Pakistan slams Israel for turning Gaza into a 'wasteland'

UNITED NATIONS - Pakistan on Wednesday criticized the U.N. General Assembly's inaction on Gaza, saying the Israeli military assaults had "wrecked and ravaged" the small enclave and left 1,800 Palestinians dead and thousands more wounded.


"Most of Gaza is a wasteland," Ambassador Masood Khan, the permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told the General Assembly, which met some four weeks after the beginning of the Israeli-Hamas conflict.


"This was no war between two equals; there was no symmetry," he said of the month-long fighting between the modern Israeli military and Palestinian fighters.


"We regret that this Assembly, which has always demanded to play a more active role in the maintenance of international peace and security, is meeting so late and that too in an informal setting, with its members serving as a mere sounding board," the Pakistani envoy said, as he pointed out that the 193-member Assembly planned to take no decision.


"In the past four weeks, the Assembly has not pronounced itself on the situation in Gaza, while the (Geneva-based) Human Rights Council was able to pass a full bodied resolution," Masood Khan said.


He said that the force used by Israel has been disproportionate, indiscriminate and lethal. "The established norms of international humanitarian law - distinction, proportionality and precaution - were cast aside."


The human rights and humanitarian dimensions of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory was a direct consequence of the denial of the fundamental right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.


Welcoming the 72-hour ceasefire announced Tuesday, the Pakistani envoy said the situation in Gaza remained grave.


"It is imperative that the temporary ceasefire is consolidated and turned into a more enduring ceasefire. No step should be taken by either side that would imperil lives again," he said.


He demanded that more than 1,000 Palestinians imprisoned since June this year must be released and that the blockade of Gaza must be lifted forthwith to put an end to the collective punishment of the people of that territory.


The ambassador also called for the implementation of the Human Rights Council's decision to constitute an international commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international human rights and humanitarian law; as well as its call for reconvening the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.


He underscored the need for reviving the peace process aimed at finding a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders leading to a sovereign Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and harmony


 

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