Stop the Aggression over Gaza At the end of the year 2008, Israel hit the Gaza Strip with the most vicious and deadliest air strikes since 1967. While the world was celebrating Christmas and New Year 2009, the few media outlets that were able to cover the news in Gaza were keeping a record of hundreds of innocent civilians that were killed, and the thousands who were injured or became homeless, pushing Gaza further into a more serious state of impoverishment.
Four years ago, when Israel attacked the disarmed innocent civilians of Gaza, the outcome was a protracted siege and clear impunity from the international community for war crimes. Even well documented infractions such as white phosphorus dumped onto a United Nations school never received any sort of meaningful accountability.
The siege on Gaza has remained in what is now one of the most densely populated regions in the world (over 4,500 people per sq.km.) There is a population of about 1.6 million in Gaza today under the full control of a system that has blocked the access of movement and all aspects of life.
As a result, and as it stands today:
- 44% of the Palestinians living in Gaza are food insecure and about 80% of the population live on aid.
- 34% of the Gaza work force including 50% of its youth are unemployed.
- Over 90% of the water from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe for human consumption, as a result of the routing of water resources to the Israeli settlements since 1967.
- 35% of Gaza farmland and 85% of its fishing waters are totally or partially inaccessible, which has been the major cause of deteriorating livelihoods for a population that relies heavily on agriculture and fishing.
- Out of 3,900 industries, 23 survive today due t closures
Now, with 80 percent of Gaza's population subsiding off of humanitarian aid and the UN's announcement that by 2020 the Gaza Strip will be "uninhabitable," what will be the outcome of the war that comes after Operation Cast Lead?
Two days ago, Israel started another attack on Gaza on what seems to be a déjà-vu for the people on the ground. There is a sense of urgency in the outcomes of this attack on Gaza, and Israel's determination not to disembark will add many more thousands to the already homeless and injured victims. It is known that women and children are the most affected victims in situations of war, and this war will have deeper impact on the infrastructure as well as the educational, physical and psychological wellbeing of the people in Gaza.
In Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message on the International Day of Solidarity of November 29 with the Palestinian People last year, he stressed that the international community" should reaffirm their commitment to translating solidarity into positive action. The international community must help steer the situation towards a historic peace agreement."
Ending Israeli occupation is the only solution that can bring about peace with justice in the Middle East region. The Israeli ongoing disregard to the peace process the establishment of new settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is an affirmation and continuation of the violations of the basic rights of the Palestinian people, and it hinders any possibility for the people in Palestine and the Middle East to live a life of peace and security. Moreover, the plight of the Palestine Liberation Organization to enhance the status of Palestine in the United Nations and for it to be recognized has also been neglected. The continued violation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinians is not the solution; the International community is required today to demonstrate its humanitarian values, and to force Israel to adhere to principles of human rights, as a pre-requisite for peace.
The World YWCA thus urges all YWCAs to:
- Call on all of the YWCAs to show their support to the Palestinian cause on the United Nations day in solidarity with the Palestinian people on November 29, by organizing demonstrations as well as other peaceful events that call for Peace with Justice for the whole Middle East.
- Call on their respective governments, and urge the Ambassadors of their respective countries in the United Nations to pressure the Israeli government to put an end to its aggression on Gaza, and its determination to re-occupy Gaza.
- Call upon the Israeli government to end the siege on Gaza and end the military occupation of all the Palestinian Territories.
- Call upon the International community to fully endorse the just Palestinian plight for freedom and independence and the immediate end of Israeli Occupation over Gaza and the west Bank, with the intention of establishing an independent Palestinian State.
- Call on Israel and all its neighbors to comply with UN Security Resolution 1325, that ensures the provision of protection and safety to the women and children in this state of war and conflict.
- Call on the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligation under common Article 1 to ensure respect for the provisions of the Conventions, taking appropriate measures to compel Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular placing pivotal importance on the respect and protection of civilians from the effects of the hostilities.