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Letter dated 23 January 1989 from the Permanent Observer for
Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva addressed to the Under-Secretary-General for Human Rights
These crimes have been confirmed by numerous international sources, in particular the report of the United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories (A/43/694) as well as the reports of Amnesty International of March and April 1988, regarding the condition of prisoners in Israeli prisons, and its report of 23 June 1988 regarding the use of fatal gases against Palestinians, in addition to its report on Israeli beatings and torture of Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention camps. Further corroboration has been provided by the reports of medical committees, including American and Israeli committees, which visited occupied Palestine and witnessed at first hand the perpetration of these crimes by the Israeli occupation forces. In addition to this there are the statements of the International Committee of the Red Cross, most recently that of 3 January 1989, regarding the deportation of Palestinian citizens from their homeland and Israel's continuing violation of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Further evidence has been provided by the reports of the international media which have been carried by television and viewed by the whole world.
The result of Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people in the period from 8 December 1987 to 10 January 1989 is as follows:
1. 560 martyrs;
2. 40,000 wounded, including 6,400 afflicted with permanent handicaps;
3. 49,000 arrested, including those already released, with 29,000 still under arrest, of whom 5,000 are in "Ansar 3" camp alone, and 8,000 under administrative detention;
4. 50 citizens deported by force from their homeland, Palestine;
5. 840 houses destroyed by the Israeli military forces as a collective punishment;
6. 8,000 olive and citrus trees uprooted by the occupation forces;
7. 1,600 cases of miscarriage of Palestinian women through beatings and shooting of poisonous gases into closed houses;
8. Depriving 67,000 university students and 300,000 school students of studies during the 1987/88 academic year due to the closure by the Israeli military authorities of universities, colleges and schools or as a result of enforcing curfews and declaring towns and villages as military areas.
This is in addition to crimes such as burying people alive; kidnapping children; enforcing collective punishments on all family members because of the participation of their children in throwing stones at Israeli military vehicles; using methods of physical and psychological torture against prisoners and maltreatment in prisons and gaols, as attested to by different international reports; aggression against holy places, mosques and churches and shootinq at worshippers; and the continued confiscation of land and the establishment of settlements in the occupied territories.
In the context of the disregard by the Israeli occupation authorities of the will of the United Nations and the international community, and Israel's flagrant violation of the principles of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights, the Israeli occupation authorities have escalated recently their measures of repression and their crimes against the Palestinian people, men, women and children. The Israeli Minister of Defence, Yitzhak Rabin, issued new orders to soldiers on 17 January 1989, instructing them to shoot with live ammunition and lethal plastic bullets at Palestinian civilians, spontaneously at any time, at any place and for any reason considered necessary by the Israeli soldiers, and with intent to kill. This has resulted in a sharp escalation of the number of Palestinians killed and wounded in implementation of these orders.
The Israeli occupation authorities did not stop at that, but also issued, on 20 January 1989, orders to Israeli soldiers to shoot, with intent to kill, at Palestinian children who are seen playing with used vehicle tyres in the streets or burning them. The same authorities have also issued instructions to prevent hospitals from providing treatment to Palestinians wounded by the bullets of the Israeli occupation authorities, with the aim of leaving them to die without treatment. The authorities have at the same time closed all schools in occupied Palestine and declared most areas there as closed military areas.
These Israeli practices have far, surpassed in their ugliness the limits defined as "violation of human rights" through Israel's continuos and flagrant disregard of the Charter of the United Nations and United Nations resolutions, the principles of international law, the provisions of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949, the two International Covenants pertaining to civil, political, cultural, economic and social rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These Israeli violations have become a systematic and methodological Israeli policy over the long years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
They have been described by certain resolutions of the General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities as acts of genocide undertaken by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian people, and constitute crimes of war, crimes against humanity and crimes violating peace. This is in the light of the principles of international law as defined in the Charter of the Nurnberg International Military Tribunal, of August 1945, which was confirmed by General Assembly resolutions 3 (I) of 13 February 1946, 95 (I) of 11 December 1946, 260 A (III) of 9 December 1948, which included the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and 2391 (XXIV) of 26 November 1968 which included the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.
The Centre for Human Rights, the Commission on Human Rights and all international humanitarian institutions, including juridical institutions and, at their forefront the International Court of Justice, are called upon to shoulder their responsibilities in the face of these continuing crimes, which are no longer a secret to anybody, and to punish their perpetrators after these crimes have reached dangerous proportions. This is not only because they are carried out against the Palestinian people, but because they are perpetrated by the authorities of a State which has been a Member of the United Nations for many years, in a flagrant manner which has shaken the conscience of mankind and has been rejected by the international community which has not been able to put an end to these crimes. This is a situation which threatens to destroy human values one day and exposes the principles of international law to extinction, while threatening the security and peace of humanity with the most frightening of futures.
I request that you kindly take the necessary steps to distribute this memorandum among the members of the Commission on human Rights during its forthcoming forty-fifth session as an official document, under item 4 of the provisional agenda related to the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine.