UN General Assembly condemns Israeli atrocities; protesters demand end to sanctions on Gaza

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120 countries voted in favour of the resolution while the US was among the eight countries which voted against

The Dawn News / June 15, 2018

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday adopted a resolution condemning Israel for its atrocities in Gaza and calling for greater protection of Palestinian civilians. The resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority with 120 votes in favour and only eight votes against. The resolution was tabled by Algeria and Turkey. 45 countries abstained.

An amendment moved by the United States seeking to condemn Hamas for inciting violence along the Gaza border was rejected as it failed to garner the necessary two-thirds of the votes.

Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Togo and the Solomon Islands were the countries that joined the US and Israel in voting against the resolution. India was among the countries that voted in favour. Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding.

Close to 130 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli firing during the March of Great Return, which began on March 30.

Palestine’s envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, defended the decision to approach the General Assembly, citing the US veto at the Security Council. Mansour said, ““To condemn, to regret, to express concern is not sufficient, we need action, we need protection of our civilian population.”

“And why should that be offending anyone? We are just asking for a simple thing: We want our civilian population to be protected. Is that a crime to ask for?” he added.

On the same day as the UNGA vote, widespread protests were organized in Ramallah in the West Bank against the sanctions imposed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) on the blockaded Gaza strip.

Over 1,500 people took part in the demonstration. Palestinian security forces used heavy-handed tactics to disperse the protesters and also arrested many of them. Many Palestinians in east Jerusalem also participated in the protests.

The movement behind the demonstrations is called “Lifting the Sanctions,” and has raised the slogan “one people, one concern, one enemy.” Telesur reported the demonstrators carrying portraits of Razan al-Najjar, a nurse from Gaza who was recently shot dead by an Israeli sniper. They accused the PA of being a “contractor of the occupation.”  Many of the placards directly targeted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and demanded his resignation.

“The Israeli occupation is the main culprit responsible for the blockade on Gaza, but President Abbas is making things worse by also imposing collective punishment on families there. Our demands are just and the tactics that we’re using are just, and we will not back down and be intimidated. I will not allow the PA in any way to prevent us from moving this campaign forward until we achieve our goals,” campaign activist Fadi Quran told Middle East Eye.

Some of the measures taken by the PA include refusing to pay for electricity supplied by Israel, lower salaries for their staff in Gaza and hindering patients who need to leave Gaza for medical treatment.

Israel has imposed a harsh blockade on the Gaza strip since 2006, which has crippled the city’s infrastructure, such as hospitals and water treatment plants. The UN has said that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

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