12 March 1998 (A/52/827, S/1998/224, A/ES-10/23)

Letter from Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the Security Council: (Killings - Al-Khalil)

I wish to inform you of current dangerous developments regarding the deteriorating situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. On 10 March 1998, Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Palestinian men and wounded four others at an army checkpoint in the West Bank between the Palestinian villages of Tarkoumiah and Idnah, approximately eight miles west of the city of Al-Khalil (Hebron). The men were Palestinian laborers from the village of Dura, who were killed as they rode in a van returning to their homes after a day of work in Israel. The Israeli troops indiscriminately opened fire upon the van without any provocation.

Following this tragedy, clashes erupted in the West Bank between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians mourning and protesting the killings. On 11 March 1998, Israeli troops fired rubber-coated metal bullets at the protesters, wounding approximately 34 Palestinians in and around Al-Khalil and approximately 10 other civilians in and around the city of Ramallah. Today, continuing clashes resulted in the wounding of another 27 Palestinian protesters. Further, in two separate incidents near Ramallah and Al-Khalil, two Palestinian youths were shot and wounded by Israeli settlers.

This is a time characterized by the continuing deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process due to continuous Israeli violations and non-compliance with the agreements reached between the two sides. Moreover, it is a time of increasing despair among the Palestinian people due to the serious deterioration of the living conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, as a result of the illegal policies and practices of Israel, in violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, which is applicable to all the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem. Such recent actions by Israel, the occupying Power, only further fuel the tensions in the area and the overwhelming frustration and despair of the Palestinian people.

Clearly, while the Israeli side continuously vocalizes its alleged need for security as the reason for its refusal to proceed with the implementation of overdue provisions in the agreements reached, the security of the Palestinian people continues to remain an arbitrary consideration at constant risk at the hand of Israeli soldiers and settlers. Further, Israeli army checkpoints, which remain positioned throughout the West Bank due to continuous delays in the redeployment of the Israeli army in violation of the agreements reached, are often the scenes of physical and verbal harassment and violence against the Palestinian people.

The continuation of such Israeli policies and practices in violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people, international humanitarian law, United Nations resolutions and the agreements reached between the two sides within the context of the Middle East peace process serves as a further reason for the resumption of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly to address illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In this regard, the United Nations, through all its relevant organs, must strive to genuinely uphold its permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine until it is solved in all its aspects.