Open letter to the UN Security Council: Member states must address the root causes of the Palestinian struggle and protect the Palestinian people from Israeli reprisals

Open letter to the UN Security Council: Member states must address the root causes of the Palestinian struggle and protect the Palestinian people from Israeli reprisals

Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights call on the United Nations Security Council to address the root causes and protect the Palestinian people from Israeli attacks. As member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meet to discuss events unfolding on both sides of the Green Line in Palestine, which began on October 7, 2023, member states must consider the regime of Israeli colonial apartheid of 75 years, the illegal occupation of 56 years and the illegal blockade and closure of the Gaza Strip for 16 years as the root causes of the plight of the Palestinians. UN member states bear the primary responsibility for the violence in Palestine due to their inaction and complicity in Israel’s systematic and widespread violations, and they must protect the Palestinian people from Israeli retaliatory attacks.

On October 7, 2023, Palestinian armed groups carried out several military operations in the occupied Gaza Strip. Israel has waged a war against the Gaza Strip since its illegal occupation in 1967, and for more than 16 years has declared the entire Gaza Strip a “hostile entity”, imposing a land, air and sea closure, and subjugating the Palestinians there are subjected to measures of collective punishment, in violation of international law. During this period, Israel has carried out at least seven massive military offensives since 2008, which have left the Gaza Strip uninhabitable. Between 2010 and 2019, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded 3,624 Palestinians and 203 Israelis killed, as well as 103,207 Palestinians and 4,642 Israelis injured over the decade.

While third states are quick to condemn the military actions of Palestinian armed groups, UN Security Council member states should be reminded of the number of opportunities they have missed to prevent the escalation of violence. For decades since establishing its illegal occupation, Israel has failed to uphold its duties as the occupying power, reinforced its colonial apartheid regime, prevented the Palestinian people from exercising their right to self-determination and return, and has committed systematic and widespread human rights violations, amounting to international crimes, against the Palestinian people.

The last two years have been marked by the bloodiest Israeli violence since the second Intifada. Between January 2022 and September 30, 2023, Israeli occupying forces and settlers killed 426 Palestinians, including 89 children from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)*. As of September 19, 2023, Israel had arbitrarily arrested 5,200 Palestinians, including 170 children, and 1,264 Palestinians are currently being held arbitrarily in administrative detention. Between 2022 and June 30, 2023, OCHA recorded 1,449 settler attacks, while Israeli occupation authorities demolished 436 Palestinian homes, forcibly displacing 1,660 Palestinians, half of whom are children.

In its advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory (2004), the International Court of Justice called on third States to defend their international obligations, in particular by not recognizing illegal acts of Israel, including the obligation not to contribute to internationally unlawful acts and the obligation to cooperate in stopping illegal acts. Two decades later, not only is the wall still there, but it has been expanded to take over more Palestinian land, creating facts on the ground that have become a fait accompli, a de facto annexation. Meanwhile, third states have largely turned a blind eye to their obligation to end any obstacles resulting from the construction of the wall, as well as other violations, which aim to prevent the Palestinian people from exercising their inalienable right to self-determination.

The failure of third States to defend the advisory opinion of the ICJ, as well as the numerous resolutions of the United Nations, resulted in the aggressive and unrestrained construction of illegal settlements by Israel, the entrenchment of a regime of discriminatory apartheid underpinned by impunity for international crimes. For decades, Palestinians have called on the international community to take concrete and meaningful steps, beyond declarations of condemnation, to end these violations, including through the imposition of sanctions, arms embargoes and countermeasures. against Israel.
The lack of political will on the part of the international community to hold Israel accountable only encourages it to continue committing crimes against the Palestinian people as a whole.

The “question of Palestine” remains the permanent responsibility of the UN. As the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has already reaffirmed, “the United Nations has a continuing responsibility for the question of Palestine until it is resolved in all its aspects in a manner satisfactory and in compliance with international legitimacy. The decision of the United Nations General Assembly to divide Palestine into an “Arab” state and a “Jewish” state, in accordance with resolution 181 (II), completely ignored the right of the Palestinian people to freedom. self-determination. When Israel applied to join the United Nations in 1949, it promised to abide by all relevant UN resolutions.

However, Israel has not implemented all relevant UN resolutions, including UNGA Resolution 194 (III) of December 11, 1948, which demands that Israel respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees, displaced persons and exiles, 1980 UNSC Resolution 478 prohibiting Israel from changing the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem, and 2016 UNSC Resolution 2334 demanding that Israel immediately and completely cease all activities of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

We remind the member states of the United Nations Security Council of their obligation to protect the two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who are at risk of reprisals from Israeli violence. So far, Israel has launched airstrikes, killing hundreds of Palestinians and injuring thousands, bombing residential buildings, cutting off electricity and asking Gaza residents to leave the besieged strip, which, given the practical impossibility of doing so, may amount to threats to commit war crimes against civilians. We reiterate our call to the United Nations Security Council to refer Israel’s continued acts of aggression, including its illegal occupation of the Gaza Strip, for investigation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Sixteen consecutive years of Israeli closure and repeated military attacks have brought Gaza to the brink of collapse and created dire socio-economic conditions. Given the current state of Gaza’s infrastructure, which is unable to withstand prolonged periods of hostilities, Mr. Netanyahu’s retaliation will have serious and far-reaching consequences for the medical response, and could result in serious crimes, including deliberately causing great suffering to the civilian population.

Given Israel’s decades-long illegal occupation and apartheid, the Palestinian people, as colonized people, have the recognized right to fully exercise their self-determination and independence from domination. colonial and foreign rule and foreign subjugation, as reaffirmed in Resolution 1514 of 1960 and Resolution 3246 of 1974 of the United Nations General Assembly.

Accordingly, Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights call on UN Security Council member states to:

– 1. Recognize and condemn Israel’s illegal occupation, settler colonialism and the apartheid regime as the root causes of the continuing waves of conflict in the Territory;

– 2. Demand the immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Palestinian territory, as required by UN resolutions since 1967;

– 3. Call for the dismantling of the Israeli colonial apartheid regime on both sides of the Green Line;

– 4. Take concrete measures to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people, particularly in the Gaza Strip, in the face of Israeli reprisals;

– 5. Sanction Israel’s illegal occupation, apartheid and acts of aggression by implementing an arms embargo, economic sanctions and countermeasures against Israel.

Translated by: AFPS