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Gaza-Hamas Conflict

Israelis and Palestinians unite in calling for end to Gaza siege

Hazel Heyer, eTN Staff Writer  Jan 07, 2009

Last week, there had been some expressions of unity and solidarity from both camps – Arab and Jewish. Last Friday, three-joint Arab-Jewish demonstrations called for an end to the killing and the Gaza siege. A women’s demonstration against the war took place in Haifa, Junction HaGefen and Al-Jabal HaZionut. A rally in Sakhnin was organized on Saturday by the High Follow-up Committee of Arabs in Israel, followed by a solidarity march of organizations and political parties under The Coalition against the Siege on Gaza in Tel Aviv which started at Rabin Square.

As the days go by, the massive solidarity within Gaza, inside 1948 Palestine (current state of Israel), including thousands demonstrating in Tel Aviv, and over 100,000 demonstrating in Sakhnin (Palestinian citizens of Israel) gains momentum. There are massive demonstrations in the West Bank that included clashes with Israeli forces despite attempts by Palestinian police to intervene. “Just in the Bethlehem area, we have had at least two events (vigils or demonstrations) daily since the start of the blitzkrieg. [There are] massive demonstrations in the Arab world even when these demonstrations were banned, demonstrators beaten or arrested by governments beholden to fake peace treaties that do not protect rights or dignities of the people. Demonstrators demanded cutting all diplomatic and economic ties with Israel and a real unity and solidarity. Massive demonstrations in thousands of locations over the rest of the world can no longer be ignored. [There] is massive pouring of material support for Gaza, for example a campaign in Saudi Arabia collected 32 million just in the first 48 hours," said Mazin Qumsiyeh, US-based editor for the Human Rights Newsletter.

Today, the massive killing in Gaza continues to wipe out populations of Gazans. “Hundreds killed, thousands injured, air-strikes causing utter devastation. Entire families are left homeless. The siege on Gaza continues with a shortage of basic goods, medicines, and fuel, harming every resident of the Strip. Israeli civilians in the south are held captive by a government which lies to them and uses them. Destruction and death in Gaza can not provide them with security, but inevitably lead to more violence and killings. The government and the Israel Defense Forces are deliberately deaf to the rising calls for a ceasefire,” said Angela Godfrey-Goldstein of ICAHD or Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions.

Ambassador Edward L. Peck, chief of mission in Iraq and Mauritania, also ex-deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration, spent November with a delegation to the Middle East organized by the Council for the National Interest. He said: "There are a number of forces at play. One prevents reasonable, balanced information on the situation in Gaza and the West Bank getting to the US public, which is not well informed -- or very interested -- in part for that precise reason. The internationally-organized Free Gaza ship, trying to break the decades-long sea blockade, rammed by Israel last week, for example, did not receive a word of coverage in the Washington Post.”

Peck added: “Not many people know that Israel has imprisoned dozens of democratically- elected Hamas parliamentarians. They're part of what some people call a 'terrorist group,' so anything goes. And that may be the deepest level of bias. The US has a legal definition of international terrorism: Title 18, US Code, Section 2331. The list includes intimidating and coercing a civilian population, kidnapping and assassination, an accurate description of what Israel has done and is doing."

Former US senator from South Dakota, James Abourezk in describing the situation in Gaza said: "The people have no place to hide, no place to run to escape the indiscriminate bombing and killing of the civilians there. What the Israelis are doing is in complete violation of the Geneva Conventions with respect to collective punishment. The Palestinians are involuntarily paying the price for the Israeli
elections coming up in February, where the candidates are trying to show
that each is more brutal than the other.

"Hamas held itself to the truce, which was broken when the Israeli military raided in Gaza and killed six Hamas people. Hamas responded by firing homemade rockets into southern Israel, which is exactly what Barak and Livni wanted them to do. What is happening is that the Palestinian rockets are landing on homes and land that they themselves were terrorized and chased out of when Israel wanted to create a state," added Abourezk.

Israeli leaders intensified their blitzkrieg following intensive aerial “shock and awe” that killed hundreds of civilians. This was intended to subdue not only the 1.5 million impoverished and starved Palestinian but the larger human community around the world and reengineer the political map. After nine days, it is worth taking time to do some analysis in the middle of constant events (demonstrations, vigils, interviews with media), said Qumsiyeh.

“When this aggression ends (and it will), Israeli army and leaders will not emerge victorious. The political map will indeed change but not in the ways that Israeli leaders, US leaders or even some Arab leaders predicted or planned. Palestinians have an opportunity to make sure that the sparks of unity already in the air turn to a fire of unity that will change the power structure in the Middle East in a way that will really bring justice to Palestine and defeat politicos and its collaborators and benefactors but only if we recognize our mistakes as individuals and political factions (including Hamas, Fatah, PFLP, DFLP, etc),” he added.

In view of the Israeli side, Qumsiyeh conceded, “To be honest with ourselves, we must recognize that what Israel counted on materialized in a few cases: ineptness of the UN Security Council under threat of a US veto (under threat of the lobby), ineptness of the Arab league, the collaboration of many Arab governments, the apathy of large segments of the Israeli public, predicted local attempts to contain the anger in the street (from Cairo to Ramallah to Baghdad etc), and success of Israeli and its forces and well financed propaganda not only in preventing reporting from the ground in Gaza but in controlling the message in much of the supine western media. Some of these initial predictables are beginning to crack after 9 days of massacres that could not be hidden. But there were other more significant failures of the Israeli blitzkrieg... including the presence of the Internet and the failure of Israel to break all access of reporting and communication with Gaza. Millions of people are now learning firsthand what is going on.

"As Palestinians, we must also say ‘mea culpa’ and take some responsibility for the state of affairs. We, Arabs and Palestinians, have been the victims of western imperial designs and colonization for 100 years. Yes, most of our problems could be directly connected to that. But yes also, some of our leaders have been less than desirable to say it charitably... And our leaders do originate from among us so we must work on that. But we must be clear that our societal weaknesses do not justify or excuse the slaughter or ethnic cleansing of our people. In 1948, we did not have good leaders because they were all massacred and exiled in the 1936-1939 uprising but even if we did, this does not justify our dispossession…" said Qumsiyeh.

Over half the Palestinian refugees (and thus half the 530 Palestinian villages and towns) were driven out before May 14, 1948 (Israel’s founding). After that date, with far more superior in arms and manpower than any opposing force (largely haphazard formations of Arab forces that came in to stop the violence), the nascent state proceeded to expand its territory beyond what was recommended in the partition resolution of the UN general assembly. In so doing, once the ceasefire was declared instead of Palestine we had a state of Israel on 78 percent of Palestine and a collaborationist Jordanian regime occupied the 19 percent leaving a small sliver controlled by Egypt called the Gaza strip. In that strip, the refugees from over 150 towns and villages ethnically cleansed were squeezed. Israel, of course, expanded more by occupying the remainder of Palestine in 1967. With population growth, the Gaza desert ghetto became home to 1.5 million, angrily explained the Human Rights editor.

Israelis and Palestinians unite in calling for end to Gaza siege
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