NEW YORK – In his address to the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi laid bare the Israeli atrocities during the past few days, saying that, “Driven by arrogance and emboldened by impunity, Israel has mounted a relentless onslaught on the occupied and beleaguered people of Palestine. As we speak, children, women, and men in Palestine are being killed with impunity. In one week of Israeli attacks, over 250 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured; one third are women and children.”
He said that so far, over 50,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in Gaza. There is limited access to water, food, hygiene and health services. Hospitals and access to water and sanitation services depend on electricity but the fuel for the power plants has almost run out.
“Gaza is plunged in darkness, literally and metaphorically. The only light is that of Israeli explosions”, said the FM.
Qureshi said that the Israeli airstrikes, in full view of the world, bring down entire buildings to kill and terrorize innocent Palestinians and even silence the media.
Turning his attention towards the Security Council, Shah Mahmood said that it was appalling that the Council had been unable to exercise its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, adding that it had even failed to demand a cessation of hostilities.
“Those preventing the council from doing so bear a heavy responsibility”, he said.
Shah Mahmood urged the General Assembly to assume its own responsibility and not fail the Palestinian people at this critical juncture.
He said the General Assembly’s first priority must be to halt the Israeli aggression and hoped that even at this eleventh hour, the Security Council will call for a cessation of Israeli attacks. If it fails to do so, the General Assembly must make this demand on behalf of the entire International community, he added.
“Let it be clear, there is no moral or military equivalence between the beleaguered and occupied Palestinian people, who have no army, no navy, no air force and the Israeli war machine, one of the most powerful in the world. This is a war between a military occupier and an occupied people. It is a conflict between illegal occupation and a legitimate struggle for self-determination”, said the FM.
Secondly, he called on the General Assembly to mobilize all possible humanitarian help for the devastated population in Gaza and other parts of the occupied territories. In addition, he demanded a comprehensive humanitarian plan to provide assistance to the Palestinians, including medical teams, medicine, food and other necessities to Gaza and other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories.
He welcomed the access being provided by Egypt to Gaza and demanded that Israel must also open all access points to Gaza to ensure the urgent delivery of international assistance.
Thirdly, he called for concrete steps to protect the Palestinians with the deployment of an international protection force, as was called for in the GA resolution ES-10/20 and as demanded by the Islamic summit conference on May 18, 2018.
He added that if the Security Council cannot agree to send the protection force, a coalition of the willing can be formed to provide at least civilian observers to monitor a cessation of hostilities and supervise the provision of humanitarian help to the Palestinians.