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Since Wednesday, 1 November 2006, the Israeli occupying forces have killed at least 28 Palestinians, including two children under the age of four, women and elderly, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The overwhelming majority of those killed and injured during this period by violent and lethal military raids and attacks by Israel, the occupying Power, in the northern Gaza Strip area, particularly in the town of Beit Hanoun, were civilians.
Using tanks, helicopter gunships and bulldozers, the Israeli occupying forces unleashed the largest aggression Israel has conducted in the Gaza Strip in months, under the name of “Operation Autumn Clouds”. Today, Israeli occupying forces opened fire at approximately 300 Palestinian women who were marching towards Beit Hanoun in an attempt to break the three-day siege of the town and rescue more than 60 Palestinians in the town’s Al-Nasr mosque, which had been surrounded by Israeli occupying forces. The Israeli forces indiscriminate fire resulted in the killing of 40-year-old Rajaa’ Abu Odeh and 40-year-old In’aam Salem, as well as the injury of at least 25 others, a number of whom remain in critical condition; a journalist who was recovering the demonstration was also injured. Israel, the occupying Power has also continued its criminal practice of extrajudicial killing. Overnight, the Israeli occupying forces targeted a vehicle in an aerial attack outside a mosque in Gaza City, killing all four men inside. Five people were also wounded in the attack. Also, in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus in the West Bank, the Israeli occupying forces killed 14-year-old Ibrahim Skarneh while he was attempting to save his brother, who was the target of an extrajudicial assassination at the hands of Israeli “Special Forces”.
These dramatic events have occurred following my letter to you on 1 November 2006, in which we warned that, in the absence of a clear and strong position by the international community demanding an immediate cessation of Israel’s military aggression against the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation, the continuation of Israel’s military rampage against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and throughout the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory will continue with yet more devastating consequences. The Security Council’s responsibility towards the continuing deteriorating situation and crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is unquestionable. In this regard, the Council’s failure to uphold its main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security is glaring, cannot be overlooked and must be addressed.
In line with the above-mentioned developments, it is starkly evident that Israel, the occupying Power, is escalating the situation on the ground by causing as much death and destruction as possible in the Occupied Palestinian Territory through the deliberate use of excessive, indiscriminate and completely disproportionate force against the Palestinian population. Indeed, in both word and action, the occupying Power has indicated that it will in fact continue with its aggression and illegal policies, further compounding the suffering of the Palestinian people, who are already forced to bear inhumane conditions under its brutal occupation. Hence, we continue to call on the international community to take action to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to cease immediately its military aggression, to withdraw its forces to its positions outside Gaza and to scrupulously abide by international law, particularly the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
The present letter is in follow-up to our previous 269 letters to you regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000. Those letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 1 November 2006 (A/ES-10/363-S/2006/858), 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.
In follow-up to the above-mentioned letters, it is my profound regret to inform you that, since our last letter to you, at least 22 more Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, raising the total number of martyrs killed since September 2000 to 4,326.
I should 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.