The Human Rights Council today demanded that Israel lift immediately the siege it had imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip, restore continued supply of fuel, food and medicine and reopen the border crossings.
In a resolution adopted by a roll-call vote of 30 in favour, one against and 15 abstentions, the sixth Special Session of the Council called for urgent international action to put an immediate end to the grave violations committed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the series of incessant and repeated Israeli military attacks and incursions therein and the siege of the occupied Gaza Strip.
The Council also expressed grave concern at the repeated Israeli military attacks carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, which resulted in loss of lives and injuries among Palestinian civilians, including women and children. It urged all concerned parties to respect the rules of human rights law and international humanitarian law and to refrain from violence against the civilian population.
At the opening of the Special Session, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said that in December 2007, 58 Palestinians in Gaza had reportedly been killed due to the conflict, making December the month with the highest Gaza Strip death toll in 2007. The number of wounded had also increased. Israeli military operations continued also in the West Bank and in particular in the city of Nablus, where Palestinian security forces had been attempting to restore order. Although differing in scope and proportions, operations that had failed to respect international humanitarian law had resulted in the loss of lives of Palestinian and Israeli civilians. The Israeli practice of collective punishment, disproportionate use of force, and targeted killings continued, as did the Palestinian militants' practice of indiscriminate firing of mortars and rockets into Israel. According to Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations, last year, more than a third of Palestinians killed were civilians. Ms. Arbour said the escalating violence had added to the already critical situation in the Gaza Strip, where, as the Secretary-General had recently stated, 1.4 million people were living under the most abhorrent conditions.
The Special Session was requested by the Group of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The seventh regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 3 to 28 March.