As the UN General Assembly begins its meeting today in New York City, Amnesty International is delivering 187,563 signatures to the White House in a global call to cut off weapons that fuel abuses in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
A prior version of this piece appeared in The Huffington Post.
At the time of writing, the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is set to expire at 5 p.m. EST today. Against the backdrop of Gaza’s destruction, no one can fully predict what is next for Israeli and Palestinian combatants.
In its coverage of the conflict in Gaza and Israel, the New York Times has used a daily chart that risks misleading readers about the firepower involved. The chart in question improperly compares the total Israeli “targets” struck in Gaza to the number of “rockets” launched at Israel by Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.
This past week, Israel has been carrying out air strikes and other military operations that have resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of them civilians not directly participating in hostilities.
The U.S., as the largest foreign supplier of weapons, munitions, police equipment and devices, as well as training and techniques to Israel, bears a particular responsibility for the deployment of the weapons it provides.
Amnesty International is calling for a U.N.-mandated international investigation into violations committed on all sides amidst ongoing Israeli air strikes on Gaza and continuing volleys of indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian armed groups into Israel. Amnesty is also calling for a UN-imposed comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.
The following post is by Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme
It was dawn when we arrived in Israel to begin our investigation into rocket attacks from Gaza which by the end of the latest flare in violence had left six Israelis, including four civilians, dead, at least 40 injured and 300 more treated for shock.
Up in the sky oddly shaped vapour trails made us wonder if these were the remnants of the “Iron Dome” missiles – used to intercept the rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups which this time reached as far north as Tel Aviv.
One of the rooms in our apartment was the obligatory mamad – a bomb shelter which all new builds in Israel must have. Windowless, with reinforced walls, it’s there to protect residents during rocket attacks.
The following is a firsthand account by Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser, reporting from Gaza. The ceasefire came into effect at 9pm on November 21 November.
The children are playing outside again, despite the torrential rain. They were stuck indoors during eight days of relentless Israeli bombardments.
By the time that ended in excess of 160 people were dead – including more than 30 children and scores of other unarmed civilians.
For the duration of the onslaught they were stuck indoors – at home, seeking refuge with relatives or in schools which the UN refugee agency turned into temporary shelters for thousands of families forced from their houses by the bombings.
Amnesty International is calling for the prompt deployment of international monitors and an arms embargo on both Israel and armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas de facto administration in Gaza, to offer more civilian protections immediately and monitor and document violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Since the assassination by Israel of Hamas leader Ahmad al-Ja’abari on November 14 in Gaza City, there has been an escalation of violence between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza that has left scores dead and injured. The conflict shows no signs of abating and looks to be repeating the same mistakes made during operation ‘Cast Lead’ four years ago.
This morning, Amnesty International USA delivered thousands of signed postcards to the White House. The postcards call on President Obama to push for an end to Israel’s continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip. For over five years, the 1.6 million Palestinians of Gaza have lived under an Israeli military blockade that has left more than one million Palestinians dependent on international humanitarian aid.
The postcards, signed by thousands of Amnesty International supporters and members across the US, call attention to Israel’s near ban on exports from the Gaza Strip. The Gazan economy has been effectively crippled by this export ban and other aspects of the blockade.
As a result, massive numbers of Palestinians now live in a state of permanent unemployment. Our 2012 human rights report documents that over 70 percent of Gaza’s residents now depend on humanitarian aid. While imports into Gaza have increased since mid-2010, they are still far below the levels allowed before the blockade began in 2007.
UPDATE: The Haifa District Court in Israel has returned a verdict maintaining that the Israeli military is not responsible for ‘damages caused’ because the D9 Caterpillar bulldozer was engaged in a combat operation in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003. See Amnesty International’s USA statement on this verdict: ‘Rachel Corrie Verdict Highlights Impunity for Israeli Military’.
By Edith Garwood, country specialist on Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories/Palestinian Authority for Amnesty International USA
Tomorrow, August 28th, the family of Rachel Corrie will receive a verdict in the civil lawsuit they filed against the State of Israel for the killing of Rachel. Will that verdict deliver justice following the death of their daughter, who was killed in Gaza? Or will the verdict maintain impunity for the Israeli military?
In 2003, Rachel was killed while taking non-violent action to stop an Israeli military bulldozer from destroying a Palestinian family’s home in the Gaza Strip. During the demolition, the Israeli bulldozer ran the young American woman over.
The Corrie family’s suit charges Israel with responsibility for Rachel’s killing and failure to conduct a full and credible investigation in the case. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Trapped between a crushing Israeli blockade and human rights violations at home, the 1.6 million Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip face many challenges in their daily lives. In our 2012 Annual Report, Amnesty International catalogues the list, from a humanitarian crisis created by the Israeli blockade to detention and torture by Hamas security forces.
There are reports that at least one of the four “confessed” to the crime of murder after being tortured.
The latest news is that four Gaza Palestinians are facing execution after being given the death penalty by Hamas military and criminal courts. There are reports that at least one of the four “confessed” to the crime of murder after being tortured. The family of Na’el Jamal Qandil Doghmosh has stated that when they saw him after two months in prison, his nails had been torn out and there were burns and bruises on his body.
As you may have heard, Palestinian authorities have embarked on a major diplomatic effort to secure wider recognition of a Palestinian state and an upgraded status at the United Nations. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently submitted an application for full UN membership to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Palestine currently has the status of an observer entity at the UN General Assembly, where it is represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). An application for full membership is currently being considered by the UN Security Council Committee on Admission of New Members. The UN Committee will issue its analysis of the historic Palestinian bid for statehood around mid-October.