WILPF Middle East statement on Gaza - January 2, 2009
We, the members of the Women's International League for Peace Freedom, are horrified at Israel's bombing of Gaza.
We join with millions around the world in protests and call for an immediate cease fire.
We are profoundly distressed, knowing that the continuous bombardment will lead to further civilian deaths and suffering, and this massive escalation of violence could spiral out of control and engulf the whole region in war.
The massive air attack is a crime against humanity as it comes on top of the two-year inhumane siege that Israel has imposed on the one and a half million people living in Gaza, the world's largest prison.
As US citizens, we call on our own government to use its decisive influence on Israel to stop the bombing and pledge not to do a ground invasion of Gaza.
We condemn "Operation Cast Lead," which began around 11:30 A.M on Saturday, December 27, as 64 aircraft delivered over 100 tons of explosives upon 50 to 100 suspected Hamas targets in the Strip, and
is the largest Israeli operation on Gaza since 1967. This operation represents major violations of International law, which forbids the collective punishment of a whole population, the targeting of civilian populations and civilian infrastructure, and the disproportionate use of military attacks against a civilian population which has no national army.
We condemn US complicity, as described by Phyllis Bennis:
"The United States remains directly complicit in Israeli violations of both U.S. domestic and international law through its continual provision of military aid. The current round of air strikes have been carried out largely with F-16 bombers and Apache attack helicopters both provided to Israel through U.S. military aid grants of about $3 billion in U.S. taxpayer money sent to Israel every year… In short, Israel's lethal attack today on the Gaza Strip could not have happened without the active military support of the United States."
(Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, December 28,2008.
We also call on President-elect Obama to use his influence to make a positive change in this situation.
We support the demand of the Middle East Quartet for an immediate 48 hour cease-fire fully respected by both sides. We support their call "for all parties to address the serious and economic needs in Gaza and to take the necessary measures to ensure the continuous provisions to address the serious humanitarian crisis."
We call on the UN to adopt and enforce a binding resolution to ensure an immediate ceasefire, to lift the blockade of the territory imposed by Israel, and to provide immediate humanitarian aid.
As of this writing, more than 400 Palestinians have been killed and over 2000 have been wounded, the majority of whom are women and children, which is the natural consequence of bombing one and half million people enclosed in an area in which 50% of the population are children and 70% are refugees.
While we recognize the incredible military advantage of Israel, we also recognize the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel, as this threatens the lives of Israelis civilians and is used as a pretext to continue bombing.
We urge all parties to come to the peace table to negotiate an agreement that would restore a just peace, address injustices, and build long-term economic prosperity that would benefit all people living in the region.
Our WILPF Palestinian sisters state: "Israel and the International community should recognize the democratically elected representatives, and lifting all the economic siege imposed on the Palestinian government and people, and the release of all political prisoners among them 45 Palestinian Parliamentarians. Without these measures peace cannot flourish and Hamas cannot abide to the demands of the international community".
The Israeli Women's Coalition for Peace, which includes WILPF, states:
"The dance of death and destruction must come to an end. We demand that war no longer be an option, nor violence as strategy, nor killing an alternative. The society we want is one in which every individual can lead a life of security – personal, economic, and social."