UNITED NATIONS, (APP) – Pakistan told in a U.N. meeting Friday that an immediate ceasefire was critical to meet immense needs in the besieged Gaza, and called on Israel to stop its ongoing “genocide” of Palestinian people.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths, fresh from the war-torn region, and Lynn Hastings, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, were among those who briefed the member states about the latest developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both officials called for humanitarian ceasefires to ensure safe delivery of food, fuel and other essential items.
In his remarks, the Pakistani envoy said that the Israelis, having suffered the Holocaust, were now committing the “modern genocide” against the Palestinians, and “we must call it for what it is”. In this regard, he called for respecting and adhering to the international humanitarian law that forbids attacks on civilians and civilian objects.
Let us, as the international community, adhere to what the General Assembly has said. Let us adhere to what the international humanitarian law says.Ambassador Munir Akram
The Pakistani envoy said that the deadly Israeli strikes against schools, hospitals and civilian sites in Gaza on the pretext that there were military targets in those facilities were a gross violation of international law and norms as well as a “collective punishment” of a helpless people.
“Where does international law justify this?,” Ambassador Akram asked, pointing that under the terms of that law civilian sites and facilities, especially the hospitals, cannot be targeted. “Even if there was a target, a military target that which is not proven; How did the Israelis ever prove that any of the schools that they (Israelis) have bombed; any of the hospitals that they have destroyed; any of the refugee camps which they have bombarded, has Israel proved that there was a military target remotely? There they are doing this as collective punishment,” he added.
Responding to Canadian Envoy Robert Rae’s call for a humanitarian truce, Ambassador Akram said that the General Assembly has already called for a truce, leading to the cessation of hostilities.
But, he said that a call for a humanitarian “pause” to allow the Israelis to stop for five minutes and then bomb the Palestinians again, was contrary to international humanitarian law; to the obligations of international humanitarian law, a violation of the obligation that they have undertaken as parties to all the international humanitarian conventions — a violation by taking that position.
The Pakistani envoy also countered Canada’s call for the release of Israeli hostages, but not the thousands of Palestinians arbitrarily arrested and kept in Israeli prisons, saying, “Talk about that, too.”
The briefing session opened with a moment of silence for all those who have lost their lives since the start of the conflict on 7 October and those being held against their will in the region.
“What we’ve seen unfold over the last 26 days in Israel and in the Occupied Territories is nothing short of what I think I would call a blight on our collective conscience,” said Griffiths, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator. “All of us, we are all somehow involved in this.” Griffiths recalled that 1,400 Israelis have been killed and nearly 9,000 Palestinians have lost their lives, though the true number will only be known after the rubble is cleared in Gaza. The desolation there reminded him of the early days of the Syrian war “where we saw towns like Homs razed to the ground”.