The on-going humanitarian crisis in Gaza has in recent times once more reached such a level of frenzied depravity that it is too easy to become frozen in a kind of shocked paralysis. The fact that it comes amidst a persecution by the Israeli powers of the Palestinian people that has spanned many decades and the earthly lives of countless Palestinian souls, makes it seem all the more unjust and no less intensely disturbing.
Horribly stuck in a traumatic historical time warp, it is as if the crimes of past wars have achieved the ultimate victory over humanity by the perpetuation of these same crimes by their victims on other human beings.
The parallels between the terrible crime against humanity that was the genocide of the Jewish and other people by the Nazi regime, and the crimes against humanity and apparent genocide being conducted by Israel against the Palestinian people today, are so obvious that it seems redundant to even speak of them.
Yet in the face of an impotent international political system and an international community that, for the most part, remains resolutely silent in the face of such crimes, then failing to speak of these parallels (when recognising the sovereignty of all life) is a kind of treason: a betrayal not just of innocent Palestinian civilians but of humanity everywhere.
In its Resolution of 19th October 2000, the United Nations Human Rights Commission stated that it “strongly condemns the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force in violation of international law by the Israeli occupying power against Palestinian civilians.” The UNHRC further adds that “the deliberate and systematic killing of civilians and children by the Israeli occupying authorities constitutes a flagrant and grave violation of the right to life…also constitutes a crime against humanity.”
The concept of ‘crimes against humanity’ goes back to the Nuremburg Charter of 1945. The Charter specifically dealt with the trial of major Nazi war criminals and the recognition and definition of crimes against humanity was done so with direct reference to the Nazi persecution of the Jewish People. Further, the concept of ‘crimes against humanity’ is a direct historical and legal precursor to the internationally recognised crime of genocide as defined in the 1948 Convention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.’
Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, the brutal acts against Palestinians by Israel are war crimes. All of these legal statistics are well known and speak for themselves, but when not implemented stand as a mockery of the sufferings from which they emanate and the vision of peace that inspired them.
Rudimentary historical observation should be enough to secure justice, but to paraphrase Maya Angelou, we are not facing history with courage but are tragically living and inflicting its wrenching pain again and again.
In the storm of war currently being unleashed on Gaza human beings are being massacred. That of course is the intention of the aggressors. The human reality is heart-breaking. On our Famine Walk each year, Afri carries the names of some of the victims, with an additional banner that states, ‘they all had names’. The same applies to war.
On Tuesday morning 8th July 2014, the Kaware family got a phone call telling them their three-storey house would be bombed. The family began to leave when a water tank was hit but then returned with members of the community who all came to the house to stand with them in an appeal for mercy. The Israeli jets bombed the building regardless with the roof full of people, family and community. Seven people died immediately, including five children under 13 years old. Twenty five more were injured and little Seraj Abed al-Gal died from his injuries later that day.
Appeal for Solidarity and Humanitarian Intervention
At the weekend, 14 Palestinian groups including human rights groups, unions, youth groups and women’s groups made a powerful appeal for solidarity and humanitarian intervention from the international community – from us. It is fitting that the last word is left to them:
“As Israeli leaders give promises of moving onto a next stage in brutality, we know there are more horrors yet to come. For this we call on you to not turn your backs on us. We call on you to stand up for justice and humanity and demonstrate and support the courageous men, women and children rooted in the Gaza Strip facing the darkest of times ahead. We insist on international action:
• Severance of diplomatic ties with Israel
• Trials for war crimes
• Immediate international protection of the civilians of Gaza
• We call on you to join the growing international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign to hold this rogue state to account that is proving once again to be so violent and yet so unchallenged
• Join the growing critical mass around the world with a commitment to the day when Palestinians do not have to grow up amidst this relentless murder and destruction by the Israeli regime.
When we can move freely, when the siege is lifted, the occupation is over and the world’s Palestinian refugees are finally granted justice.
ACT NOW, before it is too late!” (Appeal for Solidarity and Humanitarian Intervention, 12 July 2014)
Please take action now: Link to Avaaz petition