STATE of Palestine President Mahmud Abbas, last Wednesday declared the Gaza Strip a humanitarian disaster area.
In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Abbas said: ‘In light of the immeasurable destruction and suffering, I have decided to declare the Gaza Strip a disaster area.
‘Consequently, I urge you to shoulder your responsibilities as set out in the UN Charter, particularly Article 99, and apply it to the state of humanitarian emergency in the Gaza Strip.
‘I urge you to take all necessary and available measures to assess the urgent needs of this dear, besieged part of our homeland, Palestine.
‘In this regard, I call for the use of all available tools within the UN system to provide the needed relief and assistance to the Palestinian people during this serious humanitarian crisis.’
The Palestinian President called on the UN to provide safe havens for displaced civilians in the Gaza Strip, as well as food, drinking water, medicines, and other materials.
He urged the UN secretary general to work on establishing humanitarian corridors inside the Gaza Strip to facilitate the supply of the necessary relief aid, and also to take all necessary and effective measures to create a safe area for humanitarian action to protect the displaced families from renewed Israeli bombardment.
Abbas reemphasised the State of Palestine’s request to the UN to take urgent steps and measures to provide international protection for the Palestinian people from the practices of Israel, the occupying power, and its aggression and continuing violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.
He noted that this brutal aggression resulted in the death of more than 1,200 Palestinians, a third of which are children, the injury of more than 7,000, and the displacement of 200,000 others.
The State of Palestine president underlined the invalidity of the claims by Israel, the occupying power, and its resort to ‘the right to self-defence’ to justify its criminal campaign against our Palestinian people and the killing of children, women, and other civilians.
He stressed that international law obliges the occupying power to ensure the security and safety of civilians. . . that Israel, as the occupying power, cannot invoke the right to self-defence against the Palestinian people, who are still under occupation by Israel.
Abbas added that the Israeli aggression undermines our Palestinian people’s right to life; a right which the international law considers non-derogable, even in exceptional circumstances.
Moreover, the Israeli systematic and deliberate attacks continue against civilian homes and UNRWA schools that were used to house civilians, as well as hospitals and humanitarian facilities. This, he said, constitute a war crime under the international humanitarian law and Article 8 of the Rome Statute.
The Palestinian president stressed that he will spare no effort to stop the bloodletting, achieve justice for the Palestinian people, and realise their inalienable rights, freedom, and peace.
He told Ban Ki-moon: ‘Humanity is under attack in the Gaza Strip. My proud people are exposed to great injustice and I urge you to act to end this injustice and provide protection for the Palestinian people, who have the right to live in security, dignity, and freedom.
‘As president of the Palestinian people, I stress that I will spare no effort to ensure a stop to the bloodshed and an end to Palestinian people’s deprivation of freedom, and also to achieve justice and attain their inalienable rights to freedom and peace.’
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, declared at the start of the Cabinet meeting: ‘The IDF is continuing to act with full force across the Gaza Strip.
‘IDF soldiers are completing the neutralisation of the terrorist tunnels. . . I said at the start of the campaign: There is no guarantee of 100 per cent success, just as Iron Dome does not provide a complete answer, but the IDF actions have impressive results in the field and these actions are continuing at full strength even now.
‘As of now, we have neutralised dozens of terrorist tunnels and we are determined to complete this mission, with or without a ceasefire . . . the neutralisation of the tunnels are only the first stage in the demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip.
‘The US, the EU and other important elements in the international community have accepted our position and I must say that this was not an easy thing to achieve but we did it together, with hard work. . .
‘A unified leadership is important for the success of the campaign and it is very important for the people of Israel. . . . And yet there is a minority among the public which, precisely at these times, chooses to take a more extreme position on this or that side. I say to you: Do not harm the special unity that we have. . .’
In an interview on Wednesday, Yasir Abd-Rabbuh, secretary of the PLO Executive Committee was asked about the Israeli Cabinet’s decision to continue the ‘war operations under the pretext of eliminating the tunnels’.
Abd-Rabbuh said: ‘First of all, destroying the tunnels is a miniature idiom used by Netanyahu for an operation that aims at destroying the Gaza Strip in its entirety – destroying the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including electricity, water, sewage, health, hospitals, education, schools, everything.
‘This is because the objective he is seeking is to try to make the situation in Gaza incapable of producing new resistance if he can, as he imagines and believes, destroy the current resistance.
‘He wants the Gaza Strip to turn into a barren desert. He wants it to be crippled and incapable of doing anything in the future to restore the resistance and make it rise again.
‘He thinks that he can wipe out the resistance now, and he wants to prevent its emergence in the future. This is the big illusion entertained by the war criminals from the Israeli extremist right, which is currently leading Israel.
‘What he is doing now is a war of genocide against an entire people. He went after the so-called target bank, which includes hundreds of targets. They started with centres and institutions and then moved to families and households.
‘The Gazan individual is now part of the Israeli target bank. This is why the massacre is moving from one place to another and from one house to another without any reason and without any connection, from one school to another, including even the (UN Relief and Works) Agency (UNRWA) schools and public markets.
‘People believed that Israel was serious about four hours of calm or truce so they probably went to the markets or to check what has remained of houses or shops or remains of life. They were targeted.’
Rabbuh added: ‘This is a war of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. In light of this, we sent a message to the UN secretary general to inform him that the person who does not see must see that this war is now targeting every Palestinian Gazan citizen.
‘Every citizen is a target of the war of genocide launched by Netanyahu and the fascist army of criminals he is leading.
‘This requires two things: Speeding up international protection, which we demand for the Palestinian land as a whole, starting with Gaza.
‘The second thing is speeding up our accession to international organisations, including the International Criminal Court. . . Another thing remains, which is that there is also a need now to declare the Gaza Strip as a disaster area.’
He went on to say: ‘We express full appreciation to the fighters and the Palestinian resistance on the ground. Since day one, the leadership statement has given full confidence and full support to the people resisting the army of crimes, savagery, and massacres attacking the Gaza Strip.’
He stressed that ending the Gaza siege is a ‘vital objective,’ but ‘we do not close our eyes to the larger siege, which is ending the occupation.’
He said that ‘the Gaza massacre must transport me immediately to the call for an international conference under the title of ending the occupation of the entire Palestinian land’.
Abd-Rabbuh said that Netanyahu is pursuing a policy of ‘Hitler’s Goebbels’ by appearing on US TVs and speaking about the Israelis as victims.
He said that this is ‘refuted by the camera on the ground. This made Obama tell him: Cease fire immediately.’
However, he said that the US Congress will provide Israel with advanced missiles that are the same ones used in Afghanistan against bunkers ‘as if the simple Gaza tunnels were like the caves of Tora Bora.’ He added that the US Congress is ‘full of racism.’