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Identical letters dated 10 December 2015 from the Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council
The situation on the ground in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate due to Israel's latest campaign of military aggression against the Palestinian people. Over the past few months, the occupying Power has intensified its attacks against Palestinian civilians in grave breach of international law, including international humanitarian law and the relevant provisions regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Settler violence against Palestinian civilians and their property has also intensified as settlers continue to terrorize Palestinian civilians with complete impunity, aided by the protection of the Israeli occupying forces.
Palestinian civilian casualties are mounting with each passing day. Since 1 October 2015, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has documented that Israeli occupying forces and settlers have killed 118 Palestinians, among them 25 children and 5 women. Moreover, during this period, more than 13,000 Palestinians have been shot and wounded with live and rubber-coated steel bullets, suffered excessive tear gas inhalation or injured in other ways, including assaults by the occupying forces and burns from tear gas canisters.
We must thus reiterate our urgent call to the international community, through all appropriate mechanisms, to undertake the necessary measures to provide the defenceless Palestinian civilian population with international protection and to immediately act to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to cease its violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law. The situation is totally unstable and unsustainable and has the potential to spiral further out of control if the international community remains silent and paralysed on a situation that is a blatant threat to international peace and security. The international community, in particular the Security Council, must confront this unlawful situation in order to avoid the loss of more innocent human life, restore hope and salvage the prospects for peace.
We wish to call your immediate attention to another grave issue, namely, the occupying Power's continuing arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinian civilians, including children, women and elected officials, and the abuse of their rights and persons while in Israeli captivity. In this regard, the Palestinian leadership strongly condemns the politically motivated conviction by an Israeli "military court" of a democratically elected member of the Palestinian parliament and the High National Committee for the International Criminal Court, Khalida Jarrar. In April 2015, days after the State of Palestine's accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Jarrar was seized during a late-night raid on her home in Al-Bireh, a town near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. She was held without charge or trial under a six-month administrative detention order. Given the fact that 99.74 per cent of those Palestinians tried by Israeli courts are convicted, Jarrar struck a plea deal knowing full well that the courts of the occupation would not deliver justice. According to Human Rights Watch, Jarrar's case was "rife with due process violations".
The Palestinian leadership does not recognize Israel's illegitimate court system or rulings and completely rejects the arrest, detention, imprisonment and trial of Palestinian civilians by the occupying Power. We call on the international community to hold Israel accountable for such human rights violations and discriminatory treatment against the Palestinian people, who are being systemically deprived of their liberty and rights. It should be noted that, since the onset of the occupation in 1967, over 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel. In the context of Israel's latest military aggression, the number of Palestinian civilians arrested by Israeli occupying forces since 1 October 2015 has now exceeded over 2,450 persons, half of them children. More than 70 per cent of Palestinian families have had at least one family member arrested at some stage. Nearly 7,000 Palestinians are now imprisoned by the occupying Power, in violation of international law and in deplorable conditions, and we call for their immediate release.
While impossible to record every crime by the Israeli occupying forces and
terrorist settlers against the Palestinian people, the list below reflects some of the many crimes perpetrated during the recent period:
3 December 2015:
• Mazin Hasan Ureiba (age 37) was shot and killed by Israeli occupying forces at the Hizma checkpoint, north of Jerusalem
• Occupying forces stormed Nablus and demolished the home of the family of Ragheb `Alawi. The explosive blast also caused major damage to adjacent apartments. Home demolition, a draconian and vindictive measure constituting collective punishment, is prohibited under international law
4 December 2015:
• Taher Mustafa Fannoun (age 19) and his cousin Mustafa Fadl Fannoun (age 16) were shot dead by Israeli occupying forces in Tel-Rumeida, in the centre of Al-Khalil
• Anas Bassam Hammad (age 21) was killed by occupying forces in Silwad, east of Ramallah
• Abdelrahman Al-Barghouthi (age 27) was shot dead by Israeli occupying forces near Abud
• Occupying naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza, causing damage to fishing boats
6 December 2015:
• Israeli occupying forces stormed the village of Tabban, east of Yatta, in Al-Khalil and damaged shacks that families were using as homes
• A group of terrorist settlers physically assaulted Palestinian bus driver Jawad Al-Qawasmi
• Israeli occupying forces raided and seized the entire belongings and equipment of a Palestinian-owned printing house in central Al-Khalil
• Omar Yasser Skafi (age 21) was shot dead by Israeli occupying forces in central Jerusalem
• Occupying forces detained at least 13 Palestinians, including three minors, across the West Bank
7 December 2015:
• Ihab Fathi Miswadi (age 21) was shot and killed by occupying forces near the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil
• Israeli war planes carried out an airstrike on the Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood in Gaza City, causing destruction in the area and fear and panic to spread among the civilian population
8 December 2015:
• Malek Shahin (age 20) was shot in the head by Israeli occupying forces during a pre-dawn detention raid in the Dheisheh refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, and transferred to hospital, where he died from his serious wounds
• Occupying navy boats once again opened a barrage of gunfire on Palestinian fishermen in boats sailing off the shore of Gaza City, causing damage to the fishing boats
The above-mentioned incidents are only a few of the countless violations and crimes being perpetrated daily by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people. Israel's belligerent military occupation is driven and sustained only by such illegal policies and practices that affect every single Palestinian child, woman and man living under occupation, whether it be in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, or in the Gaza Strip, where 1.8 million Palestinians continue to live in the world's largest prison, suffering massive collective punishment tantamount to a war crime.
In the light of the above and what has been taking place over almost 50 years of Israel's foreign occupation of the Palestinian people and their land, it is high time for the international community, whose commitment to a just and peaceful solution and to the rights of the Palestinian people has been repeatedly reaffirmed, to act
consistently with its long-standing principled positions and with the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions to bring an end to this illegal occupation and all the occupying Power's crimes against the Palestinian people and their land. In the meantime, the international community, especially the Security Council, must take measures to ensure that Israel, the occupying Power, as well as its terrorist settlers, are held accountable for their crimes in order to ensure justice for the Palestinian people, who have suffered untold misery under this illegal military occupation.
This letter is in follow-up to our 567 previous letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the territory of the State of Palestine. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-5/2000/921) to 1 December 2015 (A/ES-10/704-5/2015/925), 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, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators brought to justice.
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of 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.