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It is with deep regret that I must draw your attention to the rising toll of death in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, as a result of the recent military assaults by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people. At least 36 Palestinians, including children, have been killed by the occupying forces, most of them killed by targeted missile strikes from Israel warplanes. These attacks, which are being carried out following the decision of the Israeli Government to intensify its military operations, have been launched against Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and the Rafah areas, among others, causing extensive human and physical destruction and further terrorizing the Palestinian people.
Twelve Palestinians were killed by the Israeli occupying forces in the Gaza Strip on 17 and 18 May alone. In one attack on the Rafah area, indicative of the occupying Power’s indiscriminate use of excessive and lethal force, a Palestinian man and his two teenage sons were killed in what Israel has callously called a case of “mistaken identity” in an attempted extrajudicial killing. Moreover, following an Israeli attack in Gaza early on Sunday, 20 May 2007, that killed 3 people, the occupying forces then launched a missile strike against a home in Gaza City belonging to Palestinian parliamentarian, Khalil Al-Hayya, killing 8 civilians, 7 of them members of Al-Hayya’s family, and injuring 13 other people. Also, on the same day, the Israeli occupying forces continued to carry out attacks with Israeli artillery bombarding the house of Al-Masri family in Beit Lahya north of Gaza Strip, injuring the father and 5 of his children, one critically. Today, 21 May 2007, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a civilian car in East Jabalya in northern Gaza killing 4 Palestinians. Israeli occupying forces stormed the city of Nablus today, desecrating Al-Hanbali Mosque in the Old City and vandalizing its contents, and also stormed five television and radio stations in Nablus, plundering their equipment, tapes and documents.
Such attacks by the occupying Power constitute grave breaches of the tenets of international law prohibiting military attacks against civilians and the wanton destruction of property. Along with the occupying Power’s military raids on towns and villages, its daily arrests and detentions, its continuing collective punishment of the Palestinian people, including by means of continuing severe restrictions on movement and closures, and its intensifying colonization campaign throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, these attacks are fuelling the already high tensions, constituting further incitement and provocation, and threaten to completely destabilize the extremely fragile situation on the ground.
The overall dire situation that prevails is the cumulative result of all of the illegal policies and practices being carried out by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian civilian population. The constant and daily violation of their human rights and the suffocation and devastation of their economic and social life has caused a grave humanitarian condition and the steep decline of the situation throughout the entire Occupied Palestinian Territory. Moreover, all of this has undoubtedly helped to fuel the inter-factional turmoil that has tragically been plaguing the Palestinian people in Gaza at this time.
While serious efforts are being exerted on the Palestinian side to resolve this internal matter and put an immediate end to the fighting between factions via a comprehensive truce, what is sorely missing at this crucial time are efforts by the international community to address the illegal Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people. The international community, including the Security Council, has a responsibility to act to bring an end to these Israeli deadly attacks against the Palestinian civilian population, a population that is entitled to protection in accordance with the rules of international humanitarian law.
The necessary measures must be taken to compel Israel to cease its unlawful actions and abide by all of its obligations under international law. Such action has become ever more urgent at this critical time to stop the bloodshed and destruction and preserve the hopes for peace that have recently arisen but that are quickly diminishing with the refuelling of the cycle of violence between the two sides. Serious action is needed to help steer this crisis situation away from disaster and instead towards the stability necessary to allow all concerned parties to seize the moment to work together for the achievement of a peaceful and final settlement to this prolonged conflict.
The present letter is in follow-up to our previous 281 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 23 April 2007 (A/ES-10/384-S/2007/225), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, State terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
In follow-up to the above-mentioned letters, it is my profound regret to inform you that since 23 April 2007 and until today, at least 47 more Palestinian civilians, including children, have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, raising the total number of martyrs killed since September 2000 to 4,535. (The names of the martyrs that have been identified are listed in the annex to the present letter.)
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter and its annex distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.