Stop the killing and destruction!
Cease the fire, lift the siege, move towards peace!
Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 8:00 pm
Habima Square, Tel Aviv
It is forbidden to shoot at civilian populations. It is forbidden and still it happens. Both sides do it. Hamas shoots
on the population of Israel. The IDF shoots at the population of Gaza.
Two equal sides? Far from it. The State of Israel has enormous military and economic strength. With massive financial
assistance from the United States the State of Israel built the "Iron Dome" system, a great technological achievement
which protects us. Therefore, the missile attacks on Israeli cities are mostly a nuisance. The air raid alarms are
irritating, a bit disruptive to the routine of life, sometimes frightening – but not much more.
Gazans have no Iron Dome, no protection whatsoever against the death which falls down on them from the air and the sea
and the land. The State of Israel is pounding Gaza, killing and killing and killing. True - The State of Israel has no
premeditated purpose of killing innocent civilians, women and men and the elderly and children playing football on the
beach. There is no premeditated purpose – but there is a reality. The killing of unarmed civilians in Gaza is going on,
day by day and hour by hour. More than two hundred Palestinians have been killed. A large part of them were unarmed
civilians, dozens of them were children. And it goes on.
"Why are they shooting at us?" Wondered righteously the outgoing President of Israel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. "Why
did they not make of Gaza a flourishing Singapore?" But Shimon Peres forgot to mention that the city state Singapore,
whose population and size are comparable to those of the Gaza Strip, has the largest ports in the world. There is no one
to block thousands of ships from all over world sailing in and out of that port, maintain the flow of trade on which the
wealth of Singapore is built. The minuscule port of Gaza is closed and blockaded. The Israeli Navy is ever vigilant to
prevent even the smallest vessels reaching it, and shoots at Gazan fishing boats which venture more than a few
kilometers from shore. Gaza is a big prison for its residents, nearly two millions of them. The State of Israel and its
neighbor Egypt – with whom relationship has tightened considerably since General Sisi seized power - cooperate in
imposing the siege on Gaza and hold its population effectively incarcerated, unable to come and go to the outside world.
Gazas live on a seashore. They can swim and play on the beach (on days where lethal shots don’t come at them out of the
sea). But they can’t get on a boat and sail into the sea, or on a plane flying to destinations around the world. Also
the land crossings are almost completely closed. For years, millions of people are locked up in the little, narrow
extremely crowded piece of land called the Gaza Strip.
"We imposed a siege on them because they are shooting at us," say the leaders of Israel. (By the way, the siege on Gaza
began long before Hamas took power there). "We shoot because you impose a siege on us. We will not agree to a cease-fire
which does not include the lifting of the siege," say Gaza residents this week (not all of them Hamas members).
There is no point to a ceasefire which would simply restore the situation that existed two weeks ago. The situation of
two weeks ago was unbearable - a situation of a tight siege over the Gaza Strip, causing suffering and economic
suffocation and extreme poverty for the majority of its inhabitants. The siege of Gaza has spawned several rounds of
conflict. Continuation of the siege is a sure recipe for another round in a year or two.
Only the lifting of the siege on Gaza, enabling its residents to come and go by land and sea and air, export and import
goods and develop their economy, can open up for them a hope for the future. Only the lifting of the siege can give a
chance for peace and quiet on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip.
On Saturday night Gush Shalom will join with peace and human rights organizations in a protest against the cruel and
unnecessary war called "Operation Protective Edge". Last week, an earlier demonstration on the same location was
attacked by extreme right thugs. Organizers of the current protest have taken precautions to make sure this is not
repeated - and of course, what happened will not deter us from expressing our position on an issue vital to our future.
As we were informed, demonstration marshals and stewards will be present on the spot, and anyone intending to come
should follow their instructions regarding location, conduct of the demonstration and its dispersal, and refrain from
taking violent action from our side.