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I write to you at the end of another violent day in the Occupied Palestinian Territory due to the continuation by Israel, the occupying Power, of its illegal policies and practices against the Palestinian people and its determination to continue on the path of violence rather than peace. While the Palestinian leadership is taking every step possible to promote stability and enhance the chances for peace, the occupying Power continues taking actions that undermine these steps and threaten the prospects for peace and stability.
The Israeli occupying forces continue carrying out military incursions and raids throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The ongoing raids have included daily arrest campaigns in which dozens of Palestinians have been arbitrarily detained in addition to the thousands of Palestinians already being detained and imprisoned by the occupying Power. Moreover, these incursions are typically violent operations endangering the safety and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population in those areas and involve the harassment, humiliation and physical ill-treatment of the civilians. One tragic example in this regard occurred in the village of Taqu’ near Bethlehem, where Israeli soldiers beat 20-year-old Jihad Al-Sha’er to death. According to medical reports, the young man was bludgeoned to death and had not received any gunshot wounds, contrary to the story presented by the Israeli occupation forces. The brutal murder of this civilian is yet further indication of the total disregard for Palestinian life that the occupying Power has repeatedly displayed through its lax treatment of such blatant criminal acts by its forces. In addition, the occupying Power continues to carry out illegal extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, with at least three Palestinian men killed today by the occupying forces in a targeted missile airstrike at their car in Gaza City and another two men killed in military raids in the southern Gaza Strip.
At the same time, Israel, the occupying Power, continues to impose a suffocating siege and closure on the Gaza Strip, completely restricting the freedom of movement of the Palestinian civilian population and denying it access to the basic requirements for a dignified life and violating, collectively and individually, their most basic human rights. Despite allowing the entry into Gaza of daily subsistence needs of food, fuel and medicine, the occupying Power continues to deprive Gaza of other vital commodities, including building and other industrial goods. Seventy-five per cent of Gaza’s factories have already shut down because of this Israeli siege and large-scale construction projects by United Nations agencies have been halted, denying thousands a chance of employment, even if only temporarily, and preventing the needed reconstruction and redevelopment of much of the damaged and destroyed civilian infrastructure. Further, I wish to recall the recent warning of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East that without an end to the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, the humanitarian situation will continue to decline and the inhabitants of Gaza will shortly become completely dependent on outside aid for survival.
The continuation of all such illegal, inhumane and provocative actions by the occupying Power are totally contradictory to the Israeli Government’s statements of commitment to the peace process and dialogue with the Palestinian leadership, which, despite the difficult situation on the ground, continues to exert efforts to calm the situation and pursue a just, peaceful settlement of the conflict with Israel. The repeated military assaults and the continuing siege on Gaza, in addition to Israel’s non-stop unlawful colonization of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, undermine every effort to move towards peace, for, contrary to its spoken words, these actions show the true intentions of the occupying Power to continue oppressing the Palestinian civilian population and continue its illegal occupation.
There is, despite the many difficulties of the current situation, an opportunity to move towards peace in the region, as evidenced by the various international, Arab and Palestinian efforts being exerted in this regard. Just yesterday, 25 July, a historic visit to Israel was undertaken by two Arab Foreign Ministers, representing the League of Arab States, to promote the Arab Peace Initiative. Moreover, United States President George W. Bush has called for an international conference in the coming months to bring the parties together in order to resume the peace process, based on the clear understanding that peace and security in the region can only be realized through an end to this foreign military occupation and the establishment of a viable, contiguous independent Palestinian state. These opportunities must be seized and built upon and the illegal actions of Israel, which move us all in the opposite direction, must be rejected, and Israel must be compelled to cease its violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, to abide by resolutions of international legitimacy and to seriously pursue peace in good faith.
This letter is in follow-up to our previous 289 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 5 July 2007 (A/ES-10/393-S/2007/411), 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 profound regret to inform you that, since my last letter to you two days ago, at least 13 more Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israeli occupying forces, raising the total number of martyrs killed since September 2000 to 4,624 people. (The names of the martyrs 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.