Cycle of Violence in Gaza Must Stop, Top United Nations Official in Middle East Tells Security Council while Reporting 60 Demonstrators Killed Overnight

Rioters Threw Molotov Cocktails, Says Israel’s Delegate, as Palestinian Observer Blames Troops for So Many Deaths in Less than 24 Hours

A reported 60 Palestinians were killed on 14 May during protests at the perimeter fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, the deadliest day of violence since 2014, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Security Council today, condemning the actions leading up to the bloodshed and calling for an independent investigation.

“The cycle of violence in Gaza needs to end,” Nickolay Mladenov emphasized during an emergency session of the Council called by the delegation of Kuwait following the violence.  “If it does not, it will explode and drag everyone in the region into another deadly confrontation,” he warned, noting that tens of thousands of Gazans had been protesting for more than six weeks.

He said an estimated 35,000 Gazans had participated in demonstrations on 14 May, while other Palestinians had marched in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and East Jerusalem, speaking out against the relocation of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  More than 100 people had been killed since the start of the protests on 30 March, including 13 children, more than half of them yesterday alone, he said.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad had acknowledged that members of both organizations had been among those killed, he continued.  While Israel was obliged not to use lethal force except as a last resort, Hamas, which controlled Gaza, must not use the protests as cover to place bombs at the perimeter fence or hide among protestors to threaten civilian lives.

Urging the Council to step up efforts in support of a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he called upon all parties to refrain from taking unilateral measures.  They should instead advance the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine — of which Gaza was an integral part — living side by side in peace, security and prosperity, he stressed.

In the ensuing debate, delegates voiced different views of the violence unrest, with Israel’s representative laying the blame squarely on Hamas for radicalizing Gaza’s people.  Rioters had thrown Molotov cocktails, planted explosive devices and attempted to forcibly breach the fence and infiltrate Israeli territory, he said.  A Hamas-led mob had also torched the Kerem Shalom border crossing, a major entry point for goods going into Gaza, setting gas lines and electricity infrastructure on fire.  If the Council sought to uphold security, justice and truth, it must call out the lies, condemn Hamas violence and place itself on the right side of history, he said.

The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine pointed out that the occupying Power had killed more than 60 people in less than 24 hours, adding that employing such force against civilians could be defined as terrorism.  Rejecting the idea that Palestinians were responsible for their own deaths because they were protesting Israel’s actions, he called for a full investigation and questioned why one State had blocked other Council members from demanding independent inquiries into what amounted to a war crime against the Palestinian people.

Delegates widely condemned the fighting, with Kuwait’s representative expressing regret that the Council had failed to adopt his delegation’s 14 May draft resolution calling for a full investigation.  Kuwait would take action in the General Assembly to ensure the perpetrators of the killings were held to account.  He also called for measures that would offer international protection to the Palestinian people.

The representative of the United States emphasized that the opening of her country’s embassy in Jerusalem a day earlier had not undermined the prospects for peace in any way.  The city was Israel’s capital and no plausible peace agreement would change that.  “We want nothing more than peace, in which the rights of all people are respected,” she added.

Bolivia’s representative pointed out that the situation was not a conflict, but an occupation, emphasizing that the two sides were painfully unequal in the current colonial equation.  The unilateral decision by the United States to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem had inflamed the situation, he added, recalling that resolution 478 (1980) prohibited such actions.  The United States, which supported the occupying Power, was not merely an obstacle to peace; it was now part of the problem, not the solution, he noted.  While exhaustive mention had been made of Iran and Hamas, no mention had been made of the real reason for the current situation — the occupation.

The Russian Federation’s representative expressed deep concern that the escalation of tensions had coincided with the transfer of the United States embassy and the anniversary of the Day of Catastrophe.  Negotiations on pressing issues, including Jerusalem, must be conducted by Israelis and Palestinians, he emphasized.  He emphasized that, despite the ambitious plans of some international players in unfolding their grandiose projects, the world had not become any safer.  While the situation in Palestine was a good example that such efforts were going in the wrong direction, he said those undertaking such steps had made clear their intentions to continue on that path.

Several other delegates took issue with Israel’s use of force and urged all parties to act with utmost restraint.  France’s representative, describing the response of the Israel Defense Forces as both inadequate and disproportionate, called for full and immediate respect for international humanitarian law and for human rights, especially the right to peaceful protest.  The United Kingdom’s representative said the death toll alone warranted an inquiry, which should be made public and hold perpetrators to account.

Other delegates defended the two-State formula as the only viable way forward, with Ethiopia’s representative underlining that all arguments to the contrary were unrealistic.  Ways and means must be found to save the two-State formula premised on dependable security for Israel and the realization of Palestinian national aspirations, he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Sweden, Peru, Equatorial Guinea, China, Kazakhstan, Côte d'Ivoire, Netherlands and Poland.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:40 p.m.

Briefing

NICKOLAY MLADENOV, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, described 14 May as a day of tragedy for the people of Gaza.  “My heart weighs heavy today as I begin by expressing my condolences to the families of those killed yesterday and the last six weeks of demonstrations,” he said, calling upon all to condemn the actions that had led to the loss of so many lives in the strongest possible terms.  Israel had a responsibility to calibrate its use of force and not to use lethal force except as a last resort — when under imminent threat of death or serious injury, he emphasized.

Hamas, which was in control of the Gaza Strip, must not use the protests as cover for attempting to place bombs at the fence, and nor must its operatives hide among demonstrators and risk civilian lives, he continued.  Tens of thousands of people in Gaza had been protesting for more than six weeks — those living in abject poverty who wanted a future beyond mere survival.  “Their leaders have failed them,” he declared, noting that, if not channelled in a constructive manner, their anger would lead to more suffering.  The cycle of violence in Gaza must end, “for if it does not it will explode and drag everyone in the region into another deadly confrontation”.

He said the international community must step in and prevent war, moving forward all projects that it had discussed “for months on end” to solve the energy, water and health crises in coordination with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.  On 14 May, an estimated 35,000 people had held demonstrations in Gaza and hundreds in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and East Jerusalem, in “the Great March of Return”, to protest the relocation of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Citing reports that 60 people had been killed throughout the day, he said that, since the beginning of protests on 30 March, more than 100 people had been killed, including 13 children, more than half of them yesterday alone.  Hamas and Islamic Jihad had acknowledged that among those killed were members of their respective organizations, while Hamas had also placed improvised explosive devices at the perimeter fence.

Against that backdrop, essential medical supplies in Gaza hospitals had been exhausted, he said.  On 14 May, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator, who was currently in Gaza, had visited Shifa Hospital, where there was a shortage of beds for the wounded arriving from the protests at the fence.  He appealed to Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian authorities to facilitate the exit from Gaza of the seriously wounded to receive medical treatment.  That dire situation was compounded by the fact that the Palestinian Authority continued to withhold salaries of some 20,000 civil service employees in Gaza.  Furthermore, on 4 and 11 May, Palestinian demonstrators had destroyed most of the facilities on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing — the main entry point for goods and materials, he recalled.  The perpetrators of that destruction shared responsibility for exacerbating the suffering of 2 million Gazans, he said, stressing that Hamas had not prevented those actions.

He said that, for his part, he had engaged with all sides to ensure that all necessary steps to avoid an escalation of violence and that all incidents were fully investigated.  Public statements by Hamas indicated its intention to use the mass protests to infiltrate Israel and attack Israelis, remarks that could not be justified, he said, underlining that civilians must not be put at risk.  As the violence continued, technical problems had also led to a decreased electricity supply, resulting in 22 hours of blackouts on 14 May, a critical reminder of the fragility of Gaza’s infrastructure, and of the devastating consequences of the absence of peace between Israelis and Palestinians as the latter commemorated Al Nakba — “the Catastrophe” — in which they remembered the displacement of Palestinians during the war of 1948-1949.  He urged the Council to step up efforts in support of a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and called upon all to refrain from unilateral measures.  Instead, they should advance the goal of a just peace culminating in two States, Israel and Palestine — of which Gaza was an integral part — living side by side in peace, security and prosperity, he said.

Statements

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), condemning the massacre, expressed regret that the Council had failed to adopt the draft resolution that his delegation had submitted on Monday calling for a full investigation.  As such, Kuwait would take action in the General Assembly to ensure the perpetrators were held to account.  Calling for measures that would offer international protection to the Palestinian people, he expressed deep concern over Israel’s unilateral actions to change the conditions in occupied territory and about the unilateral moves of other countries, noting that transferring embassies to Jerusalem violated resolution 478 (1980) in addition to causing anger and pushing the region into chaos.  Peace began with ending the Israeli occupation on the basis of Council resolutions and ongoing peace processes, he emphasized.

NIKKI R. HALEY (United States) said “we are all concerned about violence in the Middle East”, but there was a lot of violence in the region.  Last week, Iranian forces had attacked Israeli positions on the Golan Heights, a reckless provocation that must be stopped, and Iranian proxy forces had launched missile strikes in Yemen.  Those examples of violence in the region should occupy the Security Council, she said, pointing out that Iran, a destabilizing force, was the common denominator.

Some had said that yesterday’s opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem was the reason for the violence, but that event did not undermine the prospects for peace in any way, she said.  Instead, it was the Hamas terrorist organization that had been inciting violence for years, long before the embassy move was announced.  Hamas had instructed the crowds to “get closer, get closer” to the security fence, demonstrating its determination to make the Palestinian people’s lives miserable, she said, adding that Hamas was pleased with yesterday’s results.  Asking who among Council members would accept such behaviour on their own borders, she said no one acted with as much restraint as Israel.

She said those suggesting that the embassy opening was the cause of the violence were sorely mistaken because it was a cause for celebration for the United States, reflecting the will of the American people and their sovereign right to move their embassy wherever it wanted to move it.  Jerusalem was Israel’s capital and no plausible peace agreement would change that.  “We want nothing more than peace, in which the rights of all people are respected,” she said, expressing hope that the nations of the world would join her.  Commemorating Israel’s anniversary, she congratulated the country on 70 years of independence, a realization of the prophet Isaiah’s vision.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) emphasized that Monday’s shockingly appalling violence was part of a depressing pattern.  Calling for restraint on both sides, she noted that, of the 60 people killed, six were children.  An independent and transparent investigation was necessary, including on Israel’s use of live fire in such situations and attacks on that country’s defence forces.  The death toll alone warranted such an inquiry, which should be made public and hold perpetrators to account.  On the status of Jerusalem, she said it should only be determined through a settlement negotiated by both parties, with the city being a shared capital of Israel and Palestine.  A political process must now deliver a solution, especially since the situation in Gaza was deteriorating rapidly, she said, asking the Special Coordinator to advance proposals for easing the situation in Gaza, including international support for infrastructure and other needed services.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), reading the names of the first 10 people killed by the occupying Power, including children as young as 14, said the Council had failed the Palestinian people for decades.  Apologizing to the 6 million Palestinians living in refugee camps, the hundreds of children in detention, the wounded health workers and the thousands of people suffering from a decade of blockades and 70 years of Israeli occupation, he said the international community had failed them.  The situation was not a conflict, but an occupation, he said, emphasizing that there were two sides, but they were painfully unequal in the current colonial equation.  The unilateral decision by the United States to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem had inflamed the situation, he added, recalling that resolution 478 (1980) prohibited such actions.  The United States, which supported the occupying Power, was not merely an obstacle to peace; it was now part of the problem, not part of the solution, he said, stressing that the mechanisms of the International Criminal Court should be triggered to conduct an investigation to bring the perpetrators of yesterday’s deadly violence to justice.  Bolivia supported all international efforts to find a peaceful two-State solution, which would finally consolidate a free State of Palestine, he said, pointing out that, while exhaustive mention had been made of Iran and Hamas, no mention had been made of the real reason for the current situation, which was the occupation.  Once that came to an end, then peace could begin.  The problem was not Hamas; rather, it was that a State was illegally occupying a territory and subjecting a people to inhuman treatment, he said, underlining that only when that came to an end could the Council say it had done its duty.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said his delegation was appalled by the violence witnessed in Gaza since 30 March, particularly yesterday’s sharp escalation.  While Israel had the right to protect itself and the people within its borders, it must fully respect the right to peaceful protest, protect civilians and ensure the strictly proportionate use of force and other measures.  He urged all parties to act with the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life and to protect civilians, particularly children.  Emphasizing that the immediate priority must be to defuse the current tensions on the ground, he said all parties must take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.  Sweden regretted that the press statement proposed by Kuwait could not be adopted and hoped that a way forward on an appropriate public expression could be found.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), calling for a full, transparent and independent investigation, expressed regret for the deeply deteriorating political and humanitarian situation regarding the question of Palestine.  Noting that unilateral actions in Jerusalem could exacerbate an escalation of violence, he emphasized that the final status of that city could only be achieved through negotiations involving both parties.  He called upon Israeli and the Palestinian authorities, as well as political, religious and social leaders, to act with moderation, urging both sides to re-establish a dialogue aimed at forging a sustainable peace and a two-State solution.

SUSANA RADEGUNDA EDJANG MANGUE (Equatorial Guinea) said that the bloody events in Gaza on 14 May had been streamed around the world, noting that more than 50 people had lost their lives.  She called upon the international community to do its utmost to address the situation, emphasizing that both sides must refrain from any action that could increase tensions, end the violence and respect international law.  Israel had a right to live in peace and security, but just as its right to exist could not be denied, neither could that of the Palestinians, which was how two independent States could coexist and share Jerusalem as a capital, she said.  Countries with political influence in the Middle East must play a role as mediators between the warring parties, she added.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), noting that the Council’s warnings issued at the end of March had not been heard, said this week’s tragic situation further illustrated that Gaza’s prevailing reality was untenable.  The recent violence was anchored in a decade of Israeli blockade and aggravated by the stalled peace process, he said, emphasizing that the hopes of the Palestinian population — most of whom were under 18 years old — had been replaced by a sense that they had nothing to lose.  Describing the response of the Israel Defense Forces as both inadequate and disproportionate, he said President Emmanuel Macron had clearly condemned it on 14 May.  In that context, France called for full and immediate respect for international humanitarian law and for human rights, especially the right to peaceful protest.  While Israel had a legitimate right to defend its security, it must do so without using disproportionate levels of force, he said.  Condemning the indiscriminate fire directed at demonstrators — which nothing could justify — he also called upon the protesters to refrain from violence.  The Council, for its part, should end its silence and deliver a clear public expression aimed at ending the escalation of violence, he emphasized.  “Our collective responsibility is to preserve the parameters that will, in due course, allow us to reach a solution to the conflict.”  The status of Jerusalem should be examined by the parties as part of a future peace accord, he added.

MA ZHAOXU (China), opposing violent actions targeting civilians, called upon both parties, particularly the Israeli side, to avoid all actions that could exacerbate the situation.  An independent investigation must determine what had happened on 14 May.  Urging the parties to stop the violence, he said actions targeting civilians jeopardized the prospects for peace.  Instead, efforts must be made to encourage the resumption of peace talks.  Turning to the situation in Gaza, he called upon the international community to scale up support for basic services and infrastructure.  On the issue of Jerusalem, he called upon all parties to bear in mind the importance of peace and tranquillity in the region and to avoid any actions that could escalate the current situation.  The final status of Jerusalem could only be achieved through negotiations, he stressed, adding that the international community must adhere to the relevant resolutions, the land‑for‑peace initiative and the peace process.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), expressing alarm at the situation in Gaza, including the increased loss of life, he also emphasized Israel’s right to security.  At the same time, Kazakhstan expressed its solidarity with the Palestinian people, particularly those civilians who had tragically lost their lives during what were supposed to be peaceful demonstrations, he said.  Calling upon the Israeli authorities to exercise restraint, he expressed full support for the Palestinian people’s right to self-expression and peaceful demonstrations.  It was imperative that the conditions for a political solution be created in a regional context already marked by strong tensions, he said, calling upon the leaders of Israel and Palestine to take concrete steps to preserve the possibility of peaceful coexistence based on a two-State solution.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) reiterated the call for Israel’s security forces to exercise maximum restraint in their use of live fire.  Noting that Jerusalem was a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both Palestinians and Israelis, he said it was critical to preserve the possibility of a solution through the two-State formula.  It was the only viable option, and all arguments to the contrary were unrealistic.  As such, ways and means must be found to save the two-State formula, premised on dependable security for Israel and the realization of Palestinian national aspirations.  Any attempt to run away from that reality would lead to more violence, he warned, pressing the parties to engage in direct negotiations to reach a final settlement on all issues, and the Council to encourage them to do so.

ALCIDE DJEDJE (Côte d’Ivoire) called upon both sides to refrain from unilateral actions that would exacerbate the situation, emphasizing that there was no alternative but peace.  Urging them to return to the negotiating table, he also encouraged them to engage in constructive dialogue based on the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.  Reaffirming his country’s support for a negotiated two-State solution, he stressed that the status of Jerusalem must be settled through negotiations.  He called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks, expressing hope that they would together overcome the political impasse and make strides towards lasting peace.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said “we cannot afford to put the peace process on the back burner”, adding that the events of 14 May only underlined the fact that the current trajectory only led to the loss of life — the highest numbers killed in Gaza since 2014.  Noting that the fact-finding assessment mechanism had been established to review the actions of the Israel Defense Forces since 30 March, he called upon Israel to ensure its responses were proportionate at all times.  He strongly urged Palestinians to maintain the peaceful character of protests, adding that calls to “storm Israel” were unacceptable.  Furthermore, the demolition of the Palestinian side of the Karm Abusalem/Kerem Shalom crossing only harmed Palestinian interests, he said, calling upon the de facto authorities to ensure the safety of that crossing.  He described unilateral steps regarding the future status of Jerusalem as unwise and counterproductive, emphasizing that the Netherlands would continue to respect the international consensus on the city as embodied in resolution 478 (1980).  Only a two-State solution would allow both sides to fulfil their respective aspirations, and achieve a just and lasting peace, he said, urging the Middle East Quartet (European Union, Russian Federation, United Nations, United States) to address the negative spiral and the Council to unite in efforts to de-escalate the situation.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) expressed deep concern over the escalating tensions that had coincided with the transfer of the United States embassy to Jerusalem and the anniversary of the Day of Catastrophe.  Negotiations on pressing issues, including Jerusalem, must be conducted by Israelis and Palestinians, he emphasized.  Reaffirming the right to peaceful protest, he said the Russian Federation condemned the use of force against civilians.  The four-year-long political vacuum had seen irresponsible politicians taking destructive actions, breaking lives and hopes.  Resuming the political negotiations in accordance with Security Council decisions and the provisions of the Arab Peace Initiative was the way forward towards establishing two States with Jerusalem as a joint capital, he said.  The Russian Federation maintained its offer to host a summit of the Israeli and Palestinian parties, he added, welcoming the involvement in peace efforts of constructively minded regional players such as Egypt.  He emphasized that, despite the ambitious plans of some international players in unfolding their grandiose projects, the world had not become safer.  While the situation in Palestine was a good example that such efforts were going in the wrong direction, he said those undertaking such steps had made clear their intentions to continue on that path.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), Council President for May, spoke in her national capacity, expressing great concern over the loss of life in Gaza during the protests.  Calling upon all to show utmost restraint, she condemned all acts of terrorism and incitement to violence.  “We expect all to ensure that civilians, and particularly children, are not put in any danger,” she said, calling for an independent and transparent investigation into those incidents and emphasizing that the use of force must be proportionate.  Poland pressed Israel to exercise maximum restraint in the use of live fire and to respect the right to peaceful protest, she said, adding that Hamas and those leading the demonstrations in Gaza must ensure they remained peaceful.  She called upon all parties to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law.  Reiterating Poland’s commitment to a two-State solution, she said the future capital of both States must materialize through negotiations.  The status of Jerusalem should assume mutual recognition of historical relations, she said, adding that her country would continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem as embodied in resolution 478 (1980) until the city’s final status was resolved.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, thanked the Council for honouring the slain and described the odious massacre that had claimed more than 60 lives and injured many.  Emphasizing that the occupation was the main source of tension, he called for a full investigation and questioned why one State was blocking all other Council members from calling for independent inquiries into what amounted to a war crime against the Palestinian people, who had been exiled for more than 70 years.  The oppression continued in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, while Israel remained immune, he noted.  He said that, for weeks, his delegation had begged the Council to help to prevent another massacre, and asked whether the Council had failed to hear the calls or take them seriously.  One Council member had blocked all efforts to examine the situation on the ground.

“How many more Palestinians have to die before you take action?”, he asked, wondering how members would react if the same killings of unarmed people had taken place in their own countries.  While the world had early warning mechanisms and means to resolve conflicts, no such tools had been applied.  Since the international community had passed laws and encouraged the protection of the rights of every human being, why were Palestinians the exception and how long would the Council practise that double standard?

The occupying Power had killed more than 60 people, including children, in less than 24 hours, using deadly ammunition and weapons and employing such force against civilians that it could be defined as terrorism, he said.  “We do not accept being the exception,” he added.  Civilians had the right to assemble peacefully and demonstrate.  Rejecting the ongoing racist discourse, including the insinuation that Palestinians were responsible for their own deaths because they were protesting the occupying Power’s odious actions, he called for urgent action to ensure the protection of children, women and journalists and the application of international law, particularly because the occupying Power had violated numerous Council resolutions, as well as the Geneva Conventions.

He went on to state that the provocative transfer of the United States embassy to Jerusalem was in violation of Council resolutions, emphasizing that no country had the right to imperil Palestinian territory under occupation, especially since the status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations, nor the right to act in flagrant violation of international law.  The Trump Administration had refused to listen to what the world was saying and to respect international law.  The United States was a superpower that should be protecting Council resolutions and abiding by international law, not ignoring the situation on the ground, he stressed.  Moving the embassy on the anniversary of the Day of Catastrophe was a provocation for millions of Muslims and Christians, he said.  The United States should have exerted pressure on Israel to end violations against the Palestinian people and created an environment conducive to peace talks.  Instead, they had decided to protect Israel from accountability, giving Israeli authorities the green light to displace a greater number of people and to continue their destructive activities, such as the decade-long Gaza blockade, which amounted to the war crime of administering collective punishment.

The suffering in Gaza continued, he said, asking for serious measures to exert pressure on the occupying Power to end the blockade in accordance with international law, and calling for continued support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  Calling also on the Council to take swift, decisive action to stop the violence, he asked for the effective implementation of resolutions with a view to ending the brutal conditions facing the Palestinian people, and underlined that urgent action was needed to save the lives of civilians and prevent the situation from deteriorating further.  States must translate their words into immediate action to end the Israeli occupation, he said.  “Our people have waited for a long time.  We can no longer wait for an end to this injustice.”

DANNY DANON (Israel) said his country had faced violent riots at the security fence with the Gaza Strip.  Rioters had thrown Molotov cocktails, planted explosive devices, rolled burning tyres, thrown flaming materials over the fence — igniting widespread fires across Israel’s southern agricultural lands — and attempted to forcibly breach the fence and infiltrate Israeli territory.  Hamas, a globally recognized terrorist organization, had radicalized its people, he said, recalling that, on 11 May, a Hamas-led mob had set fire to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, setting gas lines and electricity infrastructure on fire.  The Israel Defense Forces had found and destroyed the ninth Hamas terror tunnel since last October, running along the Erez pedestrian crossing and ending metres from a village in Israel.

“Hamas lives on death” of both Israeli civilians and the innocent people in Gaza that it used as human shields, he said, adding that its terrorists hid behind children to ensure their own survival.  Citing information provided by a Gaza resident, he said Hamas instructed its activists to cut the fence and steal Israel’s security cameras in order to topple the fence and disrupt the activities of the Israel Defense Forces.  Hamas wanted the international media to see the riots as a popular uprising rather than violent action led by its militants, he said, adding that Hamas terrorists hid behind civilians during the riots.  If the fence was breached, heavily armed Hamas terrorists would enter Israeli territory “under cover of the mob” and attack Israeli civilians.

When a mob terrorized the fence, he continued, too many in the international community legitimized the Palestinian voice of violence.  However, when it came to the safety of Israel’s public, the world was silent.  Describing the Palestinian “cycle of death”, he said that, as soon as Palestinians announced plans for so‑called “days of rage”, Israel understood that Hamas would incite people to violence, place civilians in harm’s way, count terrorists as civilian casualties and both demand and receive the sympathy of the United Nations.  “We predicted this situation many months ago,” he said, noting that some in the international community had fallen into the trap and given Palestinians the attention they sought.

Recalling that, in 1948, when the United Nations had proposed the creation of a Jewish State and an Arab State in the land of Israel, the Jews had been given a portion of their historic homeland and they had taken it, grateful for having returned home.  But, the Palestinians could not bear to share what had been Israeli land to begin with — “so they assaulted us”.  While Israel had ultimately won that battle, Palestinian violence would not relent and too many in the international community “let them get away with it”, allowing them to inspire resolutions equating Zionism with racism.  Moreover, Israel had disengaged from Gaza in 2005, but the enclave had never reached its potential because Hamas had taken it over in 2006.  Rather than invest in education, infrastructure and the economy, the group had spent its resources on terrorizing Israel, he said.

The international community, with a few brave exceptions, had done nothing to stop Palestinians from terrorizing Israel on the world stage, he said, adding that it was only by breaking the cycle of orchestrated riots, planned casualties and pleas for United Nations sympathy could justice be served.  He said that, amid the celebrations around the seventieth anniversary of the State of Israel, those claiming that the decision to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem — Israel’s ancient and rightful capital — was the reason for Palestinian violence should re-examine history.  That explanation was simply the latest in Palestinian excuses for violence against Israel, he said, adding that, if the Council sought to uphold security, justice and truth, it must set the standard of behaviour.  It must tell Hamas that violence was not the answer.  It must call out lies, condemn Hamas violence and place itself on the right side of history.

Related Posts

Cycle of Violence in Gaza Must Stop, Top United Nations Official in Middle East Tells Security Council while Reporting 60 Demonstrators Killed Overnight

Rioters Threw Molotov Cocktails, Says Israel’s Delegate, as Palestinian Observer Blames Troops for So Many Deaths in Less than 24 Hours

A reported 60 Palestinians were killed on 14 May during protests at the perimeter fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, the deadliest day of violence since 2014, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Security Council today, condemning the actions leading up to the bloodshed and calling for an independent investigation.

“The cycle of violence in Gaza needs to end,” Nickolay Mladenov emphasized during an emergency session of the Council called by the delegation of Kuwait following the violence.  “If it does not, it will explode and drag everyone in the region into another deadly confrontation,” he warned, noting that tens of thousands of Gazans had been protesting for more than six weeks.

He said an estimated 35,000 Gazans had participated in demonstrations on 14 May, while other Palestinians had marched in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and East Jerusalem, speaking out against the relocation of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  More than 100 people had been killed since the start of the protests on 30 March, including 13 children, more than half of them yesterday alone, he said.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad had acknowledged that members of both organizations had been among those killed, he continued.  While Israel was obliged not to use lethal force except as a last resort, Hamas, which controlled Gaza, must not use the protests as cover to place bombs at the perimeter fence or hide among protestors to threaten civilian lives.

Urging the Council to step up efforts in support of a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he called upon all parties to refrain from taking unilateral measures.  They should instead advance the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine — of which Gaza was an integral part — living side by side in peace, security and prosperity, he stressed.

In the ensuing debate, delegates voiced different views of the violence unrest, with Israel’s representative laying the blame squarely on Hamas for radicalizing Gaza’s people.  Rioters had thrown Molotov cocktails, planted explosive devices and attempted to forcibly breach the fence and infiltrate Israeli territory, he said.  A Hamas-led mob had also torched the Kerem Shalom border crossing, a major entry point for goods going into Gaza, setting gas lines and electricity infrastructure on fire.  If the Council sought to uphold security, justice and truth, it must call out the lies, condemn Hamas violence and place itself on the right side of history, he said.

The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine pointed out that the occupying Power had killed more than 60 people in less than 24 hours, adding that employing such force against civilians could be defined as terrorism.  Rejecting the idea that Palestinians were responsible for their own deaths because they were protesting Israel’s actions, he called for a full investigation and questioned why one State had blocked other Council members from demanding independent inquiries into what amounted to a war crime against the Palestinian people.

Delegates widely condemned the fighting, with Kuwait’s representative expressing regret that the Council had failed to adopt his delegation’s 14 May draft resolution calling for a full investigation.  Kuwait would take action in the General Assembly to ensure the perpetrators of the killings were held to account.  He also called for measures that would offer international protection to the Palestinian people.

The representative of the United States emphasized that the opening of her country’s embassy in Jerusalem a day earlier had not undermined the prospects for peace in any way.  The city was Israel’s capital and no plausible peace agreement would change that.  “We want nothing more than peace, in which the rights of all people are respected,” she added.

Bolivia’s representative pointed out that the situation was not a conflict, but an occupation, emphasizing that the two sides were painfully unequal in the current colonial equation.  The unilateral decision by the United States to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem had inflamed the situation, he added, recalling that resolution 478 (1980) prohibited such actions.  The United States, which supported the occupying Power, was not merely an obstacle to peace; it was now part of the problem, not the solution, he noted.  While exhaustive mention had been made of Iran and Hamas, no mention had been made of the real reason for the current situation — the occupation.

The Russian Federation’s representative expressed deep concern that the escalation of tensions had coincided with the transfer of the United States embassy and the anniversary of the Day of Catastrophe.  Negotiations on pressing issues, including Jerusalem, must be conducted by Israelis and Palestinians, he emphasized.  He emphasized that, despite the ambitious plans of some international players in unfolding their grandiose projects, the world had not become any safer.  While the situation in Palestine was a good example that such efforts were going in the wrong direction, he said those undertaking such steps had made clear their intentions to continue on that path.

Several other delegates took issue with Israel’s use of force and urged all parties to act with utmost restraint.  France’s representative, describing the response of the Israel Defense Forces as both inadequate and disproportionate, called for full and immediate respect for international humanitarian law and for human rights, especially the right to peaceful protest.  The United Kingdom’s representative said the death toll alone warranted an inquiry, which should be made public and hold perpetrators to account.

Other delegates defended the two-State formula as the only viable way forward, with Ethiopia’s representative underlining that all arguments to the contrary were unrealistic.  Ways and means must be found to save the two-State formula premised on dependable security for Israel and the realization of Palestinian national aspirations, he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Sweden, Peru, Equatorial Guinea, China, Kazakhstan, Côte d'Ivoire, Netherlands and Poland.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:40 p.m.

Briefing

NICKOLAY MLADENOV, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, described 14 May as a day of tragedy for the people of Gaza.  “My heart weighs heavy today as I begin by expressing my condolences to the families of those killed yesterday and the last six weeks of demonstrations,” he said, calling upon all to condemn the actions that had led to the loss of so many lives in the strongest possible terms.  Israel had a responsibility to calibrate its use of force and not to use lethal force except as a last resort — when under imminent threat of death or serious injury, he emphasized.

Hamas, which was in control of the Gaza Strip, must not use the protests as cover for attempting to place bombs at the fence, and nor must its operatives hide among demonstrators and risk civilian lives, he continued.  Tens of thousands of people in Gaza had been protesting for more than six weeks — those living in abject poverty who wanted a future beyond mere survival.  “Their leaders have failed them,” he declared, noting that, if not channelled in a constructive manner, their anger would lead to more suffering.  The cycle of violence in Gaza must end, “for if it does not it will explode and drag everyone in the region into another deadly confrontation”.

He said the international community must step in and prevent war, moving forward all projects that it had discussed “for months on end” to solve the energy, water and health crises in coordination with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.  On 14 May, an estimated 35,000 people had held demonstrations in Gaza and hundreds in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and East Jerusalem, in “the Great March of Return”, to protest the relocation of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Citing reports that 60 people had been killed throughout the day, he said that, since the beginning of protests on 30 March, more than 100 people had been killed, including 13 children, more than half of them yesterday alone.  Hamas and Islamic Jihad had acknowledged that among those killed were members of their respective organizations, while Hamas had also placed improvised explosive devices at the perimeter fence.

Against that backdrop, essential medical supplies in Gaza hospitals had been exhausted, he said.  On 14 May, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator, who was currently in Gaza, had visited Shifa Hospital, where there was a shortage of beds for the wounded arriving from the protests at the fence.  He appealed to Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian authorities to facilitate the exit from Gaza of the seriously wounded to receive medical treatment.  That dire situation was compounded by the fact that the Palestinian Authority continued to withhold salaries of some 20,000 civil service employees in Gaza.  Furthermore, on 4 and 11 May, Palestinian demonstrators had destroyed most of the facilities on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing — the main entry point for goods and materials, he recalled.  The perpetrators of that destruction shared responsibility for exacerbating the suffering of 2 million Gazans, he said, stressing that Hamas had not prevented those actions.

He said that, for his part, he had engaged with all sides to ensure that all necessary steps to avoid an escalation of violence and that all incidents were fully investigated.  Public statements by Hamas indicated its intention to use the mass protests to infiltrate Israel and attack Israelis, remarks that could not be justified, he said, underlining that civilians must not be put at risk.  As the violence continued, technical problems had also led to a decreased electricity supply, resulting in 22 hours of blackouts on 14 May, a critical reminder of the fragility of Gaza’s infrastructure, and of the devastating consequences of the absence of peace between Israelis and Palestinians as the latter commemorated Al Nakba — “the Catastrophe” — in which they remembered the displacement of Palestinians during the war of 1948-1949.  He urged the Council to step up efforts in support of a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and called upon all to refrain from unilateral measures.  Instead, they should advance the goal of a just peace culminating in two States, Israel and Palestine — of which Gaza was an integral part — living side by side in peace, security and prosperity, he said.

Statements

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), condemning the massacre, expressed regret that the Council had failed to adopt the draft resolution that his delegation had submitted on Monday calling for a full investigation.  As such, Kuwait would take action in the General Assembly to ensure the perpetrators were held to account.  Calling for measures that would offer international protection to the Palestinian people, he expressed deep concern over Israel’s unilateral actions to change the conditions in occupied territory and about the unilateral moves of other countries, noting that transferring embassies to Jerusalem violated resolution 478 (1980) in addition to causing anger and pushing the region into chaos.  Peace began with ending the Israeli occupation on the basis of Council resolutions and ongoing peace processes, he emphasized.

NIKKI R. HALEY (United States) said “we are all concerned about violence in the Middle East”, but there was a lot of violence in the region.  Last week, Iranian forces had attacked Israeli positions on the Golan Heights, a reckless provocation that must be stopped, and Iranian proxy forces had launched missile strikes in Yemen.  Those examples of violence in the region should occupy the Security Council, she said, pointing out that Iran, a destabilizing force, was the common denominator.

Some had said that yesterday’s opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem was the reason for the violence, but that event did not undermine the prospects for peace in any way, she said.  Instead, it was the Hamas terrorist organization that had been inciting violence for years, long before the embassy move was announced.  Hamas had instructed the crowds to “get closer, get closer” to the security fence, demonstrating its determination to make the Palestinian people’s lives miserable, she said, adding that Hamas was pleased with yesterday’s results.  Asking who among Council members would accept such behaviour on their own borders, she said no one acted with as much restraint as Israel.

She said those suggesting that the embassy opening was the cause of the violence were sorely mistaken because it was a cause for celebration for the United States, reflecting the will of the American people and their sovereign right to move their embassy wherever it wanted to move it.  Jerusalem was Israel’s capital and no plausible peace agreement would change that.  “We want nothing more than peace, in which the rights of all people are respected,” she said, expressing hope that the nations of the world would join her.  Commemorating Israel’s anniversary, she congratulated the country on 70 years of independence, a realization of the prophet Isaiah’s vision.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) emphasized that Monday’s shockingly appalling violence was part of a depressing pattern.  Calling for restraint on both sides, she noted that, of the 60 people killed, six were children.  An independent and transparent investigation was necessary, including on Israel’s use of live fire in such situations and attacks on that country’s defence forces.  The death toll alone warranted such an inquiry, which should be made public and hold perpetrators to account.  On the status of Jerusalem, she said it should only be determined through a settlement negotiated by both parties, with the city being a shared capital of Israel and Palestine.  A political process must now deliver a solution, especially since the situation in Gaza was deteriorating rapidly, she said, asking the Special Coordinator to advance proposals for easing the situation in Gaza, including international support for infrastructure and other needed services.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), reading the names of the first 10 people killed by the occupying Power, including children as young as 14, said the Council had failed the Palestinian people for decades.  Apologizing to the 6 million Palestinians living in refugee camps, the hundreds of children in detention, the wounded health workers and the thousands of people suffering from a decade of blockades and 70 years of Israeli occupation, he said the international community had failed them.  The situation was not a conflict, but an occupation, he said, emphasizing that there were two sides, but they were painfully unequal in the current colonial equation.  The unilateral decision by the United States to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem had inflamed the situation, he added, recalling that resolution 478 (1980) prohibited such actions.  The United States, which supported the occupying Power, was not merely an obstacle to peace; it was now part of the problem, not part of the solution, he said, stressing that the mechanisms of the International Criminal Court should be triggered to conduct an investigation to bring the perpetrators of yesterday’s deadly violence to justice.  Bolivia supported all international efforts to find a peaceful two-State solution, which would finally consolidate a free State of Palestine, he said, pointing out that, while exhaustive mention had been made of Iran and Hamas, no mention had been made of the real reason for the current situation, which was the occupation.  Once that came to an end, then peace could begin.  The problem was not Hamas; rather, it was that a State was illegally occupying a territory and subjecting a people to inhuman treatment, he said, underlining that only when that came to an end could the Council say it had done its duty.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said his delegation was appalled by the violence witnessed in Gaza since 30 March, particularly yesterday’s sharp escalation.  While Israel had the right to protect itself and the people within its borders, it must fully respect the right to peaceful protest, protect civilians and ensure the strictly proportionate use of force and other measures.  He urged all parties to act with the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life and to protect civilians, particularly children.  Emphasizing that the immediate priority must be to defuse the current tensions on the ground, he said all parties must take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.  Sweden regretted that the press statement proposed by Kuwait could not be adopted and hoped that a way forward on an appropriate public expression could be found.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), calling for a full, transparent and independent investigation, expressed regret for the deeply deteriorating political and humanitarian situation regarding the question of Palestine.  Noting that unilateral actions in Jerusalem could exacerbate an escalation of violence, he emphasized that the final status of that city could only be achieved through negotiations involving both parties.  He called upon Israeli and the Palestinian authorities, as well as political, religious and social leaders, to act with moderation, urging both sides to re-establish a dialogue aimed at forging a sustainable peace and a two-State solution.

SUSANA RADEGUNDA EDJANG MANGUE (Equatorial Guinea) said that the bloody events in Gaza on 14 May had been streamed around the world, noting that more than 50 people had lost their lives.  She called upon the international community to do its utmost to address the situation, emphasizing that both sides must refrain from any action that could increase tensions, end the violence and respect international law.  Israel had a right to live in peace and security, but just as its right to exist could not be denied, neither could that of the Palestinians, which was how two independent States could coexist and share Jerusalem as a capital, she said.  Countries with political influence in the Middle East must play a role as mediators between the warring parties, she added.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), noting that the Council’s warnings issued at the end of March had not been heard, said this week’s tragic situation further illustrated that Gaza’s prevailing reality was untenable.  The recent violence was anchored in a decade of Israeli blockade and aggravated by the stalled peace process, he said, emphasizing that the hopes of the Palestinian population — most of whom were under 18 years old — had been replaced by a sense that they had nothing to lose.  Describing the response of the Israel Defense Forces as both inadequate and disproportionate, he said President Emmanuel Macron had clearly condemned it on 14 May.  In that context, France called for full and immediate respect for international humanitarian law and for human rights, especially the right to peaceful protest.  While Israel had a legitimate right to defend its security, it must do so without using disproportionate levels of force, he said.  Condemning the indiscriminate fire directed at demonstrators — which nothing could justify — he also called upon the protesters to refrain from violence.  The Council, for its part, should end its silence and deliver a clear public expression aimed at ending the escalation of violence, he emphasized.  “Our collective responsibility is to preserve the parameters that will, in due course, allow us to reach a solution to the conflict.”  The status of Jerusalem should be examined by the parties as part of a future peace accord, he added.

MA ZHAOXU (China), opposing violent actions targeting civilians, called upon both parties, particularly the Israeli side, to avoid all actions that could exacerbate the situation.  An independent investigation must determine what had happened on 14 May.  Urging the parties to stop the violence, he said actions targeting civilians jeopardized the prospects for peace.  Instead, efforts must be made to encourage the resumption of peace talks.  Turning to the situation in Gaza, he called upon the international community to scale up support for basic services and infrastructure.  On the issue of Jerusalem, he called upon all parties to bear in mind the importance of peace and tranquillity in the region and to avoid any actions that could escalate the current situation.  The final status of Jerusalem could only be achieved through negotiations, he stressed, adding that the international community must adhere to the relevant resolutions, the land‑for‑peace initiative and the peace process.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), expressing alarm at the situation in Gaza, including the increased loss of life, he also emphasized Israel’s right to security.  At the same time, Kazakhstan expressed its solidarity with the Palestinian people, particularly those civilians who had tragically lost their lives during what were supposed to be peaceful demonstrations, he said.  Calling upon the Israeli authorities to exercise restraint, he expressed full support for the Palestinian people’s right to self-expression and peaceful demonstrations.  It was imperative that the conditions for a political solution be created in a regional context already marked by strong tensions, he said, calling upon the leaders of Israel and Palestine to take concrete steps to preserve the possibility of peaceful coexistence based on a two-State solution.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) reiterated the call for Israel’s security forces to exercise maximum restraint in their use of live fire.  Noting that Jerusalem was a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both Palestinians and Israelis, he said it was critical to preserve the possibility of a solution through the two-State formula.  It was the only viable option, and all arguments to the contrary were unrealistic.  As such, ways and means must be found to save the two-State formula, premised on dependable security for Israel and the realization of Palestinian national aspirations.  Any attempt to run away from that reality would lead to more violence, he warned, pressing the parties to engage in direct negotiations to reach a final settlement on all issues, and the Council to encourage them to do so.

ALCIDE DJEDJE (Côte d’Ivoire) called upon both sides to refrain from unilateral actions that would exacerbate the situation, emphasizing that there was no alternative but peace.  Urging them to return to the negotiating table, he also encouraged them to engage in constructive dialogue based on the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.  Reaffirming his country’s support for a negotiated two-State solution, he stressed that the status of Jerusalem must be settled through negotiations.  He called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks, expressing hope that they would together overcome the political impasse and make strides towards lasting peace.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said “we cannot afford to put the peace process on the back burner”, adding that the events of 14 May only underlined the fact that the current trajectory only led to the loss of life — the highest numbers killed in Gaza since 2014.  Noting that the fact-finding assessment mechanism had been established to review the actions of the Israel Defense Forces since 30 March, he called upon Israel to ensure its responses were proportionate at all times.  He strongly urged Palestinians to maintain the peaceful character of protests, adding that calls to “storm Israel” were unacceptable.  Furthermore, the demolition of the Palestinian side of the Karm Abusalem/Kerem Shalom crossing only harmed Palestinian interests, he said, calling upon the de facto authorities to ensure the safety of that crossing.  He described unilateral steps regarding the future status of Jerusalem as unwise and counterproductive, emphasizing that the Netherlands would continue to respect the international consensus on the city as embodied in resolution 478 (1980).  Only a two-State solution would allow both sides to fulfil their respective aspirations, and achieve a just and lasting peace, he said, urging the Middle East Quartet (European Union, Russian Federation, United Nations, United States) to address the negative spiral and the Council to unite in efforts to de-escalate the situation.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) expressed deep concern over the escalating tensions that had coincided with the transfer of the United States embassy to Jerusalem and the anniversary of the Day of Catastrophe.  Negotiations on pressing issues, including Jerusalem, must be conducted by Israelis and Palestinians, he emphasized.  Reaffirming the right to peaceful protest, he said the Russian Federation condemned the use of force against civilians.  The four-year-long political vacuum had seen irresponsible politicians taking destructive actions, breaking lives and hopes.  Resuming the political negotiations in accordance with Security Council decisions and the provisions of the Arab Peace Initiative was the way forward towards establishing two States with Jerusalem as a joint capital, he said.  The Russian Federation maintained its offer to host a summit of the Israeli and Palestinian parties, he added, welcoming the involvement in peace efforts of constructively minded regional players such as Egypt.  He emphasized that, despite the ambitious plans of some international players in unfolding their grandiose projects, the world had not become safer.  While the situation in Palestine was a good example that such efforts were going in the wrong direction, he said those undertaking such steps had made clear their intentions to continue on that path.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), Council President for May, spoke in her national capacity, expressing great concern over the loss of life in Gaza during the protests.  Calling upon all to show utmost restraint, she condemned all acts of terrorism and incitement to violence.  “We expect all to ensure that civilians, and particularly children, are not put in any danger,” she said, calling for an independent and transparent investigation into those incidents and emphasizing that the use of force must be proportionate.  Poland pressed Israel to exercise maximum restraint in the use of live fire and to respect the right to peaceful protest, she said, adding that Hamas and those leading the demonstrations in Gaza must ensure they remained peaceful.  She called upon all parties to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law.  Reiterating Poland’s commitment to a two-State solution, she said the future capital of both States must materialize through negotiations.  The status of Jerusalem should assume mutual recognition of historical relations, she said, adding that her country would continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem as embodied in resolution 478 (1980) until the city’s final status was resolved.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, thanked the Council for honouring the slain and described the odious massacre that had claimed more than 60 lives and injured many.  Emphasizing that the occupation was the main source of tension, he called for a full investigation and questioned why one State was blocking all other Council members from calling for independent inquiries into what amounted to a war crime against the Palestinian people, who had been exiled for more than 70 years.  The oppression continued in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, while Israel remained immune, he noted.  He said that, for weeks, his delegation had begged the Council to help to prevent another massacre, and asked whether the Council had failed to hear the calls or take them seriously.  One Council member had blocked all efforts to examine the situation on the ground.

“How many more Palestinians have to die before you take action?”, he asked, wondering how members would react if the same killings of unarmed people had taken place in their own countries.  While the world had early warning mechanisms and means to resolve conflicts, no such tools had been applied.  Since the international community had passed laws and encouraged the protection of the rights of every human being, why were Palestinians the exception and how long would the Council practise that double standard?

The occupying Power had killed more than 60 people, including children, in less than 24 hours, using deadly ammunition and weapons and employing such force against civilians that it could be defined as terrorism, he said.  “We do not accept being the exception,” he added.  Civilians had the right to assemble peacefully and demonstrate.  Rejecting the ongoing racist discourse, including the insinuation that Palestinians were responsible for their own deaths because they were protesting the occupying Power’s odious actions, he called for urgent action to ensure the protection of children, women and journalists and the application of international law, particularly because the occupying Power had violated numerous Council resolutions, as well as the Geneva Conventions.

He went on to state that the provocative transfer of the United States embassy to Jerusalem was in violation of Council resolutions, emphasizing that no country had the right to imperil Palestinian territory under occupation, especially since the status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations, nor the right to act in flagrant violation of international law.  The Trump Administration had refused to listen to what the world was saying and to respect international law.  The United States was a superpower that should be protecting Council resolutions and abiding by international law, not ignoring the situation on the ground, he stressed.  Moving the embassy on the anniversary of the Day of Catastrophe was a provocation for millions of Muslims and Christians, he said.  The United States should have exerted pressure on Israel to end violations against the Palestinian people and created an environment conducive to peace talks.  Instead, they had decided to protect Israel from accountability, giving Israeli authorities the green light to displace a greater number of people and to continue their destructive activities, such as the decade-long Gaza blockade, which amounted to the war crime of administering collective punishment.

The suffering in Gaza continued, he said, asking for serious measures to exert pressure on the occupying Power to end the blockade in accordance with international law, and calling for continued support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  Calling also on the Council to take swift, decisive action to stop the violence, he asked for the effective implementation of resolutions with a view to ending the brutal conditions facing the Palestinian people, and underlined that urgent action was needed to save the lives of civilians and prevent the situation from deteriorating further.  States must translate their words into immediate action to end the Israeli occupation, he said.  “Our people have waited for a long time.  We can no longer wait for an end to this injustice.”

DANNY DANON (Israel) said his country had faced violent riots at the security fence with the Gaza Strip.  Rioters had thrown Molotov cocktails, planted explosive devices, rolled burning tyres, thrown flaming materials over the fence — igniting widespread fires across Israel’s southern agricultural lands — and attempted to forcibly breach the fence and infiltrate Israeli territory.  Hamas, a globally recognized terrorist organization, had radicalized its people, he said, recalling that, on 11 May, a Hamas-led mob had set fire to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, setting gas lines and electricity infrastructure on fire.  The Israel Defense Forces had found and destroyed the ninth Hamas terror tunnel since last October, running along the Erez pedestrian crossing and ending metres from a village in Israel.

“Hamas lives on death” of both Israeli civilians and the innocent people in Gaza that it used as human shields, he said, adding that its terrorists hid behind children to ensure their own survival.  Citing information provided by a Gaza resident, he said Hamas instructed its activists to cut the fence and steal Israel’s security cameras in order to topple the fence and disrupt the activities of the Israel Defense Forces.  Hamas wanted the international media to see the riots as a popular uprising rather than violent action led by its militants, he said, adding that Hamas terrorists hid behind civilians during the riots.  If the fence was breached, heavily armed Hamas terrorists would enter Israeli territory “under cover of the mob” and attack Israeli civilians.

When a mob terrorized the fence, he continued, too many in the international community legitimized the Palestinian voice of violence.  However, when it came to the safety of Israel’s public, the world was silent.  Describing the Palestinian “cycle of death”, he said that, as soon as Palestinians announced plans for so‑called “days of rage”, Israel understood that Hamas would incite people to violence, place civilians in harm’s way, count terrorists as civilian casualties and both demand and receive the sympathy of the United Nations.  “We predicted this situation many months ago,” he said, noting that some in the international community had fallen into the trap and given Palestinians the attention they sought.

Recalling that, in 1948, when the United Nations had proposed the creation of a Jewish State and an Arab State in the land of Israel, the Jews had been given a portion of their historic homeland and they had taken it, grateful for having returned home.  But, the Palestinians could not bear to share what had been Israeli land to begin with — “so they assaulted us”.  While Israel had ultimately won that battle, Palestinian violence would not relent and too many in the international community “let them get away with it”, allowing them to inspire resolutions equating Zionism with racism.  Moreover, Israel had disengaged from Gaza in 2005, but the enclave had never reached its potential because Hamas had taken it over in 2006.  Rather than invest in education, infrastructure and the economy, the group had spent its resources on terrorizing Israel, he said.

The international community, with a few brave exceptions, had done nothing to stop Palestinians from terrorizing Israel on the world stage, he said, adding that it was only by breaking the cycle of orchestrated riots, planned casualties and pleas for United Nations sympathy could justice be served.  He said that, amid the celebrations around the seventieth anniversary of the State of Israel, those claiming that the decision to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem — Israel’s ancient and rightful capital — was the reason for Palestinian violence should re-examine history.  That explanation was simply the latest in Palestinian excuses for violence against Israel, he said, adding that, if the Council sought to uphold security, justice and truth, it must set the standard of behaviour.  It must tell Hamas that violence was not the answer.  It must call out lies, condemn Hamas violence and place itself on the right side of history.

Related Posts