by Dr Mads Gilbert, Tromsø, Norway
Two years have passed since Israel’s most brutal attack on Gaza and the Palestinian people which started on July 8th 2014. It lasted fifty days and nights and most of the holy season of Ramadan. While we remember the 2251 Palestinians with deepest sorrow – including 299 women and 551 children – we also recall the bravery and dignity the people of Gaza showed in their united opposition to Israeli aggression.
One thing that stands out in my mind from my weeks at Shifa Hospital, is how everyone – whether paramedics, surgeons, nurses, family dependents or survivors, neighbours who came with food to Iftar [the meal people eat when fasting ends at sunset under Ramadan], or the many people working around the clock at the hospital, volunteers, journalists or young students – they all said the same thing.
«We are all a part of the resistance now. This is not Fatah or Hamas, Christians or Muslims – this is the Palestinian people standing up against the occupation army and the aggression of the Israeli state. This is an attack on us all.”
More than 11,000 people were wounded – many lost arms and legs – and 500,000 or 28% of the Gaza population were forced from their homes. Israeli forces attacked the civilian health and paramedic services in Gaza and damaged 17 hospitals, 58 primary health centres and 56 ambulances. They killed 23 health workers – most of them paramedics – and wounded 83.
What would the world have said if these numbers were the result of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, health services and health workers? There are outrageous international double standards on display – also from the Norwegian government. And then there is Israel’s apparent immunity from prosecution. No Israeli politicians or military leaders have been held accountable for what clearly are war crimes.
Gaza is now in its tenth year of a relentless Israeli siege. The blockade makes any meaningful reconstruction of everything the Israelis bombed in 2009, 2012 and 2014 virtually impossible.
Close to two million Palestinians still live under a brutal blockade that deprives them of fundamental human rights such as the right to food, water, freedom of movement and the right to security.
The deliberate, measured, man-made, sinister starvation of Gaza residents, who are mainly children and young people, is unparalleled in modern history. Israeli forces have killed over 1,000 Palestinian children in Gaza since 2006.
What other government or head of state would be allowed to get away with such a comprehensive, systematic violation of international law and crimes against humanity?
The state of Israel must be held accountable for its colonization policies and horrendous war crimes against the Palestinian people. We need to make stronger demands for sanctions and boycotts directed against Israel, its leaders and generals – a boycott of government finances, imports, exports, sports, academic, cultural and state institutions.
Israel not only escapes international prosecution, but also receives billions every year in direct economic and military support from the United States government and billions in investment from the Norwegian Petroleum Fund. Israel’s apparent immunity is the result of a huge and historic imbalance in dealing with heads of state and military forces that violate international law – bombing civilians and killing women and children by the thousands.
It would seem that might is right or as the father of 17-year-old student Asil Abu Mohsen, who was killed by Israeli forces in Rafah August 1st 2014, told Amnesty:
“Having no justice shows that the world works according to the logic of power, it proves that Israel is above the law. We need people from around the world to raise their voices on behalf of the wretched and oppressed. We need them to ask why innocent people, like my daughter Asil, were killed.”
Strengthen Every Single Voice.
The Palestinians need us and people around the world who can raise their voices on behalf of the persecuted and oppressed Palestinians, amplify their voices and show in action that they are not alone.
“Solidarity is not an act of charity: It is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objective. The foremost of these objectives is to aid the development of humanity to the highest level possible.” – Samora Machel, the first President of liberated Mozambique.
Let us increase and strengthen international solidarity work. Actions speak louder than words. Let us increase and strengthen the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). All boycotts make a difference. Let’s increase our demands on national authorities at all levels. Let’s make Israel accountable. Let us strengthen every single voice that can raised against the injustice in Palestine.
Video: The Lost Children of Gaza
Translated from Norwegian by Tom Dahle and Eddie Whyte
Report of the detailed findings of the independent commission of inquiry established pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-21/1. UN Human Rights Council, 29th session, Agenda items 7 Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.