Tag Archives: Gaza attacks

Support needed in Cairo

Hello all,

You can read the newest update (yesterday’s) from Marie and Katerina in Cairo in the blog at: http://studentlifelinetogaza.blogspot.com/ I am including it attached at the end of this message. As you can see from their own message, the most critical thing they need now is support from home. So please keep making calls, sending emails, and letting people know of what is happening.

There are two things I would like to ask you for your support:

  1. First there’s another sample email and list of adresses below. Please either send an email or call.
  2. Secondly and this is very important, I would like to ask you to send me any relevant contact adresses or telephones you can find. Everybody reads English, so most of the sample emails we have can be send to many more adresses. If you can find contact details for the Egyptian embassy in your own country, or in other countries around the world for example, to important politicians again, in your country or others, important (or not so important) media, please send them to me, and we’ll try to put together a more extensive list of contacts that people can use.

_________________________________________

Sample letter:

Dear Sir, Dear Madam,

I am writing to you to urge the Egyptian government to let Code Pink’s Gaza

Freedom March continue so that 1362 international delegates can join the

Palestinians of Gaza to march together on December 31, 2009.

Currently all delegates are stuck in Cairo and have been refused the right

to move towards Gaza.

The UK government and David Miliband have openly condemned the blockade.

This is a crucial moment for the UK to use its influence as an international

player to take responsiblity and act upon behalf of peace, justice and human

rights.

The Code Pink delegates will not stand for this oppressive ban. This

indirectly endorses war crimes and the inhumanity caused by the blockade

onto the Palestinians of Gaza.

The international peace marchers have aid and are ready to deliver it.

They have

raised tens of thousands of dollars for medical aid, school supplies and

winter clothing for the children of Gaza. But we realize that in addition to

material aid, the Palestinians of Gaza need moral support. The Gaza Freedom

March offers that support on the difficult anniversary of an invasion that

brought them so much suffering.

Sincerely,

__________

Contacts:

-Foreign & Commonwealth Office Ministerial support team email address

MSU.PublicIn@fco.gov.uk

-Egyptian Embassy in London

Tel: 020 7499 3304/2401

eg.emb_london@mfa.gov.eg

-Egyptian Consulate

consulate@egyptianconsulate.co.uk

Irini Pantelidou has also found these addresses (thanks!):

questions@cabinet.gov.eg

or …complaints@cabinet.gov.eg

Cabinet of Ministers

Address : 2 Maglas El Shaab

Phone : +202-2793-5000

Fax : +202-2795-8048

Email : questions@cabinet.gov.eg

ministry of international cooperation for the egyptian government

Mrs. Fayza Mohamed Aboulnaga

Address : 8 Adly street – Cairo

Tel : 23910008

Fax : 23908159

URL : www.mic.gov.eg/

Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs?

Mr. Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit

Address : Kornish el Nile, Maspiro- Cairo

Tel : 25749820 – 25749821

Fax : 25748822

URL : www.mfa.gov.eg/

E-mail:

General Inquiries:  Info@mfa.gov.eg

Citizens’ Complaint Unit: Contact.Us@mfa.gov.eg

Foreigners and Legalization Affairs: foreign.legalization@mfa.gov.eg

______________________________________________________

6th update from Cairo from Katerina and Marie:

We demonstrated all day at the UN today, demanding that

1) the UN put pressure on the Egyptian government so that we can continue our march

2) help let all our aid through to Gaza

3) organise a small group of delegates to Gaza to at least represent all the countries and be in bloody Gaza!!!

Answer:

No

No

and No.

It was a really peaceful demonstration, with lots of music, dancing, chess playing, talks by Walden Bello and Anna Haas (journalist).

Led by the 85 year old holocaust survivior Hedy Epstein, 14 are now on hunger strike. We were barricaded by police however, not allowing to leave the area for a few hours. Lol, we made a makeshift pee area but the atmosphere was super awesome.

Also, Netanyahu is coming to Cairo, to meet with Mubarak about Gilad Shalit.

The French delegates, around 300, have been camping outside the French embassy for the last 2 days. We will be joining them tonight, but they managed to get the French ambassador to negotiate and talk. The ambassador has been talking to the Egyptian government as a result. However, there were over 1000 riot police and since today they have not allowed any of the French people to leave or enter.

Any attempts for smaller groups to get to Gaza have been stalled. People have either been detained, put under hotel arrest or been forced to return to Cairo.

We are feeling quite demoralised, since we have put so much effort into getting to Gaza as has everyone else here. We are relying on support from back home, so please keep writing.

At this point you have more power than we do.

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Gaza Convoy- News on how you can help

Hello all.

You must have received the message from Fred and Nora forwarded earlier today regarding the convoy to Gaza that is currently prevented from entering Egypt. We have also received news from Nora, and up to now, the news is they are still not allowed to Egypt. From what I’ve understood, the Egyptians have said they’ll be allowed to enter the country, if apparently they leave the aid to travel through Israel with the Israelis, they return to Lebanon, and then go from Lebanon to Egypt, hope to be allowed to land from there, and then hope to receive back the aid from the Israelis to take to Gaza. All in all, the ‘offers’ made up to now are merely a publicity stunt by Egypt and Israel to pretend they are allowing aid to pass through while it essentially becomes confiscated and the convoy prevented from finishing its mission.

We need help to pester the media, politicians, and the Egyptians. What we have done is divide up all the email adresses we have into Egyptian contacts, politicians and media. Im giving you the lists below, and further down are three sample letters to send to each of the three ‘categories’. Please, if anybody knows any more contact emails we can use, or Egyptian contacts in other countries outside of Britain (emails can be send from anywhere to anywhere after all) or other media, please send them to us, so we can update the contact lists.

All you have to do is simply send each of the three letters to the emails for the respective target category.

EGYPTIAN CONTACTS:

-Egyptian Embassy in London

Tel: 020 7499 3304/2401

eg.emb_london@mfa.gov.eg

-Egyptian Consulate

consulate@egyptianconsulate.co.uk

POLITICIANS:

-Jeremy Corbyn (Labour MP for Islington North)

corbynj@parliament.uk

Office phone:

020 7561 7488

-Clare Short (Independent MP for Birmingham Ladywood)

shortc@parliament.uk

020 7219 4264/4148

-David Miliband (Foreign Secretary/Labour MP for South Shields)

milibandd@parliament.uk

(0191) 456 8910

-Foreign & Commonwealth Office Ministerial support team email address

MSU.PublicIn@fco.gov.uk

-Nick Clegg (Leader of Lib Dems, MP for Sheffield Hallam, wrote this piece in the guardian the other day http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/22/lift-the-gaza-blocade-nick-clegg)

nickclegg@sheffieldhallam.org.uk

cleggn@parliament.uk

-British Embassy in Egypt

Tel: (20)(2)27916000

information.cairo@fco.gov.uk

NB. the embassy email addresses are only meant for information, so you could include a kind note to forward the message to the appropriate diplomatic staff.

MEDIA

national@guardian.co.uk

foreign@guardian.co.uk

news@observer.co.uk

editor@guardianunlimited.co.uk

reader@guardian.co.uk

reader@observer.co.uk

newseditor@independent.co.uk

foreigneditor@independent.co.uk

http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_4030000/newsid_4032600/4032695.stm

LETTER TO EGYPTIANS

Egyptian Letter:

Dear Sir / Madam,

I would like to express my dismay that you are preventing British / E.U. citizens who have driven many vehicles filled with medical supplies for the people of Gaza from crossing your border.

The Viva Palestina Aid Convoy has enjoyed the support of all the other countries on their long journey across Europe and the Middle East. The convoy’s sole objective is to deliver medical items, such as ambulances, bandages and wheelchairs.

Please let this convoy cross the border in a timely fashion. Please do not redirect the convoy to make this long journey even more difficult for the hundreds of volunteers on a journey of aid and goodwill.

Regards

(your name)

LETTER TO POLITICIANS

Politicians:

[Your address]

Dear ——-

I have been following the progress of a convoy taking aid to the Gaza strip. The convoy consists of over 200 vehicles carrying many thousands of pounds worth of aid, and has been organized by Viva Palestina and Code Pink. Many of the activists taking part have gone from the United Kingdom.

It has recently come to my attention that Egyptian authorities have blocked the progress of the convoy by denying entry to Egypt. The convoy is currently waiting in Jordan to be permitted to board a ferry across the Red Sea. I have heard from one person in the convoy who has decribed how they are cold and have little access to food at the moment.

I am kindly requesting that you use your position and influence to help us persuade the Egyptian authorities to permit the convoy to pass safely. This is very important to me, both for my hope that the people in Gaza will receive the much-needed aid, and also out of concern for my friends in the convoy.

Kind Regards,

LETTER TO MEDIA

Press:

Subject: Please report Gaza convoy.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of Israel’s commencement of its operation ‘Cast Lead’ in which, according to the BBC, about 1,300 Palestinians and 10 Israeli soldiers were killed in three weeks. Three Israeli citizens also died in rocket attacks during the operation.

I hope that your publication will be noting this anniversary, and if so I strongly urge you to give news coverage to the Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza, seeking to break the ongoing blockade which a UN special rapporteur has called a “crime against humanity.” http://www.vivapalestina.org/home.htm

The convoy consists of over 200 vehicles; over 200 of the drivers are from the UK (including George Galloway MP). Currently Egyptian authorities are not allowing the convoy to enter and are therefore blocking their progress to Gaza. The convoy is currently in Aqaba hoping to get permission to cross the Red Sea. It would be very helpful if this was mentioned in the UK national press; I and many of my friends are extremely disappointed that it has not yet been. If a correspondent was sent there would be over 500 people willing to give interviews.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

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Convoy to Gaza – New letter from Fred and Nora

Hello all – glad tidings etc.

As you may be aware, I am currently on the Viva Palestina with my co-driver Nora, also from Warwick Uni. We are on a mission to deliver urgently needed supplies and medical aid to the people of Gaza, who are under siege as part of a genocidal long-term strategy by Israel, supported by our government and the USA, as well as Egypt.

We are currently stuck in Aqaba, Jordan, waiting for a ferry to Nuweiba. The Egyptians are preventing us from getting on the ferry and entering Egypt. They have said we are allowed in, but only through Al Arish, on the Mediterranean side. This is simply a chimera. If we comply with this demand, we will be in an even weaker position than we already are – they have also given us a list of conditions for getting into gaza – that we donate all of our aid to UNWRA, that we coordinate with Israel (!!!) and a load of other rubbish. These channels have a terrible track record of getting aid into Gaza. Essentially they are trying to make it impossible for us to get our aid into Gaza.

Therefore I am asking you to put pressure on the Egyptian government in any way you can. The simplest way is to email / phone your local embassy. However, if you have the time and the inclination, you can go further – contact media, press, local organisations, whatever. The main point is to maintain the momentum we already have here in the Arab world, and to cross over into the European news.

The situation we find ourselves in is extremely precarious – we could easily be stuck here for several weeks. If this isn’t a major news story, the Egyptians will not feel the need to let us in. We won’t get to Gaza. The aid we are carrying will be useless. You can make a difference.

Please help, and take the time to do something about this. I have attached a sample email you could send to your local embassy. Putting pressure on English embassies in Egypt will also help.

Thank you, tell all your friends

Fred

linkz:
http://readingpsc.org.uk/convoy/
http://vivapalestina.org/home.htm
http://www.presstv.ir/search.aspx?q=viva%20palestina

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Eyewitness in Gaza

I’ve found a link in a website about Palestine, that led to another link that led to another, and I’ve managed to discover a new blog page from Gaza I’ve added to our links. You can visit the blog here, by Lina AlSharif, a 20 year old student of English literature at the Islamic University in Gaza. I wanted to share two videos about remembering the war from the page…

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Rain of fire – and the power of media control

As the months pass since the ‘official’ ending of Isral’s massacre in Gaza, more and more official documentation, proof, and analysis of Israeli war crimes and acts of war comes out. Human Rights Watch has produced a 71 page report on the use of white phosphorus on civilians in Gaza, complete with images and maps of attacks. There are links to the report, images and maps – which we’ve also included in our resources pages – below, but I’ve been wondering if the lesson to be learned from this report isn’t about white phosphorus at all, but about the effect of media control.

It has been a very long time since the attacks in Gaza have made it on the news, at least where I am located. They certainly no longer make it in the front pages and the top news stories. The media would pay attention while the massacre was taking place late December and early January, but after the ‘official end of hostilities’, they’ve moved on. Perhaps this is hardly surprising, and not something that we can be realistic when complaining about. After all, the world is a large place, and there are more events taking place apart from the massacre in Gaza, even if rarely quite so tragic. But we cannot expect focus to stay one issue indefinitely, especially in a world as fast moving as our own. So we must make sure the world is aware of the facts while they are occuring, before people’s attention moves elsewhere.

And this is where the effectiveness of Israel’s control of the press during the massacres becomes clear. Because how many people will really find out about this report from Human Rights Watch, or any of the other reports that have been released or will be released by human rights groups, or any of the documentation that will arise of the war crimes and attrocities commited by the IDF? The few of us with a special interest, yes, but we are already aware of the reality of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians. But the general public? The general impression they will be left with will be the one they got by what the media reported while the attacks were taking place – while the very same media was held hostage outside Gaza, away from the reality of the ground. And while Israel may not have suceeded in hiding its attrocities quite so well, even during that period, they’ve certainly managed to make them less well-documented, and that will leave some people with the impression of yet another conflict where ‘there’s allegation of inconclusive attrocities’, where ‘the IDF is doing its best to avoid unnecesary death’, where ‘Hamas started the conflict, and Israel is merely responding in the same way any other state would’ etc.

For those of you who bother enough to read a bit more about the conflict, here’s the HRW report, just to confirm once again what we already know. Relevant maps can be found here, and images here.

And a few choice quotes from the introduction to the report:

…the report concludes that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) repeatedly exploded white phosphorus munitions in the air
over populated areas, killing and injuring civilians, and damaging civilian structures,

including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse and a hospital.
White phosphorus munitions did not kill the most civilians in Gaza – many more died from
missiles, bombs, heavy artillery, tank shells, and small arms fire – but their use in densely
populated neighborhoods, including downtown Gaza City, violated international
humanitarian law (the laws of war), which requires taking all feasible precautions to avoid
civilian harm and prohibits indiscriminate attacks.

The unlawful use of white phosphorus was neither incidental nor accidental. It was repeated
over time and in different locations, with the IDF “air-bursting” the munition in populated
areas up to the last days of its military operation. Even if intended as an obscurant rather
than as a weapon, the IDF’s repeated firing of air-burst white phosphorus shells from 155mm
artillery into densely populated areas was indiscriminate and indicates the commission of
war crimes.

The dangers posed by white phosphorus to civilians were well-known to Israeli commanders,
who have used the munition for many years.


When it wanted an obscurant for its forces, the IDF had a readily available and non-lethal
alternative to white phosphorus—smoke shells produced by an Israeli company. The IDF
could have used those shells to the same effect and dramatically reduced the harm to
civilians.

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Occupation at Strathclyde university

Similarly to the post before, an occupation is currently going on at Strathclyde university. Their facebook group can be found here, and some pictures here. There are also the beginnings of a blog here. The following is their list of demands. Do visit their facebook group and blog and give them your support. 

We demand:

-Cancel the contract with Eden Springs

-Divest of arms manufacturer BAE Systems and find 
alternative funding for the engineering department

-The SU board must issue a statement condemning Israel’s bombing of Gaza

-Pay for a facilitate 50 scholarships for Palestinian students

-Show solidarity with the Islamic University of Gaza. Write a letter of support, twin SU with the university and send money to help rebuild it

-Condemn the BBC for refusing to broadcast the DEC appeal for Gaza, show the appeal in lecture theatres and hold a fundraising day

-Oppose Israeli academics who promote military research at SU

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Manchester university Occupation in Support of Palestine

As in many other universities around the UK,  Students in Manchester University have occupied a university building, putting forth a list of demands to the university. The following are quotes from the student group’s blog which can be found here. A facebook event can also be found here, so make sure you follow both and give them your support!

The University of Manchester Occupation in solidarity with Gaza
Over 150 University of Manchester students have occupied the main university administration building in a demand for a stronger and more proactive position from the university on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The students have proposed a set of demands on the university’s Vice Chancellor Alan Gilbert, including a boycott of Israeli goods on campus, support for a day of fundraising with proceeds to the DEC fund, and that the university end research into manufacturing arms.

Over 500 students attended an emergency general meeting of the students union to discuss a motion on the issue of the crisis in Gaza, whereby the students marched on University administration headquarters, the John Owens Building, to draw up a list of demands.

The peaceful occupation is planned to continue for as long as it takes to achieve its demands, and promises to welcome high profile speakers during the week.

DEMANDS

1) University of Manchester should issue a formal statement condemning Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip, acknowledging particularly the effects on educational institutions such as the bombing of the Gaza Islamic University and expressing concern about war crimes allegations.

2) Support a day of fundraising across campus with the proceeds going to the DEC Gaza appeal.

3) University to publicise DEC advert in any way possible (including banner on the website) and put pressure on the BBC and sky to show the DEC advert.

4) All furniture & surplus supplies from buildings that are being renovated to be sent to Gaza on the Viva Palestina convoy.

5) Join the BDS movement through stopping sales of Israeli goods on university premises, the University should also stop buying any campus supplies from Israeli companies.

6) That the university divests from all companies directly involved in the manufacture of weaponry. We also demand that the university takes the issue of transparency in their investment seriously.

7) That the university publicly supports its students’ right to protest, such as occupations. That in line with this, the university will provide its facilities for a “Students for Palestine” conference, second week of April 09.

8 ) To send a public message of solidarity to the Islamic University in Gaza, whose campus has been virtually destroyed, and publish it on the university website and distribute it to the university wide e-mail addresses.

9) To give at lease five scholarships for Palestinian students as well as providing at least five scholarships for Israelis who refuse to serve in the IDF.

10) That the university make a module on the history of Palestine available as an optional module for any University of Manchester student.

11) That home fees apply to Palestinians students wanting to study at the University of Manchester.

12) No victimisation for those taking part in the Occupation, and free movement in and out of the occupied spaced.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1) For more information please contact manuni@actionpalestine.org
2) The group have set up a blog with frequent updates at: http://manunioccupation.wordpress.com/
3) Media outlets can contact katan at 07917206282 or 01612 75800

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Islamic University of Gaza Press Release on attacks

The Islamic University of Gaza has issued a press release regarding the Israeli attacks on its grounds. I’ve added a new ‘Press Releases’ section in our resources page, the full text can be found there as well. Following is part of the press release. The full text, which we encourage you to read, includes requests for activism and links to various other groups and news sources:

Islamic university – Gaza

ــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــ

Press Release

“Where’s the Academic Outrage Over the Bombing of a University 
in Gaza?”      (
http://www.counterpunch.org/gordon12312008.html)

Imagineyour university is bombarded with tons of explosives!!
 

On Saturday December 27th, 2008, the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) was ready to start the final exams of the fall semester for more than 20,000 students. On that day, more than 60 Israeli American-made F16 warplanes began to bomb the Palestinian population of Gaza at a time when the maximum number of children were going to and coming from schools.

On the next day, Sunday December 28th, Israeli F16 fighters bombed IUG with several missiles targeting two-six-storey buildings housing all university’s laboratories belonging to the colleges of IT, engineering and science. As in all other universities all over the world, these labs served the enhancement of teaching and learning skills.       

The bombardment of both buildings also caused extensive damages to all university buildings, including the central library and lecture halls and led to major disarray in completing the fall semester, entailing the inability of hundreds of students to graduate.

Although IUG has repeatedly emphasized pure academic activities conducted in its buildings and labs, such horrific attack is the 3rd of its kind in less than three years

The bombing come at a time IUG faces major financial difficulties as many students’ families cannot pay fees due to the high rate of unemployment caused by the siege imposed on Gaza by the Israeli army.

The Israeli propaganda machine which accompanied the brutal aggression in order to justify the extensive damages to many civilian educational and health facilities broadcasts massive misinformation, allegations and lies about the targets Israeli warplanes destroyed. To prevent any independent verification of the Israeli lies, the Israeli army prevented all foreign journalists and human rights monitors from entering Gaza during the aggression. 

 

After the attack stopped, the truth of the destructive bombing and using both internationally banned white phosphorus shells and dime bombs against civilian targets have been steadily confirmed by UN institutions, international media (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/printer10214.shtml) and above all Israeli academics and human rights groups who condemned such attacks.

 

We firmly believe that the illegal Israeli occupation has endlessly violated legitimacy of the international community and international law and has deliberately targeted the Palestinian academic institutions, including IUG, in a vain attempt to keep the Palestinians ignorant and insecure so that the oppressive Israeli occupation could last longer.

We therefore call upon all academics, faculty associations, student unions, professional and colleagues at large to show their support and solidarity to the right of the Palestinians to education. Several positive worldwide steps have already been taken including boycotting Israeli academic cultural institutions and activities.

Your solidarity and support for the right to education in Palestine is vital and highly appreciated.

 

Please spread wide and far.                                                 Email: extr@iugaza.edu.ps

Dr Kamalain Sha’ath

President, the Islamic University of Gaza

Tel 970 8 282 3310

Fax 970 8 286 3552

website:  http://www.iugaza.edu.ps/en/
===============================================================


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Israel’s message

I highly recommend you read this article from Illan Pappe on Gaza. It was published 3 weeks ago, and is still relevant today.

The article is licensed under a creative commons License, so it is freely available for distribution – I’m including the whole article below, so feel free to distribute it yourselves, as long as the license understanding is observed.

 

————————

In 2004, the Israeli army began building a dummy Arab city in the Negev desert. It’s the size of a real city, with streets (all of them given names), mosques, public buildings and cars. Built at a cost of $45 million, this phantom city became a dummy Gaza in the winter of 2006, after Hizbullah fought Israel to a draw in the north, so that the IDF could prepare to fight a ‘better war’ against Hamas in the south.

 

When the Israeli Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz visited the site after the Lebanon war, he told the press that soldiers ‘were preparing for the scenario that will unfold in the dense neighbourhood of Gaza City’. A week into the bombardment of Gaza, Ehud Barak attended a rehearsal for the ground war. Foreign television crews filmed him as he watched ground troops conquer the dummy city, storming the empty houses and no doubt killing the ‘terrorists’ hiding in them.

‘Gaza is the problem,’ Levy Eshkol, then prime minister of Israel, said in June 1967. ‘I was there in 1956 and saw venomous snakes walking in the street. We should settle some of them in the Sinai, and hopefully the others will immigrate.’ Eshkol was discussing the fate of the newly occupied territories: he and his cabinet wanted the Gaza Strip, but not the people living in it.

Israelis often refer to Gaza as ‘Me’arat Nachashim’, a snake pit. Before the first intifada, when the Strip provided Tel Aviv with people to wash their dishes and clean their streets, Gazans were depicted more humanely. The ‘honeymoon’ ended during their first intifada, after a series of incidents in which a few of these employees stabbed their employers. The religious fervour that was said to have inspired these isolated attacks generated a wave of Islamophobic feeling in Israel, which led to the first enclosure of Gaza and the construction of an electric fence around it. Even after the 1993 Oslo Accords, Gaza remained sealed off from Israel, and was used merely as a pool of cheap labour; throughout the 1990s, ‘peace’ for Gaza meant its gradual transformation into a ghetto.

In 2000, Doron Almog, then the chief of the southern command, began policing the boundaries of Gaza: ‘We established observation points equipped with the best technology and our troops were allowed to fire at anyone reaching the fence at a distance of six kilometres,’ he boasted, suggesting that a similar policy be adopted for the West Bank. In the last two years alone, a hundred Palestinians have been killed by soldiers merely for getting too close to the fences. From 2000 until the current war broke out, Israeli forces killed three thousand Palestinians (634 children among them) in Gaza.

Between 1967 and 2005, Gaza’s land and water were plundered by Jewish settlers in Gush Katif at the expense of the local population. The price of peace and security for the Palestinians there was to give themselves up to imprisonment and colonisation. Since 2000, Gazans have chosen instead to resist in greater numbers and with greater force. It was not the kind of resistance the West approves of: it was Islamic and military. Its hallmark was the use of primitive Qassam rockets, which at first were fired mainly at the settlers in Katif. The presence of the settlers, however, made it hard for the Israeli army to retaliate with the brutality it uses against purely Palestinian targets. So the settlers were removed, not as part of a unilateral peace process as many argued at the time (to the point of suggesting that Ariel Sharon be awarded the Nobel peace prize), but rather to facilitate any subsequent military action against the Gaza Strip and to consolidate control of the West Bank.

After the disengagement from Gaza, Hamas took over, first in democratic elections, then in a pre-emptive coup staged to avert an American-backed takeover by Fatah. Meanwhile, Israeli border guards continued to kill anyone who came too close, and an economic blockade was imposed on the Strip. Hamas retaliated by firing missiles at Sderot, giving Israel a pretext to use its air force, artillery and gunships. Israel claimed to be shooting at ‘the launching areas of the missiles’, but in practice this meant anywhere and everywhere in Gaza. The casualties were high: in 2007 alone three hundred people were killed in Gaza, dozens of them children.

Israel justifies its conduct in Gaza as a part of the fight against terrorism, although it has itself violated every international law of war. Palestinians, it seems, can have no place inside historical Palestine unless they are willing to live without basic civil and human rights. They can be either second-class citizens inside the state of Israel, or inmates in the mega-prisons of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. If they resist they are likely to be imprisoned without trial, or killed. This is Israel’s message.

Resistance in Palestine has always been based in villages and towns; where else could it come from? That is why Palestinian cities, towns and villages, dummy or real, have been depicted ever since the 1936 Arab revolt as ‘enemy bases’ in military plans and orders. Any retaliation or punitive action is bound to target civilians, among whom there may be a handful of people who are involved in active resistance against Israel. Haifa was treated as an enemy base in 1948, as was Jenin in 2002; now Beit Hanoun, Rafah and Gaza are regarded that way. When you have the firepower, and no moral inhibitions against massacring civilians, you get the situation we are now witnessing in Gaza.

But it is not only in military discourse that Palestinians are dehumanised. A similar process is at work in Jewish civil society in Israel, and it explains the massive support there for the carnage in Gaza. Palestinians have been so dehumanised by Israeli Jews – whether politicians, soldiers or ordinary citizens – that killing them comes naturally, as did expelling them in 1948, or imprisoning them in the Occupied Territories. The current Western response indicates that its political leaders fail to see the direct connection between the Zionist dehumanisation of the Palestinians and Israel’s barbarous policies in Gaza. There is a grave danger that, at the conclusion of ‘Operation Cast Lead’, Gaza itself will resemble the ghost town in the Negev.

Ilan Pappe is chair of the history department at the University of Exeter and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine came out in 2007.

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