Two Years after the Massacre: A Letter from Gaza
By Various Authors - Gaza, Palestine
This devastation exceeded in savagery all previous massacres suffered in Gaza, such as the 21 children killed in Jabalia in March 2008 or the 19 civilians killed sheltering in their house in the Beit Hanoun Massacre of 2006. The carnage even exceeded the attacks in November 1956 in which Israeli troops indiscriminately rounded up and killed 275 Palestinians in the Southern town of Khan Younis and 111 more in Rafah.
Since the Gaza massacre of 2009, world citizens have undertaken the responsibility to pressure Israel to comply with international law, through a proven strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions. As in the global BDS movement that was so effective in ending the apartheid South African regime, we urge people of conscience to join the BDS call made by over 170 Palestinian organizations in 2005. As in South Africa the imbalance of power and representation in this struggle can be counterbalanced by a powerful international solidarity movement with BDS at the forefront, holding Israeli policy makers to account, something the international governing community has repeatedly failed to do. Similarly, creative civilian efforts such as the Free Gaza boats that broke the siege five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the many land convoys must never stop their siege-breaking, highlighting the inhumanity of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open-air prison.
Two years have now passed since Israel’s gravest of genocidal acts that should have left people in no doubt of the brutal extent of Israel’s plans for the Palestinians. The murderous navy assault on international activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea magnified to the world the cheapness Israel has assigned to Palestinian life for so long. The world knows now, yet two years on nothing has changed for Palestinians.
The Goldstone Report came and went: despite its listing count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” the European Union, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and all major Human Rights Organizations have called for an end to the illegal, medieval siege, it carries on unabated. On 11th November 2010 UNRWA head John Ging said, “There's been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy…The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.”
On the 2nd of December, 22 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report ‘Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ calling for international action to force Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continue to live in the same devastating conditions. Only a week ago Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report "Separate and Unequal" that denounced Israeli policies as Apartheid, echoing similar sentiments by South African anti-apartheid activists.
We Palestinians of Gaza want to live at liberty to meet Palestinian friends or family from Tulkarem, Jerusalem or Nazareth; we want to have the right to travel and move freely. We want to live without fear of another bombing campaign that leaves hundreds of our children dead and many more injured or with cancers from the contamination of Israel’s white phosphorous and chemical warfare. We want to live without the humiliations at Israeli checkpoints or the indignity of not providing for our families because of the unemployment brought about by the economic control and the illegal siege. We are calling for an end to the racism that underpins all this oppression.
We ask: when will the world’s countries act according to the basic premise that people should be treated equally, regardless of their origin, ethnicity or colour – is it so far-fetched that a Palestinian child deserves the same human rights as any other human being? Will you be able to look back and say you stood on the right side of history or will you have sided with the oppressor?
We, therefore, call on the international community to take up its responsibility to protect the Palestinian people from Israel’s heinous aggression, immediately ending the siege with full compensation for the destruction of life and infrastructure visited upon us by this explicit policy of collective punishment. Nothing whatsoever justifies the intentional policies of savagery, including the severing of access to the water and electricity supply to 1.5 million people. The international conspiracy of silence towards the genocidal war taking place against the more than 1.5 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes.
We also call upon all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations to demand:
- An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of their exercise of democratic choice.
- The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention.
- The immediate release of all political prisoners.
- That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be immediately provided with financial and material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing.
- An end to occupation, Apartheid and other war crimes.
- Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip.
- Boycott Divest and Sanction, join the many International Trade Unions, Universities, Supermarkets and artists and writers who refuse to entertain Apartheid Israel. Speak out for Palestine, for Gaza, and crucially ACT. The time is now.
General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Health Services Workers
University Teachers' Association
Palestinian Congregation for Lawyers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Union of Synergies—Women Unit
The One Democratic State Group
Arab Cultural Forum
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Info
Palestine Sailing Federation
Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime
Palestinian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations
Palestinian Women Committees
Progressive Students’ Union
Medical Relief Society
The General Society for Rehabilitation
General Union of Palestinian Women
Afaq Jadeeda Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children
Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth
Ghassan Kanfani Kindergartens
Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah
Rafah Olympia City Sisters
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya Camp
Ajyal Association, Gaza
General Union of Palestinian Syndicates
Al Karmel Centre, Nuseirat
Local Initiative, Beit Hanoun
Union of Health Work Committees
Red Crescent Society Gaza Strip
Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Israeli Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi said on Monday in Tel Aviv, "We see the Hamas as responsible for the situation in Gaza and we take him (Hamas) as accountable for that. We don't want to escalate the situation but we will be ready for any development," the Associated Press reported.
The comments came in apparent reference to home-made projectiles, reportedly flown from Gaza, which are seldom known to have caused any casualties or considerable damage to Israeli properties.
Under the pretext of responding to the rocket attacks, Israel's military launches regular disproportionate attacks on Gaza, not refraining from inflicting human or material losses.
On Sunday, Israeli troops killed two Palestinians in the east of the southern city of Khan Younis in the strip, AFP reported. Earlier in the month, at least five people were killed by an Israeli aerial assault on the town of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza.
Ashkenazi said earlier in December that "the next round (of fighting) will be extensive," Israeli website Ynetnews had reported.
The December 2008-January 2009 operations killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, inflicting a damage of above $1.6 billion on the coastal sliver's economy.
The war either destroyed or badly damaged thousands of homes in Gaza, putting the enclave on a long road to recovery amid a strict siege, which has been in place since mid-June 2007.
The United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict has found Tel Aviv guilty of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the deadly operation.
The report by the UN mission blamed Israel for deliberate targeting of civilians and using white phosphorus bombs in residential areas, notably on the UN Relief and Works Agency compound in the Gaza City as well as two Gaza-based hospitals.