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We Must Speak Up Against Israel’s Slaughter in Gaza


Palestinian protesters near Rafah, 14 May

JJP signatory Jamie Stern-Warner and Muhammad Shehada write in Slate,

Palestinians living in Gaza are subjected to prison-like conditions and are now being murdered in their dozens.

“For over a decade, the Gaza Strip has been subjected to a brutal, medieval-style siege. Imposed by Israel after the election of the Hamas government in 2006, the stated objective of the siege was “economic warfare“: to block all economic activity in Gaza and thereby turn the civilian population against its leadership. To this end, imports were restricted to what Israeli bureaucrats deemed a humanitarian necessity, while exports were almost completely prohibited. At the same time, the number of exit permits issued to Gazans was sharply reduced. As their economy suffocated and living standards plunged, the people of Gaza, hemmed in from the land, air and sea, were unable even to flee. In effect, Gaza was transformed – in the words of former UK Prime Minister David Cameron – into a “prison camp“.

“As for the inmates of this prison camp, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, with approximately 2 million people crammed into a narrow strip along the Mediterranean coast. More than 70 percent of Gaza’s population are refugees – people who, in 1948, were forcibly evicted from their homes, along with their descendants. This Tuesday, the 15th May, marks the 70th anniversary of their existential loss and ongoing torment. More than half of Gaza’s population are children under the age of 18. These human realities must be confronted honestly, rather than being disguised behind comforting abstractions. Whatever miseries Israel and its accomplices are visiting upon the people of Gaza, they are visiting primarily upon children.”…

“Over the past seven weeks, the people of Gaza have mobilised in their tens of thousands to protest the fate to which humanity has, knowingly and in full view, consigned them. As the UN assessments make clear, Palestinians in Gaza are struggling not just for their rights, but to pre-empt their collective expiration. The Great Return March, as it is known, has been overwhelmingly nonviolent, comprising peaceful marches, gatherings and sit-ins. In the face of extreme provocations from Israel, not one rocket has been fired into Israel by Hamas or other Palestinian factions; indeed, notwithstanding increasingly desperate attempts by the Israeli government and its propagandists to depict the protests as a military threat, Israel has suffered not a single casualty.”…

Israeli soldiers prepare for protest

“Israel’s killing spree was neither accidental nor the result of individual initiative on the part of Israeli soldiers. When, as the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem found, “soldiers – including snipers – fired for hours on end at protesters“, they were faithfully implementing official policy. On the eve of the first demonstration, the Israeli military’s chief of staff announced that 100 snipers would be deployed along the border. “The orders are to use a lot of force,” he warned. Israel’s Defence Minister declared that “anyone who approaches the fence is putting his life in jeopardy” and elsewhere proclaimed that “there are no innocents in Gaza“. “Israeli soldiers were not merely using excessive force,” Human Rights Watch concluded, “but were apparently acting on orders that all but ensured a bloody military response to the Palestinian demonstrations.” (more…)

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