The Mission of the State of Palestine would like to draw your attention to the ongoing plight of Palestinians in Gaza following the bombing of civilian areas by Israeli occupation forces this month as well as the ongoing colonisation project in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem.
· The death toll was 242 in Gaza with an additional 5 pulled from the rubble in recent days and yet to be added to the records. This included 66 children and 38 women, 4 of whom were pregnant;
· 1,948 Palestinians were injured during the hostilities, including 610 children, 398 women (of whom 3 were pregnant) and 940 men;
· 107,000 Palestinians were displaced during the bombardment with most seeking refuge in UNRWA schools;
· The WHO reported extensive damage to healthcare facilities with one covid testing centre completely destroyed and some medicine stocks and essential medical supplies at zero;
· Vital infrastructure was destroyed including roads, healthcare facilities, sewage and water treatment facilities and businesses and homes. 450 structures were destroyed completely.
Some of the children who were killed were already taking part in trauma management programmes run by the Norwegian Refugee Council. Their short lives of between 5 and 15 years were dominated by fear as a direct result of Israeli occupation aggression.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillippe Lazzarini visited Gaza in the last few days and said “The lasting psychosocial impacts of the violence are immeasurable. The ensuing mental health crisis will require the fullest funding of our psychosocial services,”
The latest aggression began with the onset of the holy month of Ramadan when Israeli occupation forces began to harass worshippers at Al Aqsa on a nightly basis, confiscating Iftar feasts and erecting barriers around the mosque to stop people from attending. In addition, 28 families were in the process of being displaced from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah due to state-backed settler organisations who have already confiscated part of the home of the El Kurd family who have owned the home since the 1950’s. Gangs of extremist settlers began to roam the streets of Jerusalem and other mixed cities within Israel attacking Palestinians, shortly joined by military forces who sprayed homes and businesses with skunk water and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Palestinians, eventually invading Al Aqsa and directly attacking those within the sanctuary of the holy building. The month of April witnessed a fierce wave of incitement led by Israeli officials, including members of the Knesset, right-wing Zionist parties, and settlers’ organizations against the people of Palestine, particularly in Jerusalem, who continue to face a ferocious campaign of racism and hate speech for exercising their right to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan in their own city.
Although there is now a ceasefire in place, none of the existing aggression has abated. Israeli occupation forces continue to raid homes and detain Palestinians, including children, without charge. Settlers continue to wreak havoc around the West Bank with more destruction of olive trees reported this week and attempts to evict and displace the Palestinian population of east Jerusalem continue. On Wednesday 26th May, the Israeli district court was expected to hear appeals from seven Palestinian families with 44 people from Batan Al-Hawa in Silwan, whose Magistrate’s Court ruled to evict them from their homes in favour of settlers. They decided to postpone the hearing. Extra-judicial killings go on as before. Ahmad Jameel Fahd was shot by Israeli special forces in the early hours of Tuesday 25th May in what they described as a case of mistaken identity and a Palestinian teenager was shot dead in Jerusalem hours before.
UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk wrote this week to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Simon Coveney, and stated “Accountability is the principle which lies at the very heart of modern international law. Without it, international law becomes lighter than air. Throughout modern history, the enemies of accountability have been impunity and exceptionalism. And throughout the five-decade long Israeli occupation, it has been sorely missing.”
As our Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in his speech to the UN Security Council, “Palestinian freedom is the only path to peace.”
Palestine is committed to a just and lasting peace based on international law and UN resolutions. We have made clear that we are willing to immediately initiate final status negotiations under international sponsorship based on those principles. No one can question our willingness to achieve peace. Yet, immediate steps are necessary, including protecting the Palestinian people and holding Israel accountable for its systematic crimes and violations.
Palestinians have a right to justice and equality. We ask the international community to work with us to uphold the rights and dignity of political prisoners, and to ensure and end to breaches of international law.