On Tuesday, 15 January 2008, Mr. Issam Younis, Director of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Mr. Khalil Abu Shammaleh, Director of Ad Dameer Association for Human Rights, and Talal Oukal, journalist and political analyst, met with Mr. Robert Serry, the United Nations Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. They met at the Office of the Special Coordinator of the United Nations in Gaza city.Mr. Younis, Mr. Abu Shammaleh and Mr. Oukal talked with Mr. Serry about the humanitarian and human rights conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), particularly in the Gaza Strip. They pointed to the catastrophic consequences of the policy of siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and how it affects negatively all aspects of civilian life.
It also becomes a real threat, in light of the continued silence of the international community, as a crime is being committed against more than a million and a half Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. They assured in their discussion that this policy does not serve peace efforts, and that the Israel is not seeking to reach solutions according to the resolutions of international legitimacy. Clearly, the policies and actions of Israel's Occupation Forces contradict with the norms of international law.
They also reviewed the political split between Hamas and Fateh. They stressed that the international community's policy in dealing with the Palestinian situation will deteriorate relations, especially after the refusal of Israel and the international community to recognize the outcome of the democratic elections that took place in the OPT in 2006.
They also confirmed that the IOF's continued denial of resolutions of international legitimacy, and the lack of respect of international law and international humanitarian law, represents a threat to international peace and security. They called on the United Nations to exert efforts to ensure protection for Palestinians in the OPT, and to play an active role in terms of stopping the Israeli aggression and siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.
They also reviewed the human rights situation and the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Strip, including the issue of roughly 100,000 Palestinians without a Palestinian identity card in the OPT. As a result, they were prohibited from their right of movement and travel to visit their relatives, to obtain medical treatment, or to access education. They called on Mr. Serry to discuss this issue with the United Nations representative, to appeal for their assistance.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Serry assured that the United Nations is serious in helping the civilian population and closely monitors the developments on the ground in the Gaza Strip. They also seek to overcome the obstacles faced by the population through development projects they undertake in the OPT. They are also ready to begin implementing projects that were suspended because of the siege, in case of the crossings being re-opened.
He emphasized that they support the exerted efforts to reopen the crossings. Mr. Serry promised to repeat his visit to the Gaza Strip in order to closely observe the developments, with particular regards to humanitarian conditions and the human rights situation.