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May 18, 2021

Govt, Opp unanimously condemn Israeli terror

ISLAMABAD/GAZA CITY: The National Assembly (NA) adopted a unanimous resolution on Monday, demanding the UN Secretary General to make arrangements for investigation into crimes of genocide of innocent Palestinians by the Israeli forces.

The resolution expressed deep concerns over increasing violence and brutality, being perpetrated against Palestinians by the Israeli apartheid regime. “The National Assembly calls upon the UN Secretary General to establish an independent inquiry tribunal to investigate the crime of genocide by the apartheid Israeli regime against the Palestinian people,” said the joint resolution. It was read out by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the floor of the lower house of the Parliament.

Earlier, the House suspended order of the day to adopt the resolution against Israel and debate the issue. Speaker Asad Qaisar said it had been unanimously decided that the House would discuss the vital Palestine issue during proceedings on Monday.

The National Assembly, through the resolution, which was adopted in absence of Prime Minister Imran Khan, called upon the United Nations to ensure that Israel immediately halts its aggression, which has violated the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, a holy site for more than 1.5 billion Muslims and respect their freedom to worship and allow unfettered access to Muslim to repair any damage done to the holy site by Israel’s criminal action.

The House also called upon the international community to take immediate cognizance of the issue and take action against ethnic cleansing, genocide and forced displacement of people of Palestine and provide international protection mechanism for the people of Palestine.

The resolution also demanded the international community ensure accountability of all past and present war crimes and human rights violations against Palestinians and called upon the OIC to take immediate decisive steps for the protection and safety of the Palestinian people and to break the illegal blockade of Gaza in order to provide people with humanitarian assistance.

The resolution reaffirmed Pakistan’s unwavering support for realisation of the right to self-determination and other fundamental rights of the Palestinian people as well as the two-state solution, based on the pre-1967 borders and a free, visible, independent and contiguous state of Palestine with Al-Quds Al Sharif as its capital.

Through the resolution, the National Assembly condemned the systematic and institutionalised oppression of Palestinians and denounced the brutal disenfranchisement and exclusion and ethnic cleansing of people of Palestine.

The House also condemned the attacks by the apartheid Israeli regime on worshippers in Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramazan and attempt to stop the Azaan. The National Assembly denounced and rejected the continuing practice of expanding settlements through forced evictions by the apartheid regime, which was in violation of Article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention.

The House also denounced the practice of dehumanising and de-legitimising the Palestinians’ struggle for their right to self-determination through the use of terminology, by governments and media attributing responsibility for the war crimes to victims of those war crimes.

The House also conveyed condolences and prayers for the bereaved families of those martyred and recovery of the injured people.

The National Assembly also condemned deliberate destruction of buildings which were housing international media in Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem with an intent to erase evidence of genocide, committed against the people of Palestine.

The NA also recalled the resolutions introduced by Pakistan in the United Nations regarding Occupied Palestinian Territories, especially the seminal Resolution 271, that was adopted after the burning of Al Aqsa Mosque in 1969.

The National Assembly called upon the UN Security Council to take necessary action under chapter VII of the UN Charter to put an end to ongoing crimes against humanity.

It also called upon the United Nations to ensure Israel’s compliance with resolutions of the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council, reaffirming the right to self-determination.

The resolution also asked the United Nations to ensure Israel’s compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to Protection of People in Time of War and Protocol I.

Earlier, speaking on the floor of the House, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced observing the coming Friday as a day of solidarity with the people of Palestine and to condemn Israeli aggression against them.

The foreign minister said Pakistan strongly condemned indiscriminate attacks on unarmed people of Palestine.

He said Pakistan strongly raised its voice at the OIC and other world forums, including during interaction with world leaders, against Israeli barbarism on Muslim brothers and sisters of Palestine.

The FM said a meeting of the foreign ministers of European Union is taking place tomorrow and it was hoped that the forum would raise its voice for the sake of humanity and to protect fundamental human rights of the Palestinians.

The minister assured on behalf of the ruling party, Prime Minister Imran Khan and the government that there would be no change in stance of the country on the issues of Palestine and Kashmir.

He pointed out that the UN Security Council was also prepared to release a joint statement against Israel’s action but the same was vetoed by the United States.

Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, while strongly condemning continuous aerial attacks by Israel on innocent people of Palestine, said that Pakistan and the whole Muslim Ummah would have to play key role in the present situation.

He said all the Muslim countries should take a united stand and call immediate meetings of the Arab League and the OIC to stop attacks on people of Palestine. “Today the Muslim countries are facing real test of stopping genocide of Palestinians and reflect feeling of their nations,” he said.

He said if the United Nations and the international community did not play their role, the whole region would face threats to peace and stability. Shahbaz Sharif also proposed observing Al-Quds Day on Friday, May 21, as the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leadership had already declared staging protest demonstrations across the country on the same day.

The opposition leader said the political leadership from both sides should present a memorandum at the office of the United Nations on Friday.

Shahbaz said that there were similarities in designs and brutalities of Israel and India on people of Palestine and Occupied Kashmir. He pointed out that it was a matter of concern for Pakistan and whole of the Muslim Ummah that state of Palestine was still a dream and Palestinians were being displaced from their lands to settle new Jew families.

Shahbaz also mentioned that it was Founder of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who had set the foundation of Pakistan’s foreign policy on the issues of Kashmir and Palestine. “We will continue to follow the same foreign policy and support people of Kashmir and Palestine till they get their right as per the UN resolutions and other agreements,” he said.

At the same time, the opposition leader condemned statement of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi with regard to Article 370 declaring the same as India’s internal matter, saying the minister had shaken very foundations of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir. However, he observed that later the minister clarified his statement.

Shahbaz pointed out that Benjamin Netanyahu currently was standing at the same place where the Hitler was standing in the past. He pointed out that God forbidden if a Muslim country had done an iota of Israel’s action, the international media and the world powers must have created a storm.

He also referred to swift actions of the United Nations in case of creation of East Taimur and South Sudan, but he questioned what happened with Muslims of Bosnia while people of Kashmir and Palestine were still waiting to get their rights.

Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of the PPP said mere passage of resolutions and taking out protest rallies would not stop brutalities in Kashmir and Palestine, rather there was need to take some practical steps. “In the last over 70 years, there has been no progress relating to two vital issues,” he said.

The PPP leader questioned whether Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is going to meet his Turkish counterpart, would agree to the proposal of Turkey that there should be a joint protection force to protect the people of Palestine.

He pointed out that a video message of a 10-year-old Palestinian girl did more than voices being raised by the Muslim Ummah in projecting plight of her nation facing non-stopped brutalities. “The people of Palestine are still facing bombardment at this time when we are delivering speeches in the National Assembly,” he said.

The PPP leader, while regretting absence of Prime Minister Imran Khan in the National Assembly, said the leader of the house should have turned up to attend the session at the time of passage of the vital resolution.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, while referring to a Hadith of the Holy Prophet (SAW), said Jews and Muslims could not never be friends of each other.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) parliamentarian Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, MQM member Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and others also spoke on the issue and strongly condemned the brutalities against people of Palestine.

Meanwhile, Gaza residents cowered indoors Monday as Israeli jets pounded the enclave and the violence that has killed more than 225 people, most of them Palestinians, entered a second week. Before dawn, within just a few minutes, dozens of Israeli strikes bombarded the crowded Palestinian coastal strip controlled by Hamas.

Flames lit up the sky as intense explosions shook Gaza City, sparking widespread power cuts and damaging hundreds of buildings, local authorities said. Some 3,200 rockets have been fired by Palestinian militants toward Israel since the conflict escalated on May 10 in the heaviest exchange of fire in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem.

On Monday morning, an AFP reporter in Gaza saw huge plumes of grey smoke billow from a mattress factory, as civil defence members aimed high-pressure water hoses at the blaze. Later in the day, dust clouds rose near Gaza’s Mediterranean port from further explosions, with Israel’s army confirming it had targeted “a Hamas submergible naval weapon”.

West Gaza resident Mahdi Abed Rabbo, 39, expressed “horror and fear” at the intensity of the onslaught, saying: “There have never been strikes of this magnitude.”

Another Gaza resident, Mani Qazaat, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should realise we’re civilians, not fighters”. “I felt like I was dying,” he said about enduring a heavy aerial bombardment.

Israel’s army said Monday it had hit the homes of nine “high-ranking” Hamas commanders, a day after bombing the house of Yahya Sinwar, head of the group’s political wing. It gave no details of any casualties.

An Islamic Jihad commander was also killed Monday, a source within the group and the Israeli army said. Fighter jets also hit what the Israeli army calls the “Metro,” its term for Hamas’ underground tunnels, which Israel has previously acknowledged runs in part through civilian areas.

The renewed strikes come a day after 42 Palestinians in Gaza — including at least eight children and two doctors, according to the health ministry — were killed in the worst daily death toll in the enclave since the bombardments began.

In total, 200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including at least 59 children, and more than 1,300 wounded since Israel launched its air campaign against Hamas after the group fired rockets, according to the authorities there.

Israel says 10 people, including one child, have been killed and more than 309 wounded by rocket fire that has been the most intense to ever rain down on the Jewish state.

Islamic Jihad said it fired more rockets towards Tel Aviv, and air raids sirens wailed across Israel again on Monday, especially near the Gaza border.

Israeli bombardment of Gaza has displaced 38,000 people and made 2,500 homeless, the United Nations says. It has also battered crucial infrastructure, with the electricity authority Monday warning it only had enough fuel left to provide power for another two to three days.

US envoy for Israeli and Palestinian affairs Hady Amr was in Ramallah on Monday and met with Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas, who urged Washington to act against “Israel’s aggression,” the official Wafa news agency reported.

Israel is also trying to contain inter-communal violence between Jews and Arab-Israelis, as well unrest in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian authorities say Israeli forces have killed 19 Palestinians since May 10.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday the US had requested “details” and a “justification” from Israel for an air strike on a Gaza building housing international media outlets.

Blinken added that he had not personally seen any information shared by Israeli authorities, and therefore did not want to comment on the legitimacy of the strike.

“Israel has a special responsibility to protect civilians in the course of its self-defence, and that most certainly includes journalists,” Blinken told a Copenhagen press conference.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday urged Pope Francis to help rally the world to adopt sanctions against Israel for its “massacre” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The phone call between Erdogan and the pontiff came as Turkey presses ahead with a furious diplomatic push to help end bloodshed that has claimed the lives of over 200 Palestinians and 10 people in Israel since May 10.

Erdogan told Pope Francis that “Palestinians will continue to be subjected to a massacre unless the international community punishes Israel with sanctions”, the Turkish presidency said. The pope’s messages were of “great importance to mobilise the Christian world and the international community”, the Turkish statement added.

Erdogan, who has vocally championed the Palestinian cause during his 18-year rule, has spoken out repeatedly against Israel’s actions, accusing it of waging “terrorism” last week. He told the pope on Monday that “all of humanity should be united against” Israel. “The savagery caused by Israel threatens regional security,” he added.

The Turkish push for sanctions against Israel included a phone call on Monday between Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his British counterpart Dominic Raab. Cavusoglu told Raab it was “essential that the international community should give a stronger reaction” to Israel’s aggression, a Turkish foreign ministry source said.