UPDATE – JULY 19, 2017
Over 3000 individuals and 60 associations and networks from across the world have come together to call for an end to Israel’s policies which are leading to the slow extermination of a population already affected by several military attacks in the Gaza Strip. The campaign, “Gaza alive is life for Palestine“, has received support from Professor Noam Chomsky, Ann Wright, former US Army colonel and peace activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire and former Vice President of European Parliament Luisa Morgantini amongst others. See Middle East Monitor
Gaza alive is life for Palestine
With the life of people in Gaza seriously endangered, it is the duty of the people of the world, of associations, groups and religious denominations to take responsibility and act. We need to take action to ensure this slow genocide finds its place on the international agenda.
First and foremost, our sights must be on the siege, imposed by the Israeli authorities and actively supported by the Egyptian government. Culpability is also shared by those of their allies who, actively or passively, persist in colluding to deprive Gaza’s people of human rights, essential supplies, medicines, sewage treatment, drinkable water, energy and freedom of movement.
This is not a natural catastrophe, but a man-made one.
Gaza’s slow strangulation highlights not only the sacrifice of the civilians there, but also what hopes may be left for autonomy, freedom and the survival of Palestine.
To those who ask, “Who profits from Gaza staying alive?” the answers are obvious: two million human beings living in Gaza and three million human beings living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Gaza has been under siege for 10 years now. The 2014 ceasefire agreement between the Gaza Government and factions and the Israeli government included negotiations to open its land borders and provide a seaport, thus providing some relief from the siege.
Over the following three years, with some rare exceptions carried out by rogue actors, Gaza has honored its side of the deal. This has not been the case with the Israelis: low intensity attacks from land, sea and air have been an almost-daily occurrence, and have killed at least 30 Gazans, including fishermen. Rather than enforce the agreement brokered by them, the Egyptian authorities have tightened the siege and increased the suffering by bombing and flooding tunnels, and implementing an almost total closure of Rafah Crossing; the only alternative transit point for people, food, medicines and many other civilian supplies not permitted entry by Israe l-not even after the elaborate agreements reached with the UN for the entry of construction materials to rebuild the thousands of destroyed homes these have been respected by Israel.
Hundreds of deaths have already resulted from a lack of medicines, treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and of instruments for diagnostics and care, and more will inevitably result from environmental contamination, poverty and subsequent poor nutrition of the most fragile sectors of the population- especially children. The electricity, fuel, sewage and water situations have become unbearable and untenable, impacting severely on public health. The collapse of productive and commercial activities has resulted in an unemployment rate of over 40% and a consequent sense of despair among the population, affecting mostly the youth.
The currently silent European Union has failed to maintain even its pre-existing commitments. Most obvious is its failure to keep the Rafah border open under the still-active EUBAM mechanism. Similarly, it has abandoned an approved project for a Gaza seaport. Both of these were contained in the 2014 agreements for the cessation of hostilities.
The UN has failed to implement its many Resolutions.
We have been urged to act also by the most recent calls of the PHROC (Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council), Physicians for Human Rights and by the condemnation expressed by Gisha (Israeli Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories) and the many others now being issued to build up an international campaign for Gaza that presents not only emergency requests, but a list of structural needs to be satisfied.
The list of the interventions is long – because inaction has persisted even longer and it will just keep mounting until change occurs. The time to act and provide what is so urgently needed is short.
The right to health, and to life, can only be guaranteed by a fully-functioning health system, by the provision of essential infrastructure and by a functioning economy. These should be provided by the authorities enforcing the siege. With no firm deadlines or sanctions in place, the international humanitarian laws requiring the occupying entity to provide to the needs of the occupied population have been disregarded and violated for too long. Time has now run out.
In the establishment of an integrated plan for the provision of tools, to accompany the first step in exercising international pressure on the Israeli authorities to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations under international law, it will be necessary to be ready to directly meet the Palestinian people’s essential needs and to do so within a framework that is independent of the parties denying these needs and upholding the siege.
So, we ask the international community of States, the European Union and the UN to act immediately and on a long-term plan of action. There are already frozen funds and approved projects that could accommodate many of the following requests:
– Immediate and stable supply of medicines, medical surgical devices, instruments and their parts, to restore very rapidly the deficits in provision of health services, and grant their maintenance.
– Immediate provision of a stable supply line of fuel to generate energy and of new energy cables to cover needs during construction of a second power plant in Gaza.
– Immediate, stabilized 24/7 opening of the Rafah border by EUBAM.
– Construction of a desalination plant of the size needed to provide drinking water for the whole community.
– Construction of the promised sea port while temporarily ensuring the activation of a small passenger and small items vessel service between Gaza and Cyprus.
– Provision of solar energy plants for all hospital structures serving more than 500 patients/month and for advanced specialist care departments regardless of the number of patients treated, and, in the interim, temporary provision of fuel to cover the requirements of existing generators.
– Delivery of cement and other items needed for housing reconstruction as already ascertained by the UN and UNRWA.
– Reconstruction of the destroyed sewage system and its expansion to meet the population’s needs.
– Establishing and building rubbish recycling and disposal services and plants.
– Granting independent access to satellite and telephone communications.
– Granting the possibility to produce and use local products for trade abroad and to purchase consumer goods from the free market.
If any of the above requests are met, work will restart and the education sector will also see improvements, the circulation of money and goods will make a return in Gaza, and young people may once more have a future to look forward to.
The slow genocide being imposed on the people of Gaza can no longer be accepted. A free Gaza represents the only healthy leverage in the forging of a democratic process in Palestine and its self determination.
Thus is the only realistic step on the road to peace. Act now!
Call started on July 1, 2017 by
Appello per i Bambini di Gaza, Genova, Italia
Cultura e Libertà, una campagna per la Palestina, Italia
NWRG, onlus, Italia