The pressure on Israel to end its oppression and occupation of the Palestinians grows.
Out of this devastation, a victory
The rockets and bombs stopped at 16:00 hours GMT on the 26th of August 2014, marking the end of Israel’s terror campaign on the Palestinian people in Gaza. There was no formal announcement from Cairo as advertised. Israel remained silent bth in print and on TV and Mahmoud Abbas held a meeting with the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to outline his ‘unconventional’ plan for peace.
Spontaneous celebrations broke out first in Gaza, then in the rest of Palestine. Many of those interviewed in Gaza that had lost loved ones and homes, were unanimous in celebrating the victory and praising and thanking the resistance.
At this moment of time, let us all give the unbelievably brave people of Gaza the time and space to celebrate. Yes, the price has been astronomical, both interms of death and injury and in the destruction. Israel showed its true colours, a violent, callus, colonialist occupier with a supremacy and arrogance unmatched in the whole world. The hatred that its campaign in Gaza has generated could be felt for generations to come.Almost 60 families in Gaza were wiped off the national register. Over 500 children have been killed and a total of over 2,100 Palestinians were killed. The over 10,000 injured, many with permanent disabilities and the destruction to homes, hospitals, mosques, water and electricity services is simply obscene.
The reason Palestinians claim a victory despite the above is that Israel failed to achieve any of stated and often changing objectives. Rockets were launched, reaching Tel Aviv right up to the ceasefire. The extent of damage to the ‘tunnels’ is unsubstantiated and the resistance groups have not been disarmed.
The resistance groups did not start or invite this attack. Israel used he pretext of the kidnapping and killing of three settlers to attack Palestinians, first in the West Bank, then in Gaza. Its murderous armed forces killed mainly civilians while the Israeli dead were almost all military personnel. Therefore the terror came from the IDF not the Palestinians.
Israel ends this war defeated, exposed as a racist, brutal occupier, under increasing isolation and facing an escalating Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS). Its multi-billion dollar arsenal of weapons, which it unleashed without mercy failed to bring it victory. Its leaders are now seen as failures, including Netanyahu.
The Palestinians come out of this war more united. This should help them achieve a just peace as the deterrence factor which the resistance holds is now a strong card in their hands. The Investigative Committee into Israel’s war crimes will confirm that war crimes were committed. The Palestinians are now on the verge of signing the Rome Statutes and therefore bring cases against Israel to the International Criminal Court.
So on balance, the Palestinians can celebrate a famous victory. This battle may be over but the war for liberation continues and freedom could be just that bit closer.
Throughout the Israeli terrorist attack on Gaza, the question I have been asked repeatedly has been “What next for Palestine”? I have resisted committing to an answer or at least to expressing a view because it is a very complicated situation to understand, analyse and then gaze through a crystal ball and see beyond the here and now.
At the time of writing, over 2,100 Palestinians were murdered by Israel, over 10,000 injured, tens of thousands of homes destroyed and the infrastructure of Gaza has been almost reduced to rubble. On the Israeli side less than one hundred have been killed including only four civilians, some minor damage to infrastructure, air raid sirens have sounded regularly and flights in and out of Ben Gurion airport has been disrupted.
Both sides have claimed a victory of of sorts. It seems to me that if measured by death and destruction, Israel has one. However, if measured by resilience and disruption to everyday life, the Palestinain resistance has own hands down. As I said in a previous blog Netanyahu has looked and sounded less convincing both to his people and to the world. In contrast, Hamas in particular has sounded more believable and reliable in its media campaign.
I am not a military person and have no access to assessments of the military capabilities of the resistance groups but if Israel’s strategic objective was to halt the firing of rockets then it has failed. On day 50 of the attack, over one hundred rockets were fired, reaching as far north as Tel Aviv. The main success Israel can really claim I terms of degrading the capabilities of the resistance groups are a number of assassinations of key military leaders. However, history shows, military leaders are replaced seamlessly and the resistance groups were at the start of the attack stronger than ever.
I am naturally very sad that so many Palestinians have lost loved ones, so many are injured and so many have been displaced and in many cases have no homes to return to. I had hoped that the ceasefire, which held until the 18th of August could have morphed into. Permenant ceasefire, but Israel preferred to continue its terror campaign. It’s targeting of family homes is simply immoral and counterproductive. It simply raises hatred towards Israelis that will take a major effort over many years to subdue. How can child that has lost a mother, father and brothers and sisters and knows it was Israel that ‘did it’ forgive?
How long might the fighting go on for?
All the signs point to a continuation of the fighting. Although Egypt has invited the Palestinian and Israeli delegations back, there has not been a rush to Cairo. It seems the resistance and the people of Gaza -as far as I can detect- are united of wanting as a minimum a complete lifting of the siege and the Permenant opening of the Rafah crossing. Demands for reconstruction of the airport and seaport seem to have been out off for a future discussion. Israel wants the Gaza’disarmed’.
Pressure on Israel is mounting from settlers in the settlements nearest to Gaza, particularly as the new school year approaches. They have lost patience with Netanyahu’s leadership and Ya’lon’s empty promises for Permenant quiet. I would argue that the recent return of the Israeli negotiating team from Cairo, followed by the assassination of three senior Hamas leaders, led directly to the renewed firing of rockets that have impacted on their lives. Therefore Netanyahu is directly to blame for their predicament. They also saw senior politicians and military leaders cancel trips to their settlements for ‘security fears’ despite asking them to return.
I think however, that their pressure more than any other factor, could have the most significant impact on the situation. If anything is going to force Israel to return to the negotiating table, it is this pressure. I therefore call on the settlers to be even more vocal!
There seems to be less pressure from Palestinians on the resistance groups to concede on any of their demands for the complete lifting of the siege, despite the heavy human and economic cost.
If pushed then I would say that I expect the negotiating teams to return to Cairo in the middle of next week and for a renewed ceasefire to be agreed towards the end of the week. This would allow both Palestinain and Israeli children to return to school and it would become difficult for both sides to renew the fighting on e that pattern has been established.
I may have to eat my words!
what about the political situation?
Once the dust has settled, which is an unfortunate phrase in the context of Gaza, the Palestinains will have to decide what steps to take next to reach their goals of independence and freedom. PLO Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, gave an indication in a recent interview that because Israel does not want to see a Palestinain state based on the 1967 border, he will be putting forward and alternative within the next week or so. He would not elaborate but importantly thought the Americans would not like it. His Foreign Minister, Riyadh Almalki would not be drawn either on a different channel on what this proposal might entail.
Pressure is mounting on the Palestinain Authority to sign the Rome Statutes in order to start the process of bringing Israeli war criminals to justice for their war crimes. Abbas had asked all factions to agree before signing the request as they would need to weigh up the implications for them. I understand that all but Islamic Jihad have now agreed to this step and therefore we could soon see Abbas’s signature on the request to join the Rome statutes.
Once that step is taken, the doors of legal hell will open on Israeli leaders and rightly so. Even since Palestine was recognised as anon-member state of the UN, in 2012, Israel has committed sufficient war crimes through military attacks and settlement building to fill the ICC’s calendar for years. The ICC will be assisted by the UN Human Rights Council Investigative Committee into the current attack in Gaza, which will add volumes of evidence to war crimes.
This of course will not pass without incident. The US and European allies of Israel will do everything in their power to dissuade the Palestinians from this step. They will use economic blackmail on the PA and Israel may simply lay a siege to the West Bank. It is already stopping many Palestinians from leaving via Jordan for their normal business and can strengthen birth internal barriers between cities and towns and stop all travel.
Thought the current attack in Gaza Palestinians from all factions have insisted that the previous divisions that existed before the Government of National Agreement was announced are largely behind them. The Cairo negotiating team was made up of all the factions and this has held up well to pressure. This augurs well for the future, although there are still major hurdles to overcome, especially in terms of security arrangements and absorption of PA workers from both Fatah and Hamas into the Government of Gaza . I would even predict that Mahmoud Abbas himself will visit Gaza within three months.
Israel to face more isolation
Israel’s attack on Gaza this time has surpassed all its previous violent, callus attacks both on Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008/9. It’s reputation and standing in use World are in tatters. If it wasn’t for the strength of the pro-Israel Lobby in the US and parts of Europe, it would have been isolated and faced sanctions. But the level of disgust among ordinary citizens of these countries with its actions has reached a new high. Social media has provided them with accurate information about this terrorist campaign and Israel lost the PR war, despite its influence in traditional media.
Israel will become rapidly more isolated and boycotts of its products both by Palestinians and the escalating international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement will have a growing economic and cultural impact. It is of course possible that Israeli society will simply choose to ignore this and carry on as if there is no problem. They are in what I described as a moral coma and do not seem to be waking up from it. But this will come.
Will the two state solution survive the 2014 Gaza war?
In my view, the two-state solution, based on Israel leaving the occupied territories any time soon is dead. Most senior Israel leaders have told us as much but the PA and interestingly, the US and other supporters of Israel have refused to prepare its coffin. Does anyone think that Netanyahu, Bennett, Lieberman, Livni or Lapid really want it? No they do jot. They simply have different ways of articulating its death.
This leaves the Palestinians with no option but to call for equal rights for all that live in historic Palestine in one state. After all those that live in western style democracies should be calling for this as the fair democratic right of all human beings. They will of course make an exception here because they have been told by Israel that Israel is a state for Jews. But since they have failed to persuade Israel to leave the occupied territories, it say to them only come back and suggest a two-state solution when Israel says it accepts it and negotiates simply a schedule for leaving the illegal settlements, starting with Hebron and leaving East Jerusalem.
Peace or security?
Israel wants a ‘quiet occupation’ which guarantees security. It does not have that. Only yesterday (23/8/2014), it faced rockets from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. It is time Israelis understood that security comes hand in hand with a just peace and not a moment before it.
Pressure will now mount on Netanyahu to end the attack on Gaza and bring quiet. Support for his violent campaign is plummeting. See below
In the Palestinian camp leaks suggest “Abbas to turn to international community with deadline for Israel”. The idea would be to require a deadline for the end of the occupation. If this failed then it is suggested he could dissolve the Palestinian Authority. The next step would I believe be yo ask for equal rights. Will Abbas ask for a vote for the Knesset?
I watched Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today (20 August) at his press conference, which he held with his Defence Minister Ya’alon. I had a flashback. I remembered the fall of Baghdad. The particular image was that of Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf, Iraq’s Information Minister at the time. He was speaking to the media, denying the Americans had reached Baghdad but unbeknown to him, American tanks were in the background. He was living in denial.
Today Benjamin Netanyahu too was living in denial. At his press conference, he was at pains to point out Israel’s successes in the attack on Gaza and in particular successes against Hamas. He failed to mention that foreign airlines were cancelling flights to Tel Aviv for fear of Hamas rockets. Just half an hour before Netanyahu’s press conference, Alqassam Brigades spokesman, Abu Obeidah was warning foreign airlines to avoid Ben Gurion airport from 3 am GMT ON 21 August.
Whatever you think of Hamas and whichever side you support, it is clear that the military capability of the resistance groups in Gaza appear to be largely intact. The rockets are still being launched and are reaching Tel Aviv and Israelis in the settlements on the edge of Gaza are still within reach.
Netanyahu claims that the IDF has destroyed all the tunnels but Hamas has broadcast footage of tunnels and fighters demon starting how they survived during the fighting and their still current capability.
Netanyahu has failed to achieve what became rolling objectives from the terrorist campaign on Gaza. Initially it was all to do with the kidnapping and killing of three settlers near Hebron, not by anyone from Gaza but allegedly ordered and financed by Hamas. Then it was about eradicating the rockets. Later it became about the tunnels. Eventually it was about disarming the resistance.
None of the above objectives have been achieved to date. Instead, as the ceasefire collapsed on 19 August, Israel returned to the targeting of family homes. On that evening, Israel bombed the Aldalou family home in Beit Hanoun. It later became apparent that they thought they had targeted Mohammed Aldaif, Head of the AlQassam Brigade. In fact, he was not hit but his wife and seven month old baby were murdered as Widad was breast feeding Ali.
Netanyahu was clearly hoping to announce a major ‘kill’ but instead he killed more women and children. He and his spokesmen repeatedly compare Hamas with the Islamic State (IS). He referred to their use of children as human shields which all but Zionists have refuted. He talked of IS murdering children. Well, he and his defence minister are responsible for the murder of over 500 hundred children. The comparison of a resistance movement, working to end Israel’s occupation (whatever you think of their methods) with a murderous rogue group IS is a false one. Slaughter of civilians with a knife is little different to slaughter with the press of a button, which drops a one tonne bomb on a family home. IS are the two first letters of ISrael.
I spent the last few days of the Israeli attack on Gaza and the first couple of ceasefires in Jerusalem among family and friends. My first impression upon arrival was of an extremely tense atmosphere between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis. They were clearly not mixing as freely as they had on my previous visits, each fearful of intimidation or attack by the other. Many Palestinians had lost jobs working for Israelis and serious attempts to boycott Israeli goods and services had started.
Those were largely led by children, so moved and angered by the murder of fellow Palestinian children in Gaza, that they were insisting their parents refrained from supporting the economy of the killers. They pointed to boycotts abroad and said “how can we continue to buy Israeli,products when people around the world are boycotting them”?
The evenings saw regular clashes between Palestinain youngsters and Israeli occupation forces. Access to Alaqsa mosque was restricted on many occasions, causing anger and discontent. The memory of the murder -by Jewish terrorists- of Mohammed Abu Khdair was still fresh in the minds of Palestinians. He was brutally beaten and burnt alive not far from where I was staying. This made it particularly poignant for me. The family held a peaceful memorial service at his home in Shu’fat but the mourners were attacked by Israeli forces which confirmed that far from their self declared label as a ‘the most moral army in the world’, they were petty, violent and immoral.
Friends and family were glued to their TV screens, watching in particular Gaza’s Alaqsa TV and Beirut’s Almayadeen for accurate reports of the fighting, interspersed with analysis on Israeli TV.
There was a general sense of shock at the lack of condemnation and serious attempts to halt what the locals perceived as an attack not only on Gaza, but on the whole Palestinain population, as arrests and intimidation continued in the West Bank. They asked “where are the Arabs”? “They have not even condemned this murder and destruction”. They asked why Egypt was not opening the Rafah crossing and why the West had supported Israel in what it called ‘self defence’. “Can’t they see the pictures of the dead? Can’t they see the children being brought to Alshifa hospital in pieces”?
What was different about this particular savage attack on Gaza by Israel, was the growth and ease of access to social media. Israel could not hide the results of its atrocities as images and videos were shared instantaneously.
But they were not the only images being shared. Images from protests around the world were being shared, particularly those which took place in London. The images from the protest of the 9th of August, were particularly heartening to them. The image that people saw and shared was that taken from an elevated point at the start of that protest, at the BBC headquarters. It was jaw dropping. They contrasted this great image with the lack of similar images from Arab capitals. People here had seen images of previous demonstrations and had heard about the resignation of Baroness Warsi, which the media they have access to in Palestine had covered extensively. But there was still a sense of resigned disappointment that the sacrifice the Palestinians in Gaza had made, including the resistance groups, was not met with the resounding condemnation of the actions of the occupier that was required.
The last story that broke from the UK during my visit was that of the Government considering a review of arms sales to Israel. I was taken aback by a question from a thirteen year old relative of mine who asked “uncle, is it true that Britain gives Israel strong weapons to kill the Palestinians in Gaza? Really is it true”? I paused for a moment and felt ashamed to answer yes. But I explained that not only adults but children like him marched in London to put pressure on the British Government to end its military trade and cooperation with Israel. I promised him that this would continue. The children here are smart and articulate. He looked at me and said “inshallah”!
It is extremely difficult to predict what will happen next. Instead of an end to the military occupation, talks are now about a truce in Gaza. This suits Israel. It does not want to negotiate and certainly is against the creation of any entity that is called Palestine. Even in the current talks about a truce, it is looking for a staged alleviation of the siege. This means it remains in control of the lives of almost two million people. It likes that and has grown accustomed to it. This also means that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have no hope of immediate adequate shelters and other basic needs such as water, electricity and food.
As I left Palestine, I looked at Israeli Jews around me and wondered how they can go about their normal lives as if the occupation does not exist. They are living in denial and badly need therapy as a nation. They, not their Government are occupiers of another People. They send sons and daughters to oppress and kill. They look down on Palestinians as inferior human beings. They elect extremist anti-peace politicians that want to annex the remainder of Palestine and build a temple on the site of Alaqsa.
The Palestinians also need therapy. Therapy to deal with a decades-long occupation and humiliation. Therapy to cope with the lack of control of their daily lives and their destiny. They need help to understand how their just cause which has moved public opinion so markedly over the past decade has not moved western Government policy in their favour. They need help to understand how Obama and Cameron have stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel during its war on Gaza on the pretext of ‘self defence’. How could they see the horrendous death and. Destruction, the murder of children and not see what a monstrosity we have just witnessed. They need therapy to understand why even their Arab brothers have this time abandoned them.
The two sides face a real deadlock. It seems intensive therapy is needed to help them take step back, accept that they share a destiny and to formulate a way forward that truly helps them prepare a better future for their children, free from segregation and hate.
Israel continuously claims Jerusalem as it’s Capital and further promises that it will remain undevided. The Palestinians on the other hand are more flexible, claiming East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, currently a UN non member sate following the General Assembly vote to upgrade its status back in 2012.
In 1947/8 Israel effectively ethnically cleansed West Jerusalem of its Palestinain population. In 1967 Israel occupied East Jerusalem and has since worked to plant Israeli Jews illegally in ‘settlements’ in order to change Jerusalem’s demography. It worked to surround East Jerusalem with illegal settlements that only Jews can reside in, cutting it off from the rest of the West Bank and finally built a Wall to separate thousands of Palestinians from Jerusalem from their city.
the ‘special’ status of Palestinians from Jerusalem
But that is not the end of the story, When Israel occupied East Jerusalem it gave special status to Its Palestinain population, which is uniquely racist. It issued them with a ‘resident status’. Suddenly families that lived in Jerusalem for generations became temporary residents and stateless. They were issued with a blue Identity card, have neither Israeli nor Palestinain citizenship but have travel documents one issued by Jordan and one issued by Israel. The ‘residency ‘ status means that Israel can withdraw it at any time and does. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the residency of over 14,000 Palestinains. It claims Palestinians who cannot demonstrate that Jerusalem is ‘the centre of their lives’ have no need for the permit. Therefore, if a Palestinain lives abroad it will revoke the residency if they are away for seven or more years. Here is an example of a recent case, which illustrates this.
This is completely racist and a form of ethnic cleansing. If a Jew who moved to Israel, was granted citizenship and decided to live Jerusalem then decides to live abroad, s/he does not lose his/her right to return to the city he did not come from in the first place but a Palestinain born and bred in it loses his right to return.
Israel also makes it almost impossible for Palestinians from Jerusalem to form families with Palestinians from other parts of the West Bank that can live in Jerusalem. This means that a Palestinain man from say Bethlehem, who falls in love with a Palestinain woman from Jerusalem can end up in a very tricky position. He is unlikely to be allowed to live with his wife in Jerusalem as the Israelis would not give him permission to do so and If his wife moves to live with him in Bethlehem, she could lose her Jerusalem ID
and therefore her ‘residency right’. If they have children, Israel will not include them in her Jerusalem ID card and therefore they can never live in Jerusalem.
The above illustrates how Israel’s occupation impacts on the daily lives of Palestinians from Jerusalem but this is only one aspect.
Impact of the occupation on the fabric of Palestinian society
Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine directly attacks the social fabric of Palestinian society. While Israeli families can visit almost every part of historic Palestine, including the illegal settlements, Palestinians are stuck in cantons. Palestinians from Jerusalem cannot visit Gaza. They can visit the West Bank but those they visit cannot make reciprocal visits. And if a couple from Jerusalem decide to marry and wish to invite Palestinians from the West Bank to their wedding, they have to hold it on the West Bank side of the Wall. A popular venue is Azariyya or Ramallah. I speak from personal experience as this is what I had to do when I married a lady from Jerusalem with a Jerusalem ID card.
Cynical use of Planning permission to deny Palestinians the right to build
Discrimination between Jews and Palestinians extends to the right to build homes and commercial properties. In short, Jewish Israelis have far fewer and lower regulatory hurdles to build than Palestinians. This is clear racism. It is almost impossible for Palestinians in Jerusalem to obtain planning permission to build a house or to extend an existing house. While Israel argues illegal settlements need to expand to accommodate ‘natural growth’, it makes it impossible for Palestinian families to expand existing homes to accommodate sons who marry and wish to establish families. This results in them moving out of Jerusalem, to find affordable accommodation in the West Bank, thus potentially losing their Jerusalem Residency.
Jerusalem is holy to the three great religions and each has holy sites that Israel controls. The Alburaq or Western Wall is where Jews currently pray. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the most important Christian Church and one to which many Christians make a pilgrimage. Alaqsa mosque is the holiest place for Muslims outside Makkah and Madina. All seems fairly straight forward, except Jews claim that Alaqsa mosque sits on the site where a Jewish temple stood thousands of years ago and some want to build a temple on that same site. In addition, fanatical Jews including members of the Knesset now regularly enter the Alaqsa mosque, uninvited, protected by occupation forces with the intention of establishing that they have a right to it.
Any sensible person, who understands the power of religion for good and bad understands that any attempt to disturb the current relative peace on the Alaqsa mosque site is a recipe for igniting religious hatred and violence. We do not need this. Each religious group should simply pray at their current site and leave the other alone. I fear rabid Zionist in Israel will not heed this sensible call and will want to progress their mad idea of building a temple on the site of Alaqsa. What is needed is a clear and unambiguous decree by a moderate Jewish leader to ban such an attempt.
Taking the above features of the occupation collectively, I fear for Jerusalem and more specifically for the indigenous Palestinians whose shear continued existence is under attack. I do not accept that a Jew from outside historic Palestine has a right to ‘return’ to Jerusalem but an indigenous Palestinian can have his or her right to live in his or her home town revoked by the military occupier.
Jerusalem is a holy city, unique in its character and Israel should leave this untouched, at least from now on. This holy city is being torn apart by an unholy occupation that Zionists think will wipe out its Palestinian history and replace it with a fictitious continuous Jewish history that simply is not there. This is a city for everyone in the world to cherish and this world needs to wake up to Israel’s crimes in it. Alquds is far too precious to leave to a bunch of rabid and deluded Zionists to change to their liking.
I arrived in Jerusalem a few days ago, at the hight of Israel’s murderous, in humane attack on Gaza. I had the usual ‘security check’ at Tel Aviv, which was intrusive but bearable. The airport was distinctly devoid of the usual number of passengers. I picked up a rent a car and made my way to East Jerusalem. The trip was uneventful, except for radio announcements of rockets being launched from Gaza. I saw the first signs of trouble in the Mount of Olives district, which had seen clashes the night before. Burning garbage in a large bin and the smell of Israel’s latest weapon of oppression, the skunk – a sewage smelling like chemical-.
There was a higher police presence than normal in Attour but otherwise all looked similar to previous visits. As I met family members over a coffee, I was introduced to the rocket app! This produces a short siren sound and informs the user of the direction in which a rocket from Gaza is heading. Sometimes the app would come to life repeatedly and would fall silent for some time.
My first impressions are as follows. Everyone (Palestinians) I have spoken to is fully behind the ‘Resistance’. They see all armed groups as resistance groups and certainly not as ‘terrorist’ groups. They point to a military occupation which has ravaged their land, imprisoned their brothers and sisters, restricted their movement, cut them off from Gaza and the West Bank, stopped them having an airport or seaport and killed and injured tens of thousands over a 47 year period. They further point to futile talks that have failed to deliver freedom and independence and have been a cover for an entrenchment of the occupation. They believe Israel only evacuated the settlements in Gaza under fire and that therefore ar end resistance is the only form of resistance Israel understands.
Jerusalem’s Palestinian hospitals have been treating the injured from Gaza and Jerusalmites have been visiting them, hearing their appalling stories of death and destruction and becoming ever more outraged and hateful of Israel and Israelis. “How can they (the Jews as they refer to the occupiers) do this and get away with it they ask me? I am afraid the question of “how the Jews that were so horribly treated by the Nazis inflict such suffering on us” has come up repeatedly. I try my best to get them to differentiate between Jews in General and Zionists but I have to say, Israel’s actions and it’s claim it is the ‘Jewish state’ and speaks on behalf of Jews make it extremely difficult to convince the people I speak to to differentiate.
I write as the ceasefire, which came into effect on 5 August nears the end. The signs are not good for its extension. The resistance groups have vowed to restart their resistance as soon as the ceasefire expires unless their demands are met, in particular concrete guarantees the immoral siege on Gaza will be lifted. I of course hope that there will be no further deaths but I must say that everyone I have heard speak on TV from Gaza and those I have interacted with in Jerusalem are steadfast in their demand that the siege is lifted immediately. They say “look, if the siege was designed to halt the rockets or weaken Hamas, this has clearly failed. The rockets go further and Hamas is stronger. So why not lift the siege an degenerate the economy”?
Another demand that I hear more and more is for the PLO to finally sign up to the Rome Statutes. They find it outrageous that it has been prevaricating and that even if the UNHRC Investigative Committee into Israel’s war crimes finds that Israel is guilty, the PLO will not be ready to take it to the International Criminal Court.
In terms of perception of the World’s reaction to the Gaza terror attack, people I have spoken to have been heartened but the huge matches around the world but particularly in London. They have given them a real boost. The other issue of significance was the UK’s Baroness Warsi’s resignation. Many of course think she is the Foreign Secretary, so see it as most significant. However, even when I have explained her rank they still think it is a turning point. I have pointed out that I will judge its significance by any change in Government stance and even more importantly, policy.
We will find out tomorrow, 8 August at 8 am whether Israel has come to its senses. I predict that it will not. It will still want to control what goes on in Gaza through a possibly less visible siege but insufficient for Palestinians there to feel it is being lifted. There is also the heavy price that has been paid in martyrs and in detestation to homes and infrastructure, which deserves a complete lifting if the siege.
In the meantime, I urge everyone that cares about justice, especially for the Palestinain people and who stands against racism and Apartheid to continue to join demonstrations in their locality and to pressure their Governements. I also urge everyone to adopt Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) wholeheartedly to send a clear message to Israel that it cannot continue to bully Palestinians with impunity.