INDEPENDENT NEWS

Ceasefire In Gaza Welcome But What Follows?

Published: Tue 20 Jan 2009 09:43 AM
Ceasefire In Gaza Welcome But What Follows?
Prime Minister Key Must Speak Up For International Law, Un Resolutions And Geneva Conventions!
PHRC (Palestine Human Rights Campaign) welcomes the ceasefire announced by Israel today but notes it is a unilateral one, cynically designed to coincide with the inauguration of Barak Obama as President of USA.
Israel retains the power to initiate assaults whenever it chooses while demanding that the Palestinians are prevented from any form of retaliation against their occupier.
PHRC calls for the NZ government to insist on: an ‘immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire’ as demanded by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860 AND ‘allow the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel and medical treatment’.
Spokesperson Tuma Hazou says that
“Israel instituted the most punitive of blockades ever mounted against a civilian population in modern times. The International Committee of the Red Cross has described the situation in Gaza as a ‘full blown humanitarian crisis’. He adds that “the failure to hold Israel to account in the past when it perpetrated similar crimes, not least the bombings of Qana in both 1996 and 2006 has created a climate of impunity for Israel, to the extent that its armed forces seem to think they can escape any form of accountability. That has to end now”.
PHRC calls on the NZ government, to support the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and insist on an independent inquiry into the invasion of Gaza with a clear mandate to institute proceedings against those responsible for perpetrating grave breaches of the Convention.
Hazou says an “ any investigation should have full and immediate access to Gaza and southern Israel, under the auspices of the UN Security Council. All reports should be made fully public, and any parties found responsible held fully to account”. Such investigations should focus on:
The bombing of at least 4 UN–run schools, the latest of which claimed the lives of 2 boys aged 5 and 7.
The bombing of 3 hospitals in Gaza and a UN warehouse stocked with food and medical supplies.
Reports that Israeli soldiers evacuated more than 100 Palestinians into a house which they then bombed.
Claims that white phosphorous is being used in civilian areas, regardless of its devastating effects on human targets.
Claims by the International Committee of the Red Cross that its ambulances have been prevented from gaining access to wounded Palestinians by the IDF.
Reports that a clinic for mothers and babies in Gaza City funded by Christian Aid was attacked and destroyed by Israel, with hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of medical equipment lost in the attack.
Tuma Hazou reminds the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs that not only did Israel break the original ceasefire on November 4th but the humanitarian crisis caused by the 18 month siege was a catastrophe for the 1.5 million Palestinians. They deserve protection as do the citizens of Southern Israel. Hanan Asharawi Palestinian peace activist has said . "We (Palestinians) are the only people on Earth asked to guarantee the security of our occupier ...while Israel is the only country that calls for defence from its victims." The conflict will continue as long as the concerns of the Palestinians are ignored by the world’s community. The PHRC calls on Prime Minister Key and the NZ government to insist on:
1. Ending 42 years of Israeli Occupation of the West Bank & Gaza Strip (including East Jerusalem)
2. The Right of Return for Palestinian Refugees.
3. Sharing of Jerusalem.
4. Vacating all settlement colonies in Israeli occupied Palestine.
5. Stopping and dismantling the Israel’s annexation / apartheid wall in occupied Palestine.
See also www.palestine.org.nz
An open letter to Min of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully 18/1/09 follows;
Dear Mr McCully,
This January 12, Al Mezan Press Release deserves careful study. It shows in detail the effects of Israel's "Cast Lead" Operation in the Gaza Strip. The evidence presented here refutes the claims by Israeli political and military spokespeople that the IDF is doing its utmost to avoid civilian casualties and is acting within the framework of International Law. In particular Israel's claim that evidence for alleged war crimes is too generalised and lacks specific detail.
I can verify much of what is contained in the Al Mezan Centre's Press Release from my own daily emailed reports gathered from many other sources. In a phone call to Jennifer Loewenstein (Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Programme at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mezan Centre), the Director of Communications confirmed that the IDF's use of White Phosphorous has gone well beyond what is considered legally acceptable. White phosphorous has been fired intensively against civilian family homes and businesses in the crowded Jabalia refugee camp and in the small village of Khz'a, where victims of this weapon have been treated for severe burns and the effects of inhaling the chemical.
In view of the evidence presented here and the outrage expressed by UN officials and medical personnel sharing the fate of the people of Gaza, we ask you to speak out in the name of justice and humanity. The eminent British medical journal The Lancet has felt compelled to condemn these Israeli atrocities. We find your silence incomprehensible.
Leslie Bravery
Palestine Human Rights Campaign
ENDS

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