Israel, the occupying Power, continues to commit grave breaches and serious violations of international law, including international humanitarian law, against the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. In the early morning hours of today (Palestine time), Israeli occupying forces, backed by more than 40 tanks and two helicopter gunships, carried out yet another raid in the densely populated Rafah refugee camp, killing more than eight Palestinian civilians and injuring more than 40 other civilians, many severely and permanently. One of the Palestinians killed was a nurse who was hit by Israeli fire while helping the wounded. In addition to the killings, Israeli occupying forces destroyed more than 10 homes by explosive charges and armoured bulldozers, leaving yet more Palestinian families dispossessed and homeless in the already desperate and impoverished refugee camp.
Further, yesterday, Monday, 22 December 2003, a five-year-old boy, Mohammed Naim Al-Araj, was killed by Israeli occupying forces in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus. The young boy was standing at the gate of his house when he was shot with a bullet in the chest. Moreover, in yet another tragic incident, a 15-year-old girl, Noor Emran, died of the wounds she sustained when Israeli occupying forces shot her in the head with a rubber bullet during a raid in the Balata refugee camp on 16 December 2003.
As the occupying forces continue to carry out such violent and deadly raids throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, using excessive and indiscriminate force against the civilian population, the death toll continues to rise along with the number of civilians injured and maimed and the toll of destruction and loss. In addition, the occupying Power continues to fervently pursue all of its other illegal policies and practices, including the confiscation and destruction of Palestinian land and infrastructure for its settlement activities and for the building of its expansionist wall; the imposition of severe restrictions, including curfews, on the movement of Palestinian persons and goods, including for medical and humanitarian purposes; and the arrest and detention of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children. Indeed, those illegal policies and practices have exacerbated the tense situation on the ground and deepened the humanitarian crises being faced by the Palestinian people.
The present letter is in follow-up to our previous 177 letters to you regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000, which letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 11 December 2003 (A/ES-10/252-S/2003/1168), constitute a basic record of the crimes committed by the Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of those 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.
Accordingly, in follow-up to the above-mentioned letters, it is my profound regret to inform you that, since my last letter, at least 22 Palestinians, including children and women, have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces. The killing of those 22 Palestinian civilians raises the total number of martyrs killed since September 2003 to 2,688 Palestinians (the names of the martyrs that have been identified are contained in the annex).
I would be grateful if you would arrange to have the present letter and its annex distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.