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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Qatar calls for lifting of unjust Israeli siege on Gaza


The Gulf country has been actively advocating for an end to Israel’s siege and has pumped millions into humanitarian projects in Gaza.

Qatar has called on the international community to avoid double standards by ending the Israeli occupation and siege on the Gaza Strip in a powerful statement delivered at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In his speech, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN Office in Geneva Ali Khalfan al-Mansouri said Qatar welcomes the appointment of members of the International Commission of Inquiry to Investigate Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.

However, the official stressed that action should now be taken to stop attempts to Judaise the city of Jerusalem and also called for the release prisoners detained unjustly by Israel.

Israel should stop building settlements on the occupied lands he added,  referring to the ongoing illegal demolition and confiscation of Palestinian-owned properties, including “internationally funded humanitarian projects” in the country.

Although such attacks have been taking place for years in Palestine, they were recently brought to light earlier this year when Israeli forces in May carried out a series of crackdowns on Palestinians at the Al Aqsa mosque and the Damascus Gate in Occupied Jerusalem.

Read also: UN begins distribution of Qatar cash aid to Gaza

This eventually culminated in an all-out Israeli offensive of the Gaza Strip that targeted civilian homes and infrastructure and killed more than 260 Palestinians, including 66 children.

Around 2,000 homes were destroyed and some 22,000 properties were partially damaged, leaving tens of thousand of Palestinians displaced.

“At least four high-rise buildings were levelled, and 74 public structures were targeted,” according to Al Jazeera, noting the offensive resulted in losses estimated at $497 million.

Israel has for years been violating the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), by which the occupying government is requested to allow the entry of large amounts of construction materials into the besieged enclave following the 2014 war.

“The 14-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the strip imposed many obstacles on the reconstruction process. Israel bans building materials through its border crossings, resulting in exacerbating living circumstances for Palestinians in Gaza,” Naji Sarhan, under-secretary of the Ministry of Public Works, told the Qatar-based news outlet.

Read also: UN official ‘welcomes’ Qatar’s generosity in besieged Gaza.

Such violations of basic human rights and the continuous commitment of unlawful crimes for more than seven decades stems from the lack of a real deterrent, al-Mansouri stated.

This allows the occupying power to increase its racist policies and theft of Palestinian rights and natural resources, he added.

The official stressed that Qatar “will spare no effort” in alleviating the suffering of the Palestinian people until they obtain all their legitimate rights and a Palestinian state is established as per 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Gaza reconstruction

Qatar has pledged $500 million to rebuild the residential units destroyed in the recent Israeli offensive in an effort to help those affected in the country.

The first phase of the reconstruction process of Gaza is set to start soon, following months of obstacles imposed by Israeli authorities, according to Al Jazeera.

The reconstruction project is being run by Gaza’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing, the Qatar Committee for Reconstruction of Gaza and a number of international donors.

The reconstruction process comes in three phases. The Qatari committee will contribute to the first phase, which includes rebuilding around 1,000 destroyed units, including 800 partially damaged homes.

Last month, Sarhan said Egypt will take the lead in the reconstruction project within days as arrangements for the transfer of construction equipment into the besieged Gaza Strip are being carried out through the Rafah border crossing.

Illegal Israeli settlements

Meanwhile, a top United Nations official last week welcomed “Qatar’s generous contribution to support vulnerable families and improve the dire socioeconomic and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.”

Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process made the comments during the Security Council’s monthly meeting on ‘The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.’

“The UN will continue to work closely with the Palestinian Authority and partners, including Egypt, to solidify the ceasefire, allow the entry of urgent humanitarian assistance and stabilize the situation in Gaza,” Wennesland said in a statement.

“I reiterate that all settlements are illegal under international law and that they undermine the prospect of achieving a viable two-State solution in line with UN resolutions, international law and prior agreements. The pause in new advancements and tenders of plans for housing units in settlements observed during this reporting period must become permanent,” Wennesland added.

He also expressed deep concern about ongoing demolition and confiscation of Palestinian-owned properties, including “internationally funded humanitarian projects.”

“I urge Israel to cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law, and to approve plans that would enable these communities to build legally and address their development needs,” he stated.

He called on Israeli security forces to apply maximum restraint, highlighting the mounting death toll in the Occupied Palestinian Territory due to violent attack on Palestinians.

“I am appalled that children continue to be victims of violence. Pertinent authorities must carry out thorough, independent, impartial and prompt investigations into all instances of possible excessive use of force and hold perpetrators accountable,” he noted, urging the occupying state to protect the Palestinian population and to investigate violence agains them.

“I underscore that all perpetrators of violence must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice,” Wennesland stressed.

Wennesland also urged Israel to return withheld bodies of Palestinians to their families as per international humanitarian law.

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