27 Jan 2009

Gaza: an act of state sadism? Petition BBC over their appeal

There are few who could have avoided the fact that the BBC is refusing to show a charitable appeal for humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza - their suffering is too "politically contentious" apparently.

Photo: Ruscombe valley trees

The violence of Israel's 22-day attack on Gaza killing over 1,300 people and wounding 4,200 has appeared to many to be 'an act of state sadism'. Israeli forces repeatedly bombed schools (including UN schools), medical centres, hospitals, ambulances, UN buildings, power plants, sewage plants, roads, bridges and civilian homes. The recent vigils in Stroud have seen 200 plus people protesting (see photos of first vigil here) and across the country many thousands more have also protested.

It is also now confirmed that the Israeli army used white phosphorus incendiary weapons (see earlier blog here) - designed to burst over a wide area and burn to the bone - against civilian targets, including hospitals and UN buildings. The use of these weapons against civilians is a war crime.

It is surely not taking sides to give food, shelter and medicine to the civilian victims of conflict? Indeed 13 of the world's most respected charities including the Red Cross, Save the Children and the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) have an exceptional record of helping such victims impartially. Avaaz have launched a petition to the BBC and while I had to change the wording on my email I still sent it off:

One of my gripes with the wording is that I don't believe the BBC and indeed other press has been impartial - for example the Israeli ambassador in the UK has received 2,000% more press coverage than his Palestinian counterpart - see full story here.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP has called the BBC's decision 'disgraceful' and written calling for an inquiry. "It is not for the BBC to tell these professional aid agencies how to do their jobs," she said. "Everyone knows the situation in Gaza is dangerous and that the cease-fire is extremely fragile."

As noted before the crisis in Gaza has again highlighted the UK's complicity in arming Israel. Some weaponry is supplied directly - military equipment valued at £24 million in the first two quarters of 2008 was licensed for export from the UK. However, UK arms are also supplied via the US as components and subsystems of weaponry such as F-16 aircraft and Apache helicopters. More information about UK arms sales to Israel is available on the CAAT website:

From there, you can link through to the Stop Arming Israel site, which is a collaboration between several organisations including CAAT, War on Want and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The CAAT website also links to a petition on the No10 website calling on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to impose an arms embargo.

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