Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat urged the international community, Thursday, to uphold its role in forcing Israel to end its aggression against the Palestinian people, as agreed upon in November of 2012. A number of countries, including Malaysia, have issued statements in regard. At least 89 people, with over 600 wounded, have now been reported killed during the recent military strikes on Gaza.
‘We are a people under occupation,’ Erekat said, according to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency:
‘Israel does not defend itself, as some people would say. It rather defends its occupation, its aggression and its settlements, and that is the reality.’
Erekat further stated that the current operation against Gaza is an all-out war, noting that the aggression has so far resulted in over 80 killings, in addition to hundreds of injuries which have taken place in only the past 48 hours.
‘We seek, in all our capacities, to defend our people. We should act ‘shoulder to shoulder’ and utilize our power against the right direction, which is Israel’s aggression and occupation,’ he said, stressing: ‘Now is the time for national unity.’
Several international officials have already publicly condemned the recent string of assaults on the Gaza Strip.
On Thursday, the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) requested the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton, to intervene with Israeli authorities in bringing to an immediate halt the escalating attacks on Gaza.
According to WAFA, the ECCP is a network of 50 European committees, organizations, NGOs and international solidarity movements from 20 European countries, dedicated to the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom, justice and equality.
In a letter, the organization said: ‘We urge you, Madam the High Representative, to intervene with utmost urgency in order to halt the rapidly escalating Israeli assault on Gaza, to prevent what already resembles a second ‘Operation Cast Lead’, and to call upon all EU member states to follow suit.
The EU must use all means at its disposal – including political and economic pressure and sanctions – to prevent further massacre. A massacre which, in addition, would predictably result in such outrage that, in view of the heightened tensions throughout the region, could spark further turmoil, adding to the looming threat of an all-out regional war.’
Israeli troops have been mobilized along the border and 40,000 reservists have been called up for a possible ground invasion:
‘We are entering into a long operation,’ a senior Israeli army source said, according to WAFA. ‘We are only at the start. Patience is required. We are preparing further steps and a gradual expansion of our order of battle.’
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told a parliamentary committee, earlier on Thursday, that a ceasefire with Hamas was ‘not even on the agenda.’
The letter went on to say that, following the offensive which Israel calls ‘Operation Cast Lead’ (2008-2009), during which over 1,400 people were killed, mostly civilians to including numerous children, as well as ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’ (2012), which resulted in many more dead and wounded, a UN investigation found that Israel conducted a ‘deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population’, for which the responsible Israeli officials should face ‘individual criminal responsibility’.
And, furthermore: ‘We urge you Madame the High Representative to use all measures which the EU has at its disposal, including sanctions, to end the present escalating Israeli attack on Gaza in order to prevent what already resembles a second ‘Cast Lead’.’
The letter noted that the population of Gaza ‘remains trapped inside its perimeters under siege, while the bombs reign down on them.’
‘In contrast to other conflict zones around the world, the people of Gaza are even denied the possibility to escape. This includes the wounded who, caged inside Gaza, cannot access the necessary (life-saving) medical treatment, as due to the siege hospitals supplies are extremely limited as is the fuel needed to keep things running, including ambulances. According to international law, a civilian population has the right to protection – a protection which the people of Gaza are flagrantly denied.
”Operation Protective Edge’ must be seen within the broader context of the occupation and on-going illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, which amounts to economic and political warfare, and highlights the asymmetry between Israel – a highly militarized occupying power – and the mainly civilian Palestinian population of Gaza. Israel’s recent actions constitute collective punishment, a crime against humanity prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as by customary international humanitarian law.’
According to Article 50 of the Hague Regulations: “No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted on the population on account of acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.” By attacking Gaza Strip the Israeli government is imposing a collective punishment on the Gaza population in violation of these two provisions of international humanitarian law.
Extra-judicial killings and indiscriminate, disproportionate attacks against civilians for political ends are unacceptable, illegal under international law, and should be strongly condemned. Shells and bombs will not bring peace or calm to the region. A durable and inclusive solution can only be achieved if international law and UN resolutions are fully implemented.
The ECCP said, additionally: ‘The EU must comply with its obligations. In spite of the predictable deploring and condemning, until present the EU has failed to take any serious, effective measures to stop Israel’s grave and ongoing violations of international law and Palestinian rights, despite its legal obligation to do so. The EU is therefore complicit in Israeli crimes and in maintaining/prolonging Israeli impunity.
‘In particular, the EU must not allow Israel to use the rockets fired from Gaza as a pretext to justify the disproportionate, inhuman and indiscriminate military operation against Gaza, which causes numerous casualties among civilians, including children and women. The EU and its member states must prevent what already resembles a second Cast Lead, pressure Israel to immediately cease its assault and work towards a mutual ceasefire.
‘The EU should also remain focused on the matter and strive to ensure that any ceasefire agreement is adhered to.
‘The ceasefire agreement following the November 2012 assault on Gaza called for the total cessation of all attacks of Israel into the Gaza Strip (as well as all attacks from Gaza into Israel), and for the opening of the crossings and facilitating movements of people and the transfer of goods 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire. Israel violated the ceasefire conditions on a daily basis from the beginning, attacking Gaza more than a hundred times in the first three months alone, with total impunity and no condemnation from the EU.
‘The EU policy of maintaining close relations with Israel, as a supposed means of persuading it to end its violations of human rights and international law, has clearly failed,’ it said. ‘The EU cannot once again merely stand by while Gaza is being massacred! The time is long overdue for the EU to go beyond empty rhetoric and meaningless declarations, ritually repeated over the years, and back up its words with effective action!
‘Sustainment of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, including the many de-facto upgrades which cunningly occurred over the years, sends a clear message to Israel that it will not be held to the same standards as other countries that violate human rights,’ the ECCP further stated:
‘Maintaining the status quo regarding EU-Israel relations only serves as a green light for Israel to continue to carry out its crimes with impunity.
‘If the EU is to be consistent with its own stated principles and is to be seen as a credible, serious global player, ECCP said that ‘it is high time for the EU to cease its longstanding treatment of Israel with a preferential status, while turning a blind eye to its ongoing crimes. The EU must adopt restrictive measures, including immediate suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, in full conformity with the requirements of the Agreement, which provide that the ‘EU’s external action shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, i.e. democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect for the principles of the United Nations.’
‘The EU document ‘Restrictive measures (sanctions) in force » of July 2013 lists measures currently in force against some thirty countries,’ the ECCP went on to say.
”Israel’s policies represent much graver and persistent violations of international law and accepted international norms than the violations by many other countries against which the EU has taken measures. Numerous UN Security Council resolutions, as well as the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice attest to this.’
Meanwhile, in Spain, hundreds of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian supporters rallied, on Thursday, to protest Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip, WAFA further reports.
Palestinian community members in Spain, as well as pro-Palestinians from United Left, Spanish Solidarity Network against the Occupation of Palestine, Boyott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) participated in rallies held in various Spanish cities.
Coinciding with the opening of a popular film festival in Xixón, Spain’s largest city, protestors marched in front of the festival, demanding barring Israel from participating in it, demanding Spain and other EU member states to take serious positions on Israeli aggression on Gaza, including halting mutual cooperation with Israel.
Several Spanish political parties, particularly United Left, also commemorated the tenth anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the West Bank apartheid wall in Madrid and other cities.
During a session titled ‘10 Years of Impunity’, the Spanish Parliamentary Committee for Palestine, diplomats, civilian actors and other speakers stressed that the construction of the wall is contrary to the international law and that it should be dismantled, according to WAFA.
Also stressed, during the session, was the need to reach a just peace through respecting the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Across the ocean, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also condemned the recent Israeli military aggression against Gaza:
“Malaysia condemns in the strongest terms the series of military airstrikes carried out by Israel under Operation Protective Edge on the Gaza Strip which has claimed the lives of at least 24 Palestinians including 7 children while 1njuring 150 others,” said the Ministry in a press statement issued online:
‘Malaysia demands Israel to immediately cease its military aggression towards the Palestinian people and urge all parties involved to stop any provocative action which may escalate the already tense situation.
‘Malaysia calls on all parties to exercise restraint to avoid greater damage and loss of life, especially among the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.’
A number of representatives from other countries around the world have also issued similar statements.