As an outsider to Blackburn, please excuse me entering into your group debate. It is important for people to know the truth: Israel has justified it’s massacre of civilians and illegal destruction of civilian infrastructure on the grounds of defending it’s citizens against Hamas rocket fire which broke the ceasefire. The Israeli government knows that this is a blatant lie, just as the justification for the invasion of Iraq by western governments was based on the lie that Saddam had nuclear weapons, which he didn’t have – a lie for which 1,000,000 Iraqis lost their lives and 4,000,000 Iraqis have become refugees.
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, an Israeli site used by the Israeli government, has published statistics of rocket and mortar fire from January to November 2008. (Please see attachment with graph taken from their site).During the ceasefire – from June19th to mid Nov. – there was a reduction in fire from1,199 rockets in the first six months to twenty rockets in the last six months of 2008. None of these twenty rockets were fired by Hamas, who were doing everything they could to restrain the militant groups firing these rockets. Israel in the same period of time had killed between 29-30 Gazans. On Nov 5th they again broke the ceasefire by assassinating another six Gazans when the world’s eyes were on the USA Election results.
Another USA study on ceasefires has shown that in almost every case of ceasefires being broken, it is Israel who first breaks the ceasefire.*
Israel also totally failed to comply with the conditions of the ceasefire which required them to keep open the border crossings. In late November 2008, before the beginning of the current massacre, I visited the Erez Crossing at Gaza, to support members of 14 international aid agencies who had come to deliver aid and had been forbidden entry to Gaza. One of our party was a surgeon working for a church-based organisation. She specialised in facial reconstructive surgery and had booked appointments for her people within Gaza but was forbidden access to her patients by the Israel govt.. In the three hours that we stood at the crossing, which is the main commercial crossing into Gaza, not one truck or lorry came in or out of the crossing. It was ghostly in it’s silence and ghostly in the absence of any humans or human traffic. The normal number of delivery vehicles should be between 500-700 daily to sustain the needs of the 1.5 million population trapped behind the Israeli Wall. Standing at the silent crossing, with journalists, medics, aid agencies, diplomats, church clergy forbidden to enter, we all guessed that something sinister was about to happen to the people trapped helplessly inside. Some used the word "genocide".
If this present massacre is not about defending Israeli citizens, then what is it about? The Israel-Egyptian negotiations give us a clue as to the real reason: Israel has asked that the thousands of Palestinians on the Gazan side of Rafah are transferred to Egyptian control. Egypt is about to set up a large compound of tents for them. Now, is population transfer illegal or not? Is population transfer a form of genocide or not? Tens of thousands of USA and European Jews have been funded to move into illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land and thousands of Palestinians have been pushed off their land or forced to emigrate – is this not part of the Israeli project to Judaise the entirety of Palestine?
About Jack Straw. In December 2005 a report on E.Jerusalem commissioned by the EU** expressed concern about the Israeli Government project to Judaise Jerusalem ( the attempt to make Jerusalem into a united Jewish City by destroying Arab houses, stealing Arab land, moving Jewish Settlers into Palestinian houses by expelling the Palestinian owners and building Jewish-only Settlements on Palestinian land in E.Jerusalem). When the report came before the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels it was decided to shelve it – not to publish the report because it might offend the Israeli Govt.
The British held the EU Presidency at that time and Jack Straw was the Foreign Minister. As far as I know, he chaired that meeting. He certainly gave the announcement that the report was not to be published.The very next day Israel announced it’s intention to build another 300 Jewish-only houses in Maale Adumin, the biggest illegal settlement in E.Jerusalem. It seems an amazing coincidence that the israeli announcement followed immediately the day of the suppression of the EU Report. Did Jack Straw have prior knowledge of the Israeli plans to build these houses? Maale Adumin has since expanded further since then. Why did Jack Straw not consider that the rights of the Palestinians to their land, homes, to equal housing, to access to their holy shrines, to work,to access to the W.Bank etc more important than Israeli sensibilities about justifiable criticism from the EU? Instead of protecting Israel from the consequences of it’s own crimes, why did he not insist on action being taken by the EU to defend the Palestinian victims of these crimes?
None of this is party-political – I have never belonged to any political party- but I do believe that Ministers should be accountable for the consequences of decisions they take or fail to take and that constituents have a right and duty to request such accountability.
Sincerely, Anne Candlin
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on – Sir Winston Churchill