I have been meaning to blog for awhile, to fill everyone in on holiday excitement, goals, hopes and wishes for the coming year, what on earth we’ve been doing on the cold and snowy Vancouver days. However, something else has been on my mind. I am sure you are all aware of the situation in Gaza, the fighting that has been going on for the past 17 days and the ever growing humanitatirian crisis.
We attended a protest here in Vancouver on Jan 3rd, the day Israeli ground forces entered Gaza to take what was initially an air assault that had already killed around 300 people, to a full on war that has now reached a death toll of close to 900 Palestinians. The majority of this number are civilians, 275 are children.
It is amazing to me that this is still going on, with no sign of stopping. Both sides have rejected a ceasefire proposal with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stating ,“Nobody should be allowed to decide for us if we are allowed to strike” in response to the UN proposal. It is also amazing to me the enormous amount of support Israel is still getting from the U.S. government, and in the majority of the media. Articles like this in the Calgary Herald, and this in the Vancouver Sun sound like nothing more than propaganda.
Yes, Hamas has been responsible for firing rockets into Sderot (a city in southern Israel) and yes Hamas has stated the destruction of the state of Israel as their aim (as did the PLO prior to their relations with Isreal becoming more friendly, and becoming more friendly because there were talks and negotiations not bombs dropped on civilians). However, 1. Hamas was democratically elected, 2. Israel has supported Hamas in the past when it suited them (in an attempt to weaken Yasser Arafat led Fatah) and 3. (and most importantly) instead of viewing the rockets being launched as the root of the problem, let's look at them as a response to the horrific Israeli occupation of Palestine for the past 50 or so years.
The reality is, hundreds of people are dying. The IDF has bombed schools, universities, refugee centers and homes. The use of force by Israel on Gaza is completely disproportionate, this is the worlds 5th largest army and one of the most sophisticated, against a glorified ghetto. It is shooting fish in a barrel, Palestinians have nowhere to go. Not only this, but Israel has warned Palestinians to leave their homes for safe houses and then bombed those very safe houses! Both the UN and the Red Cross have declared the situation a humanitarian disaster and some have even had to stop humanitarian efforts due to the safety of their workers being threatened (one of the schools that was bombed, was a clearly marked UN school. Israel had been given the coordinates of all UN schools and buildings prior to the fighting starting).
My heart breaks for the people of Gaza, and for the many Jews who do not want this done in their name. I urge you all to be critical in your reading and viewing of the news, especially as Israel is not allowing reporters into Gaza in the first place. I also urge you to remember that this is not a battle between to equal rivals, but an attack on the occupied by the occupier, an act of aggression towards the opressed by the opressor.
Enough is enough.
For unbaised coverage of the situation in Gaza, you can watch/listen to Democracy Now! who has been reporting daily on the crisis. The Guardian has also had some excellent articles written, namely this one by Avi Shlaim, an Oxford professor of international relations and former member of the Israeli army.