According to the United Nations Press for Feb 23rd, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour calls for an end to restrictions on aid and essential supplies to Gaza; opening the six special session to "human rights violations emanating from Israeli military incursions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the recent ones in occupied Gaza and the West Bank town of Nablus"
Arbour expressed her concern over the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, which added to the already critical situation in the Gaza Strip, where 1.4 million people were living under the most abhorrent conditions with 80 per cent of Gazans lived under the poverty line and depended on food and direct assistance provided by aid agencies.
in December 2007, 58 Palestinians in Gaza had reportedly been killed due to the conflict, while Mr Faysal Hamoui speaking on behalf of the the Arab Group States reported 90 civilians dead making December the month with the highest Gaza Strip death toll in 2007. The number of wounded had also increased. Israeli military operations continued also in the West Bank and in particular in the city of Nablus, where Palestinian security forces had been attempting to restore order. Although differing in scope and proportions, operations that had failed to respect international humanitarian law had resulted in the loss of lives of Palestinian and Israeli civilians. The Israeli practice of collective punishment, disproportionate use of force, and targeted killings continued, as did the Palestinian militants' practice of indiscriminate firing of mortars and rockets into Israel. According to Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations, last year, more than a third of Palestinians killed were civilians.
On Sunday, 20 January, Gaza's main power plant shut down, and could resume working properly only when the provision of fuel was regularly allowed. Ms. Arbour exhorted the Government of Israel to completely lift all restrictions to the free flow of desperately needed aid and essential supplies to Gaza. She reiterated what a number of experts had already pointed out with regard to Israeli action in Gaza: the use of collective punishment was strictly prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The denial of the basic and fundamental rights could not be compensated for by permitting a trickle of charity. All parties concerned should put an end to the vicious spiral of violence before it became unstoppable.
Mussa Burayzat (Jordan) statement to the session: "To say that Israel was carrying out illegal collective punishment was the minimum that could be said. Israel's illegal and illegitimate measures were also undermining the efforts of the international community, including the United States, to find a path to peace. Jordan expected the Council to do its best to bring an immediate end to the suffering of the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory and to stop the grave human rights violations to which they were subject".
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On the other hand, Special Coordinator of the United Nations for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General Robert Serry reported on Feb 26 to the security council after two months in Jerusalem the following:
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian lead negotiator Ahmad Qurei were meeting on a continuous basis and President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert continued their fortnightly meetings, despite challenges on the ground and in an atmosphere of confidentiality. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad and his Government continued to promote good governance and revive the economy. Reminding donors of the urgency that they quickly disburse pledges made last December, he said Quartet Representative Tony Blair continued his work on economic development projects and other confidence-building measures.
A Palestinian military court had sentenced two individuals to 15 years in prison for killing two Israelis in December. Israel had stopped pursuing 32 Fatah militants after they had surrendered to Palestinian security forces. Approximately 1,000 Palestinian security officers were being trained in Jordan. However, the security situation for both Israelis and Palestinians remained deeply concerning. One Israeli had been killed and 27 injured by Palestinian militants. Forty-five Palestinians had been killed and 139 injured during Israeli incursion into Gaza and the West Bank.
He said there had been a suicide attack and 320 rockets and mortars had been fired from Gaza. Corporal Gilad Shalit was in his twentieth month of captivity in Gaza. Over 10,000 Palestinian prisoners remained in Israeli prisons, and Israeli military operations into Gaza and the West Bank had continued throughout the reporting period.there were 580 obstacles to Palestinian movement in the West Bank. Closure levels must be reduced significantly, if the Palestinian economy was to revive.
Only about 10 per cent of what had gone into Gaza in January 2007 was allowed to enter in January 2008, according to John Holmes Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Almost 80 per cent of the population was now receiving food aid; most industry and agriculture had collapsed; frequent and lengthy power cuts severely impaired the functioning of essential services and infrastructure; water quality was declining rapidly; the inadequacies of the sewage system were increasingly exposed; and the medical and education systems were teetering on the edge of failure, as lack of equipment, spare parts, qualified staff and psychological strains undermined their functioning. The vulnerability of the weakest to disease was rising, notably among children, who made up over half of the population of Gaza. That bleak situation was further compounded by bureaucratic difficulties between the Palestinian Authority and those administering health care in Gaza.
“Looking at these deteriorating realities on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in Sderot, the disconnect between those realities and the hopes and aims of continuing peace talks seemed almost total, and indeed risks making a mockery of the readiness of the international community to invest $7.7 billion in the economic development of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” he said. Unless that chasm was bridged quickly, and the humanitarian indicators began to rise and create some hope for the future, the chances of success in the peace talks might be fatally undermined, no matter how great the sincerity and ingenuity of all concerned. “And we desperately need those talks to succeed this year. The alternative comforts only the extremists,” Holmes said.
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