Thursday, January 15, 2009

live blogging from the General Assembly emergency session on Gaza

General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann opens by saying the GA
"meets under desparate circumstances. ... We have remained too passive for too long. ... During this assault, more than 1000 Palestinians have been killed, 1/3 of them children. ... The living would be killed trying to reach the dead. If this onslaught in GAza is a war, it is a war against the helpless, defenseless, imprisoned Gaza population. ... They cannot leave. They have nowhere to hide from airstrikes. ... It's particularly important to us in the United Nations ... to defend the international law. Israel remains the occupying Power in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the Gaza strip, and it has specific obligations under the Geneva Conventions to protect the occupied population. Instead of providing protection as mandated by international law, the occupying Power is denying its population -- 80% of whom are refugees and half of whom are children -- the option to seek refuge and find shelter from the war. Gaza civilians find themselves locked inside a lethal war zone behind the walls of their densely populated area. ... When an occupying Power fails in that obligation, it becomes the responsibility of the international community as a whole ,represented here in the United Nations, to provide that protection. The Palestinians, as an unlawfully occupied people, enjoy the right of resistance [within the bounds of the law.]"

He goes on to say that the rocket attacks from Hamas are "illegal."

He then goes on to quote Israeli human rights organizations that have called the Israeli military's actions "crimes against humanity," and reads their statement in full.

He goes on to blame the UN for not being strong enough on the issue:

"Last week an Israeli airstrike against one of our schools, a UN school, killed at least 43 people. Many of them were children and all of them were beleaguered and frightened fmailies seeking shelter from bombs and airstrikes. They sought shelter from the UN when their homes were bombed. ... They had nowhere else to go. They faced the most desperate decision any families will ever face. Those families turned to us at the UN and we failed in our obligation to keep them safe. But there's still another violation, one in which we in the UN are directly complicit. The blockade of Gaza, which has now been going on for 19 months, has been directly responsible for the widespread humanitarian crisis in Gaza even before this war began. ... The blockade has been endorsed, at least tacitly, by powerful parties grouped in the Quartet, placing this organization in a dubious role, in violation of our obligations under the charter and international law."

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