‘Stain on Our Collective Conscience’ – UNGA President on Gaza

UNGA President Dennis Francis. (Photo: via United Nations Linkedin Page)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Dennis Francis, the President of the UN General Assembly, has called the situation in the besieged Gaza Strip “unconscionable and shameful” with each life lost adding  “to the stain on our collective conscience.”

​​The President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, has called the situation in the besieged Gaza Strip “catastrophic, unconscionable and shameful.”

“I am shocked and horrified at the reported killing and injury of hundreds of people during disbursement of food supplies, west of Gaza City last week,” Francis said in an address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Monday. The Assembly met to examine the US veto of the latest Security Council draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

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Close to 1,000 Palestinians were killed and wounded last Thursday after Israeli troops opened fire on hundreds of Palestinians waiting for food aid at the Nabulsi Roundabout, in the Sheikh Ajleen district, southwest of Gaza City.

In total, 30,631 Palestinians have been killed, and 72,042 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

Thousands of children have been killed; they are scrounging for food and watching their childhoods evaporate into the horrors of war,” Francis said. 

‘Disparu! Disappeared!’

He emphasized that “Countless communities have been decimated. Countless families have vanished, inter-generationally. Countless mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, nieces, and nephews—all gone. As the French would say “disparu,” disappeared!!”

The UNGA President voiced deep concern “about intensified Israeli airstrikes in Rafah, including in residential areas.”

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“In the words of UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, any ground operation – in such a densely populated area – would ‘leave an already fragile humanitarian operation at death’s door’,” he said. 

“I, therefore, urgently call for maximum restraint to prevail in order to save innocent civilian lives.”

Francis also lamented Israeli restrictions on the humanitarian access that he said “have drastically reduced the flow of lifesaving aid to a mere trickle”

Aid Trucks Limited 

UNRWA reported a significant 50 percent reduction in the number of trucks entering Gaza daily from January to February. 

He said it was therefore “essential that we rapidly and substantially increase the scale of humanitarian operations – and ensure unrestricted access to all civilians in need.”

Francis outlined a few demands including an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”, saying the “bombardment must stop, now.”

He also called on all parties to “comply with their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law”, especially as it relates to the protection of civilians and civilian facilities.

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“Let me close with a reminder that this week marks a grim milestone: 150 days of violence. … Each day this painful reality continues to entrench the feeling of frustration and disillusionment – especially by those caught in the crossfire, and who look to the United Nations as a guarantor of the good,” Francis stated.

He added that each day that passes “risks a deepening failure to meet our moral duties and obligations; and each life lost adds to the stain on our collective conscience.”

Rising Death Toll

Israel is currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians for a devastating war it has been waging on Gaza since October 7.

In addition to those killed, Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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