Human Rights: Stop the Siege of Gaza

For several months, no years, the military siege of Gaza has been tightening.

Yet there has been near silence in the media in Australia.

However there are some reports from alternative news sources (in English) like Voice of Palestine, Al Manar, Press TV and Iraqi Beacon.

They all describe a grim situation for the people of Gaza.

Thanks to  Sonja Karkar and Australians for Palestine for the video created on 9 December 2008 using images captured by various courageous photographers
on the ground in Gaza, and the haunting sounds of Sada (Echo), composed and played on the oud by Ahmad Al-Khatib.

Today, Wednesday, 10 December 2008  is Human Rights Day.

A number of activities around human rights have been organised in Brisbane this week.  Current and past human rights abuses are highlighted in these activities.  The plight of refugees, Violence Against Women, Black Deaths in Custody, the abhorrent situation on Palm Island in Queensland, the jailing of Lex Wotton for defending his people, and the intervention in the Northern Territory.

In a world gone wrong, what decides where the focus should be?

Perhaps the articles below will give a tiny voice to the suffering of people in Gaza.

And we may ask why the Palestinians’ predicament has been overlooked?

A political solution must be found to stop the human rights abuses going on in Palestine. Suggestions are welcome in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

A number of letters have been written to the relevant authorities to do something about these human rights abuses by Israeli military and their aides. Please write petition your own representatives in government or in union or community groups to oppose the siege of Gaza.

There will be a human rights rally at Queens Park in Brisbane on Saturday 13 December 2008 at 2pm, please show your support for indigenous Australians  that lost their land under another settler state.

Ian Curr
10 December 2008
Workers BushTelegaph

An important film that has recently been released is “THE LAND SPEAKS ARABIC” – directed by Maryse Gargour (DVD DOCUMENTARY) which reveals the history of Zionist ethnic cleansing and ‘buried history’ of Palestinian land.

A short trailer and review of the film is presented here:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Israel prepares for attack on Gaza

Sun, 07 Dec 2008 18:31:56
Israel has threatened to take tougher measures against the Gaza Strip’s residents, who already suffer from vital supplies shortages. Read more @ Israel prepares for attack on Gaza
Sun, 07 Dec 2008 18:31:56 GMT

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Palestinian children sit by candlelight in Gaza City

Iran, Qatar urge OIC meeting on Gaza

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 11:39:42 GMT

Tehran and Doha have called on Islamic states to pressurize Israel into ending the suffocating siege it has imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Read more at Iran, Qatar urge OIC meeting on Gaza

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

UNRWA: Our stores will be empty within two days

GAZA, (PIC)– The UN Relief and Works Agency announced that its stores in the Gaza Strip would run out of stock within two days if the Israeli occupation authority refused to allow passage of relief material into the Strip. Read more at UNRWA and http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/
and http://stopthesiegeongaza.blogspot.com/2008/09/unrwa-situation-in-gaza-tragic.html

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Israel prevents local ship from heading to Gaza with medicine, toys

[ 07/12/2008 – 12:47 PM ]

NAZARETH, (PIC)– Israel on Sunday prevented the sailing of a local ship loaded with medicine, relief material and children toys from Yaffa harbor to besieged Gaza Strip and confiscated the shipload.

The shipload was collected by Palestinians in the 1948 areas for the people and children of Gaza on the occasion of the Eidul Adha or the Islamic feast of sacrifice.

Read more at  http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/ and Al Manar

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thousands march in Paris against Gaza siege

[ 07/12/2008 – 12:40 PM ]

PARIS, (PIC)– Thousands hits the streets of the French capital on Saturday evening to protest the Israeli siege on Gaza and to demand its immediate end.

MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, addressed the rally from Gaza hailing such solidarity activities that boost the Palestinian people’s steadfastness and patience.

Read more at  http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Gaza power plant to shut down afternoon Sunday

[ 07/12/2008 – 11:11 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)– The executive manager of the Gaza power plant, Walid Suleiman, has said that the plant would stop working by Sunday afternoon in the event the Israeli occupation authority continued to shut down all commercial crossings with the Strip.

Suleiman said in a press statement published in the local media on Saturday that the fuel quantities allowed into the Strip could operate the plant for one day only, which meant that the plant would have to stop working until more fuel is allowed into the Strip.

The IOA has been closing all commercial crossings with the Strip for five weeks halting all supplies to one and a half million Palestinians.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ADU: Health disaster in Gaza looming

[ 06/12/2008 – 11:28 AM ]

CAIRO, (PIC)– The Arab Doctors Union has warned that a health disaster would imminently befall the Gaza Strip and neighboring countries if urgent assistance was not expedited to the besieged Strip.
An ADU statement said that the siege would lead to spread of epidemics in the light of the lack of necessary vaccines and adequate potable water.

Meanwhile, demonstrations hit the streets of Istanbul and Amman on Friday demanding an immediate end to the siege on Gaza.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

6 thoughts on “Human Rights: Stop the Siege of Gaza

  1. Ray Bergmann says:

    Gaza, Xmas 2008 to New Year 2009,

    Such escalating war crimes on Gaza must be strongly condemned – Israel has the 4th largest army in the world and this response to qassam rockets (which in turn are a response to almost daily deadly attacks with missiles from drone aircraft) is grossly disproportionate – just check out the casualty rates between Israelis and Palestinians on Gaza’s border! The percentage of women and children on the Palestinian side is huge! Surely we have not forgotten what Israel’s military rampage did to Southern Lebanon!?

    What can the Palestinian people and their legally elected government (Hamas) do when Israel and Egypt (that is the US and its allies in the Middle East and around the world) have systematically stripped them of their jobs, medicine, food, education, and freedom? And now mortally targeting the Gaza City police compound! These servants of the pubic have nothing to do with the qassams! Qassams are not the real reason Israel is doing all this carnage – this slow genocide of the Palestinians has been going on ceaselessly for over 60 years!

    I call on the Australian Government to stand up to the massive human rights abuses and to the murdering of innocent people in Gaza. Israel must be forced to comply with countless UN resolutions and International law, to cease the many forms of collective punishment it is persecuting, and to allow humanitarian aid ships through to the Gaza shore. There must be some proverbial sticks (boycott, disinvestment and sanctions), along with and besides the usual richly-bestowed carrots from the US, to get Israel to comply! And where are the carrots from the US and its allies for the legally elected Hamas government?

    Yours sincerely

    Ray Bergmann

    **************************************

    ~please forward widely~ Emergency speakout:

    Stop the Israeli bombing in Gaza!
    End the massacre! Free Palestine!
    Monday Dec 29, 5pm
    Brisbane Square (George St end of Queen St mall), City

    The Israeli army have started a new massacre in Gaza which has resulted in the death of at least 225 Palestinians and wounding of at least 200 others. This massacre comes after years of the tightening of the siege, which makes life in Gaza a living hell. Join the protest against this atrocity.

    Phone: 0401 586 923

    Human Rights Defenders, including internationals, speak from Gaza

    27th December 2008 – Human Rights Defenders from various countries
    are present in Gaza and are witnessing and documenting the current
    Israeli attacks on Gaza. Due to Israel’s policy of denying access to
    international media, human rights defenders and aid agencies to the
    Occupied Gaza Strip, many of these Human Rights Defenders arrived in
    Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement’s boats that have repeatedly broken
    the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

    “At the time of the attacks I was on Omar Mukhtar street and witnessed
    a last rocket hit the street 150 meters away where crowds had already
    gathered to try to extract the dead bodies. Ambulances, trucks, cars –
    anything that can move is bringing injured to the hospitals. Hospitals
    have had to evacuate sick patients to make room for the injured. I
    have been told that there is not enough room in the morgues for the
    bodies and that there is a great lack of blood in the blood-banks. I
    have just learned that among the civilians killed today was the mother
    of my good friends in Jabalya.” – Eva Bartlett (Canada) International
    Solidarity Movement

    “The Shifa Hospital is already overwhelmed with injured people and
    does not have the medicine or the capacity to treat them.” – Ewa
    Jasiewicz (Polish and British) Free Gaza Movment

    “The morgue at the Shifa hospital has no more room for dead bodies, so
    bodies and body parts are strewn all over the hospital.” – Dr. Haidar
    Eid, (Palestinian, South African) Professor of Social and Cultural
    Studies, Al Aqsa University Gaza

    “The bombs began to fall just as the children were on the streets
    walking back from school. I went out onto the stairs and a terrified 5
    year old girl ran sobbing into my arms.”- Sharon Lock (Australian)
    International Solidarity Movement

    “This is incredibly sad. This massacre is not going to bring security
    for the State of Israel or allow it to be part of the Middle East. Now
    calls of revenge are everywhere.” Dr Eyad Sarraj – President of the
    Gaza Community Mental Health Centre

    “As I speak they have just hit a building 200 metres away. There is
    smoke everywhere. This morning I went to the building close to where I
    live in Rafah that had been hit. Two bulldozers were immediately
    attempting to clear the rubble. They thought they had found all the
    bodies. As we arrived one more was found.” Jenny Linnel (British)
    International Solidarity Movement

    “The home I am staying in is across from the preventive security
    building. All the glass shattered here. The home has been severely
    damaged. Due to the siege there is no glass or building materials to
    repair the damage. This is more than just collective punishment.”
    Natalie Abu Eid (Lebanon) International Solidarity Movement

    Human Rights Defenders in Gaza:

    Dr. Eyad Sarraj (Arabic and English) -+972 599400424

    Ewa Jasiewicz (Polish and English) – +972 59 8700497

    Dr. Haider Eid (English and Arabic) – + 972 59 9441766

    Sharon Lock (English) – +972 59 8826513

    Vittorio Arrigoni (Italian) – +972 59 8378945

    Fida Qishta (English and Arabic) +972 599681669

    Jenny Linnel (English) – +972 59 87653777

    Natalie Abu Shakra (Arabic and English) 0598336 328

    For more information on the Free Gaza Movment (FGM) or the
    International Solidarity Movement (ISM) contact in the West Bank:

    Adam Taylor (ISM) – 972 59 8503948

    Lubna Masarwa (FGM)- 972 50 5633044

    –~–~———~–~—-~————~——-~–~—-~
    The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led non-violent resistance movement committed to ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land. We call for full compliance with all relevant UN resolutions and international law

  2. Worklife presentation to Human Rights Dinner in Brisbane

    Well over 500 people attended a public forum in Brisbane on Wednesday evening to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, with guest speakers the Governor of Qld, Philip Adams and lawyer Stephen Keim.

    Three Worklife members attended the forum – Maggie May, Sharon Neill and Ross Gwyther.

    Most people present then attended an informal supper afterwards, during which a few reps from social movements in Brisbane spoke about the importance of human rights in their campaigns.

    Maggie spoke as a representative of Worklife, telling the audience about the role of Worklife as a community and union alliance, and our current campaigning against the ABCC. She outlined how those present could tell the Prime Minister about their concerns by taking some of our ABCC postcards – and afterwards we were able to distribute some dozens of postcards to audience members eager to send one off to the PM!

    Our thanks go to Jeff Brunne for inviting us to address the dinner.

    Jeff is a key activist in Just Rights Qld, one of the organising groups, and a group who Worklife has worked alongside for the past few years. We felt the evening was a useful step towards building more awareness of the ongoing struggle for human rights, which of course include the rights of working people.

    Regards,
    Ross Gwyther.

  3. Report on Qld Palestinian solidarity discussion & film says:

    Report on Qld Palestinian solidarity (QPSC) discussion and film night
    Held on Human Rights day (the UN declaration of human rights was made in 1948 at the same time the Palestinians were driven from their land) Wednesday 10th December, at Queensland Council of Unions T&LC Building,

    There were a diverse group of 14 people in attendance at this event organised by the QPSC.

    There was a round table discussion about why the people present are concerned about what is happening in Palestine today. Here is a brief report of the main points raised in the discussion. Apologies if I have left anything out or misunderstood anyone. I did not take notes. The comments below are not placed in the correct order.

    Ray Bergmann
    said that he could not understand why Zionists wanted to set up a medieval state based on religious prejudice.

    Both Ray and Ann Aboud suggested that after the film we go to the Human Rights function organised for celebrities (Phil Adams & Stephen Keim) and ask why Palestine has not been mentioned and why there has been such bias in the ABC coverage of recent events in the region.

    There was brief discussion of a formal reply that Kevin Rudd had sent to the group, in support of Israel and (by implication) Zionism. (Ray, can we post his letter on WBT?)

    Kahlil replied that the reason was that Europeans were guilty about what happened in the holocaust and were keen to give Zionism a homeland.

    Dina Saleem said that she could not understand why Hamas had not participated in the talks between Olmert (former Israeli PM) and Abu Abbas (head of the Palestinian Authority). She said that she had experienced the the suicide bombings in Israel and felt that religion was behind them. She had been raised in the Greek Orthodox Church and felt that Jewish people had suffered as well as Palestinians. She had left Israel for Lebanon. She was critical of Hamas for being closed and not joining in the Palestinian Authority.

    A husband and wife, Eileen & Jamie Brown, said that they were grateful that this discussion had been organised and that they follow what is going on, but have been unable to do much else. They are on the QPSC email list.

    Owen from the Revolutionary Socialist Party said that the Palestinians were an oppressed people as a result of colonialism and that he and his party supported their struggle.

    John Swanston said he is an evangelical Christian and he takes the bible seriously but could not accept the interpretation placed on the bible and events by fundamentalist Christians who had been allowed into Israel by leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu. He said that the settlers were extremists. He said that he had been in trouble with the church becasue he had supported Hanan Hashwari’s right to come and speak in Australia about the Palestinian situation.

    Richard Buckhorn said that he was a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggles and that he and others ran a stall in Boundary Street West End every Saturday morning about what is happening in Palestine. He said that it was small things like this, where people’s prejudice is challenged, that change came in the anti-apartheid struggle. He believed that the same would happen in this struggle.

    Other speakers expressed concern for the plight of people in Hebron and Gaza. Some were there as individual and others as representative of a group.

    Louay Alzaher introduced himself as a journalist from Iraq and spoke to the issues raised by the people at the discussion.

    Louay outlined that the reason for the conflict over Palestine were not caused by religion.

    That this superficial account ( the religious interpretation of the struggle) was the propaganda of Zionists and the US (imperialists).

    He said that the reason was strategic to the interests of the US and its outpost in the middle east, Israel. Their reason was oil. The American military were protecting the interests of capitalism.

    He questioned how people could accept the word ‘Israel’ as describing a country. He said that Israel was an (armed) camp with no borders and no flag. He said that he challenged the accepted (wisdom) and looked at things from their cause and roots. He said that the idea of Israel was conceived long ago. There was a time during the British mandate over Palestine that the British had planned it (I think he was referring to the Balfour Declaration and the work of the early Zionists, but I am not sure).

    Kahlil had mentioned earlier that he was from Jaffa (Al Jammasin) and that his family grew oranges there since before 1948 and that they had title to the land but could not return. He said that the Zionists had outnumbered the Palestinians and had been well armed. His point was that they were well organised. [They had bombed the King David hotel and the British Embassy in Rome].

    Louay went on to describe his own beliefs and background. He said that he is a communist and regarded Jewish people as his brothers (and sisters) because they came originally from the same flesh and blood. He said that he regarded Ray Bergmann as his best friend in Australia. He had come from Iraq where he had taken up arms and political struggle against Saddam Hussein and had been persecuted (with the sentence of execution on three occasions). He said that he did not believe in religion but would join with anyone who opposed the aggression of the US and Israel.

    He apologised for speaking loudly but he and his people did not live a relaxed life style like Australians they had to struggle against the US occupation.

    Louay received warm applause from the audience and Ray played the film La Terre parle Arabe (The Land Speaks Arabic) by Maryse Margour.

    Earlier in the meeting Don Wilson proposed that we help organise a Palestinian film festival. This was met with some support. Ray and Don will report back on this.

    Summary
    My personal feeling is that people at the meeting spoke well and from the heart; there were things that we all could learn from the discussion. People were in agreement over the bad influence of zionism that has produced much of the problem. However I thought the criticism of Hamas and Hezbollah was superficial. Hamas in Gaza is closed for a reason, they are under siege. Hezbollah (the party of god) in Lebanon has, as Louay implied, been more open and has engaged with Christians, socialists, communists and others. Lebanon is a more open society as shown by the numbers of palestinians that have sought refuge there. Hezbollah have been successful in mobilising many people onto the streets in Lebanon. But are they opportunist? Are they popularist? Are they using islam to gain political power? The accusation of opportunism is more accurate than the one of being terrorists & fundamentalists as implied by Dina Saleem.

    However, it is not in the world of ideas that we are lacking, we are lacking in organisation and ability to change the terrible situation and help bring about social justice for the Palestinian people.

    The world may be changing. In Greece there is an uprising against a government that has introduced austerity and repression. China’s economy – the one that was supposed to save the global economy – has faltered. There are six economies in Europe that are insolvent and without foreign cash reserves, even Russia has small foreign cash reserves because of the collapse in the price of oil.

    Obama may turn out to be the ultimate political opportunist, winning power through corporate handouts and greed; and now, his backers think that they can print money and that will save the American economy.

    Change may well be on the way, but where is the workers political organisation that will turn it as a force for good?

    Ian Curr
    13 December 2008

    “THE LAND SPEAKS ARABIC” – directed by Maryse Gargour (DVD DOCUMENTARY) which reveals the history of Zionist ethnic cleansing and spoliation of Palestinian land. Note: “Spoliation” means “/intentional/ or /negligent/ withholding, hiding, alteration or destruction of evidence”.

    In the case of Palestine it refers to the ‘buried history’ of one of the most bitterly contested landscapes in the world.

  4. 3 Dec 2008
    The Hon Wayne Swan MP

    PO Box 6022
    House of Representatives
    Parliament House
    Canberra ACT 2600

    Dear Mr Swan,

    On 5 November, Israel completely sealed Gaza’s border crossings after making an unprovoked attack – despite a ceasefire – on this tiny strip of land in which 1.5 million impoverished Palestinians have been struggling to survive an immoral 18 month long international aid embargo.

    Israel’s closure has prevented the United Nations from distributing food to 750,000 needy people, and 70% of Gaza is now without power due to a lack of fuel. According to reports, even candles are in short supply. So far, 257 Palestinians have died in the last year because they were prevented from leaving Gaza for necessary advanced medical care. In the last few days, only a trickle of aid has been allowed to enter Gaza.

    On 13 November, Israel denied 20 senior EU diplomats entry to Gaza and has since refused to allow in foreign journalists. Foreign Press Association chairman Steven Gutnik called the ban “a serious violation of freedom of the press” and said “it is essential that journalists be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip since it is the foreign media that serves as the world’s window into Gaza.

    Despite Israel’s claim that it no longer occupies Gaza, it in fact maintains military control over all “Gaza’s land borders, airspace, territorial waters, tax collection and population registry”, thus making it responsible for protecting the human rights of Gaza’s citizens. Israel is not honouring its obligations under the Geneva Convention and collective punishment breaches international law.

    Two days ago Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, today strongly condemned the Israeli refusal to allow the Libyan vessel al-Marwa carrying humanitarian aid to dock in Gaza.

    Dr Barghouthi said, “We condemn the Israeli action preventing an Arab ship carrying food and medicine for the children and people of Gaza from arriving in Gaza. This proves that, contrary to their claims, Israel is still completely occupying the Gaza Strip.”

    “Israel is in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention which obliges the occupying power to provide humanitarian needs to the occupied people. But not only is Israel in violation of the Geneva Convention, they have also created the worst form of collective punishment by subjecting 1,5 million Palestinians to a severe humanitarian crisis. By limiting the access of Gazans to food, medicine and healthcare, Israel is practically committing a war crime”, Dr Barghouthi added.

    By participating in an international aid embargo by turning a blind eye to the manipulated subjection of 1,5 million Palestinians to such a severe humanitarian crisis, countries like Australia are also not honouring their obligations under human rights and international law.

    As a resident of Lilly I ask you as my representative in the Australian parliament to convey the disgust and apprehension of many Australians concerning this appalling situation to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia and to the Australian Mission to the UN, whose inaction over the past 18 months have given tacit support to this international aid embargo which, as collective punishment, is illegal under international law, and is an affront to humanitarian and moral norms.

    Yours sincerely,
    Ray Bergmann

    [Editors Note: Ray Bergmann wrote a similar letter to Ms Michelle Wood, Australian Mission to the UN on the same day]

  5. To H.E. Ambassador Yuval Rotem,
    Ambassador of Israel,
    6 Turrana St, Yarralumla
    ACT 2600. Australia

    Dear Sir,

    I am gravely concerned about the ramifications of Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip which has prevented the United Nations from distributing food and resulted in large areas of Gaza being without power due to a lack of fuel. I also am led to believe that Palestinians have died because they were prevented from leaving Gaza for necessary medical care.

    Is it also true that Israel denied senior EU diplomats and foreign journalists entry to Gaza? Surely these people are not a security risk but perhaps a public relations risk!

    Is it not the case that the world at large was deceived into thinking that when the settlements were removed with much news fanfare that Israel no longer occupied Gaza?, Facts on the ground intimate that Israel maintains vice like military control over Gaza’s land borders, airspace, and territorial waters (I refer in particular to the problems with fishing vessels accessing waters to feed their family and make a living and the Libyan vessel al-Marwa carrying humanitarian aid being refused permission to dock).

    Israel, in violation of international law, has created the worst form of collective punishment on a race. Limiting their access to food, medicine and healthcare is a war crime and you as a Jew should be aware of how wrong that is.

    Please pass onto your superior in Israel my personal disgust at the actions of the Israeli government.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mrs Fay Waddington

  6. On Wednesday 10th December,
    Queensland Council of Unions T&LC Building,
    on the second floor of the corner of Peel Street and Grey Street, South Brisbane (Close to the Qld Museum)

    Program
    from 6.30 pm to 7.30pm:

    Discussion: What is happening in Gaza? — Louay Alzaher

    Ray will present present two DVDs from B`tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories:

    Hebron Stories – From Bustling City Centre to a Ghost Town” (25 minutes)
    The Prisoners’ Children” [Heb: “Yaldey ha-aSiyri(y)m] [Ara: aTfaal as-sujanaa’] (10 minutes).

    from 07.30pm to 8.30pm Khalil will present:

    “THE LAND SPEAKS ARABIC” – directed by Maryse Gargour (DVD DOCUMENTARY) which reveals the history of Zionist ethnic cleansing and spoliation of Palestinian land. Note: “Spoliation” means “/intentional/ or /negligent/ withholding, hiding, alteration or destruction of evidence”.

    In the case of Palestine it refers to the ‘buried history’ of one of the most bitterly contested landscapes in the world.

    8.30pm to 9.00pm informal discussionabout the DVD’s.

What do you think about this article?