Disclaimer: This is a letter from a variety of organizations written to inform and alert people about the situation in Gaza. It is much more strongly worded in its political sentiments than I would ever be. While all of the information is true, I feel that by using such strong language, you often end up isolating and offending people instead of encouraging them to learn about the situation and form an educated opinion of their own. I wanted to share it with you because I feel that it is important to stay apprised of the Gaza situation whenever possible (since it is so difficult to get information in or out), but know that these strong sentiments do not necessarily mirror my own.
September 30, 2011
Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine
We the Palestinians of the Besieged Gaza Strip, are calling on the world: enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip must end. While attention is focused on the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN do not forget that the blockade and the suffering continue in Gaza.
Shortly after 2006 democratic election which was supervised by people and bodies from the international community, nations formerly supporting aid and cultural organizations in Gaza withdrew their support. In mid-2007, our borders, controlled by Israel and Egypt, fully closed, locking Palestinians within and preventing imports and exports from crossing our borders.
From December 27 2008 to January 18 2009, Israel waged an all-out slaughter on Gaza, killing over 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority innocent civilians and among them nearly 400 children, and destroying thousands of homes, businesses, factories and buildings including universities, schools, hospitals and medical care facilities, and damaging vast tracts of our water and sanitation system.
Almost three years following after Israel's attacks, almost no homes and few buildings have been rebuilt, our sanitation and sewage system is more dire than ever, raw waste continues to be pumped into our sea – for want of proper treatment facilities – polluting our water and the fish along the coast which fishermen are forced to harvest because the Israeli navy shoots at them if they try to fish more than three miles from the Gaza coast—contaminating our drinking water and food supply.
Our farmers continue to be shot at, maimed and killed by Israeli soldiers along our border, prevented from working, growing and harvesting their land, denying us a rich supply of produce and vitamins. Nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition continue to rise, affecting our children's growth and their ability to study. Our economy is shut down by lack of functioning factories and electricity. Our students hold little to no prospects of exiting for study abroad, even when placements and scholarships have been secured, due to the Israeli control of the Erez crossing and the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing being closed more often than opened. Our sick suffer for want of necessary medications and medical supplies and equipment.
Since 2005, over 170 Palestinian organizations have called for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions to pressure Israel to comply with international law. Since 2003, Palestinians have weekly met in villages in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, to protest Israel’s occupation policies.
Creative civilian efforts such as the Free Gaza boats that broke through the blockade five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the many land convoys must never stop their siege-breaking efforts, highlighting the inhumanity of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open-air prison.
On the 2nd of December, 2010, 22 international organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report ‘Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ calling for international action to force Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying that despite the reported June 2010 “easing” of the closure, the Palestinians of Gaza continue to live in the same devastating conditions. Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report "Separate and Unequal" that denounced Israeli policies as Apartheid, echoing similar sentiments by South African anti-apartheid activists.
We call on the citizens of the world oppose this deadly, medieval blockade. The failure of governments and world bodies to condemn such crimes is tantamount to complicity. Only civil society is able to mobilize to demand the application of international law and put an end to Israel’s impunity. The intervention of civil society was effective in the late 1980s against the apartheid regime of South Africa. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have not only described Israel’s oppressive and violent control of Palestinians as Apartheid, they have also joined this call for the world’s civil society to intervene again.
We call on the nations and citizens of the world to continue and/or reinitiate their plans to sail to Gaza to challenge and break the Israeli blockade. The civil society initiatives of the Freedom Flotillas are about taking a stance of justice and solidarity with besieged Palestinians when your governments will not. We call on the Flotilla movement to continue to sail until the blockade of Gaza is entirely lifted and Palestinians of Gaza are granted the basic human rights and freedom of movement citizens around the world enjoy.
University Teachers' Association
Palestinian Nongovernmental Organizations Network
Palestine Red Crescent Society in Gaza
General Union of Youth Entities
Arab Cultural Forum
General Union for Health Services Workers
General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Union of Synergies—Women Unit
Union of Palestinian Women Committees
Women’s Studies Society
Working Woman’s Society
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
One Democratic State Group
Palestinian Youth against Apartheid
Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Info
Palestine Sailing Federation
Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime
Palestinian Women Committees
Progressive Students Union
Medical Relief Society
The General Society for Rehabilitation
Afaq Jadeeda Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children
Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth
Ghassan Kanfani Kindergartens
Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah
Rafah Olympia City Sisters
Al Awda Centre,
Rafah Al Awda Hospital,
Jabaliya Camp Ajyal Association,
GazaGeneral Union of Palestinian Syndicates
Al Karmel Centre
Nuseirat Local Initiative
Beit Hanoun Union of Health Work Committees
Red Crescent Society Gaza Strip
Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information Society
Women Section - Union of Palestinian Workers Syndicate
Middle East Childrens’ Alliance -Gaza
Local Initiative -Beit Hanoun