UN reports condemn West Bank settlement

Friday, November 21, 2008

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon summarized two reports conducted by the UN concluding that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and other territories is illegal and "a breach of the fourth Geneva Convention." This is not the first time that the UN has condemned Israeli breach of the convention, but this comes at a crucial time when Israeli blockades of the Gaza Strip, according to Al Jazeera and Democracy Now, are endangering approximately 750,000 Gazans who rely on UN and Israeli food aid for survival.

The statement by Ban Ki-Moon was made after the reissue of two reports condemning Israeli occupation, "The advisory opinion and a number of United Nations resolutions have all affirmed that Israel's practice of constructing settlements—in effect, the transfer by an occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies —constitutes a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention," reads the first report: Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan. "In addition to the construction of the settlements, other activities related to settlements are also illegal. "These include the requisition of land, the destruction of houses and orchards, the construction of roads meant for the use of settlers only, the exploitation of natural resources within the occupied territory and the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The international community has also raised concerns regarding the depletion of natural resources as a result of settlements," the report continues.

Israeli Blockade of the Gaza Strip

According to Al Jazeera and other news sources, Israel has sealed off access to the Gaza Strip for aid workers and journalists since early November because of Palestinian rocket fire eminating from the area. 750,000 Gazans are without food or power at the moment, and some Palestinians see this as a violation of the shaky truce brokered in July of this year. Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jerusalem, said: "The ceasefire doesn't seem to be anything more than a name at this stage." On November 17th, Israel allowed some UN food aid to pass through its barricades.

Top UN official Jon Ging spoke about the situation, saying: "These people have been reduced to be dependent on this food, and now we can’t even get that food into Gaza. It’s a disaster."

In addition to disallowing food access, Israel has also barred foreign journalists from entering the area.

According to Democracy Now, on Tuesday, November 20th, executives from the Associated Press, Reuters, New York Times, BBC, CNN, and other news sources sent a letter to the government of Israel condemning the government's choice to bar foreign journalists from the Gaza Strip saying, "We are gravely concerned about the prolonged and unprecedented denial of access to the Gaza Strip for the international media.” Israel defended themselves by criticizing the media and accusing them of not properly pointing out the reasoning behind the blockade of the Gaza Strip.