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UNSC Calls On Israel to Stop Demolition Of Homes

Security Council calls on Israel to stop demolition of Palestinian homes

19 May 2004 – Concerned by the recent demolition of homes in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, the United Nations Security Council today called on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law and insisted on its obligation not to destroy homes contrary to that law.

The Council voted 14 in favour, with the United States abstaining, to adopt a resolution expressing its grave concern regarding the humanitarian situation of Palestinians made homeless in the Rafah area, and calling for the provision of emergency assistance.

Earlier this week, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) reported that nearly 2,200 people have been left without shelter and 191 homes have been demolished throughout Gaza since the beginning of May.

The Council text also called on both parties to immediately implement their obligations under the Road Map, a plan sponsored by the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States - the so-called diplomatic Quartet - that calls for a series of parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two states living side-by-side in peace by 2005.

Earlier Wednesday Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he had been in touch with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, discussing the situation with them and the need to bring the situation under control.

"I also had a call from [Palestinian Authority] Chairman Yasser Arafat…appealing for assistance from the international community, and pleading with the UN and the international community to do something, and indicating that the civilians are under threat, and that this morning's attack killed many children and women," he told reporters.

The Secretary-General also stressed Israel's obligation "as an occupying power for the protection of civilians." He said the destruction of houses has added greater burden on the population and created very difficult circumstances under which UNRWA must work.

"As the numbers increase, it is going to be even much more difficult for us…so I appeal for them to stop the destruction and really take steps, which is their obligation to protect the civilians," he said.

ENDS

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