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Palestinian FM slams Israeli ‘war crimes’, insists Israel be called ‘occupying colonial power’

An excavator clears the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 16, 2021, following massive Israeli bombardment on the enclave. (Photo by AFP)

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki says Israel is committing “war crimes” against Palestinian people in its ongoing military onslaught against the besieged Gaza Strip, calling for international pressure on the regime to end its war of aggression.

“Israel is killing Palestinians in Gaza, one family at a time. Israel is trying to uproot Palestinians from Jerusalem, expelling families, one home, and one neighborhood at a time. Israel is persecuting our people, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Some may not want to use these words, but they know they are true. Israel is unapologetic and relentless in pursuing its colonial policies. We are therefore left with two questions," the Palestinian Wafa news agency quoted Maliki as telling a virtual meeting of the UN Security Council on Sunday.

He described Israel as an “apartheid” regime, telling the Security Council to “act now to end the aggression. Act now so freedom can prevail -- not apartheid.”

Israel “is an occupying colonial power. Any assessment of the situation that fails to take into account this fundamental fact is biased,” Maliki said. “Israel always says, put yourselves in our shoes. But Israel is not wearing shoes. It is wearing military boots.”

"Why don’t you put yourself in our shoes. What would you do if your country was occupied, your people persecuted, besieged, massacred? Better yet, what did you do to achieve your independence and end the oppression of your people?" he queried.

The Palestinian foreign minister added, "Israel keeps doing the same things expecting a different result. Did it believe that its troops storming the holiest of sites, Al Aqsa Mosque, on the holiest of months, Ramadan, and on the holiest of nights, the night of destiny, would bear no consequences? Did it believe Palestinians would accept to live in enclaves and wait for the Israeli settlers to seize the next house? Did they expect Palestinians to coexist with the occupation, its walls, its blockades, its settlements and its prisons? There is no people on earth that would tolerate this reality."

"Israel is not only an occupying Power, it is a nuclear power, it has a military arsenal, the iron dome, shelters, while our people in Gaza are besieged, trapped, with nowhere to go and no safe haven. Even the UNRWA schools within which they shelter are vulnerable to Israeli attacks. It is Palestinian civilians who need protection. They deserve compassion, solidarity and action," Maliki said.

The Palestinian foreign minister conclusded by saying, "As the Palestinian people mark the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, Israel pursues the same policies of dispossession, forced displacement, discrimination and denial of Palestinian rights. Israel may believe it is winning, but it is nowhere closer to defeating the Palestinian people. Our people will never surrender or forgo their rights. Palestinian freedom is the only path to peace. Since peace is the responsibility of this Council, helping achieve Palestinian freedom is its legal and moral duty."

So far, the Israeli bombardments have killed at least 192 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women, with the death toll expected to rise any minute in what has turned to be the deadliest night of the ongoing onslaught which began on Monday.

The asymmetrical Gaza war was triggered by repeated acts of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank beginning last month and continuing to this day.

Since the commencement of the holy month of Ramadan, Israeli forces and settlers have harassed Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque. The regime’s military also forced Palestinians out of their homes in the occupied east Jerusalem al-Quds neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to add to its illegal settlements.

Guterres calls for end to bloodshed

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addressing the virtual session, called for an immediate end to the confrontations, warning that it could plunge the region into an “uncontainable” crisis.

“This senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction must stop immediately,” Guterres said, calling the war “utterly appalling”.

“It has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism, not only in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, but in the region as a whole,” he said.

He also criticized the Israeli regime’s bombardment of Al Jalaa tower in Gaza that housed offices of Al Jazeera, the Associated Press and the Middle East Eye among other news agencies.

“Journalists must be allowed to work free of fear and harassment. The destruction of media offices in Gaza is extremely concerning,” Guterres said.

Taking a seemingly neutral position, Guterres equated rocket attacks from Gaza to Israel’s heavy bombardment of the Israeli-besieged enclave, saying, “Rockets and mortars on one side and aerial and artillery bombardments on the other must stop.”

Earlier on Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced attempts to equate “victims and culprits” as an abhorrent approach taken by certain Western countries that needs to be addressed by Muslim nations.

Guterres also voiced alarm at the Israeli regime’s move to force Palestinians out of their homes in the occupied West Bank, which triggered the crisis.

“In Israel, violence by vigilante-style groups and mobs has added a further horrendous dimension to an already deteriorating crisis,” Guterres said. “Leaders on all sides have a responsibility to curb inflammatory rhetoric and calm the rising tensions.”

China regrets US blocking Security Council statement

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi voiced regret over the US move to block a Security Council statement on the issue as he urged an immediate ceasefire and called on the Council to take “strong actions” to end the crisis.

“Regrettably, simply because of the obstruction of one country, the Security Council hasn’t been able to speak with one voice,” he told the virtual session.

“We call upon the United States to shoulder its due responsibilities.”

The US, the most important ally of the regime in Israel, prevented the Security Council from holding the session on Friday, since when tens of people have been killed and hundreds injured in Gaza as a result of Israel’s relentless aerial assaults.

Throughout the years, the US has protected Israel from pressure at the UN Security Council and elsewhere. Since the beginning of the current war on Gaza, Washington has insisted that Israel is entitled to defend itself.

Meanwhile, Israel has repeatedly rejected international calls for a ceasefire and said it will continue to bomb Gaza as part of its right to defend itself.

Washington predictably failed to condemn Israel after it bombed Al Jalaa tower, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying the safety and security of journalists and independent media should be ensured by Israel.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the attack on the building as “perfectly legitimate”, the attack has been denounced by Al Jazeera, the Associated Press and Middle East Eye.

Palestinian shot in car-ramming attack in al-Quds

On Sunday afternoon, a Palestinian man was shot in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood after a car-ramming attack targeting Israeli soldiers.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said four Israelis were injured in the attack and the assailant was “shot by officers”. He did not provide any details on the Palestinian man’s condition.

According to the Middle East Eye, Israeli forces blocked off entrances to the neighborhood to “stop others from aiding the Palestinian man.”

Ambulances had also been blocked from entering the area.

Israeli forces, as shown in videos shared online, prevented the press from getting close to the scene, but local reports said that he was had died in the shooting.

 


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