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Talking points and background on Israel's murderous assault on Gaza

Melbourne, December 30, 2008. Photo by by Margarita Windisch

By the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Canada) and the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)

December 31, 2008

  • Gaza is the world's largest open-air prison. 1.5 million residents are packed into an area 45 kilometres long x 10 kilometres wide, while Israel controls Gaza's air space and borders. Over 80% of the population are refugees denied their legal Right to Return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled in 1948. Israel also illegally restricts Palestinian freedom of movement into and out of Gaza.  For example, in August 2008, Israel denied three Gazan Fulbright Scholars their basic right to education by having their US entry visas revoked.
  • Gaza has been under complete siege since June 2007, during which time the 1.5 million people of Gaza have been cut off from sufficient fuel, food and medicine. Two weeks ago, the UN reported that Gazans were living without power for up to 16 hours each day; half of Gaza's population was receiving water only once a week for a few hours; 80% of the water in Gaza did not meet World Health Organization standards for drinking; the unemployment rate had risen to almost 50%; only 23 of 3900 industrial enterprises were operational; more than 79% were living below the poverty line; more than 56% were food insecure; and patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer or diabetes could not be adequately treated or cared for.  (See http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_gaza_situation_report_2008_12_17_english.pdf )
  • Since 2001, fewer than 20 Israelis have been killed by Qassam rockets [fired from outside by guerillas]. In three days, nearly 400 Gazans have been killed by Israeli state violence. This is a ratio of 20 Gazan lives for each Israeli life, with the death toll in Gaza certain to increase. In January 2008, UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard stated, "a distinction must be drawn between acts of mindless terror, such as acts committed by Al Qaeda, and acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation. While such acts cannot be justified, they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation." Israeli government and Palestinian violence can in no way be viewed as symmetrical -- individual Palestinians have chosen to resist their occupiers with largely inneffective home-made rockets, while the Israeli state, which boasts the fourth most powerful military in the world, has responded by collectively punishing the captive population that it illegally occupies. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, collective punishment is a war crime. As the occupier, the burden is on Israel to end its state violence.
  • Israel is an apartheid state. South Africa [and other states] must sever diplomatic ties with Israel and implement sanctions against it until Israel complies with international law. UN General Assembly President Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann recently called for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, similar to the one that ended apartheid in South Africa.
[Thanks to Salim Vally from the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa).]

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