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TROUBLED BY ESCALATING GAZA VIOLENCE, PALESTINIAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE CALLS SITUATION
‘UNACCEPTABLE AND UNTENABLE’; URGES SECURITY COUNCIL TO FULFIL CHARTER MANDATE
Following is the text of a statement by the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on the escalation of the situation in the Gaza Strip, today, 8 January:
In the days following the issuance by the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People of its statement on 31 December 2008, the situation in the Gaza Strip has sharply escalated, with Israel invading the Territory and with casualties steadily rising. According to the estimates by Gaza medics, the number of Palestinians killed now exceeds 700. More than 3,000 have been injured.
This massive and unprecedented Israeli military onslaught in the Gaza Strip is being conducted in blatant contravention of international humanitarian and human rights law and scores of United Nations resolutions. The Bureau of the Committee is particularly troubled by the fact that the Israeli invasion is being carried out with a rather scant regard for the life of the Palestinian civilian population, already suffering under suffocating Israeli occupation and in flagrant defiance of the calls by the international community for a cessation of military activities. The number of killed and injured Palestinian civilians has been mounting from day to day. In particularly horrific incidents in the last two days, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) schools in Gaza City and Jabaliya refugee camp, in which hundreds of Palestinian civilians sought shelter from incessant Israeli bombardment, were shelled by Israeli forces. In Jabaliya’s Al-Fakhoura school incident alone, Israeli tank and mortar fire killed 43 civilians and injured more than 100.
The Bureau of the Committee wishes to reiterate most energetically that, in addition to being illegal from the standpoint of international law, the aggressive actions of Israel are unacceptable from the moral point of view. Using heavy artillery and tank fire, as well as air and naval power, Israeli forces continue to wreak havoc and destruction throughout the Gaza Strip. Palestinian civilians in Gaza are lacking elementary protection and shelter as they come under heavy Israeli fire and their homes are destroyed as a result. In spite of the official Israeli assertions to the contrary, Israel is perpetuating a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and causing daily harm to Palestinian civilians.
The Bureau of the Committee is appreciative of the regional and international diplomatic efforts, including by the European Union, the League of Arab States and the Non-Aligned Movement, aimed at stopping the violence and resolving this crisis. In this regard, the Bureau is further encouraged by the initiative of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. It is becoming increasingly clear that the world community should not passively observe the present carnage and crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza under the official pretext of stopping Palestinian rocket fire. More resolute and robust steps are needed. The present situation is absolutely unacceptable and untenable.
In light of these circumstances, the Bureau of the Committee expresses its disappointment at the inability of the Security Council to fulfil its responsibilities even after more than a week of sustained military attacks. The Bureau of the Committee urges the Security Council to take concrete steps to demand most forcefully that an immediate and durable ceasefire is agreed, that a ceasefire monitoring arrangement is put in place, that firing rockets into Israel be stopped, that Israel withdraws its troops completely from the Gaza Strip, that all Gaza crossings be reopened, that medical and humanitarian suppliers are allowed into Gaza unhindered, and that the parties return to dialogue. The Bureau calls upon the Security Council to act urgently and to exercise its primary responsibility under the United Nations Charter and show resolve that could help produce quick impact on the ground.
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