UNITED NATIONS (Agencies: 27/1/2009): UN humanitarian chief John Holmes appealed to Israel to re-open border crossings into the besieged Gaza Strip to allow delivery of badly needed relief aid in the wake of the devastating 22-day conflict.
"Israel has a particular responsibility as the occupying power in this context, because of its control of Gaza’s borders with Israel, to respect the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law," Holmes told the 15-member UN Security Council during a briefing on his recent visit to the region.
"It is therefore critical that new steps are taken immediately by the Israeli authorities to move to the sustained re-opening of crossing points," he said.
He underscored the importance of improving the living conditions of Gaza’s 1.5 million people to avoid further despair and undermining efforts to find a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Everybody stressed the urgency of reopening the crossing points," France’s UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, who chairs the council this month, concurred.
Speaking to reporters after the briefing, Holmes also said the world body planned to launch a flash appeal next Monday for "several hundred million dollars" to assist the beleaguered Gaza population.
Meanwhile Karen AbuZayd, the commissioner for the UN relief agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), briefed the Security Council on the apparent systematic destruction of schools, universities, residential buildings, factories, shops and farms during the Israeli onslaught on Gaza.
"There is rage against the attackers for often failing top distinguish between military targets and civilians and there is also resentment against the international community for having allowed first the siege and then the war to go on for so long," she added
Britain‘s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce told reporters before the meeting that London believed some of the allegations against both Israel and Hamas militants warranted further investigation, though not necessarily by the United Nations.
She said the council would discuss the issue but would likely stop short of issuing a formal mandate for a Security Council investigation of any alleged war crimes. The council was not expected to reach any decisions about the conflict during Tuesday’s consultations.