Warwick Palestine Society
The massacre of over 1500 Palestinians in the Gaza invasion in December 2008 signified a major turning point for many regarding the conflict. Some argue it was a tactically timed attack by Israel; just prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration as US President, of whom no doubt would (and has) have been more hostile towards Israeli policy in the region, in comparison to the previous Bush administration. Even the most sanguine of commentators were relegated to criticism of Israel: the bombing of UN schools; the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians (both women and children); the use of white phosphorous shells (an illegal weapon under international law); and the calculated obliteration of Gazan infrastructure (schools, hospitals, government buildings, educational institutions) goes far in suggesting that there was a wider, more menacing agenda behind the “official” Operation Cast Lead. Indeed, the Israeli government defiantly argued that the operation was necessary in order to stamp out sporadic, resistant rocket attacks alleged to have come from the democratically elected government of Gaza, Hamas. Yet what many fail to recognise is that this brutal attack was, by and large unprovoked; it was Israel who broke the mutually agreed ceasefire in November 2008, not Hamas. This fuels further suspicion behind the motives of Operation Cast Lead.
The United Nations' Goldstone Report – the most credible report post the invasion - conducted by Richard Goldstone, a South African born Jewish judge, concluded that the Israeli Defense Force was guilty of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. He responded to Israeli criticism of the report in May 2010 by saying that: "As Israel refused to co-operate, we had to do the best we could with the information we were able to gather. I only wish that the energy that the government of Israel and its supporters had put into discrediting the report had been invested in cooperating with our mission”.
Since the invasion of Gaza, a military blockade remains imposed on the strip, where crucial building supplies, medical aid and most foodstuffs are severely restricted from being allowed in. Human rights groups among others have voiced considerable concern over the deteriorating situation, none more so than US Vice-President Hilary Clinton, who described the situation in Gaza in June 2010 as “unsustainable and unacceptable”. The freedom of movement under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the right to education under Article 26, are just some of the many human rights being violated in the strip.
As pioneers of justice, equality and freedom, it is imperative upon us in the West to make a stand for Palestinians’ human rights, as it is these very rights which are rooted in the fabric of our society. The illegal occupation, as dictated by international law in the West Bank, along with the expansionist settler movement colonising Palestinian land, must end. The blockade imposed on Gaza violating basic human rights, must end. The silence and double standards of the West towards the abhorrent actions of Israel, must end. Palestinians must be afforded the integrity and dignity that all human beings deserve. The menacing nature of Israel’s policies are beginning to seep through amidst the suffocating swamp of pro-Zionist propaganda.
Let us just hope that policy-makers and pioneers of justice wake from their slumber and act soon, ensuring that justice is well and truly brought to the Palestinians.