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Israel, the occupying Power, continues with its brutal aggression and its war crimes against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Since Tuesday, 5 February 2008, Israel, the occupying Power has killed at least 16 Palestinians, mainly in the occupied Gaza Strip. In addition, scores of civilians have also been injured by Israeli occupying forces, many of them seriously.
In the early hours of today, 7 February 2008, Israeli occupying forces, backed by war planes and armoured tanks, fired rockets onto a group of 70 students and employees at a school in the town of Beit Hanoun. This vicious attack killed a schoolteacher and several children were also injured, two of them seriously. Moreover, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, also in northern Gaza, Israeli occupying forces extrajudicially killed six Palestinians, including two brothers, by firing more than six rockets from a drone. It is important to highlight that these attacks and Israel’s continuation of its illegal policy of extrajudicial executions come at the heels of the vicious killings of more than nine Palestinians by Israeli occupying forces over the past couple of days.
The deaths of Palestinian civilians have not been the only crimes committed against the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power. In this regard, Israel, the occupying Power, has further tightened its strangulation of the civilian population in Gaza through the sealing of all border crossings, which has obstructed the delivery of the most human necessities, including food and medicine. Moreover, the occupying Power’s cutting back of fuel and electricity to the 1.5 million civilians in the Gaza Strip was set to escalate today. Such illegal measures of collective punishment, which will institute rolling blackouts of up to eight hours a day in most areas of Gaza, will have a grave impact on the hospitals in Gaza, water-pumping stations, sewage-treatment facilities, and other civilian infrastructure that is essential for the well-being of the Gaza population. Moreover, this decision by the Israeli Government clearly violates yet another basic principle of international humanitarian law which prohibits the occupying Power from attacking or withholding objects that are essential to the survival of the civilian population.
Moreover, Israel, the occupying Power, also continues to make military incursions and carry out attacks against Palestinian civilians and their properties in the West Bank. Yesterday, 6 February 2008, Israeli occupying forces entered the West Bank cities and towns of Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Qalqiliya and Hebron and illegally detained and arrested more than 10 Palestinians. They were then transferred to an undisclosed area. On the same day, Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian home belonging to the Al-Masri family in the Old City in Occupied East Jerusalem. As a result of Israel’s illegal demolition, 30 people who lived in the demolished home have now been rendered homeless. Israel’s use of house demolitions is a blatant violation of international law, and constitutes collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population. Moreover, it can be perceived only as another means for Israel to further its expansionist objectives and continue with its illegal settlement campaign in Occupied East Jerusalem.
We continue to call on the international community to uphold international law and shoulder its responsibilities and compel Israel to scrupulously abide by its obligations under the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which is applicable to all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, will only continue to reach more shocking and alarming levels if Israel continues with its illegal policies and practices against the Palestinian civilian population. The international community must call on Israel to lift its condemnable siege of the Gaza Strip and to lift all closures and open all crossings to allow for humanitarian access to reach the Palestinian civilian population. Silence by the international community will result only in increased human suffering and rising causalities which will only further threaten the fragile peace process which was revived in November. It is our hope that the international community will take all measures to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring in this regard.
The present letter is in follow-up to our previous 307 letters to you regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 21 January 2008 (A/ES-10/411–S/2008/35), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, State terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
In follow-up to the above-mentioned letters, it is my deep regret to inform you that at least 31 more Palestinian civilians, including children, have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, raising the total number of martyrs killed since September 2000 to 4,954. (The names of the martyrs that have been identified are listed in the annex to this letter.)
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of this letter and its annex distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.