We are compelled to draw your attention to the continuously rising tensions and violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem – the territory constituting the State of Palestine – as Israel, the occupying Power, continues its military aggressions and human rights violations against the Palestinian people.
Israeli occupying forces continue to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians, including against children and peaceful demonstrators, causing death and injury and destruction of property. Moreover, Israel has been unrelenting in its pursuit of illegal colonization practices, with settlement and wall construction continuing unabated. For example, just in this past week the occupying Power approved the construction of 891 settlement “units” in the illegal settlement of “Gilo” and approved the construction of 450 more settlement “units” in the illegal settlements of “Ramat Shlomo” and “Ramot”, all in Occupied East Jerusalem. At the same time, Israel continues to impose countless collective punishment measures on the Palestinian people, including, inter alia, home demolitions and its blockade on the Gaza Strip. The destructive impact of such Israeli violations on the situation on the ground is immense, as reflected in rising tensions, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, and deepening anger and frustration among the Palestinian civilian population living under this nearly fifty-year old Israeli occupation.
In this regard, civilian casualties have continued to rise. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, since the beginning of October, Israeli occupying forces have killed 89 Palestinians, among them 18 children and 4 women; 70 were killed in the West Bank and 18 in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, more than 3,500 Palestinians have been shot and wounded with live and rubber-coated steel bullets and 6,300 persons have been treated for excessive tear gas inhalation, while 280 were injured in other ways, including assaults by occupying forces and burns from tear gas canisters.
We must highlight one of the many violations by Israel, the occupying Power, which took place on 12 November 2015 in Al-Ahli Hospital in Al-Khalil. There, so-called Israeli “undercover” forces disguised as Palestinian civilians, wearing kefiyehs and fake beards, with one dressed as a pregnant woman, raided the hospital, seeking to seize Azzam Azmi Al-Shalaldah (age 20), a patient at the hospital who had undergone surgery after being shot by an Israeli settler a couple days earlier while he was picking olives in Sair Valley. Once they located the room, Israeli forces entered and shot his cousin, Abdallah Al-Shalaldah (age 28) at least three times in the head and upper body as he exited the restroom where he was washing his hands in preparation for prayers. The Israeli forces then threatened another patient at gunpoint and handcuffed another relative to a bed before seizing Azzam Al-Shalaldah from the hospital.
We wish to quote Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International who stated, “the fact that Abdullah Shalaldah was shot in the head and upper body suggests this was an extrajudicial execution, adding to a disturbing pattern of similar recent incidents by Israeli forces in the West Bank which warrant urgent investigation.” Moreover, it must be clearly stated that this latest crime by the Israeli occupying forces is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in particular article 18 which states, “Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.”
In this regard, I must also refer to the joint statement (SG/2223) by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross warning about the impact of today’s conflicts on civilians and urgently appealing for action to address human suffering and insecurity, in which they, inter alia, called on States to “ensure unhindered access to medical and humanitarian missions and protect medical and humanitarian workers and facilities” and to “condemn those who commit serious violations of international humanitarian law, such deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure”.
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 of the recent period:
11 November 2015:
- Israeli occupying forces raided a boys’ school in Taqou’ to the east of Bethlehem, harassed the students and threatened to shut down the school if stones were thrown at occupying forces.
13 November 2015:
- Mahmoud Mohamad Issa Al-Shalaldah (age 22) died from wounds sustained on 12 November 2015 after being shot by occupying forces in the town of Sair north of Al-Khalil.
- Hassan Jihad Al-Baw (age 23) was shot and killed with a live bullet in the heart by Israeli occupying forces in Halhul, north of Al-Khalil.
- Naval occupying forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of northern Gaza.
- Lafi Yousef Awad (age 22) was shot dead by occupying forces in Budrus, west of Ramallah.
14 November 2015:
- Israeli occupying forces raided the headquarters of the General Prosecutor’s office and court in the town of Dura, south of Al-Khalil. They bombed the main door of the court and Prosecutor’s office, before proceeding to break down other internal doors, tampering with the contents. Later on occupying forces raided and searched several Palestinian-owned commercial shops and homes in Al-Khalil and seized surveillance cameras and recording devices.
- In Nablus, Israeli occupying forces destroyed the family homes of the three Palestinians; Karam Al-Masri, Yehya Hamad, and Samir Kousa – all of whom are currently incarcerated in Israeli jails, and also demolished the family home of Mo’az Hamed in Ramallah.
15 November 2015:
- Israeli settlers, protected by occupying forces, attacked and chased Palestinians picking olives on their land located near Beit Ummar to the north of Al-Khalil.
16 November 2015:
- Israeli occupying forces invaded Qalandiya refugee camp before dawn and demolished the house of Mohammad Abu Shahin, incarcerated in an Israeli prison.
- Laith Assad Manasra (age 21) and Ahmad Abu Al-Eish (age 28) were shot and killed during the Israeli raid of Qalandiya refugee camp, and Yusuf Abu Latifa (age 17) was critically wounded and was detained from an ambulance as he was being transferred to the hospital.
- Israeli occupying forces detained a Palestinian child, Ahmed Nidal Abu Sbeitan (age 12) and his father from their home in Al-Tur in Occupied East Jerusalem.
- Occupying forces fired on Palestinian fishermen offshore Beit Lahiya, injuring 2 fishermen.
- Occupying forces demolished 9 residences and barns in Khirbet Jorat Al-Khalil and Al-Qanub.
17 November 2015:
- Israeli occupying forces opened fire on Palestinian homes and agricultural land situated near the border area in eastern Gaza.
- Mohamed Munir Saleh (age 24) was shot and killed by occupying forces near Turmus’aya.
As evidenced by the mounting list of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law, the Palestinian people are facing pervasive insecurity and constant threats to their lives under this belligerent foreign occupation. We repeat our appeal to the international community to provide protection for the Palestinian people. We also call for urgent action to compel Israel to halt its illegal policies and practices. Only this can stem the deterioration of the situation, which continues to spiral further out of control each day, and change the dangerous reality on the ground. The international community, particularly the Security Council, must demand that Israel end all of its violations. Israel can no longer be permitted to act as a State above the law and must be compelled to comply by all of its obligations under international law, including humanitarian law and human rights law, and to end this illegal occupation. International inaction will only ensure further Israeli impunity with grave consequences for innocent civilians and for the prospects for peace.
This letter is in follow-up to our 564 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-S/2000/921) to 11 November 2015 (A/ES-/10/xxx- S/2015/xxx) 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 be 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.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Dr. Riyad Mansour
Ambassador, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations