Moscow Vetoes Security Council’s Resolution on Syria: Saving Credibility of United Nations

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On November 17, Russia vetoed a UN resolution that would extend the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, or JIM. The vote came one day after the Russian Federation blocked a US effort to extend the inquiry for one year.

As usual, it triggered accusations from the United States. US Ambassador Nikki Haley was fiery and acrimonious, telling the Security Council that the veto “shows us that Russia has no interest in finding common ground with the rest of this council to save the JIM.” “Russia will not agree to any mechanism that might shine a spotlight on the use of chemical weapons by its ally, the Syrian regime,” she said. “It’s as simple and sinful as that.”

The emotions were expected. Much has been said about the tactics of blaming Russia for each and everything going awry. It serves the purpose to better understand the issue and the reasons behind this particular move of Moscow.

The JIM is a joint investigative body of the UN and the international chemical weapons (CW) watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons or OPCW. The Russia’s demand for major changes in the way the JIM operates is at the heart of the dispute. Moscow has been critical of the JIM’s findings that the Syrian government used chlorine gas in at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015 and used sarin in an aerial attack on Khan Shaykhun last April 4.

The Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) has released a report accusing Syria’s government for a sarin nerve gas attack last April on the town of Khan Shaykhun that killed more than 90 people and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group for a mustard gas attack at Um Hosh in Aleppo in September 2016. The report says the “leadership panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun,” the Syrian village.

The inspectors based their findings on “sufficient credible and reliable evidence” of Syrian aircraft that dropped munitions, the crater that was caused by the impact of the aerial bombing, interviews with victims, and their finding that sarin identified in the samples taken from Khan Shaykhun was most likely been made with a precursor (DF) from the original stockpile of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The conclusions have been made without an inspection team visiting the area! Nobody of those who prepared the report went to see what happened with their own eyes! UN chemical experts should have gone to the place and collected and analyzed the samples. They failed to do it but it did not stop them from coming to definite conclusions! Can such a report be considered as impartial? Certainly not, but the White House rushed to issue a statement blasting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

One does not have to go into details much to see the inconsistencies. Annex II (item 10) of the report states that the sarin incident occurred in Khan Shaykhun between 0630 and 0700 hours local time on 4 April 2017. Item 77 of Annex II states that “several hospitals appeared to have begun admitting casualties of the attack between 0640 and 0645 hours. The Mechanism received the medical records of 247 patients from Khan Shaykhun who had been admitted to various health-care facilities, including survivors and a number of victims who eventually died from exposure to a chemical agent. The admission times noted in the records range from 0600 to 1600 hours. Analysis of the records revealed that in 57 cases, patients had been admitted to five hospitals before the incident (at 0600, 0620 and 0640 hours). In 10 of those cases, patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 125 km away from Khan Shaykhun at 0700 hours, while another 42 patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 30 km away at 0700 hours.”

So, what the report actually states is that the patients had been admitted to hospitals before the air strike! The irregularity does strike the eye and it’s far from being the only one in the paper.

The video report used as “evidence” is also questioned. According to Theodore A. Postol, a professor emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the video was showing the three bomb plumes to be blowing to the east, in contradiction of the day’s weather reports and the supposed direction of a separate sarin cloud. That day the wind was going to the west. The location of the three bombing strikes didn’t match up with the supposed damage claimed to have detected from satellite photos of where the bombs purportedly struck. Rather than buildings being leveled by powerful bombs, the photos showed little or no apparent damage.

Al Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra) could have easily posted the video from an earlier bombing raid to provide “proof” of the April 4 strike. Actually, nobody knows when and where all the CW attack-related pictures and videos were taken. The UN report mentions White Helmets allegedly helping the victims but the pictures show they wore no gloves or protective equipment. If sarin gas were used, they would have become victims themselves.

The jihadist group had a good reason to stage the attack and blame it on the Syrian government as the Trump administration had announced that the Assad ouster was no longer the priority just a few days before. The US president said he had dropped the “Assad must go” slogan. The video showing the alleged April 4 chemical attack went viral. It could have been an attempt to change the US president’s stance. It worked. On the night of April 6/7, US military delivered a cruise missile strike at Syrian government forces. It’s an open secret that Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) have used CW. Even the New York Times admits that IS has used weapons of mass destruction.

There was no reason for President Assad to use chemical weapons. He was winning the war. The UN-brokered peace talks on Syria were to launch on April 4 – the day of the attack. No way could the Syrian government benefit from the use of CW. After all, the Syria gave up all its chemical weapons in 2013 and there has been no proof it has ever made an attempt to acquire the weapons of mass destruction since then.

The facts mentioned above lead to the conclusion that the JIM offered a decision prepared beforehand without taking the pain to conduct serious investigation. The draft resolution was nothing but an attempt to push through a guilty verdict and ensure that such rulings will be handed down in future when convenient. Evidently, the extension of the JIM mandate unchanged is unacceptable. It would undermine the credibility and standing of the United Nations – something Russia is trying to prevent.

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Four UNSC members boycott US-arranged meeting on Venezuela at UN

UNSC Members Boycott US-Arranged Meeting At UN

This file image shows the United Nations Security Council members during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on November 13, 2017. (By AFP)This file image shows the United Nations Security Council members during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on November 13, 2017. (By AFP)

Four members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have boycotted an informal meeting of the Council arranged by the United States to discuss Venezuela, arguing that the body should not meddle in the domestic affairs of countries.

The US had arranged the meeting on Monday to discuss the political situation inside Venezuela, where there have been tensions between the government and the opposition recently.

The UN ambassadors of Russia, China, Bolivia, and Egypt, who boycotted the event, reminded that meddling in the internal affairs of other countries was a violation of the UN Charter and described the US move as “illegal.”

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia told reporters that he hoped Venezuela could settle its issues peacefully without any external interference.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia speaks to the media as a Security Council Arria formula meeting on the situation in Venezuela is underway, at the UN headquarters in New York, on November 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

In hostile remarks, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the so-called Arria-Formula meeting, “Venezuela is an increasingly violent narco-state that threatens the region, the hemisphere, and the world.”

Referring to the US-arranged meeting, Venezuela’s UN envoy, Rafael Ramirez, said, “This is a hostile act by the United States and clearly an act of interference.”

The US is a fierce critic of the government of Venezuela, often communicating with Venezuela’s opposition against Caracas.

The Venezuelan government has repeatedly urged Washington to stop meddling in its affairs and orchestrating moves to destabilize the Latin American country.

Venezuela has been gripped by an acute economic crisis that has spilled into the political scene, with President Nicolas Maduro’s critics blaming him for the ailing economy. Tensions previously rose over the establishment of a Constituent Assembly as well.

WMD in Syria just like Iraq in 2003? – Contradictions in the UN/OPCW Report on Khan Shaykhun

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Syria chemical weapons 1e28b

In early 2003 it was claimed that Iraq was a threat to other countries. Despite ten years of crushing economic sanctions plus intrusive inspections, supposedly Iraq had acquired enough “weapons of mass destruction” to threaten the West. It was ridiculous on its face but few people in power said so. Establishment politicians and media across the U.S. promoted the idea. In the Senate, Joe Biden chaired the committee looking into the allegations but excluded knowledgeable critics such as Scott Ritter. This led to the invasion of Iraq.

Today we have something similarly ridiculous and dangerous. Supposedly the Syrian government decided to use a banned chemical weapon which they gave up in 2013-2014. Despite advancing against the insurgents, the Syrian government supposedly put sarin in a Russian chemical weapon canister and dropped this on the town Khan Shaykhun which has been under the control of Syria’s version of Al Qaeda for years. To top off the stupidity, they left paint markings on the canister which identify it as a chemical weapon. Supposedly the Syrian government did this despite knowing there are many “White Helmet” activists in the town along with with their cameras, videos, computers, internet uplinks and western social media promoters. Supposedly the Syrian government did this despite knowing that neo-conservatives, neo-liberals and zionists are keen to prolong the conflict and drag the US and NATO into it. Supposedly the Syrian government did this despite knowing the one thing that could trigger direct US aggression in the conflict is the use of chemical weapons …. the “red line” laid down by Barack Obama.

If the above sounds unlikely, it is. But even if these accusations should be laughed out of the room, as they should have been in 2002, let’s take the claims about the event at Khan Shaykun in Syria on 4 April 2017 seriously. Certainly the consequences will be serious if the trend is not reversed.

What Happened at Khan Shaykhun?

The report titled “Seventh report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism” was provided to select governments and media on Thursday 26 October. Media announced the key finding without criticism or question. They highlighted the sentence that the committee is “confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin in Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017”.

About 36 hours later, the report was leaked via the internet.  But the die was already cast as establishment media had “confirmed” Syrian guilt.

Following are key contradictions and inconsistencies in the report produced by the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the UN and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

* THE INVESTIGATION IGNORES THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF MOTIVE. 

The three essentials in criminal investigation are Motive, Means and Opportunity. All three must be present. Yet the investigation team ignores the question of motive. The Syrian government has every motive to NOT use proscribed weapons. On the other side, the armed opposition has a strong motive to implicate the Syrian government. They have been calling for US and NATO intervention for years. They are losing ground, recruits and allies. Yet these facts are never considered.

* THE INVESTIGATION RELIES PRIMARILY ON BIASED SOURCES.

On page 1 the Joint Investigative Mechanism claims they have conducted a “rigorous independent examination”. But most experts and witnesses are biased toward the “regime change” policies of western governments.  On page 4 the report saysThe Mechanism engaged several internationally recognized forensic and specialist defense institutes… to provide forensic and expert support to the investigation.”

Any “defense institute” connected or contracting with France, UK or USA will have inherent assumptions and bias since these governments have actively promoted overthrow of the Syrian government.

* THE INVESTIGATION IGNORES CREDIBLE BUT CRITICAL ANALYSES.

The Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) team makes no mention of the published analysis and findings of numerous researchers, investigative journalists and scientists. For example:

– MIT Professor Theodore Postol has analyzed the Khan Shaykhun incident. He persuasively challenges the main theory about the crater site and munition.  

– American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has also written about he incident. His information from U.S. military and intelligence officers reveal that the American military knew about the forthcoming attack in advance.  He reports the Syrian jet attack was “not a chemical weapons strike …. That’s a fairy tale.”

– Investigative journalist Gareth Porter has written an expose titled “Have We Been Deceived over Syrian Sarin Attack? Scrutinizing the Evidence in an Incident Trump Used to Justify Bombing Syria”. Porter presents a devastating critique of the sarin-crater theory. He documents how easily false positives for sarin could have been created and how the OPCW has violated their own investigation protocols.

– Researcher Adam Larson has written an expose titled “Syria Sarin Allegation: How the UN-Panel Report Twists and Omits Evidence”. After closely inspecting the photographs and videos, he questions whether the victims are civilians kidnapped from a nearby village five days previously. Larson’s site “A Closer Look at Syria” has a good index of videos and articles on this and other events.

The above “open source” analysis and information was published well before the current report but apparently not considered. A “rigorous, independent examination” needs to evaluate investigations such as these.

* VICTIMS APPEAR BEFORE THE ATTACK.

On pages 28-29 it is reported that “Certain irregularities were observed in elements of information analyzed. For example, several hospitals appeared to start admitting casualties of the attack between 0640 and 0645 hours…. in 57 cases patients were admitted in five hospitals before the incident in Khan Shaykhun….in 10 such cases, patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 125 km away from Khan Shaykhun at 0700 hours while another 42 patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 30 km away at 0700 hours.”

It is reported that “The Mechanism did not investigate these discrepancies and cannot determine whether they are linked to any possible staging scenario, or to poor record-keeping in chaotic conditions”. Given the importance of determining whether this incident was caused by the Syrian government or staged by elements of the armed opposition and their supporters, why were these discrepancies not investigated further? Clearly it is not possible that victims were transported 125 kms and delivered to a hospital in 15 minutes. This is potentially powerful evidence of a staged event.

* ‘WHITE HELMETS’ WERE WARNING OF A CHEMICAL WEAPON ATTACK BEFORE THE ATTACK.

On page 20 it says “The Mechanism collected information from witnesses to the effect that a first warning of a possible upcoming chemical attack was received by “Syrian Civil Defense” (also known as the “White Helmets”) and spotters in Kahn Shaykun…. The witness stated that the alert advised residents to be careful as the aircraft was likely carrying toxic chemicals.”

It seems reasonable to ask: Was the advance talk of “toxic chemicals” a signal to get ready for a staged event? How would a plane spotter know there was a one-time chemical bomb aboard? This is another area that needs more investigation.

* WERE SYRIAN PLANES OVER KHAN SHAYKHUN AT THE CRITICAL TIME?

The basic question of whether or not there were Syrian jets over Khan Shaykhun is unanswered. The Syrian military says they did NOT fly over Khan Shaykhun in the early morning.

Page 21 documents that the Syrian pilot and log books record that the Su-22 jet was executing attacks at other nearby towns and not closer than 7 – 9 kms from Khan Shaykhun. Radar track data from the U.S. appears to support this, indicating the Syrian jet path was 5 kms from Khan Shaykun.

On page 7 it says “SAAF aircraft may have been in a position to launch aerial bombs” (underline added).  On page 22 it says, “the witness reported waking up at around 0700 hours on 4 April 2017 to the sound of explosions. The witness stated that there had been no aircraft over Khan Shaykhun at the time and that aircraft had only started launching attacks at around 1100 hours.” (underline added)

There are conflicting testimonies on this issue but curiously no video showing jet fighters at the time of the explosions in Khan Shaykun. It is unconfirmed how the ground explosions occurred.

* THE INVESTIGATION TEAM DID NOT TRY TO VISIT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME.

On page 3 the report says “The Mechanism did not visit the scenes of the incidents…. While the Leadership Panel considered that a visit to these sites would have been of value, such value would diminish over time. Further, the panel was required to weigh the security risks against the possible benefits to the investigation.”

While it is certainly appropriate to consider security, the actual scene of a crime provides unique opportunities for evidence. The OPCW has previously stated the necessity of having access to a crime site then taking and transferring samples to a certified lab with a clear chain of custody.

If the insurgents still controlling Khan Shaykhun have nothing to hide, they should welcome the investigation.

Furthermore, Russian authorities offered to guarantee the safety of the inspection team. Yet the investigation team apparently made no effort to visit the site. Why? In an investigation of this importance, with potentially huge political consequences, visiting and analyzing the scene of the crime should be a requirement if at all possible.

* THE MATERIAL EVIDENCE COME FROM INSURGENTS WITH NO VERIFIABLE CHAIN OF CUSTODY.

On page 23 it says “Samples taken from the crater and its surroundings were found by the Fact Finding Mission to contain sarin.” On the day of the event, insurgents took soil samples and victims to Turkey where they were received and subsequently tested. Without verified origins and “chain of custody”, this data cannot be verified and must be considered skeptically.

As indicated in the report, one theory about the 4 April 2017 event is that it was staged to implicate the Syrian government. If that theory is correct, it is predictable that the plotters would have samples prepared in advance, including sarin samples with markers matched to the Syrian stockpile. The Syrian sarin was destroyed aboard the US vessel “MV Cape Ray”. Given the heavy involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Syrian conflict it is likely they analyzed and retained some portion.

* THE REPORT REPEATS DISCREDITED CLAIMS ABOUT BOMB FRAGMENT AND FILLER CAP.

On page 26 it is reported that “two objects of interest … were the filler cap from a chemical munition and a deformed piece of metal protruding from deep within the crater. According to information obtained by the Mechanism, the filler cap, with two closure plugs, is uniquely consistent with Syrian chemical aerial bombs.”

This information may come from a Human Rights Watch report which has been discredited. The “filler cap” was supposedly a match for an external plug for a Russian chemical weapon bomb but was found to not match and to be based on a 1950’s era museum photo. An insightful and amusing critique of the HRW report is //medium.com/@AdrianKent/hrws-death-by-chemicals-report-walking-through-the-smoke-2d6d46ec0db8“>here.

The authenticity of the fragments in the crater is also challenged by the lack of a tailfin or any other bomb fragments. A chemical weapon bomb is designed to release and not burn up the chemical and therefore the munition casing should be on site.

* STRANGE ACTIONS SUGGESTING A STAGED EVENT 

On page 28 the report notes methods and procedures “that appeared either unusual or inappropriate in the circumstances.”  For example they observe that a Drager X-am 7000 air monitor was shown detecting sarin when that device is not able to detect sarin, and “para-medical interventions that did not seem to make medical sense, such as performing heart compression on a patient facing the ground.”

On page 29 it is reported that one victim had blood test showing negative for sarin and urine test showing positive. This is an impossible combination. Also on page 29 it is noted that some of the rescue operations were inappropriate but might have been “attempts to inflate the gravity of the situation for depiction in the media.”

The report does not mention the video which shows “White Helmet” responders handling victims without any gloves or protection. If the patients truly died from sarin, touching the patients’ skin or clothing could be fatal. Incidents such as these support the theory that this was a contrived and staged event with real victims.

* THE TEAM IS “CONFIDENT” IN THEIR CONCLUSIONS YET BASIC FACTS ARE IN DISPUTE.

On page 22, the report acknowledges that “To date the Mechanism has not found specific information confirming whether or not an SAA Su-22 operating from Al Shayrat airbase launched an aerial attack against Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017.”

How can they be “confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017” when such basics have not been confirmed?

CONCLUSION

The report of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) gives the impression of much more certainty than is actually there. Seizing on the false “confidence”, the White House has denounced the “horrifying barbarism of Bashar al Assad” and “lack of respect for international norms” by Syria’s ally Russia. International diplomacy is being steadily eroded. .

Most western “experts” were dead wrong in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Are these same “experts”, institutes, intelligence agencies and biased organizations going to take us down the road to new aggression, this time against Syria?

In contrast with the JIM report, Gareth Porter reached the opposite conclusion: “The evidence now available makes it clear that the scene suggesting a sarin attack at the crater was a crudely staged deception.” That is also more logical. The armed opposition had the motive, means and opportunity.

Russia sets out why it thinks U.N. wrongly accused Syria over sarin attack

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Russia on Thursday set out why it disputed U.N. and Western allegations that the Syrian government had been behind a deadly chemical attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April that killed dozens.

A man breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

A report sent to the United Nations Security Council last week concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government was responsible for the attack, which prompted a U.S. missile strike against a Syrian air base.

Russia, whose air force and special forces have been supporting the Syrian army, said at the time there was no evidence to show Damascus was responsible and the chemicals that killed civilians belonged to rebels, not Assad’s government.

On Thursday, with the aid of maps, satellite footage and charts, Moscow set out why it believed the Syrian government had been unfairly maligned.

A Russian Defence Ministry official told a media briefing that the Syrian Su-22 jet accused of dropping the chemical bomb was not physically close enough to the attack site to have been involved.

“Thus, I believe the information provided cannot confirm the use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun in the form of an aviation bomb dropped from a Syrian Air Force Su-22 jet,” the RIA news agency quoted the official, whom it did not name, as saying.

Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, told the same briefing that U.S. accusations that Russia had encouraged the use of chemical weapons in Syria were ungrounded, RIA reported.

“It was hysteria and a completely open attempt to discredit Russia with rather primitive dirty means,” Ulyanov was quoted as saying.

The White House on Wednesday admonished Russia after it vetoed a United Nations plan to continue its ongoing investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons during the country’s more than six-year civil war.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Andrew Osborn

‘Red line into illegality crossed’: UN expert mulls sanctions on israel

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‘Red line into illegality crossed’: UN expert mulls sanctions on Israel over Palestine occupation

Russia Rejects the False UN-OPCW Report on Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack

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By Breakingnews.sy,

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday that the report of the Joint UN Security Council and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Inquiry Mechanism into the events, relating to the alleged use of sarin gas in the northwestern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4th, was flawed as regards its investigative methods and based on false statements coming from the highly questionable sources. 

Ryabkov’s response came after Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, yesterday announced that Moscow is proposing a new report by UN experts and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on chemical attacks in Syria.

“We have begun to prepare a new document, which has a comprehensive technical character”, said Russian press secretary Fyodor Strzhizovski, adding that it is necessary to conduct such study using experts from different institutions.

“It surprises us once again that Western news agencies are shamelessly publish quotations directly from an internal document of the UN Security Council”, he added.

“The group of international experts is convinced that the Syrian authorities are responsible for the release of sarin gas in Khan Sheikhoun in Idleb province, AFP reported earlier.

The statement came after the Joint UN Security Council and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Inquiry Mechanism submitted a report to the Security Council on Thursday evening, which included the results of the investigation into the alleged use of sarin gas in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, and the use of mustard gas in the town Oum Al Hosh on 15th and 16th September 2016.

“Once again we see an independent inquiry confirming the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime”, said Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, while commenting on the report.

“The UN Security Council must send a strong message that it does not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by any party and must assure its full support to impartial investigations”, she added.

“The Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Gutteres expressed his full confidence in the professionalism, objectivity and impartiality of the Joint UN-OPCW Inquiry Mechanism”, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq said.

The UN Security Council and OPCW unanimously established the Joint Investigative Mechanism in 2015 and renewed its mandate for another year in 2016. Its current mandate expires in mid-November.

Russia, however, rejected the extension of the mandate, stressing that while it was not opposed to the extension as such, it nonetheless had to take a hasty decision as regards the matter, namely after discovering “fundamental problems” in the work of the joint mechanism.

Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said earlier this week that Moscow would consider reviewing the extension of the mandate with amendments after discussing the report on Thursday.

It is noteworthy Syria agreed to destroy its entire stock of chemical weapons back in 2013 already, following a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.

The Syrian government has repeatedly denied the use of chemical weapons during the entire war, which has been going on for more than six years now.

Translated by Samer Hussein

Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis and the United Nations

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By Canadian Boat to Gaza,

Open Letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Dear Secretary General,

On your recent visit to Gaza, you saw with your own eyes some of the deplorable and inhumane conditions suffered by the Palestinians living in Gaza. You called it “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises” that you had seen. We hope that, backed by the strength of the United Nations, this experience encourages you to bring maximum pressure on the State of Israel to lift the illegal and inhumane blockade the people of Gaza have been living under for ten years.

We want to remind you that there are many civil society and religious groups around the world who are watching the worsening situation in horror. We are depending on the United Nations, under your leadership, to work at the international level to increase the pressure from all nation states to use every economic and political measure to remind the State of Israel of the standards expected of the civilized nations of the world.

We are also pleased that you noticed specifically that the blockade on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt is upheld by that Arab state in defiance of both international resolutions and a sense of solidarity with a fellow Arab people. Israel is imposing the blockade not only by land, but also by air. They have destroyed Gaza airport, which was financed with international aid (including from Spain). At sea, Israeli forces attack Palestinian fishers from Gaza on a daily basis. They also illegally attack international vessels that challenge the blockade non-violently in the Freedom Flotilla missions that have taken place since 2010.

There are political reasons that make a resolution to the crisis of Gaza imperative at the international level. But even more important are the humanitarian reasons to release an entire people from the appalling situation in which they are currently forced to live.

Your own officers and researchers have concluded that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Many other reports, including those by the UN, OCHA have documented the many threats to the health and even the survival of people in Gaza. The UN has drawn particular attention to the power deficit. Since April 2017 access to electricity is often for four hours or less per day and always unpredictable. Power cuts make sewage treatment impossible leading to pollution of the beaches. Attacks on inshore fishers deprive the people of access to the nutritional value of fish. Your own research has shown up to 57% of Gaza people are ‘food insecure’. Not only is the Gaza economy paralyzed by the blockade, but restrictions on entry of building materials makes it very difficult to reconstruct bombed schools, for example. The blockade also restricts entry of school supplies and other goods that pose no threat to Israel whatsoever. This entire generation of children and young people in Gaza are growing up without the minimum to develop into educated and well-nourished adults.

The situation is so serious that you have announced an emergency grant of $4 million. But the Palestinians of Gaza do not want to have to take emergency payouts; they wants – and need – a cessation of Israeli aggression and real international peace-keeping to prevent further aggression. The so-called “Middle East Quartet” has been a disaster, accomplishing nothing and whitewashing Israeli violation of international law and the breaking of numerous agreements. The State of Israel has also ignored countless UN resolutions aimed at curtailing its activities, as well as continuing the illegal blockade of Gaza and the harassment of its fishing fleets.

In other words, despite its good intentions, the UN has a deplorable record in effectively safeguarding the Palestinians of Gaza and in promoting their security and independence.

We call on you to immediately:

Demand that the State of Israel complies with all UN resolutions, with the threat of sanctions if it does not do so.

Disband the Middle East Quartet and replace it with an effective oversight body.

Resume real peace keeping and effective protection of the civil population of Gaza.

Insist that the State of Israel respects and conforms with all UN resolutions that relate to its relations with Gaza.

Ensure that the world knows that the blockade is illegal and should demand that it be removed immediately.

Sincerely and persistently.
(list of signing organizations, below**)

Freedom Flotilla Coalition Member and Partner Organizations: freedomflotilla.org

Canadian Boat to Gaza  canadaboatgaza.org

Freedom Flotilla Italy www.freedomflotilla.it

MyCARE Malaysia www. mycare.org.my

Kia Ora Gaza [New Zealand / Aotearoa] kiaoragaza.wordpress.com

Palestine Solidarity Alliance [South Africa] www. palestinesa.co.za

Rumbo a Gaza [Spain] www.rumboagaza.org

Ship to Gaza Norway www. shiptogaza.no

Ship to Gaza Sweden shiptog aza.se

International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza en.breakgazasiege.org

US Boat to Gaza womensbo attogaza.us

Miles of Smiles miles-smiles.org

Free Gaza Australia www.facebook.com/ GazaAustralia

Other Organizations

Gaza Action Ireland gazaactionireland.weebly.com

Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign www.ipsc.ie

ShannonWatch (Ireland) www.shannonwatch.org

Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine plateforme-palestine.org

Council of Canadians / Conseil des Canadiens canadians.org

Bestemødre For Fred (Grandmothers For Peace, Norway) www.bestemodreforfred.com

Veterans for Peace (US) www.veteransforpeace.org

CODEPINK: Women for Peace (US) codepink.org

Voice of Women for Peace (Canada) vowpeace.org

Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine www.facebook.com/CJACPalestine

Palestina Solidariteit (Belgium) www.palestinasolidariteit.be

Association France Palestine Solidarité www.france-palestine.org

Cultura e libertà (Italy) palestinaculturaliberta.wordpress.com

Alternative refugee Center (Switzerland)

Badil resource center for Palestinian residency and refugee rights (Switzerland) www.badil.org/en

Women for development (Switzerland)

Union Juive Française pour la Paix (France) www.ujfp.org

Deutsch-Palästinensische Gesellschaft dpg-netz.de

Frauen in Schwarz (Vienna, Austria) www.facebook.com/pg/fraueninschwarzwien

Netherlands Palestine Committee www.palestina-komitee.nl

Palestijnse Gemeenschap in Nederland

Nederlands Arabische Stichting (Netherlands)

TIYE International (Netherlands) www.tiye-international.org/wordpress

Diensten en Onderzoek Centrum Palestina (Netherlands) www.docp.nl

Stop Represión Málaga, Voces Alternativas, Kontrapunto (Spain)

Breed Platform Palestina (Haarlem, Netherlands)

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (Gaza, Palestine) pchrgaza.org

Asociación de la Comunidad Hispano-Palestina “Jerusalén”

Asociación Medica Hispano Palestina (Spain)

Asociación Pablo de la Torriente Brau

El movimiento de mujeres palestinas Alkarama www.alkarama.es

RESCOP – Network of Solidarity against the occupation of Palestine (with 49 member organizations in Spain)

Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (Malaysia) www.ikram.org.my

Viva Palestina Malaysia www.vpm.org.my

BDS Malaysia bdsmalaysia.com

Persatuan Ulama Malaysia pum.org.my

Al-Quds Foundation Malaysia alqudsmalaysia.org

Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine palestina.no

Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos aedidh.org/es

Parallelo Palestina (Italy) sites.google.com/site/parallel-opalestina

Canadian BDS Coalition bdscoalition.ca

Palestine Solidarity Network (Edmonton, Canada) psnedmonton.ca

People for Peace (London, Canada)

United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI) www.unjppi.org

Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), Canada www.usw.ca/act/activism/soar

Boundary Peace Initiative boundarypeace.20m.com

Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East midislanders.com

Palestine Solidarity Working Group (Sudbury, Canada)

B.C. Southern Interior Peace Coalition (Canada)

Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Victoria, Canada) caiavictoria.ca

Hawai’i Peace and Justice www.wp.hawaiipeaceandjustice.org

Hawai’i Coalition for Justice in Palestine www.facebook.com/HawaiiCoalition4JusticeInPalestine

Malu ‘Aina Center for Nonviolence Education malu-aina.org

Break the Maritime Blockade of Gaza (BMBG)

EBN – End Blockade Now

Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine www.aurdip.fr

Collectif inter-universitaire pour la coopération avec les universités palestiniennes www.aurdip.fr/_cicup-35_.html

Comité de Vigilance pour une Paix Réelle au Proche-Orient plateforme-palestine.org/Comite-de-Vigilance-pour-une-Paix-Reelle-au-Proche-Orient

Comité La Courneuve-Palestine (France) lacourneuve-palestine.fr

Zambra Málaga www.asociacionzambra.org

Confederación General de Trabajadores: Huelva, Málaga, Osuna (Spain) www.cgtandalucia.org

Christian Peacemaker Teams (Palestine) www.cptpalestine.com

Independent Jewish Voices / Voix juives indépendantes (Canada) ijvcanada.org

Palestinian Forum in Britain PFB

Europal Forum (UK) europalforum.org.uk

BDS Colombia

BDS Slovenia

New Zealand Palestine Solidarity Network (Aotearoa / NZ) www.palestinesolidaritynz.net

Palestine Human Rights Campaign (Aotearoa / NZ) palestine.org.nz

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