The File of the Crimes

Since 28 September, when Ariel Sharon undertook his mal-intentioned visit to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which was followed by widespread Palestinian protests and the excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Israeli occupying forces, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N. has regularly sent letters to the U.N. Secretary-General, President of the Security Council and President of the General Assembly. These letters, which as of 10 January 2001 totaled 23 letters, have provided updates on the situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, drawing attention to the high number of Palestinians killed and injured by the Israeli occupying forces and the serious and grave violations being committed by Israel against the Palestinian people. Collectively, the letters constitute a concise, yet important, U.N. file of the crimes that continue to be committed by Israel, the occupying Power.

As indicated in those letters, the number of Palestinian martyrs since the start of this Israeli military campaign totaled 329 Palestinians as of 10 January 2001. Moreover, more than 10,500 Palestinians have been wounded and injured, many permanently and severely, by the occupying forces since September. As detailed in the letters, during its military campaign, Israel has continuously committed, inter alia, the following against Palestinian civilians and other Palestinians:

  • The willful killing of Palestinian civilians, using different methods, including by use of sharpshooters, even when soldiers of the occupying Power were not in any way subject to life-threatening situations. In some cases, killings took place without any disturbances on the scene. Most recently, the occupying forces have committed assassinations of identified persons, summarily executing them using various military methods and arms. In what has been tantamount to a pattern of shooting, the soldiers of the occupying Power have also willfully caused serious injuries to Palestinian civilians, usually to the upper part of the body.

  • Bombing and shelling of populated Palestinian areas and of buildings belonging to the Palestinian Authority using helicopter gunships, tanks and other heavy weaponry.

  • Razing agricultural fields and orchards and destroying industrial and economic facilities.

  • Imposing severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods with the outside world and within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, sometimes even to the level of restrictions on cities and villages. This has also included, in many cases, restrictions on the movement of medical personnel in emergency situations and the delivery of necessary supplies.

  • A vast number of other forms of collective punishment and harassment of Palestinian civilians, such as the imposition of unlawful confinement on the Palestinian inhabitants of Al-Khalil.

Many of these actions by the occupying Power represent grave breaches of the 4th Geneva Convention, and some represent war crimes within the meaning of the Convention. They represent serious violations of other instruments of international law as well as many Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. The actions of the occupying Power have caused grave loss of life, severe destruction of property, and have greatly damaged the socioeconomic living conditions of the Palestinian people. It is for all of the above reasons that the Palestinian leadership has beseeched the Security Council to undertake its responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security and establish a U.N. Observer Force to provide much-needed protection to the Palestinian civilians suffering under Israeli occupation.