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'So-called declaration of war...': Pakistan slams Israel at UNHRC, fails to acknowledge Hamas victims

Zaman Mehdi, Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, slammed Israel over an "illegal foreign occupation" of Palestine. He requested a moment of silence for those killed in the "occupied Palestinian territory" but failed to mention the 1,000 people killed in Israel.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Geneva Published on: October 10, 2023 23:47 IST
Zaman Mehdi, Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative of
Image Source : UNHRC/X Zaman Mehdi, Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, speaking at UNHRC

Pakistan's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Zaman Mehdi, slammed Israel at a session of the UN Human Rights Council and observed a moment of silence in the memory of those killed in the "occupied Palestinian territory and elsewhere", without mentioning those killed by Hamas in Israel.

Hamas militants launched more than 4,400 rockets and stormed Israel on Saturday, the war has escalated with Israeli forces relentlessly bombarding Gaza. Hamas militants gunned down several civilians and soldiers in their incursion and took at least 150 people hostage, later threatening to execute them if Israel continued airstrikes on civilian homes in Gaza.

In his address, Mehdi said, "On behalf of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) member states, we express our deep concerns over the loss of innocent lives in the occupied Palestinian territory and elsewhere. Regrettably, this huge loss of lives and unabated violence is a sad reminder of more than seven decades of illegal foreign occupation, aggression and disrespect for international law, including UNESCO resolutions."

He further slammed Israel and the "illegal blockage" of the border with Gaza for 16 years, raising questions over the applicability of international law and fundamental freedoms of the innocent civilian population. He alleged that efforts to normalise the conflict-ridden area were "breeding violence".

"In this context, the so-called declaration of war and attacks on the civilian population and their properties is deeply distressing. We remain concerned about the human cost of the escalating situation," the Pakistani representative continued.

"It is also an occasion to remember victims of decades of foreign occupation in the occupied Palestinian territory. I request you all to stand for one minute to honour those victims," he said.

US Permanent Representative to the UNHRC Michèle Taylor also requested a moment of silence on Monday, in order to commemorate the lives of people killed in the Hamas attack on Israel.

"The United States unequivocally condemns these heinous acts of terrorism. We extend our deepest condolences to the families affected and express our solidarity with the people and government of Israel in these trying times," she said in the UNHRC.

The situation in Israel and Gaza

More than 1,800 people have been killed on both sides of the border.  At least 830 people have been killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, after a deadly incursion by Hamas militants on Saturday morning. On the other hand, over 900 people have been killed in Israel, and over 2,700 people have been injured since Saturday. The military said that they had established "full control" on the border with Gaza on the fourth day of the war.

IDF international spokesperson Lt Col Richard Hecht said that bodies of 1,500 terrorists had been located around southern Israel. It is unclear whether these numbers overlapped with deaths previously reported by Palestinian authorities.

Over 360,000 reserve forces have been mobilised to combat Hamas militants amid fears that some of them still remain in Israel. The airstrikes and formal declaration of war suggest that Israel has ramped up its offensive against Hamas after being caught off-guard by the surprise attack.

Israeli warplanes hammered the Gaza Strip neighborhood by neighborhood on Tuesday, reducing buildings to rubble. The Israeli Air Force also claimed to eliminate a senior member of the Hamas' political bureau in Gaza. On the other hand, the Air Force also detected missile launches from Lebanon, apparently from Hezbollah, which has praised Hamas for the attack.

Shopping malls, restaurants, residential buildings and offices belonging to aid groups and international media were almost completely destroyed by Israeli strikes on Gaza's Rimal neighbourhood. Israel has also cut off electricity and water to the Gaza Strip, which was criticised by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Meanwhile, questions remain as to whether Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu would launch a full-fledged ground assault, which would be far more destructive and deadlier than the airstrikes that have sent Gazans fleeing and taking refuge elsewhere.

ALSO READ | Israeli TV personality shares post of sister killed in 'execution-style' by Hamas militants


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