Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has authorised the immediate disbursement of US$1 million as humanitarian aid from the government to the Palestinian people.

He said the money had been channeled through and would be used by Mercy Malaysia, a non-profit medical relief organisation, to deliver relief supplies.

The Foreign Ministry had reopened its Fund for Palestine to receive and coordinate the collection of assistance from the people of Malaysia, he said in a statement here today.

Malaysia, he said, would continue to extend humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza within its means.

The prime minister said he was also writing letters to various world leaders to request them to use their good office and personal influence to convince Israeli leaders to stop the bombardment of Gaza and agree to a ceasefire.

Israel had attacked and terrorised Palestine since last week, killing about 500 people.

Abdullah said Malaysia continued to hold the view that durable peace and stability for Gaza could only be secured through peaceful negotiations.

He said the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had a moral duty to stop the atrocities committed by Israel and demand a ceasefire by all sides.

“A failure by the UNSC to do that would escalate the crisis, endanger Palestinian unity and threaten the peace and security of the wider Middle East.

“Any ground offensive into Gaza by Israel is an act of total war which the international community should not tolerate.

“I note that the UN Security Council continues to fail to act on this critical matter. I therefore urge that an emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly be convened to adopt a “Uniting for Peace” resolution,” he said.

Israel, he said, was meting out a systematic form of collective punishment upon Gaza without any consideration for innocent people or the destruction of their properties.

These actions were totally immoral and in clear violation of internation law and they should be condemned by all people of conscience.

“On behalf of the government and people of Malaysia, I wish to reiterate my gravest concern that Israel is continuing the bombardments against Gaza without any due regard for human lives or world public opinion,” he said.