compiled by Cem Ertür
27 December 2008
Gaza Emergency Protest – Sunday 28 December 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm and Monday 29 December 4.00pm 6.00pm
You may already have seen the carnage being carried out, Guernica style on Gaza, on the pretext of Palestinian rockets being fired on southern Israel.
Yet it was Israel that violated the Gaza ceasefire back in early November, killing six Palestinians and wounding four. These killings are part of Israel¹s ongoing campaign of collective punishment against the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip, which Israel has put under siege since June 2007.
This is precisely Israel’s historic tactic of provoking the Palestinians with assassinations and killings, right through declared ceasefires, and when there is a response, blaming the escalation on, as in this case, Hamas, who are acting in justified self-defence as an occupied people, under international law.The Geneva Convention bans military action that harms civilians, in this case an inevitability since the infrastructure attacked is in the heart of dense city centres, using deadlly F16s, and heavy war machinery against a defenceless population that has been crippled by a strangulating three year siege.This is basically a one-sided war.
The huge casualty toll, including many civilians and children, also includes a terribly damaging destruction of civilian infrastructure, including all police stations and security compounds, that were not Hamas rocket bases but necessary to hold civilian life together.
Please try and support these protests. Also please write to your MPs, the Foreign Secretary Bill Rammell, and the Prime Minister, using the above, urging the UK and the Quartet to put pressure on Israel to end the siege and deadly attacks on Gaza, to implement international law, and to bring all Palestinians into the negotiations including the democratically elected Hamas government.
Sunday 28 December 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm and Monday 29 December 4.00pm 6.00pm
Both protests opposite Israeli Embassy – Kensington High Street
Nearest tube: High Street Kensington
Protests organised by PSC, Palestine Return Centre (PRC), Palestinian Forum of Britain (PFB), British Muslim Initiative (BMI), Stop the War, Friends of al Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), Respect, Islamic Human Rights Commission.
The Alternative Information Center (AIC) condemns today¹s deadly attack by the Israeli Air Force on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the killing of (at this moment) over 200 Palestinians, with hundreds more injured. The AIC calls on social movements throughout the world to mobilize 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 Israel¹s election process.
Israel¹s military attack on the Gaza Strip is not, as Israel is attempting to claim today, retaliation against Gazan resistance to the Israeli occupation and ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip, but part of a publicly admitted political goal of eliminating the Hamas government in Gaza. Israel is exploiting the last moments of the Bush administration to implement the deadly but ineffective neoconservative policies of utilizing military force to effect political change.
Demonstrations against the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip are planned for the major cities of the West Bank, and a joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstration will be conducted tonight in Tel Aviv.
BACKGROUND TO THE GAZA SIEGE AND EMERGENCY
Written by Bryan Atinsky and Connie Hackbarth
Alternative Information Center (AIC)
Thursday, 25 December 2008
The Israel military is currently preparing a detailed plan of assault on the Gaza Strip, with Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi stating that Israel ³must use its full force to damage the terror infrastructures and create a different security situation.²
The Israeli military and government see a small window of opportunity and are likely to use it. Christmas has passed, and therefore the end of the big tourist season; the US elections are over; President Bush is on his way out and President-Elect Obama has not yet taken over control; and while the Israeli election cycle is in full swing, an attack on Gaza seems about the only thing all major parties agree on. Even the Zionist-Left party Meretz publicly stated today that ³The time has come to act without compromise and without narrow political considerations to protect the residents of Gaza-area communities and Sderot. [Š] Strike Hamas in a targeted manner and ork for a new cease-fire.²
Yet, while Israeli politicians and generals are largely of one mind in support of a large scale military operation in Gaza, the same is not true for the Israeli citizenry. Today, Haaretz published the results of a poll it commissioned, which reveal that ³46 percent of Israelis said they do not support a massive Israel Defense Forces invasion into the Gaza Strip, with 40 percent saying they would favor such an operation.² Public opinion, however, has little effect on government policy or proclamations of wide popular support for its actions. For instance, polls in Israel have long shown majority support for dialogue with Hamas, but not only has the Israeli government rejected any dialogue, but it commonly argues that it would be antithetical to the desires of the Israeli people.
In recent weeks Israeli officials have been busy meeting with governments around the world, in an attempt to obtain international approval for actions against Hamas. This time around, they are reported to have even received tacit approval from the Egyptian government, which may be open to a little payback for what they see as the arrogance of Hamas in rejecting Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah.
The London-based newspaper, al-Quds al-Arabi reported on 24 December that the Egyptian government rejected an Israeli request that it use its influence to attempt and persuade Hamas to renew its truce with Israel. On the contrary, Egyptian Intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, reportedly told Israel that Egypt had no objection to an Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip aimed at removing the Hamas government.
While Israel claims to desire quiet on the Gaza front, it was Israel that violated the Gaza ceasefire back in early November, killing six Palestinians and wounding four. These killings are part of Israel¹s ongoing campaign of collective punishment against the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip, which Israel has put under siege since June 2007. Israel hermetically closes the Gaza borders to the free passage of people and essential goods, resulting in a critical humanitarian situation in which dependency on food assistance is at an all-time high, fuel shortages have disrupted regular running water and electricity, and hospitals are short on life-saving medicines. Mass casualties are prevented solely through the humanitarian assistance of the international community.
While the Israeli government has repeatedly professed the intransigence of Hamas, acting as if there is no reasonable way out of the situation except through military action, a Hamas spokesperson stated on 23 December that they would consider a renewal of the ceasefire if Israel would guarantee that border crossings will remain open for supplies of aid and fuel, and halt incursions.
The Israeli government has backed itself into a corner and potentially faces a lose-lose political and military situation. Israel¹s goal of toppling the Hamas government, most recently promoted by Prime Minister Olmert in a direct appeal to Gaza residents to reject their rulers, cannot be realized through the siege or limited military actions. However, Israel has escalated its internal and external public rhetoric such that doing ³nothing² in the wake of resistance to the siege is not possible. Yet any substantial Israeli military assault on Gaza would result in a high number of Palestinian causalities, along with a heavy increase in the number of rockets launched from Gaza into Israeli populated areas and the likely death of numerous Israeli soldiers.
And what would be Israel¹s stated goal of such military actions? Although the Israeli public would support a toppling of the Hamas government, this would be impossible without a massive Israeli invasion and permanent deployment of troops inside the Gaza Strip, a price the Israeli public is unwilling to pay. Any other military action would result in casualities but not the end of Palestinian resistance to the occupation of Gaza. Moreover, Palestinian resistance to such an assault would also not be limited to the Gaza Strip, as public protests would occur throughout the West Bank and perhaps even East Jerusalem. Moreover, large-scale Israeli action against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has the potential to spiral beyond the borders and spark violence to the north between Israel and the Hezbollah in Lebanon.
However, could it be that Israeli electoral considerations will delay a military assault on the Gaza Strip? Could memories of Israel¹s 2006 war against Lebanon, considered today by a majority of the Israeli public as an unnecessary and unrealistic campaign that weakened Israel¹s deterrence power and resulted in unnecessary Israeli causalities, discourage the hawkish, but struggling in the polls (Labor) Defense Minister Barak, from ordering an attack? On the other hand, could the Israeli military and government see the launching of a large scale offensive in Gaza as a potential way to cure the Israeli public of its ³Lebanon Syndrome,² making an attack more likely?
In light of this situation, the international community must act immediately to protect the residents of Gaza and prevent a dangerous escalation in regional violence. Israel must be held accountable for its ongoing occupation of the Gaza Strip, and parties to the Fourth Geneva Conventions must meet their own international obligations to protect the Palestinian people.