Plea for 'International Protection' as Attack on Gaza Intensifies
More than 170 killed and 1,250 wounded with end of bombardment nowhere in sight
President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has called on the United Nations "to officially put the State of Palestine under the UN international protection system."
Abbas sent his request in the form of a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and UN Middle East Special Envoy Robert Serry.
UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed receipt of the letter in New York but only said the UN would "need to study it before responding further."
Abbas' plea for protection comes as Palestinians in Gaza continue to flee the aerial bombardment of the Israeli military on Monday, flooding towards shelters managed by the UN's Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) which has declared a state of emergency across the entire Gaza Strip.
As the attack on Gaza continued for its seventh day, the death toll has risen beyond 170 people, with more than 1,250 injured, according to relief agencies and the Gaza ministry of health. Al-Monitor continues to track and name the Palestinian victims of Israel's military assault, which they have named 'Operation Protective Edge.' So far, no Israeli lives have been lost.
A feared ground invaded has not yet be ordered, but following an Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated the military attack was escalating with "growing force." He added, "We do not know when this operation will end."
From inside Gaza, the UNWRA released a specific warning to the global community that Israeli forces may have begun targeting the territories drinking water infrastructure.
"An alarming development is the alleged targeting of Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) operation teams," the UNRWA warned late Sunday. "The CMWU provides water and sanitation services to communities in the Gaza Strip. Two team members were killed by airstrikes in al Bureij two days ago and this morning, two were reported to be directly targeted by an Israeli missile during their routine field operation, conducted in cooperation with the Gaza team in Rafah. One of the two operators sustained severe head injuries and is in critical condition."
Due to the attacks, the CMWU has suspended its operation, putting maintenance of the system on hold. If suspension is prolonged, the UN warned, the collapse of drinking water supplies poses an existential crisis for those living in Gaza, exposing them "to health and environmental disasters in addition to the current vulnerable conditions people are experiencing as a result of the escalation of conflict."
On Monday, a young Palestinian man was shot and killed by Isreali security forces in the West Bank during street protests calling for an end to the attacks in Gaza.
Last week, the Moshe Feiglin, the deputy speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, urged the shutting off of electricity in the Gaza Strip as a way to punish the people of Gaza for rockets being fired by some militant factions towards Israel.
In Cairo on Monday, the Arab League, whose leaders have called for an immediate end to the attack on Gaza, are holding an emergency meeting to address the ongoing crisis.
As international calls for a cease fire increase and reverberate, however, the shelling and airstrikes on the besieged enclave continue.