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No justification to subject Palestinians to collective punishment: UN envoy

March 26, 2024 at 5:56 pm

Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process speaks to press at Security Council stakeout at UN Headquarters [Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images]

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, on Tuesday, denounced the killing of civilians, emphasising there is no justification for subjecting Palestinians to collective punishment, Anadolu Agency reports.

“I am appalled by the immense scale of death, destruction and human suffering wrought by Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, with civilian killings at a rate that is unprecedented,” Tor Wennesland said at a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East , including Palestinian.

Emphasising that “collective punishment of the Palestinian people” is unjustifiable, Wennesland voiced concern about violations of international humanitarian law.

“International humanitarian law cannot be applied selectively. It applies to all parties to a conflict at all times and the obligation to comply with it does not depend on reciprocity,” he said, expressing sorrow about UN staff killed in Gaza.

“The inviolability of United Nations premises must be respected at all times,” he noted.

READ: UN expert: Israel has committed genocide in Gaza, calls for arms embargo

Expressing extreme concern about the “possible nightmare of more than 1 million people being displaced again if Israel proceeds with its planned ground operation in Rafah,” Wennesland urged Israel to “fulfil its obligations under international law, including allowing and facilitating the rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access into and throughout Gaza.”

Wennesland cited Security Council Resolution 2334 and said, despite the resolution, Israeli “settlement activities have continued and intensified.”

Resolution 2334, issued in December 2016, confirms that Israel’s establishment of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity.

“Settler-related violence continued, including several attacks recorded in the Jordan Valley, where herding communities are at risk of displacement. On 28 February, Israeli authorities extended the administrative detention of a prominent settler by three months,” he said.

Wennesland underscored his deep concern about the continuous expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Adding that the ongoing spread of settlements intensifies the Occupation and hampers the Palestinian people’s ability to exercise their right to self-determination, the UN envoy noted that “all Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and are “in flagrant violation of international law.”

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Palestinian territory since a 7 October cross-border attack by Hamas which killed less than 1,200 people.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

More than 32,400 Palestinians have since been killed and nearly 74,800 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war, now in its 172nd day, has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the ICJ, which in January issued an interim ruling that ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: Israel steps up attacks on Gaza’s hospitals