Hagai El-Ad, executive director of Israeli human rights NGO B'Tselem, told the UN Security Council on Thursday that the time has come for action against Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza.
Addressing a regular Middle East discussion led by UN Middle East Envoy Nickolay Mladenov, El-Ad said that "it is difficult and perhaps impossible to convey the force of the humiliation, rage and pain that are the lot of a people who've been denied their human rights for over fifty years."
El-Ad stressed that the real difficulty lies with trying to conduct a normal communal and family life with the conditions "Palestinians have to bear under the occupation."
He said "it is possible to surmise the pattern of the occupation as such: Israeli institutes, in which the Palestinians have no representation, pass pieces of paper down a highly coordinated 'non-assembly' line. How do we regularize the demolition of an entire community? How do we cover up the killing of another Palestinian? The experience gathered over a jubilee of occupation has made the operation of this well-oiled machine into an art."
Comparing the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians to the American Jim Crow racial segregation laws and the South African apartheid regime, saying that while both comparisons are not entirely accurate, they do suggest a moral compass. "A compass that points to the rejection of the oppression of the Palestinians of Israel with the same relentless determination with which humanity's conscience rejected those great injustices."
"Members of the Security Council: You've said your piece, and you received Israel's answer. Now the time has come for action," El-Ad concluded.
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour followed El-Ad's speech by calling the looming evacuation and demolition of the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar a "war crime."
Israel's envoy to the UN, Danny Danon said: "I protest the circus here. B'Tselem were invited to the Security Council by Bolivia, which has a terrible human rights record." He addressed El-Ad in Hebrew and said, "Mr. El-Ad, you're an Israeli citizen who serves our enemies. IDF soldiers protect you and you come here and slander them. You should be ashamed, collaborator."
Danon also said that Israel is "on the verge of escalation in Gaza and Hamas will pay a heavy price for its attacks against Israel. It uses international aid to expand its weapons arsenal - concrete for hospitals and schools gets routed to build terror tunnels."
Outgoing U.S. envoy Nikki Haley joined Danon's condemnation, calling El-Ad's report "twisted and one-sided."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admonished El-Ad's speech, saying that "while our soldiers prepare to defend Israel's security, B'Tselem's CEO chooses to give a speech laden with lies before the UN in an attempt to aid Israel's enemies. B'Tselem's conduct is a disgrace which will be remembered as a short and fleeting episode in the history of our people."
The session invited El-Ad earlier this week to speak on behalf of Israeli civil society organizations.
El-Ad's last appearance before the UN Security Council was an informal presentation in the wake of the anti-settlement UN Resolution 2334. The resolution stressed the illegal nature of Israeli settlements under international law, condemned violence against civilians and reiterated the vision of a two-state solution.
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