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Palestinians, solidarity activists condemn Israel's mass slaughter in Gaza, call for protests and sanctions (updated Jan. 3)

December 27 demonstration in Bethlehem against the massacre in Gaza (Photo: Ghassan Bannoura-IMEMC)

By the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee

Occupied Ramallah, Palestine -- December 27, 2008 -- Today, the Israeli occupation army committed a new massacre in Gaza, causing the death and injury of hundreds of Palestinian civilians [latest reports place the death toll at more than 200], including a yet unknown number of schoolchildren who were headed home from school when the first Israeli military strikes started. This latest bloodbath, although far more ruthless than all its predecessors, is not Israel's first. It culminates months of an Israeli siege of Gaza that should be widely condemned and prosecuted as an act of genocide against the 1.5 million Palestinians in the occupied coastal strip.

Israel seems intent to mark the end of its 60th year of existence the same way it has established itself -- perpetrating massacres against the Palestinian people. In 1948, the majority of the indigenous Palestinian people were ethnically cleansed from their homes and land, partly through massacres like Deir Yassin; today, the Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom are refugees, do not even have the choice to seek refuge elsewhere. Incarcerated behind ghetto walls and brought to the brink of starvation by the siege, they are easy targets for Israel's indiscriminate bombing.

Prof. Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and international law expert at Princeton University, described Israel's siege of Gaza last year, when it was still not comparable in its severity to the current situation, as follows:

Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy.

The most brutal episode of this "collective tragedy" is what we have seen today.

Israel's war crimes and other grave violations of international law in Gaza as well as in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, could not have been perpetrated without the direct or indirect complicity of world governments, particularly the United States, the European Union, Egypt and other Arab regimes.

While the US government has consistently sponsored, bankrolled and protected from international censure Israel's apartheid and colonial policies against the indigenous people of Palestine, the EU was able in the past to advocate a semblance of respect for international law and universal human rights. That distinction effectively ended on December 9, when the EU Council decided unanimously to reward Israel's criminal disregard of international law by upgrading the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Israel clearly understood from this decision that the EU condones its actions against the Palestinians under its occupation. Palestinian civil society also got the message: the EU governments have become no less complicit in Israel's war crimes than their US counterpart.

The large majority of world governments, particularly in the global South, share part of the blame, as well. By continuing business as usual with Israel, in trade agreements, arms deals, academic and cultural ties, diplomatic openings, they have provided the necessary background for the complicity of world powers and, consequentially, for Israel's impunity. Furthermore, their inaction within the United Nations is inexcusable.

Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly, prescribed in a recent address before the General Assembly the only moral way forward for the world's nations in dealing with Israel:

More than twenty years ago we in the United Nations took the lead from civil society when we agreed that sanctions were required to provide a non-violent means of pressuring South Africa to end its violations. Today, perhaps we in the United Nations should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations.

Now, more than ever, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), calls upon international civil society not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel's massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights. Without sustained, effective pressure by people of conscience the world over, Israel will continue with its gradual, rolling acts of genocide against the Palestinians, burying any prospects for a just peace under the blood and rubble of Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem.

[The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) includes: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine; General Union of Palestinian Workers; Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions; Palestinian Non-Governmental Organisations' Network (PNGO); Federation of Independent Trade Unions; Union of Palestinian Charitable Organisations; Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI); General Union of Palestinian Women; Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU); Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW); Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba; Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ); Coalition for Jerusalem; and Palestinian Economic Monitor.]

Palestinians emerged from the rubble following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip,December 27, 2008.

Gaza massacres must spur us to action

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada

Palestinians carry the body of a victim of an Israeli air strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, December 27, 2008. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)


December 27, 2008 --"I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing." Those were the words, spoken on Al Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defence official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as images of Israel's latest massacres were broadcast around the world.

A short time earlier, US-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of locations in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip killing at least 195 persons and injuring hundreds more. Many of these locations were police stations located, like police stations the world over, in the middle of civilian areas. The US government was one of the first to offer its support for Israel's attacks, and others will follow.

Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers. Among those Israel labels "terrorists" were more than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training. An as yet unknown number of civilians were killed and injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several dead children, and the Israeli attacks came at the time thousands of Palestinian children were in the streets on their way home from school.

Shmerling's joy has been echoed by Israelis and their supporters around the world; their violence is righteous violence. It is "self-defence" against "terrorists" and therefore justified. Israeli bombing -- like US and NATO bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is bombing for freedom, peace and democracy.

The rationalisation for Israel's massacres, already being faithfully transmitted by the English-language media, is that Israel is acting in "retaliation" for Palestinian rockets fired with increasing intensity ever since the six-month truce expired on December 19 (until today, no Israeli had been killed or injured by these recent rocket attacks).

But today's horrific attacks mark only a change in Israel's method of killing Palestinians recently. In recent months they died mostly silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of food and necessary medicine by the two-year-old Israeli blockade calculated and intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority refugees and children, caged into the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, Palestinians died silently, for want of basic medications: insulin, cancer treatment, products for dialysis prohibited from reaching them by Israel.

What the media never question is Israel's idea of a truce. It is very simple. Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonise their land. Israel has not only banned food and medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.

As John Ging, the head of operations of the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), told The Electronic Intifada in November: "There was five months of a ceasefire in the last couple of months, where the people of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our supplies were also restricted during the period of the ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of closure we ran out of food."

That is an Israeli truce. Any response to Israeli attacks -- [including] peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in Bilin and Nilin in the West Bank -- is met with bullets and bombs. There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel's attacks, killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never ceased for one single day during the truce. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has acceded to all of Israel's demands, even assembling "security forces" to fight the resistance on Israel's behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian or her property or livelihood from Israel's relentless violent colonisation. It did not save, for instance, the al-Kurd family from seeing their home of 50 years in occupied East Jerusalem demolished on November 9, so the land it sits on could be taken by settlers.

Once again we are watching massacres in Gaza, as we did last March when 110 Palestinians, including dozens of children, were killed by Israel in just a few days. Once again people everywhere feel rage, anger and despair that this outlaw state carries out such crimes with impunity.

But all over the Arab media and internet today the rage being expressed is not directed solely at Israel. Notably, it is directed more sharply than ever at Arab states. The images that stick are of Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni in Cairo on Christmas Day. There she sat smiling with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Then there are the pictures of Livni and Egypt's foreign minister smiling and slapping their palms together.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported today that last Wednesday the Israeli "cabinet authorized the prime minister, the defense minister, and the foreign minister to determine the timing and the method" of Israel's attacks on Gaza. Everywhere people ask, what did Livni tell the Egyptians and more importantly what did they tell her? Did Israel get a green light to turn Gaza's streets red once again? Few are ready to give Egypt the benefit of the doubt after it has helped Israel besiege Gaza by keeping the Rafah border crossing closed for more than a year.

On top of the intense anger and sadness so many people feel at Israel's renewed mass killings in Gaza is a sense of frustration that there seem to be so few ways to channel it into a political response that can change the course of events, end the suffering, and bring justice.

But there are ways, and this is a moment to focus on them. Already I have received notices of demonstrations and solidarity actions being planned in cities all over the world. That is important. But what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?

Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it "called upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it."

The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) provides the framework for this. Now is the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term commitment to make sure we do not wake up to "another Gaza" ever again.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).

Palestinian government: `We cannot surrender'

December 27, 2008 -- Taher al-Noono, Palestinian government (and Hamas member) spokesperson, speaks to reporters in Gaza following Israeli attacks.

 

Palestinian human rights organisations: `Israel's willful killings a war crime'

December 27, 2008 -- Palestinian human rights organisations strongly condemn the recent military attacks carried out by the Israeli occupying forces in the Gaza Strip on 27 December 2008. The attacks began at approximately 11:30am and lasted for approximately three hours. These attacks have destroyed most of the Gaza security offices including police stations, resulting in the deaths of more than 200 Palestinians. More than 350 have been injured with at least 120 critically.

The number of deaths resulting from these attacks indicates a willful targeting of the civilian police forces in these locations and a clear violation of the prohibition against willful killings. Willful killings are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention under Article 147 and therefore, a war crime. Both the time and location of these attacks also indicate a malicious intent to inflict as many casualties as possible with many of the police stations located in civilian population centers and the time of the attacks coinciding with the end of the school day resulting in the deaths of numerous children.

The ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip has left medical facilities in the Strip incapable of meeting the needs of the hundreds more who have been injured which will likely lead to an increase in the number of deaths. According to Israeli officials, these attacks are only the beginning of an open military campaign in Gaza. It is therefore imperative that the international community not stand in silence while Israel moves forward with impunity.

Despite repeated calls from the Palestinian human rights community with regard to Gaza, the international community has failed to act. We are now on the brink of an explosion of violence as result of this failure and are pushed once again to call for action.

In light of the above, Palestinian human rights organizations urge:

  • The UN Security Council to call an emergency session and adopt concrete measures, including the imposition of sanctions, in order to ensure Israel's fulfillment of its obligations under international humanitarian law.
  • The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligation under common Article 1 to ensure respect for the provisions of the Conventions, taking appropriate measures to compel Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular placing pivotal importance on the respect and protection of civilians from the effects of the hostilities.
  • The High Contracting Parties to fulfill their legal obligation under Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to prosecute those responsible for grave breaches of the Convention.
  • EU institutions and member states to make effective use of the European Union Guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (2005/C 327/04) to ensure Israel complies with international humanitarian law under paragraph 16 (b), (c) and (d) of these guidelines, including the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions, as well as cessation of all upgrade dialogue with Israel.

Undersigned organisations:
Al-Haq
Addameer Prisoners' Support & Human Rights Association
Ad-Dameer Association for Human Rights
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights
Defence for Children International
Ensan Center for Democracy & Human Rights
Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)
Jerusalem Legal Aid & Human Rights Center (JLAC)
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession - Musawa
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (RCHRS)
Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)
Women's Studies Center
The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations' Network - PNGO

Palestinian leaders in Israel declare strike, call for boycott

Appeal from the Higher Follow Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel

December 28, 2008 -- In the presence of all national alliances, an urgent meeting for the Follow up Committee was held today declaring Sunday 28 December 2008 a general strike in protest of the Israeli massacres committed against Palestinians in Gaza. The meeting called for the organization of demonstrations and marches in every Arab town in al-Naqab [Negev], the Triangle, the Galilee areas and coastal towns as a symbol of the rage and severe grief of the Palestinian nation upon the loss of hundreds of its citizens in Gaza.

It was decided that the High Follow Up Committee remains on alert to hold further meetings to take steps in resistance and to stop the consistent aggression and break the siege on Gaza including the opening of all border crossings especially that of Rafah.

The following political message stemmed from the meeting:

  • Considering the Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza an assault against Palestinian People everywhere and our duty is to resist it and break the siege.
  • Recognising Israel and its political and security forces as a criminal state committing acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity against our people in the Gaza Strip. This with the assurance that the current Israeli parliamentary election campaign is fueled by the Palestinian bloodshed.
  • Saluting the determination and will of Palestinian people in the face of the aggressive Israeli scheme to break their steadfastness and human dignity.
  • Condemning the international complicity with the official Israeli aggression, and considering its silence and complicity as partnership in the crime. the meeting also stressed the absolute rejection of holding the Palestinian people or the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) responsible for the situation and while exempting Israel from its total responsibility.
  • Calling upon the international community to take its legal and moral responsibility, to sanction Israel and boycott it as a state that pursues terrorism, war crimes and crimes against humanity with premeditation.
  • Condemning Arab Official complicity used by Israel to cover for its predefined aggression and condemning the general Arab weakness and calling them to shut down their embassies in Israel and boycott it. We call upon Egypt to open all crossings with Gaza and break its siege.
  • Condemning the complying Arab and Official political voices which held the Palestinian leadership in Gaza responsible for the Israeli aggression and calling the head of the Palestinian National Authority to immediately stop the negotiations with Israel used to further fuel the Palestinian split in the West Bank and in Gaza.
  • Assuring the call for national Palestinian unity and its total support of the Palestinian struggle and resistance in the face of Israeli aggression.
  • Paying tribute to the heroic steadfastness of our people and supporters in the Arab world and elsewhere and the masses in the homeland that stood in the face of the bloody aggression and supported the steadfastness in Gaza.
  • Calling on the masses of our people to exercise the highest degree of readiness to contribute, on individual and collective levels, in the national relief campaign, which includes the donation of medical supplies, food and blood donation in support of Gaza and in contribution to the breaking of the siege.
  • Calling on the masses of our people and supporters in the world to share the worry and to have more readiness to escalate the struggle in order to defeat the Israeli aggression and provide protection for our heroic Palestinian nation.

[The Higher Follow Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel is the highest representative body of the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel. It includes all Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) as well as elected mayors and local officials.]

PFLP: Now is the time for unity and resistance

By the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

December 28, 2008 -- Over 270 killed in Gaza and hundreds have been wounded in a series of massacres and crimes committed by the Zionist occupier against the Palestinian people in Gaza on December 27, 2008. The occupier shot dozens of missiles from Apache helicopters and F-16 planes at dozens of Gaza government buildings, directly in the middle of heavily populated residential neighborhoods and simultaneously with teachers and students returning to school.

Demonstrations have broken out throughout the West Bank and the Arab world in protest and outrage at the brutality and the nature of these massive crimes.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) issued a statement calling for the broadest resistance to meet and confront this aggression against the Palestinian people and to respond to these massacres, and for the unity of the resistance, and the unity of the Palestinian people, to greet the occupier with resistance, strength and steadfastness despite his brutal crimes. The statement stressed the urgent need for national unity immediately to confront the crimes against our people and to greet the occupier and its brutality with tremendous and unified resistance that is capable of shaking its foundations.

The PFLP statement further called upon all resistance forces to come together now and establish unified resistance front to coordinate and take up the challenge of these attacks against our people. It pointed to the responsibility of the United States for these attacks, as a strategic partner of the occupier, working hand in hand with its massacres and crimes against the Palestinian people, and as the source of the arms used by the occupier against our people. It also pointed to the complicity of the Arab regimes in these crimes, particularly the Egyptian regime, for its ongoing and active participation in the blockade and siege of the Palestinian people in Gaza and its meetings and discussions with the occupier about its plans for Gaza.

These massacres are taking place because of Arab and international silence and active complicity.

The PFLP further called for the immediate end to any and all negotiations with this brutal occupier who plans massacres against our people and stated that if he will not end the negotiations immediately, Abu Mazen must resign now. The nature of the Zionist enemy and its dedication to the eradication of the Palestinian people is laid bare and clear by this series of attacks, calculated to cause maximum damage and human cost. For the past sixty years, there is an unbroken history of massacres and crimes against our people and this massacre today is yet one more expression of the nature of the illegitimate colonial state that has implanted itself on Palestinian land and continues to live on US support through massacres and crimes against the Palestinian people.

The statement concluded by calling upon all of its fighters and military branches to take the strongest actions and to resist the occupation and its massacres by all methods and forms of action and resistance, and by calling for the broadest solidarity on Arab and international levels, for people to come into the streets, demonstrate, march, and take action to declare that these massacres and crimes are unacceptable, that the Arab people and the world are with Palestine and the Palestinian people, and that they will not allow these crimes to continue nor for the Arab regimes and international regimes to be silently complicity or actively involved in the occupation's crimes.

The Palestinian people will greet these massacres with steadfastness, strength, unity and resistance and all of the crimes, massacres, targeting of civilians, residential neighborhoods, and schoolchildren and teachers will do nothing to crush the resistance of our people, the statement said, it will only ensure Palestinian unity in the face of this brutality which makes clear the true face of the occupier to the world.

Communist Party of Israel condemns deadly attacks on Gaza and calls for international mobilisation

December 27, 2008 -- The Communist Party of Israel (CPI) and Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) condemns today's deadly attack by the Israeli Air Force on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the killing of over 150 Palestinians. The CPI calls on Communist and workers' parties and social movements throughout the world to mobilise against these Israeli war crimes, and demands that the international community implement sanctions against Israel and indict Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and other Israeli political and military leadership for these blatant war crimes, committed as part of Israel's election process.

Today's Israel's military attack is part of the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip. Israel is exploiting the last moments of the Bush administration to implement the deadly but ineffective imperialist policy of utilising military force to effect political change. Demonstrations against the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip are planned in the major Israeli cities, and demonstrations will be held tonight in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Nazareth.  Yesterday (Friday, December 26), hundreds demonstrators attended a rally in central Tel Aviv to protest the expected Israeli military operation against Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza. The rally was organised by the Coalition against the Gaza Siege and Hadash.

Israelis demonstrate against massacre in the Gaza Strip, Tel Aviv, Israel, December 26, 2008 (No Comment TV, December 27, 2008

"I suggest that we go the other direction", said Hadash Knesset Member Dov Khenin, a leading member of the Communist Party of Israel. "Our power is our tragedy. One powerful blow will not bring the end. They will respond with rockets and eventually we'll embark on an all-out war. Going in the other direction means reinforcing the lull, securing a ceasefire, and lifting the siege that only serves to unite the population around Hamas."

"A genuine peace process will be engaged in vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas," he said.  "What's tragic here is that it's possible. We just need the desire."

Khenin added that it is "essential to secure a prisoner swap that would include Gilad Shalit."  When asked why fewer Israelis object the war in Gaza, he said: "People lost their hope. They realise that what's happening is bad, yet they think there's no other option. Yet we are not destined to be the victim of history."  Another rally participant, the former Knesset member Tamar Gozansky, said: "Two years ago we protested at the same site, before the Second Lebanon War. We were ostracised and referred to as traitors. Yet several months later, all the people who made fun of us carried their own signs to Rabin Square and protested against Olmert's policy. I really hope that we won't have yet another reason to say: 'We told you so.'"  In an earlier statement, Knesset member Khenin said: "A comprehensive war in Gaza is dangerous and unnecessary and will put the lives of thousands of Gazans and western Negev residents at risk."  "War is not the solution to the Kassam rocket problem", he continued. "There is another way: a real truce agreement. Not just a cease-fire, but also ending the Gaza blockade and easing the extreme suffering of a million-and-a-half people."

Leading members of the Communist Party of Israel met in Ramallah with representatives of left-wing Palestinian factions

Leading members of the Communist Party of Israel met in Ramallah with representatives of left-wing Palestinian factions, including the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Palestinian People's Party. Militants from the four parties met Thursday (December 25, 2008) in Ramallah to coordinate future steps and to consider ways to strengthen the cooperation between them. The Communist Party of Israel was represented in the meeting by the secretary-general, Mohammed Nafa'h; and the chair of Hadash (The Democratic Peace and Equality Front), M.K. Mohammed Barakeh. This is the first time a meeting has been held in which representatives from all four parties were in attendance. "The Palestinian arena is today in desperate need of a progressive, leftist dialogue of unity", Barakeh said.

Last week, Barakeh travelled to the Jordanian capital of Amman where he met with the secretary-general of the DFLP, Nayef Hawatmeh. Leading members of the Communist Party of Israel recently stated that the talks held with Palestinian left-wing factions are a routine matter. The party has maintained contacts with these groups since the 1970s. "The Communist Party of Israel and Hadash platforms and its fundamental stances are clear and they are expressed everywhere and at every opportunity", a party spokesperson said.  "Ties with PLO groups have been held uninterruptedly since the 1970s, and all of the factions know the positions taken by the Communist Party of Israel as a political Jewish-Arab organisation that espouses a two-state solution with the struggle against capitalism and imperialism."

[Thanks to MRZine for the text of this statement.]

End the attacks on Gaza immediately!

 


By the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

Sunday, December 28, 2008 -- Let’s be crystal clear. Israel’s massive attacks on Gaza have one overarching goal: conflict management. How to end rocket attacks on Israel from a besieged and starving Gaza without ending the impetus for those attacks, 41 years of increasingly oppressive Israeli Occupation without a hint that a sovereign and viable Palestinian state will ever emerge.

Indeed, the Occupation, in which Israel controls Gaza under a violent siege which violates fundamental human rights and international law, is not even mentioned in Israel’s PR campaign. Speaking to the international community, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni insists that no country would tolerate its citizens being attacked, a seemingly reasonable statement were it not for Israeli sanctions on Gaza supported by the US and Europe – sanctions that preceded the rocket fire on Israel – or the fact of Israeli Occupation in general. Solely focusing on the rocket attacks conceals the political policy that led to them: “The Hamas government in Gaza must be toppled,” Livni has said repeatedly. “The means to do this must be military, economic and diplomatic.”

The responsibility for the suffering both in Israel and Gaza rests squarely with successive Israeli governments, Labor, Likud and Kadima alike. Had there been a genuine political process (remember, the closure of Gaza began in 1989), Israelis and Palestinians could have been living together in peace and prosperity already for 20 years. After all, already in 1988 the PLO accepted the two-state solution in which a Palestinian state would arise on only 22% of historic Palestine, alongside the state of Israel on the other 78%. A truly generous offer.

In Israel, however, the effort is to hide its preference for control over peace. Framing its attacks as a response to rockets from Gaza, exploiting an immediate trigger to effectively conceal deeper political intentions and policies, does that. It also conceals Israeli violations of the cease-fire. The fact that the rocket attacks could have been avoided altogether through a genuine political process means that the people of southern Israel are being held hostage by their government as well. Their suffering, and the suffering of the people of Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territories, must be placed squarely at the feet of the Israeli government.

Israel cannot expect security for its people and political normalcy as long as it occupies Palestinian lands and continues its attempt to impose its permanent rule over the Palestinians by military force. We call on the Israeli government to end its aggression immediately and enter into genuine political negotiations with a united Palestinian leadership. We call on the international community to end its sanctions on Gaza immediately in accordance with international law, initiate an effective political process to end the Israeli Occupation and bring about a just peace – which reflects the will of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

End the carnage in Gaza -- Boycott the Israeli academy now!

From the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)

December 29, 2008 -- The Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees condemns in the strongest possible terms the bombing today of the campus of the Islamic University in Gaza. This wanton destruction of an academic institution is only the latest in the ongoing lethal campaign launched by the Israeli government and army against Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip. This murderous rampage has caused over 300 deaths and the injury of close to 1500 Palestinians. And the carnage continues with impunity.

We add our voice to the urgent appeal issued two days ago by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)* [see first statement on this page] urging international civil society not just to protest and condemn Israel's massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violations of international law and Palestinian rights. We agree that, without sustained, effective pressure by people of conscience the world over, Israel will continue with its gradual, rolling acts of genocide against the Palestinians, burying any prospects for a just peace under the blood and rubble of Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem.

Today, at the height of the lethal Israeli assault against the Palestinian people in Gaza, we are met with deafening silence emanating from the Israeli academy. Does it condone the murderous bombing campaign that its government is carrying out in the name of all Israelis? Are the members of the academy dutifully preparing for the reserve call-up just approved by their government, ready to serve in the death squads committing war crimes around the clock? Are Israeli universities willing to call for an end to the occupation? Are they going to cut their organic and deep-rooted ties with the military-security establishment? There is no doubt that the aggression against the Gaza Strip has reached horrendous proportions, described by many international public figures as constituting war crimes and a continuation of the ethnic cleansing unleashed sixty years ago.

We urge academics around the world to intensify their boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and to isolate the Israeli academy in international forums, associations of academics, and other international venues. Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the entrenched system of oppression practiced by the Israeli state, and their silence at this critical moment is only the most vociferous indicator of this complicity.

Dr. Amjad Barham, president PFUUPE

* http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/235

Prominent South Africans condemn the Gaza massacre

By the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)

December 27, 2008 -- A number of prominent South Africans have condemned the brutal attacks currently being perpetrated by the Israeli army in Gaza. Among those who have voiced their condemnation are Eddie Makue, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches; former government minister Ronnie Kasrils; Congress of South African Trade Unions spokesperson Patrick Craven; and University of Johannesburg academic Professor Steven Friedman.

This morning witnessed a massive escalation of the brutal Israeli campaign of bombardment and starvation against the population of Occupied Gaza, resulting in a massacre in the most densely populated area in the world. Thus far, more than 200 Palestinians -- many of them civilians -- have been murdered as a result of missiles fired by Israeli F16 fighter jets, and hundreds more have been injured. Television footage has shown scores of dead and injured schoolchildren.

The attacks constitute violations of international law, with Israel imposing collective punishment on a civilian population and violating numerous rights of a people living under occupation.

This campaign comes at the end of 18 months of a severe siege of Gaza imposed by Israel, in terms of which even medication and food was not allowed to enter Gaza. People were not allowed to leave the territory -- even if they sought medical treatment.

Professor Steven Friedman said the actions of the Israeli army cannot be called ``war crimes''. ``There is no war'', he said, ``but a brutal massacre. These are crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the fourth largest army in the world.''

Ronnie Kasrils said he stood by his statement that Israeli security forces were ``babykillers''. Today's attacks and the siege against Gaza, he said, were proof of Israel's ``genocidal intentions''. He further condemned the ``complicity and silence of the West'' throughout the period of the ``slow murder of the people of Gaza''.

COSATU spokesperson, Patrick Craven, said Israel's campaign was ``criminal''. Civilians, he said, were ``bearing the brunt of the shootings and bombings''.

The past six months has seen a truce between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza. In that period, Israel repeatedly violated the truce. Now that the truce has ended, Israel has seen its way clear to turn Gaza, which has been an open-air prison, into a wasteland.

The South African Council of Churches general secretary, Eddie Makue, called on the South African government to take a strong stand against Israel. The same sentiment was expressed by Craven who called on the government to sever all diplomatic ties with Israel and institute sanctions against it.

We call on all our people to oppose the perpetration of these war crimes by Israel. Furthermore, we call on the South African government immediately to withdraw our ambassador from Israel, to end all diplomatic relations with Israel, and to impose sanctions on Israel. Our government cannot pretend that this is a war between equal sides. There is no balance in this situation. There can be no moral equivalence between the fourth most powerful army in the world (whose armaments include nuclear weapons) and an occupied people fighting for their survival to prevent a complete genocide against them.

Israel seems intent to mark the end of its 60th year of existence the same way it has established itself -- perpetrating massacres against the Palestinian people.The barbarism of these attacks, and the impunity with which Israel continues to violate international law should also be placed on the agenda. Just as Apartheid South Africa was kicked out of the United Nations for its gross violations of human rights and for its perpetration of a system which was a crime against humanity, so too should Israel be excluded from the UN for its repeated refusal to adhere to international law and UN resolutions and for its perpetration of a system of apartheid.

For more information, call:

Gaza: Professor Haidar Eid - +972 59 944 1766; Dr Eyad Sarraj - +972 599400424; Ewa Jasiewicz - +972 59 8700497

South Africa: Eddie Makue, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches - +82 853 8781; Ronnie Kasrils - +82 784 9236; Professor Steven Friedman - +72 480 6483; Salim Vally - +082 802 5936; Na'eem Jeenah - +84 574 2674;Natasha - +82 660 0723; Melissa Hoole - +73 906 0017

COSATU condemns Israeli assault on Gaza

The Congress of South African Trade Unions vehemently condemns today's murderous Israeli attack on the people of Palestine, when Israeli warplanes and combat helicopters killed at least 155 people and wounded around 200 more in Gaza. It is reported that in Gaza City the dead and wounded lay scattered on the ground after more than 30 airstrikes destroyed several security compounds, including two where Hamas was hosting graduation ceremonies for new recruits.

Today's death toll is even worse than on the five-day Israeli offensive in March, which killed more than 120 people. It is the highest loss of life in a single day in more than 20 years. And yet the Israeli government says that today's attack is "just the beginning" of their offensive against the people of Gaza!

Among the dead, according to medical workers' reports, are police chief, Tawfiq Jabber, the head of Hamas's security and protection unit, and the governor of central Gaza. Contrary to the Israeli claim that it had only targeted "terrorist infrastructure", TV footage clearly shows wounded children being carried to hospital. Yet again civilians are bearing the brunt of the bombings and shootings.

COSATU endorses the view of Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, that this Israeli air campaign was "criminal" and backs his call for the international community to intervene.

The federation reaffirms more strongly than ever its demand that Israel must immediately withdraw all occupation forces from Gaza and end the occupation of all Palestinian land. It must abide by international human rights law, and refrain from imposing collective punishment on Palestinian civilians (as per the UN Human Rights Council declaration issued on July 6, 2006), which it has blatantly contravened today.

All workers and freedom-loving people of South Africa and the world should intensify the boycott of Israeli goods. COSATU reiterates its call for the government of South Africa to break diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it until it ends its 40 years of military occupation of Palestine and recognise the people's right to sovereignty and self-determination.

Patrick Craven (national spokesperson), Congress of South African Trade Unions

Israeli attacks on Gaza's population must stop!

By Left Party (Sweden)

December 28, 2008 -- It is with great dismay and sadness, that we are seeing how Israel abuses the already hard-hit population of Gaza continues. The casualities are rising as the Israeli bombardments continue. Hospitals are filled with wounded and dying people, hospitals who lack access to medicines and equipment due to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

``We are running out of words in order to accurately describe the hell that the Gaza residents endure'', says Lars Ohly, chair of the Left Party. Israeli attacks on densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip are unjustified and in clear and serious violation of the very foundations of international law and the law of wars. It is the duty of the entire world, including Sweden, to act forcefully.

The Left Party demands that Israel immediately ceases its attacks on Gaza and the border crossings are opened, so that the population of Gaza can have access to medicines and food. Sweden must clearly put pressure on Israel to respect international law and human rights.

``The time for verbal condemnation is over, Israel's clear violations of human rights and international law must now bear consequences. Sweden must act immediately within the EU to break the existing free trade agreement between the European Union and Israel, and freeze the negotiations on deepening cooperation between the EU and Israel. Now it is high time to stop rewarding the Israeli occupation and aggression'', said Hans Linde, foreign policy spokesperson for the Left Party.

From http://www.vansterpartiet.se/content/view/1940/275/

LALIT strongly condemns Israel aggression against Palestinians

To

Hon. Navin Ramgoolam

Prime Minister

Republic of Mauritius

December 29, 2008


Dear Sir,

We write to you as Prime Minister in view of the brutal air strikes by the Israeli army against Gaza, which according to the Red Cross have caused 300 deaths, most of them civilians, and 950 wounded amongst the Palestinians since last Saturday.

LALIT strongly condemns this military aggression by the Israeli army against the Palestinians living inside the Gaza Strip. It is both disproportionate and indiscriminate. We are particularly concerned about the fate of the 1.5 million ``imprisoned'' Palestinians of Gaza living under the murderous siege imposed by the Israeli government since June 2007 and suffering the effects of economic sanctions that are backed by the US and its European allies.

This siege and the economic sanctions are together responsible for denying Palestinians access to medical treatment and causing shortages of food, fuel and electricity to Palestinians. Together they constitute a grave act of collective punishment. The current international economic blocade against Palestine has resulted in a spiralling humanitarian disaster, with the spread of disease, malnutrition and chaos in both the West Bank and Gaza. This new military attack by Israel is further aggravating the situation of the Palestinian people.

The illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestine is, in fact, benefiting the Israeli economy. Israel is making enormous financial gains from its control of all essential services for the Occupied Territories, including water, electricity and telephone services. Some 10 % of Israel’s income (or 46.651 new Israel shekels) is generated each year by the occupation of Palestine. It is the Israeli military industrial complex that has been the primary beneficiary. It is using the occupied territories for ‘field trials’ for new weapons systems.

In 2004 the export of this weaponry was worth US$4.5 billion, or around 10% of the total military expenditure in the world according to Shiv Hever and the Israeli-Palestine Alternative Information Centre (AIC). Companies like Caterpillar, Volvo, Daewoo are also making huge profits from the occupation, all three are supplying equipment to Israel, specially to the military. The D9 armoured bulldozers, supplied by Caterpillar are often used for the demolition of Palestinians’ houses. Since 2000, according to the UN, more than 4500 Palestinian homes have been demolished. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolition estimates that Israel has demolished more than 12,000 Palestinian homes since 1967.

The ``security barrier'' or Apartheid Wall that Israel is building is also making profits for Israeli and foreign companies. The wall is in fact designed to steal Palestine’s natural resources (such as water and land). The ``seamline'' zone between the 1967 Green Line and the Apartheid Wall is now being used by Israeli capitalists to super-exploit Palestinian workers who are forced to work as cheap labour in this “free” zone, a zone where companies do not have to abide by Israeli labour or environmental laws.

The continued military attacks and war waged by Israel on Palestine are motivated by the economic interests and political agenda of the capitalist business class of Israel, US and Europe and their respective States.

Through this letter we would like to re-iterate the call that LALIT and former President Cassam Uteem made to your government in a letter in November 2006. We therefore call again on your government

(i) to freeze its diplomatic relations with Israel,

(ii) to call for an arms embargo on Israel, and

(iii) to initiate a boycott of Israeli products.

Your government should simultaneously use its influence in regional and international forums to take the initiative to prepare a collective statement demanding an immediate stop of Israel military action in Gaza and to follow suit in the three actions above. All must be done to force the present Israeli regime to act according to international law and to put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people. The 40 years of illegal occupation and 60 years of colonisation of Palestine are reminiscent of the violence of colonisation in past centuries, now universally condemned as having been totally unacceptable plunder often bordering on genocide. It must stop.

LALIT also expressed its total solidarity with the people of Palestine, in particular with the inhabitants of Gaza, who are facing another harsh and disastrous end of the year. We are actively supporting groups in Palestine and in Israel engaged in resistance actions against military occupation and colonisation.

Yours sincerely,

Alain Ah-Vee

For Lalit

Copy to: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Cassam Uteem, Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Press.

 

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