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Wednesday, November 02, 2005


APPEAL: Ongoing Crisis in Gaza Demands World Attention


APPEAL: Ongoing Crisis in Gaza Demands World Attention
Israel’s Wanton Attacks Must Stop
October 30, 2005

Since the Israeli settlers withdrew and the army redeployed from the Gaza Strip, the Strip has been subjected to constant attacks and unbearable collective punishments imposed by the Israeli army and aimed primarily at innocent civilians.

The attacks are carried out in three main forms, the first of which is bombings by F-16 fighter jets, Apache gunship helicopters, and tanks. These attacks target civilian areas and infrastructure, including a school and a charitable organization, both of which were destroyed, as well as homes, businesses, and roads.

Eight people were recently killed by an Israeli bombing in the crowded Jabaliya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip. Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi attended the funeral of the eight victims, including two children and a 50-year-old school principle, all of whom happened to be in the area when Israel carried out its illegal assassination attack that killed one wanted man.

Dr. Barghouthi said, “It was unbelievably sad to see the eight bodies laid out, including the two small ones, at the funeral. These horrible attacks against innocent people must stop.”

Sonic Boom Attacks

The second form of attack is sonic booms by low-flying jets that break the sound barrier. This causes unbearably loud noises and effects similar to an earthquake; broken glasses and dishes, damage to homes such as cracks in walls and ceilings, broken windows, etc.

Worse, the sounds are indistinguishable from actual bombings, which are also ongoing. This terrorizes people and can cause permanent psychological damage, especially in children, who often become hysterical when they hear the shattering sounds. Immediate health effects include headaches, hearing loss, dizziness, and nausea. Heart patients are vulnerable, because the shock of fear causes a sudden spike in adrenaline in their blood, which can be deadly. The shock can also cause pregnant women to miscarry.

Sonic booms are some of the most violent and terrifying forms of collective punishment against civilians, and on a recent night, sonic attacks occurred at 11:00 p.m., midnight, 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m., 2:30 a.m., 3:00 a.m., etc, depriving 1.4 million people of the basic necessity of sleep. The next day the attacks started again at random hours. The psychological effects of this terror cannot be overstated.

This is the first time Israel has employed sonic boom attacks against Palestinians, presumably because now there is no chance that the collective punishment will affect settlers.

Palestinians have called on the UN and other international organizations to investigate the extent of these attacks and the damage they cause as well as to condemn Israel and demand that the illegal attacks stop immediately.

One Giant Prison

The third form of collective punishment is that Gaza has indeed become a giant prison, with border restrictions much more severe than they were before the redeployment. Movement is blocked from every direction, including Rafah (to Egypt) and Erez (to Israel), which have been closed almost continuously since the redeployment. The situation is so bad that many have gone on hunger strike at the Rafah border to demand their freedom of movement and demand an end to the terrible and illegal collective imprisonment.

Medicins du Monde (MDM) of France reported in a recent press release that restricted access through Erez and Rafah has denied a large number of Palestinian patients access to specialized medical care in Israel and Egypt.
Since the redeployment, Rafah has only been randomly opened five times, while movement through Erez has slowed to a trickle; the terminal is currently completely closed.

Patients who require heart operations, catheterization, dialysis, chemotherapy, etc. are particularly affected. This restricted access deprives the civilian population and hundreds of patients of their basic right to health, which is protected by international humanitarian law (IHL).
IHL strictly condemns the use of collective punishment against civilian populations for political reasons.

MDM demands that Israel guarantee access of the Palestinian population to medical services and to refrain from imposing collective penalties on the civilian population in clear violation of IHL principals.

The West Bank, too, has been subjected to collective punishments, including blockages of movement that have dire social, economic, and health consequences. A massive new Israeli checkpoint is currently being built south of Nablus, which aims to completely sever the northern West Bank from the rest of the West Bank, another step in Israel’s ongoing cantonization and imprisonment of Palestinian territory.

Call for Immediate Action

Unfortunately, the world at large has very little idea of the scope of Israel’s attacks, and the international community has not reacted in any way to stem the tide of illegal and indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians by the Israeli government.

In accordance with IHL, Israel remains the “occupying power” in Gaza since it continues to maintain “effective control” over land, air, and sea around the Gaza Strip. Its occupation of Gaza has not ended, and in many ways has intensified. The world must understand what is happening to the people of Gaza and must act quickly.

The modern world cannot justify illegal attacks against civilians that occur without any violations by innocent civilian residents of the Gaza Strip in clear violation of international law.

We call on international citizens to place every possible pressure on their government, and international actors to place every possible pressure on the Israeli government to put an end to its aggression against civilians in the Gaza Strip and to refrain from using terrible collective punishments as instruments of political control.

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