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Jan 11, 2007 at 01:02 AM

Gaza pamphlet imageWe condemn Israel’s assault against the population of the Gaza Strip, and call on the Government of Canada to take a strong position in support of human rights and international law and against collective punishment, ethnic cleansing and state terrorism.

The situation in Gaza is critical: inadequate water, electricity, and medicine; widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment; schools and other services rendered inoperative; constant bombardments and attacks by the Israeli military. If this siege continues, more spreading disease, malnutrition, and violence are inevitable....

The situation in Gaza is critical: inadequate water, electricity, and medicine; widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment; schools and other services rendered inoperative; constant bombardments and attacks by the Israeli military. If this siege continues, more spreading disease, malnutrition, and violence are inevitable.

Over the past few months the Israeli army’s actions – cynically named in the summer months “Operation Summer Rain” and now bearing the title “Operation Autumn Clouds” – have brought unbearable persecution to the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, including the killing of many women, children and other civilians.

During the four months ending November 8th, 335 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, including 30 women and 85 youth under 17 years old. Israeli media stated that only 130 of those killed were armed. Therefore, in less than half a year more than 250 civilians were killed by the Israeli army in Gaza, not to mention hundreds more wounded and maimed. Between November 8 and 14, 47 more people in Beit Hanoun were killed. Many men between the age of 16 and 45 were arrested and taken away. Two women were killed protesting in front of a mosque that was later destroyed, and 19 women, children and men were killed by Israeli artillery while sleeping in their home.

Meanwhile, to Canada’s shame, our government remains prominent among those who continue to strangle the Palestinian economy by withholding vital aid to the Palestinian Authority, because Palestinians elected a Hamas majority early this year. Palestinian public workers – teachers, hospital workers, engineers – have been without pay for eight months, devastating the economy and leaving the PA unable to maintain the infrastructure vital for the well being of its people. This amounts to collective punishment of Palestinians for the crime of exercising their democratic franchise. Israeli authorities have abducted and imprisoned dozens of Palestinian elected representatives, without a murmur of protest from the government of Canada.

We call on the government of Canada to:

  • Recognize the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people, end sanctions and restore Canada’s foreign aid funding to the Palestinian Authority.
  • Issue a clear call demanding that Israel end the siege on Gaza and its war against the civilian population of Gaza, withdraw its armed forces from the Strip, restore the tax revenues it has illegally withheld from the Palestinian government, end the occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, and enter into negotiations with the legitimately elected representatives of the Palestinian people.
  • Refuse visas to Israeli officials for travel in Canada unless and until Israel releases all Palestinian elected representatives and allows them to conduct their duties unmolested.
  • Send a multi-party delegation of Canadian parliamentarians to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories, observe the situation for themselves and report back.

This statement endorsed by CanPalNet, Jews for a Just Peace, the Palestine Community Centre of BC, StopWar.ca, the Canada Palestine Association and the Trade Union Committee for Justice in the Middle East.

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In Rachel Corrie verdict, Israel deals new blow to international law
The verdict on the 2003 killing of Rachel Corrie absolved Israel of any wrongdoing, essentially blaming the victim for her death. The trial revealed Israel’s approach to the most fundamental principles of international law, and especially to the duty to protect non-combatants.

By Jeff Halper

For those who hoped for a just verdict on the death of Rachel Corrie, the American student and ISM activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 as she was defending a Palestinian home about to be demolished, this is a sad day. Not surprising, but still sad and bitter. The judge who decided the case, Oded Gershon, absolved the army of all blame, despite massive and internally contradictory testimony to the contrary. Moreover, he essentially blamed Rachel for her own death, commenting that a “normal person” would have run away from the bulldozer rather than confront it.

Palestinians and Israel human rights activists have learned that justice cannot be obtained through the Israeli judicial system. The Haifa District Court, in which the trial was held, could not have ruled other than how the state wanted. For the past 45 years of Israeli occupation, the Supreme Court has excluded from its rulings all reference to international humanitarian law and to the Fourth Geneva Convention in particular, which protects civilians living in conflict situations and under occupation. Only Israeli law applies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – military law and orders – and the courts have restricted even that form of law by declaring that in instances of “security,” they defer to the military. As in Rachel’s case, the IDF thus has carte blanche to commit war crimes with impunity, with no fear of accountability or punishment.

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