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Amidst the positive statements about the need to revive the peace process and reach a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, based on the road map and the two-State vision, Israel, the occupying Power continues to take steps that hamper any progress towards achieving this noble goal. Additionally, declarations of what appear to be goodwill measures on the part of the occupying Power have been exposed to be hollow statements. Allow me here to point to the admission of the Israeli occupying forces that their claim of removing 44 roadblocks in the West Bank earlier this month were false because these roadblocks either didn’t exist or were nothing more than mere dirt piles that had been removed earlier, mostly by the Palestinians themselves.
Special attention should be afforded to 10 year-old Abir Arameen, who was killed by Israeli occupying forces in Anata, near Occupied East Jerusalem. Abir is the 955th Palestinian child under the age of 18 to be killed by the Israeli occupying forces since September 2000. She was one of many Palestinian schoolchildren protesting against the construction of the illegal Israeli Separation Wall on 16 January 2007, who were attacked mercilessly by Israeli occupying forces with rubber bullets and stunt grenades. Abir died because of a skull fracture caused by a fragment from the stunt grenade thrown into the children’s midst. Her death, along with that of 17-year-old Muhran Abu Al-Masir, who was killed at dawn on 24 January 2007 by Israeli occupying forces in the central Gaza Strip, are the latest examples of the utter Israeli disdain towards the worth of Palestinian lives manifested in the aggressive actions of the occupying forces.
In line with its policy of disdain towards international law and international humanitarian law, Israel, the occupying Power, in addition to its illegal settlement activities, continues to protect armed Israeli settlers in the West Bank, even while they attack Palestinians and desecrate their cemeteries. The latest such incident took place on 23 January 2007, when armed Israeli settlers, under the watchful eyes of the Israeli soldiers, attacked the village of Oarta, south of Nablus City, which is surrounded by a number of illegal settlements, including Itamar, destroying Palestinians’ cars and homes and desecrating 14 graves in the village’s cemetery.
Israel, the occupying Power, has also been waging an unwavering campaign of wide-scale arrests in the West Bank, including the arrest of Mr. Hatem Abdel Qader, former Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, in Jerusalem, and Sheikh Tayssir Al-Tamimi, Islamic Chief Judge and Head of the Supreme Council of Islamic Judiciary. Sheikh Al-Tamimi was illegally arrested by the Israeli occupying forces and accused of praying in the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound without a “proper permit” and inciting against the Israeli occupation. Bearing in mind that the Israeli occupying authorities continue to deny Muslim and Christian Palestinians from their basic human right of free access to religious sites, especially in East Jerusalem.
In addition to the arrest campaign, Israel, the occupying Power, has continued its illegal measures to change the cultural and demographic character of Occupied East Jerusalem, in a clear effort to change facts on the ground and pre-empt any final status negotiations on the occupied city. For example, the Al-Aqsa Compound is once again in danger from the continued illegal excavations by Israeli authorities under the compound. Additionally, Israeli occupation authorities have authorized a group of illegal Israeli settlers to erect a Jewish synagogue on illegally confiscated Islamic Waqf land, a mere 50 metres away from the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound. This is the first such permit since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. In this regard, the planned illegal construction in Occupied East Jerusalem should be addressed in the larger context of Israeli intransigence towards the legal status of the city and the colonial reality that it has imposed on East Jerusalemites, choking their neighbourhoods with a colonial belt that devours 35 per cent of the city and includes 70 separate illegal settlements.
Currently, Israel, the occupying Power, illegally detains approximately 10,000 Palestinians. They live in deplorable conditions and suffer from medical neglect and severe restrictions on their basic rights, including family visitations. On 16 January 2007, 37 year-old detainee Jamal Al-Saraheen died in the Israeli Negev prison from medical neglect by the Israeli detention authorities who wilfully delayed providing him with the medical attention he needed to survive. There are at least 150 Palestinian detainees currently suffering from life-threatening conditions, who continue to suffer from medical neglect and may face Al-Saraheen’s fate if no one intervenes to protect their basic right to life.
The international community, in accordance with the rules and principles of international law, including international humanitarian law, has clear responsibilities in terms of ensuring the proper conduct of the occupying Power, including compliance with its legal obligations and commitments. Moreover, measures must be taken to prevent the further escalation of this Israeli military campaign and breaches of international law against the Palestinian civilian population which remains helpless and without any protection from the brute force of the occupying Power.
This letter is in follow-up to our previous 274 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 4 January 2007 (A/ES-10/376-S/2007/5) constitute a basic record of the crimes 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.
I would be grateful if you would arrange to have the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.