountability for international crimes,
Noting the systematic failure by Israel to carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, prompt and effective way, as required by international law, on violence and offences carried out against Palestinians by the occupying forces and settlers and to establish judicial accountability over its military actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Emphasizing the obligations of Israel as the occupying Power to ensure the welfare and safety of the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip, and noting Israel’s wilful abdication and rejection of its obligations in this regard,
Noting that the deliberate targeting of civilians and other protected persons and the perpetration of systematic, flagrant and widespread violations of applicable international humanitarian law and international human rights law in situations of armed conflict constitute grave breaches and a threat to international peace and security,
Deploring the massive Israeli military operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 13 June 2014, which have involved disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks and resulted in grave violations of the human rights of the Palestinian civilian population, including through the most recent Israeli military assault on the occupied Gaza Strip, the latest in a series of military aggressions by Israel, and actions of mass closure, mass arrest and the killing of civilians in the occupied West Bank,
Expressing grave concern at the critical humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, including in particular the forced displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, the crisis in access to adequate water and sanitation services affecting nearly 1 million people, and the extensive damage to electricity infrastructure resulting in 80 per cent of the population receiving electricity only four hours a day, and underlining the importance of providing emergency humanitarian assistance to them and other victims,
Welcoming the establishment of the Palestinian national consensus Government on 2 July 2014 as an important step towards Palestinian reconciliation, which is crucial for achieving a two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders and lasting peace, and emphasizing that the situation of the occupied Gaza Strip is unsustainable as long as it remains geographically, politically and economically separated from the West Bank,
1. Strongly condemns the failure of Israel, the occupying Power, to end its prolonged occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions;
2. Condemns in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 13 June 2014, particularly the latest Israeli military assault on the occupied Gaza Strip, by air, land and sea, which has involved disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks, including aerial bombardment of civilian areas, the targeting of civilians and civilian properties in collective punishment contrary to international law, and other actions, including the targeting of medical and humanitarian personnel, that may amount to international crimes, directly resulting in the killing of more than 650 Palestinians, most of them civilians and more than 170 of whom are children, the injury of more than 4,000 people and the wanton destruction of homes, vital infrastructure and public properties;
3. Condemns all violence against civilians wherever it occurs, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire, and urges all parties concerned to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law;
4. Calls for an immediate cessation of Israeli military assaults throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and an end to attacks against all civilians, including Israeli civilians;
5. Welcomes the initiative of Egypt, supported by the League of Arab States, and calls for all regional and international actors to support this initiative in view of securing a comprehensive ceasefire;
6. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately and fully end its illegal closure of the occupied Gaza Strip, which in itself amounts to collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population, including through the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of the crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from the Gaza Strip, in compliance with its obligations under international humanitarian law;
7. Calls upon the international community, including the States Members of the United Nations, international financial institutions and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as regional and interregional organizations, to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance and services to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, including by supporting the emergency appeal launched by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East on 17 July 2014;
8. Expresses grave concern at the rising number of incidents of violence, destruction, harassment, provocation and incitement by extremist Israeli settlers illegally transferred to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, against Palestinian civilians, including children, and their properties, and condemns in the strongest terms the resulting perpetration of hate crimes;
9. Expresses deep concern at the condition of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails and detention centres, in particular following the arrest by Israel of more than 1,000 Palestinians since 13 June 2014, and calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately release all Palestinian prisoners whose detention is not in accordance with international law, including all children and all members of the Palestinian Legislative Council;
10. Underlines the importance of ensuring the protection of all civilians, emphasizes the continued failure of Israel to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation as demanded by international law, and in this context calls for immediate international protection for the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law and international human rights law;
11. Recommends that the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as depositary of the Fourth Geneva Convention,1 promptly reconvene the conference of High Contracting Parties to the Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to ensure its respect in accordance with article 1 common to the four Geneva Conventions,3 bearing in mind the statement adopted by the Conference of the High Contracting Parties on 15 July 1999, and the Declaration adopted by the Conference on 5 December 2001;
12. Requests all relevant special procedures mandate holders to urgently seek and gather information on all human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, according to their respective mandates, and to include their observations in their annual reports to the Human Rights Council;
13. Decides to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after, to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible, to make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways and means to protect civilians against any further assaults, and to report to the Council at its twenty-eighth session;
14. Requests the cooperation, as appropriate, of other relevant United Nations bodies with the commission of inquiry to carry out its mission, and requests the assistance of the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in this regard, including in the provision of all administrative, technical and logistical assistance required to enable the commission of inquiry and special procedures mandate holders to fulfil their mandates promptly and efficiently;
15. Requests the High Commissioner to report on the implementation of the present resolution, including on measures taken with regard to ensuring accountability for the serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session;
16. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam
United States of America
Austria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Romania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland]
I am appalled by the news of an attack on an UNRWA school in Northern Gaza where hundreds of people had taken refuge.
Many have been killed — including women and children, as well as UN staff.
Circumstances are still unclear. I strongly condemn this act.
Throughout the day, our staff had been attempting to arrange a humanitarian pause in the hostilities so that civilians could be evacuated.
I express my profound condolences to the families of the victims and those of so many hundreds of innocent Gazans who have tragically been killed as a result of the massive Israeli assault.
When I briefed the Security Council from Ramallah just two days ago, I condemned Hamas rocket fire and called on Israel to exercise particular care to avoid any attack on United Nations premises where civilians have taken refuge. More than 100,000 Gazans — that’s 5 per cent of the total population — have sought refuge in UNRWA facilities.
I once again stress to all sides that they must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to respect the sanctity of civilian life, the inviolability of UN premises and to honour their obligations to humanitarian workers.
Today’s attack underscores the imperative for the killing to stop — and to stop now.
From here I will continue to work with international and regional partners to help reach an agreement to end the fighting as soon as possible for the people of Gaza and Israel.
The Special Advisers of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, and on the Responsibility to Protect, Jennifer Welsh, express their serious concern at the escalation of violence in the occupied Gaza strip and at the targeting of civilians in the current crisis.
“We express shock at the high number of civilians killed and injured in the ongoing Israeli operations in Gaza and at the rocket attacks launched by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Israeli civilian areas.” According to latest UN reports, fighting has resulted in the killing of 697 Palestinians including over 500 civilians, of whom at least 170 are children and 86 women. According to Israeli sources, a total of 29 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed, since the hostilities started on 7 July. Homes, schools, medical facilities and basic infrastructure, including United Nations facilities have been destroyed by military bombardments in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli forces.
Dieng and Welsh stated that the high number of civilian casualties, particularly among the Palestinians, could demonstrate disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli Defence Forces. At the same time, the launching of rocket attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups into Israeli residential areas constitutes indiscriminate use of force. In this context, “both parties are in violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and these acts could constitute atrocity crimes”, the two Special Advisers observed.
The Special Advisers urge all parties to adhere to the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants, and between civilian objects and military objectives. They also call upon the Israeli Defence Forces to fully respect the principle of proportionality.
“We are equally disturbed by the flagrant use of hate speech in the social media, particularly against the Palestinian population,” stated the Special Advisers. According to reliable reports, individuals have disseminated messages that could be dehumanising to the Palestinians and have called for the killing of members of this group. The Special Advisers remind all that incitement to commit atrocity crimes is prohibited under international law.
Israel, as the Occupying Power, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, have the responsibility to protect the population in Gaza. The Special Advisers call on the three parties to take immediate measures to ensure the protection of the population. Taking into consideration the dire humanitarian and human rights crisis in Gaza, the international community also has a responsibility to assist in protecting the civilian population, first and foremost by encouraging and supporting negotiations towards a ceasefire, and by ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid.
“The actions of all parties need to be thoroughly and impartially investigated, and those found responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, on either side, must be held accountable for their actions. Impunity for crimes committed in the past has had a lingering negative effect in this region. “noted the Special Advisers. To achieve protection of the population in the region, the Special Advisers call for an end of hostilities, the creation of a humanitarian corridor, and lifting of the blockade of Gaza which has created further suffering. The Special Advisers call on the parties to return to serious negotiations that will end the cycle of violence and achieve a stable, just and durable solution to this longstanding conflict.
The Secretary-General welcomes the broadly observed 12-hour humanitarian pause. As the pause nears end, there are countless images of Gazans trying to return to their daily lives while taking care of their wounded and attending to their dead. These images make it clear that we owe to the people of both Israel and Gaza our renewed effort to consolidate this pause in fighting into a more sustainable ceasefire.
The Secretary-General therefore urgently appeals once again to all parties to declare a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza as a prelude to renewing a political process as the only way of achieving a durable peace. He strongly urges the parties to, at the very minimum, extend the pause expiring later today.
The Secretary-General reiterates that any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence. The blockade of and the closure on Gaza must end; there must be security based on mutual recognition, and there must be a viable two-state solution by which Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security.
The Secretary-General urges, in the strongest terms, both the Israelis and Palestinians to extend, for an additional 24 hours, the humanitarian ceasefire that was in effect and mostly observed until early this morning.
He notes the importance for both Israelis and Palestinians to be able to have a break in the violence that has killed too many, marred so many lives, and caused such destruction.
Working closely with regional and international leaders, the Secretary-General urges all those with influence on the parties to help encourage an extension of the humanitarian ceasefire and compliance with observing it, once declared.
The Secretary-General calls on the parties to renew a humanitarian pause in Gaza and reiterates his demand for a durable ceasefire that could set the ground for the start of comprehensive negotiations. In this connection, he welcomes the Security Council’s strong support in its presidential statement earlier today for his call for a humanitarian ceasefire.
Following a largely observed 12-hour humanitarian pause on 26 July, the Secretary-General called on all parties to prolong the suspension of the fighting for an additional extendable period of 24 hours to allow vital humanitarian efforts to continue, including relief operations. The parties have expressed serious interest in this request but have not yet agreed on the timing of its implementation. As people around the world mark Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan and a time for overcoming differences, the Secretary-General calls on parties to build on the current calm.
With hundreds of Palestinians already killed in Gaza and horrifying levels of physical destruction, he urges those responsible to step back from provoking or inflicting yet more tragic violence on civilians there.
The Secretary-General stresses that Israelis and Palestinians have a responsibility beyond ceasing the ongoing hostilities to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict. This is the only way finally to break the seemingly endless cycle of violence and suffering. That means an end to the blockade of Gaza and ultimately to the nearly half century of occupation. It equally means security for Israel. He urges the parties to heed his call and that of the international community for the sake of present and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis.
The Security Council expresses grave concern regarding the deterioration in the situation as a result of the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties.
The Security Council calls for full respect of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilian population, and reiterates the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and their protection.
The Security Council expresses strong support for the call by international partners and the Secretary-General of the United Nations for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed assistance, and they urged all parties to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond. The Security Council commends the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for their efforts in this regard.
The Security Council also calls on parties to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected ceasefire, based on the Egyptian initiative. In this regard, the Security Council welcomes the efforts of international partners and the convening of the international meeting to support the ceasefire held in Paris on July 26, 2014 and urges all concerned regional and international parties to vigorously support efforts to consolidate an agreement between the parties.
The Security Council emphasizes that civilian and humanitarian facilities, including those of the UN, must be respected and protected, and called on all parties to act consistently with this principle.
The Security Council calls for the full implementation of resolution 1860 (2009) and stressed the need for immediate provision of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip, including through urgent additional contribution to UNRWA. The Security Council recognizes and commends the vital role played by the Agency, along with other United Nations agencies and humanitarian organizations, in addressing the critical humanitarian needs in Gaza.
The Security Council urges the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders as envisioned in Security Council resolution 1850 (2008).”
The Secretary-General has learned with concern that leaflets are reportedly being dropped by the Israeli Defense Forces in the northern Gaza Strip this evening, warning tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes and evacuate to Gaza City.
If true, this would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza Strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days. The United Nations agencies present in Gaza do not have the resources on the ground to cope with, or provide assistance to, an enormous extra influx of desperate people.
The Secretary-General strongly urges all sides to avoid any further escalation at this time. He notes that all sides must meet all obligations under international humanitarian law, both towards civilians ahead of impending attacks, as well as maintaining proportionality in any kind of military response.
The Secretary-General reiterates his condemnation of the firing of rockets and the building of tunnels into Israel from Gaza. Once again, the Secretary-General underlines the critical importance of ending hostilities.
I am alarmed at the intensity of the violence in Gaza after a brief humanitarian ceasefire. Today another UN school serving as a shelter has been hit in gross violation of international law. More children, civilians killed and injured.
Yesterday the UNSCO/UNOCHA Headquarters in Gaza was hit five times over a period between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Gaza’s sole power plant was also hit and is unlikely to be operable for the foreseeable future leaving most homes with an average of 2 hours of electricity per day.
Humanitarian organisations in Gaza are trying to help people in desperate and dangerous circumstances. People need food, water, medical care, safe shelter and other vital assistance. More families are being displaced every day and there are currently over 250,000 confirmed displaced people, 200,000 people in UNRWA shelters alone, in need of aid. This is over 10 per cent of the overall population of Gaza. Our capacity is stretched to the limit. World Food Programme is providing emergency food assistance to 204,000 people in addition to the regular food programmes and shortages of basic supplies have been reported in local markets. Given the deteriorating humanitarian situation, people’s needs will continue to grow.
The harrowing pictures we see every day are a reminder to us all of the terrifying ordeal being suffered by children and families in Gaza. Communities coming under rocket fire in Israel are also fearful Protecting civilians caught in the middle of this violence remains a priority for humanitarian agencies. But we can’t end the brutal conflict that continues to claim so many civilian lives in Gaza. I hope that all those with influence over the parties involved in this conflict will continue to do their utmost to agree on a lasting ceasefire and bring this conflict to an end. Let’s put people first.
The members of the Joint Coordination Committee strongly condemn the ongoing military aggression by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which has caused high civilian casualties, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where more than 1,000 Palestinians, including hundreds of children, women and elderly persons, have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, more than 6,000 civilians have been injured, and more than 180,000 civilians have been displaced.
The Committee condemns this wanton killing and injury of Palestinian civilians, including the killing of many families in their entirety, and condemns the massive destruction of homes and vital civilian infrastructure, including water and sanitation networks, compounding the humanitarian crisis and suffering of the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, who have been enduring massive collective punishment under Israel’s inhumane eight-year blockade. The Committee expresses grave concern about the deepening humanitarian crisis and calls for the urgent provision of emergency humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of the civilian population.
The Committee strongly condemns all violence against civilians wherever it occurs and urges all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The Committee calls on both parties and all concerned regional and international parties to urgently engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected ceasefire to de-escalate this dangerous situation and protect civilian lives.
The Committee condemns the targeting of UNRWA facilities, including schools, by Israel, the occupying Power, which has led to the death of civilians, particularly women and children seeking shelter and safety under the United Nations flag. The Committee calls for an immediate transparent investigation by the United Nations of the bombardment of the UNRWA elementary school in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip on 24 July 2014, in which at least 17 Palestinian civilians were killed, and stresses the imperative need to ensure accountability for such crimes.
The members of the Joint Coordination Committee demand an immediate end to Israel’s military aggression against the Palestinian people, and call on the international community, in particular the Security Council, to exert all efforts to bring a halt to Israeli military operations in Gaza and to ensure a sustainable ceasefire, in line with the November 2012 ceasefire. In this regard, the Committee also calls for serious efforts to compel full respect for international humanitarian law and ensure protection for the Palestinian civilian population and calls for the lifting of the Israeli blockade and an end to all measures of collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population.
The Committee stresses that a firm message must be conveyed to Israel, the occupying Power, to cease its military attacks, as well as all human rights violations, against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. It must be demanded of Israel to abide forthwith by all of its obligations under international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, and by all relevant United Nations resolutions. The Committee members further stress the need to hold Israel, the occupying Power, accountable for all its breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights violations.
The Committee calls on the Security Council to act immediately to call for and secure a ceasefire, contribute to a de-escalation of the crisis situation on the ground, and salvage the prospects for realizing a just and lasting peace and security, and recognizes the urgent call in this regard made by the Security Council in its presidential statement of 28 July 2014. The Security Council must uphold its Charter duties with an immediate view to saving and protecting innocent civilian lives and averting the further destabilization of the situation, which constitutes a threat to regional and international peace and security, and must adopt a resolution to this effect.
At this time of crisis, the members of the Joint Coordination Committee reaffirm their unwavering support and solidarity to the Palestinian people and their resilient efforts to realize their inalienable rights and legitimate national aspirations for freedom, justice and peace.
Ms. Amos: I thank you, Sir, for the opportunity to brief the Council on the situation in Gaza.
The current crisis in Gaza is taking place against a backdrop of decades of instability, poverty and vulnerability resulting from repeated outbreaks of hostilities and an ongoing blockade by land, air and sea. The blockade leaves only two crossings for limited pedestrian movement and one for the movement of go o ds. As a result, more than 80 per cent of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million — more than half of them children under the age of 18 — relied on humanitarian aid before the outbreak of hostilities. Various restrictions apply to the use of land within the Gaza Strip, and 80 per cent of its fishing waters are totally or partially inaccessible. Around 57 per cent of Gazans are estimated to be food-insecure, and unemployment remains high, at 43 per cent. The economy is moribund.
This volatile situation has been exacerbated by 24 days of conflict. More than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed and 6,000 injured. More than 80 per cent of those killed were civilians, including 251 children. Israel has faced rocket fire. Fifty-nine people have been killed, of whom three were civilians and 56 soldiers, with dozens more injured. Up to 440,000 people in the Gaza Strip are now displaced, amounting to almost 24 per cent of the population, and more than 240,000 are being hosted in schools belonging to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), while others are seeking refuge wherever they can — in Government buildings and hospital grounds or with families and friends. People flee to areas they believe are safe from attack, but those areas are becoming harder to find. Gaza is just 45 kilometres long and between 6 and 14 kilometres wide, and the Israeli military has advised that 44 per cent of Gaza is a buffer zone. With the blockade in place, most people are unable to leave Gaza even to get urgent medical attention.
So they come to United Nations facilities for protection when their homes and neighbourhoods come under fire — more than 240,000 people. But more than 103 of those facilities have come under attack, including an UNRWA school that was hosting more than 3,300 displaced people yesterday. Nineteen were killed and more than 100 injured. The United Nations has lost seven staff members, and other humanitarian workers have been killed since the outbreak of hostilities. The reality of Gaza today is that no place is safe.
The Secretary-General and other senior United Nations officials have condemned this and other attacks in the strongest possible terms. The parties to the conflict have an obligation— an absolute obligation — to protect civilians from direct or indiscriminate attacks. Under international law, United Nations operations, personnel and premises must remain inviolable, and parties to the conflict should protect humanitarian workers. There can be no justification for failing to do so.
The ongoing violence has led to the widespread destruction of homes, public services and infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip. More than 9,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged according to preliminary reports. More than 130 schools and other educational facilities have also sustained damage. Two of the three main United Nations compounds, including the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs office in Gaza, have also been damaged. Medical facilities have not been spared, with 24 damaged or destroyed and some hit multiple times. That includes Al-Aqsa Hospital, which was hit on 21 July, causing significant damage to its top two floors and killing four people. On 29 July, Shifa, the main hospital in Gaza, which is also sheltering thousands of displaced persons, was damaged as well.
In addition to schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, Gaza’s only power plant was struck on Tuesday and its fuel tanks destroyed. Parts of Gaza will remain without any electricity while others will receive it for only two hours a day. Under the best possible circumstances, repairs are expected to take months to complete. The immediate, medium- and longer-term impact on the functioning of water, sanitation and health-care facilities, as well as on food production, cannot be overstated. Water and sewage systems are also severely damaged, and I am deeply concerned about water systems’ possible contamination. Hundreds of thousands of people are without access to regular water supplies, and the ongoing violence is preventing urgent repairs. If the current situation persists, the number of people without water will significantly increase.
The United Nations and our partners on the ground are working to meet the growing humanitarian needs. UNRWA is delivering water and food to shelters in addition to its regular programmes The World Food Programme is providing food to people in UNRWA shelters and others, as well as to patients and hospital staff. The World Health Organization is facilitating the transfer to hospitals of medical supplies, including fluids and surgical kits, and is coordinating requests from hospitals run by non-governmental organizations for medical equipment, fuel and other supplies. UNICEF is delivering paediatric drugs to hospitals and health facilities, providing psychological support for children and families and working to restore access to water and sanitation. But the relief effort is stretched. The ongoing fighting and insecurity are hampering our ability to move around and have made it difficult to maintain sustained delivery of assistance to people in need.
Until a long-term ceasefire is agreed on, we need more humanitarian pauses to enable us to reach those in need. Pauses must be daily, predictable and long enough for humanitarian staff to be able to dispatch relief to those in need, rescue the injured, recover the dead and allow civilians some reprieve so that they can restock and resupply their homes.
It is urgent that the Government of Israel and Hamas and other militant groups comply with their international legal obligations, including international humanitarian and human rights law. Each party must be held accountable to international standards, not the standards of the other party. We have all witnessed in horror the desperation of children and civilians as they have come under attack with no safe place to go. Under nternational humanitarian law, the Government of Israel and Hamas and other militant groups must distinguish between military objectives and civilian objects, and between combatants and civilians. They must also avoid harming civilians or civilian objects, and protect them from the effects of military operations. As I have said to the Council before and in different circumstances, even war has rules.
Funding is also urgently required. The United Nations family has appealed for additional funds, and I ask Member States to respond quickly and generously to those appeals. We cannot provide adequate assistance without an urgent injection of funds.
The violence must stop and the root causes of the conflict must be addressed. The people of Gaza want to live in safety, security and dignity. The people of Israel want the same thing. I hope the international community can help them to achieve it.
Mr. Krähenbühl: Allow me to begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to the Security Council for the invitation and the honour to deliver a briefing from Gaza City today.
In this, the second of my visits to Gaza during the current crisis, I have spent the last two days assessing the situation on the ground, the extent of the human suffering, and the state of our operations, which continue in many parts of the Gaza Strip amidst terrible conditions resulting from the conflict that erupted on 8 July.
I would like, first and foremost, to express my deepest admiration to staff of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) who are providing a humanitarian lifeline to the people of Gaza. It is under the truly outstanding leadership of our Director of Operations, Mr. Bob Turner, that UNRWA staff in Gaza — who number over 12,000 — are assisting its people at a time of their greatest need, and doing so at considerable risk in the prevailing context. Eight of my colleagues have now lost their lives since hostilities began. In acknowledging the sacrifice, I extend heartfelt condolences to their families. Let me not forget also to thank the rest of the United Nations family that is doing so much address the humanitarian and political dimensions of the situation.
Since my arrival yesterday, I have borne witness to the tragic situation that has unfolded and been so graphically seen on television screens across the globe. I have seen extensive damage done to whole neighbourhoods and essential infrastructure. I have in particular seen this morning the catastrophic human cost of this war at the paediatric ward in the main hospital in Gaza, with broken bodies that are the real — and unacceptable — consequence of an armed conflict waged with excessive — and at times disproportionate — force in densely populated urban settings. Among the many children lying in the rooms and corridors was five-month-old Yussuf who has very barely and not yet definitively survived the shelling of the UNRWA school building yesterday in Jabalya.
Like many Council members, I have children of my own, and what I saw today — the terrible wounds — were devastating to me. I refer to young Yussuf because I have always refused the concept of anonymity in death and injury. Too often, reports from war zones refer to lists of numbers. The Palestinian children I saw today are not statistics. Behind every death and injury there is a story and a destiny to be respected.
Yesterday, an elementary girls’ school in Jabalya serving as a designated emergency shelter for displaced people received artillery strikes, which we have assessed to have been fired by the Israeli military. The precise location and coordinates of the school were conveyed on 17 occasions to the Israeli military, including a notification that the school was sheltering
displaced persons. The displaced were instructed by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes and seek shelter in premises such as ours. I reiterate my condemnation of the attack in the strongest terms, reiterate also that it was a serious violation of international law, and call for accountability, including through the immediate launching of a transparent investigation by Israel and for it to share its findings. We are engaged in continuous dialogue with Israel on the matter.
Speaking to many inhabitants of Gaza yesterday and today I have heard the same messages time and time again: “If we are not safe in an UNRWA school, we are not safe anywhere in Gaza”, they say, and they add, “the world has failed us, has failed to protect”. “The protection of civilians is an expression we do not want to hear anymore”, many have commented.
I also call on all parties to respect the sanctity of United Nations premises and exercise the highest precaution in the conduct of military operations that affect civilians in the region. That the attack on the shelter in Jabalya came only six days after a strike on the designated UNRWA emergency shelter in Beit Hanoun and caused multiple injuries and fatalities to internally displaced persons (IDPs) taking refuge there makes the call all the more urgent.
There is another challenge in our field of operations to which I want to draw attention. On three occasions we have found in empty UNRWA facilities rockets belonging to armed groups in Gaza. We immediately alerted all relevant parties to their existence and we strongly condemned placement of weapons in our schools. UNRWA is now working with United Nations partners to improve procedures to address such violations in a manner that does not compromise the safety of staff or civilians, including UNRWA beneficiaries. It should also be said that such discoveries do not in any way justify attacks on UNRWA facilities and in particular those sheltering IDPs. UNRWA takes robust measures to closely monitor all its facilities to which it has access in an effort to prevent misuse by combatants and other parties.
Allow me to turn to the most difficult challenge facing UNRWA in Gaza today. We are currently hosting over 220,000 internally displaced people, a number that has grown every day of the conflict and at an accelerated pace in the last week. That is four times higher that the peak number of displaced people during the conflict in 2008 and 2009. I am not referring here to the tens of thousands of displaced in Gaza that have found temporary shelter with host families, only to those who are registered in UNRWA schools.
We are doing everything possible to provide the displaced with items to meet their minimum needs — food, mattresses and blankets — but we are now into the fourth week of mass displacement in facilities unequipped to shelter large numbers for such a duration. Conditions are increasingly dire in the shelters. There is no water for hygiene, very few showers, and latrines are totally inadequate. Outbreak of disease is beginning, with skin infections and scabies, inter alia. There are thousands of pregnant women in our schools, deliveries are precarious, and we are sheltering newborn infants in these appalling conditions. Our ability to mitigate the situation is of course heavily restricted by ongoing hostilities.
We are gravely concerned about the situation. We are also gravely concerned about any possible additional displacement that will drive up the numbers in our shelters. With as many as 2,500 displaced persons residing in schools and an average of 80 people to a classroom, we have exceeded the tolerable limit we can accommodate. It is therefore with alarm that I have received accounts of new instructions from the Israeli military to Palestinians to evacuate the Zeitoun area of Gaza City and areas in the vicinity of Khan Younis.
In view of the foregoing facts and of the shelling affecting UNRWA schools on six occasions, I believe that the population is at a precipice and I appeal to the international community to take the steps necessary to address this extreme situation. Should further large scale displacements indeed occur, the occupying Power, under international humanitarian law, will have to assume direct responsibility for assisting these people.
The new reality being created before our eyes in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel is not sustainable under any circumstances. The humanitarian and political costs grow by the day with each death and injury, with the continuing destruction of infrastructure vital to the life of the Palestinian people in Gaza, and with the continuing violations of international law. As I have stated on previous visits to Gaza, the rocket firing on Israeli cities and endangering Israeli civilians is unacceptable and must cease.
We all aspire to seeing a Middle East in which its peoples share common interests, a stake in each others’ well-being, and a commitment — as the Secretary-General recently said — to peace, justice and security for all in the region. That cannot happen under the conditions of military occupation and those caused by the pitiless conflict now unfolding. It is past the time for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to be agreed by the parties as called for by the Council in its recent statement (S/PRST/2014/13).
Allow me also to add my voice to those calling for the redress of the underlying conditions that fuel the conflict and the violence that repeats itself in full view of the world. In other words, a ceasefire, while immediately required to save lives, is not enough. It is not conceivable to simply return to the situation existing before the conflict. Notwithstanding Israel’s legitimate security concerns, the illegal blockade of Gaza must be lifted. This small territory is home to 1.8 million people, who face the prospect of its becoming unlivable in a matter of only a few years unless urgent steps are taken by the international community to enable the development of Gaza and ensure security for all in the region.
UNRWA, faithful to its mandate, will remain steadfast in its commitment and operations, whether during this terrible emergency or in the recovery phase once the fighting has ceased. But much more is required to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State John Kerry announce that the United Nations Representative in Jerusalem, Special Coordinator Robert Serry, has received assurances that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
This humanitarian ceasefire will commence at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, 1 August 2014. It will last for a period of 72 hours unless extended. During this time the forces on the ground will remain in place.
We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the ceasefire.
This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence. During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured and restocking food supplies. Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period.
Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately be going to Cairo for negotiations with the Government of Egypt, at the invitation of Egypt, aimed at reaching a durable ceasefire. The parties will be able to raise all issues of concern in these negotiations.
We thank key regional stakeholders for their vital support of this process, and count on a continued collaborative international effort to assist Egypt and the parties reach a durable ceasefire as soon as possible.
1PCBS, 2009a. “Agricultural Statistics 2007/2008.”
2MoNE and ARIJ, 2011, performed a similar exercise to compute the potential agricultural production value of the entire Palestinian territory.
3The cropping area is equal to the actual cultivated area times the number of harvests in the year in that cultivated area. For instance, if a specific crop is harvested twice a year, then the cropping area for that crop would be double the actual cultivated land. Given the current cropping pattern, the cropping area in the Palestinian territory is estimated by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture to be 1.24 times larger than the actual cultivated area.
2United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.
3See General Assembly resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
4United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1577, No. 27531.
5A/56/1026-5/2002/932, annex II, resolution 14/221.
8See A/ES-10/273 and Corr.1.
9See A/49/180-5/1994/727, annex, entitled "Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area", annex IV.
1United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.
3United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, Nos. 970–973.