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Regrettably, despite the recent revival of the peace process and renewed momentum and hopes, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, continues to deteriorate as Israel, the occupying Power, persists with its military aggressions and human rights violations against the Palestinian people.
On the eve of the first meeting between Palestinian and Israeli officials in resumed negotiations, Israel has launched a wide military operation in the Gaza Strip, causing more death and destruction and seriously endangering the peace process. Once again, the occupying Power has — in total contradiction to the dialogue, good faith and will, and confidence-building measures necessary for advancing negotiations on sensitive, final status issues in a fragile process that has been frozen for seven years — chosen to use force and its military might against the defenceless Palestinian civilian population under its occupation.
In this regard, today, Israeli tanks, bulldozers and armoured vehicles, backed by military fighter planes, attacked the southern Gaza Strip. In addition, Israeli occupying forces seized positions on the roofs of several homes in the town of Al-Fakhari, south of Khan Younis, carried out house-to-house raids there and detained at least 70 civilians, including the town’s mayor. The Israeli assault, which caused fear and panic to spread among the already traumatized civilian population, resulted in the killing of at least six Palestinian men and the injury of several others. Also, two other Palestinian men were killed by the occupying forces in air strikes carried out in the northern Gaza Strip. In this connection, it is necessary to also draw attention to the fact that Israel continues its illegal, crippling siege and strangulation of the Gaza Strip, where the humanitarian situation of the civilian population continues to worsen with each passing day, to the point that the World Health Organization declared a few days ago that the health sector in Gaza is on the verge of catastrophe and that the Palestinians in Gaza are undergoing a slow death, which the international community must not continue to be silent about.
Of course, this most recent assault on the Gaza Strip by Israel is not an isolated incident. The occupying Power has not for one moment ceased its illegal policies and practices against the Palestinian people nor has it ceased its threats to inflict even more suffering and loss upon them. This is part of a long and ongoing Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian people, carried out under numerous pretexts that cannot in any way justify such transgressions against the civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Moreover, in this regard, it is necessary to recall that the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, and various other officials have been provocatively declaring for more than a month now their intention to launch a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip.
Clearly, such actions by Israel not only undermine and negate peace efforts, but also constitute flagrant violations of international law. Moreover, the continuation of such illegal actions, provocations and incitement will further fuel the cycle of violence, causing deeper deterioration of the situation on the ground, dashing hopes and giving rise to ever more despair and extremism. The international community, whose legal obligations for, interest in and efforts towards the promotion of peace are clearly known, must uphold its responsibilities and hold Israel accountable for all of its breaches of international law and for the harm it is causing to the historic opportunity for peace before us. International law, including humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, and human rights law, must be upheld. Failure to do so will only further embolden the occupying Power to continue committing violations and crimes against the Palestinian people with impunity.
The present letter is in follow-up to our previous 301 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 December 2007 (A/ES-10/405–S/2007/707), 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 15 more Palestinian civilians, including children, have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, raising the total number of martyrs killed since September 2000 to 4,800. (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.