17 Jan 2009

Gaza: this must stop

I got up too early this morning to go through some planning stuff and have several other things that have cropped up so not sure if I'll make vigil this morning - do hope I can - we want to make it bigger than ever - 11.30 to 12.30 in Stroud High Street.

Photo: from SNJ re last week's Vigil - can you make me out - the hat was a Christmas present and v much needed that day.

I have to say I have been shocked by the news reports like the Israeli attack on the headquarters of the UN's relief agency in Gaza City- this shows a complete disregard for international peace efforts – and for Palestinian human rights. Caroline Lucas, Green MEP said of the attack: “In attacking the building of a UN agency providing desperately needed aid to the beleaguered civilians of Gaza, Israel has shown yet again that its brutal shelling of Gaza is relentless, indiscriminate and indifferent to international condemnation... Since launching its offensive on the Gaza Strip, Israel has hampered access for aid agencies and international journalists, thus severely hindering humanitarian efforts and preventing the media from witnessing events on the ground. This attack on the UNRWA building proves that no one is safe from the determined bombardment by Israeli forces. The United States must urgently take heed of international protest against the continued violence meted out by the Israeli government, and call on Israel to halt their attacks and lift the blockade on Gaza, while Hamas must also end the rocket attacks on Israel immediately. Only then can a sustainable peace process begin. As Nelson Mandela stated, ‘Only free men can negotiate’.”

For the first 18 days the Israeli Government has justified to the world that their decision to unleash a massive military campaign against the people of Gaza was as a direct result of Hamas’ breach of the ceasefire brokered by the Egyptian Government. Hamas has always stated that between June 2008 and November 2008 they did not fire a single rocket into Israel. In a recent interview given to Channel 4 News, the Israeli Government’s official spokesman Mark Ragev finally admitted that Hamas did not break the ceasefire. So by their own admission the Israeli Government broke the terms of the ceasefire first and in doing so have killed 1100 people (350 of them children) and injured over 5500. Plus, as Stop the War note, 13 of their own people have also died (four of whom were civilians and four of whom were Israeli soldiers killed by their own army).

Here are some links sent to me over the last week - Chomsky is always worth a listen:
- An excellent piece - a one hour recording - download and hear Noam Chomsky on the present crisis in Gaza:
- Why Hamas is not the issue by Elaine C. Hagopian:
- Seeing through the lies by Norman Finkelstein:

The United Nations, the Red Cross, Amnesty International and numerous human rights organisations have all indicated that Israel's actions in Gaza may constitute international war
crimes. There is a widespread call among legal authorities in this country and abroad for the case to be tried in an international court. UN representative Richard Falk says, "The tactics being used by Israel are serious violations of the UN charter, the Geneva conventions, international law and international humanitarian law." A group of prominent lawyers in this country have published a letter which says, "The blockade of humanitarian relief, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and preventing access to basic necessities such as food and fuel are prima facie war crimes."

In Parliament Gerald Kaufman asked foreign secretary David Miliband in the House of Commons this week, "Is it not an incontrovertible fact that Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass-murderers and war criminals", Miliband replied that "Israel is rightly seen as a beacon of democracy throughout the world."

Stop the War comment: "If any other country in the world, "democracy"or not, had unleashed an onslaught of such devastating ferocity against 1.5 million defenceless people caged in the most densely populated area on earth, the British government, along with governments across the world, would be expelling its ambassador (as Venezuela has done), stopping arms sales to that country (as Greece has done) and making plans for a wider embargo if the carnage did not stop."

On the diplomatic front, the latest is that the US with Obama's agreement and Israel signed an agreement that in the event of a 'ceasefire', the US will ensure that Hamas (the elected governing party of the victims) is completely disarmed. Meanwhile the US will keep the aggressor fully equipped with fighter planes, vessels of war, tanks and no doubt parts for its nuclear weapons. This does seem odd indeed!!

I read that Chris Coverdale from Lawyers Against War, and former MI5 officer and whistleblower, Annie Machon, are touring as part of the Make War History tour with events in 12 UK cities including Bristol before widening the tour across Europe. I heard that Chris Coverdale spoke at one of these events already about the illegality of all wars in the modern era - including Iraq and Gaza. He argued that since 1928 and the Kellogg-Briand Pact making war-making has been completely illegal. He explained what war law is and what the different crimes are: genocide, crimes against humanity, etc. And also by looking at how we are - by practically supporting our government through taxes etc - are therefore also complicit by aiding and abetting how war crimes being committed. He argues we have a duty to stop any payment of taxes, fees, fines, etc, until they are shown (in court) to be of no help to government in making war. He has paid no taxes for ten years. He aims to build a campaign of complete "civil obedience" to the law, perhaps the most important laws in world history. Locally Roger Franklin is the best known witholder of war taxes - see here.

Anyway I want to write much more but have to dash - Stop the War have a petition available online for downloading. War on Want have an email letter calling on the Foreign Secretary for sanctions - see here. And click here for all posts re Gaza which include other petitions.

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