Long-time Grassroots International ally, the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center has been monitoring the Israeli military operation against the Gaza Strip, which began on December 27, 2008. Based in Ramallah, DWRC has maintained daily contact with its Gazan colleagues and their families, hoping that they will all remain safe and unharmed. Below is their reflection and a call to action.
DWRC Gaza branch coordinator, who lives with his family in the south-west of Gaza city, not very far from one of the bombed security compound and the presidential compound, has welcomed families of friends and neighbors in his apartment, because it was safer than theirs. There are 20 people living together in his house, most of them children.
Adults tell stories to try to distract children during day time to make the situation easier on them. No one goes out on the streets except if they really have to. They have to keep their windows open all the time despite the cold, to avoid that they break into a hundred pieces due to the impact of the missiles exploding in their area. He says that «I have never experienced a situation like this. Every time the Israeli warplanes bomb a target in our area, we tell the youngest children that the explosions are firecrackers or fireworks, in an attempt to diminish their fears. But only the children under 5 buy this story. We keep awake at night to comfort our children every time something happens. Since the start of the operation, we have no electricity and now we have no water anymore.»
He also mentioned that due to the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for the past months, the population already suffered from the scarcity of gas, used for cooking in most Palestinian households. Now, without electricity and water and with gas running out, they just hope against all odds that their nightmare will be soon over. Our colleague has still some bread left for the moment, but when there will be no more left, he does not know what they will do. They might have to try to cook bread on small fires in the streets. Few bakeries are still open, there are long lines of people desperate for bread and each person only gets a little, so that as many as possible can get some. As the Israeli military operation continues, indifferent to the suffering and anguish of the civilian Palestinian population, the situation gets more and more desperate for Gaza Strip residents.
While speaking to our colleague on the phone, we could hear in the background the constant drone of Israeli planes circling in the skies. In Gaza, there are no underground shelters or safe rooms where families can take refuge during military strikes. They have to stay in their homes, more or less exposed depending on their location and the solidity of the building in which they live, just hoping to stay alive. As of yesterday, the Israeli military operation had already caused the death of 31 children and injury to 140 according to a press release issued by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. In several cases, children died in their homes destroyed by the missiles fired from Israeli planes.
PRESS RELEASE: DWRC calls upon trade unions and civil society worldwide to join protests to stop the brutal Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip
In solidarity with its sisters and brothers of the Gaza Strip, the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine calls upon all trade unions and civil society organizations worldwide to condemn the use of disproportionate force against the population of the Gaza Strip and join all protest activities, sit-ins and vigils organized in their countries and cities to demand the immediate end of the Israeli military operation against the Gaza Strip.
The people of Palestine, the population of Gaza, need your help and solidarity! They need your voices to remind world leaders of their duty of humanity and assistance to an occupied people. The military operation launched by the Israeli army on December 27, 2008 has already cost the lives of 321 and injured more than a thousand, including countless women and children, and the death toll continues to rise. The trauma experienced by the civilian population due to the use of heavy military weapons against targets inside densely populated areas is daunting, with parents unable to offer any sense of security to their children. Alarming reports from all health organizations and institutions have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that the weakened health infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is unable to cope with the constant increase of casualties. Normal health services can no longer be ensured as all medical personnel and scarce resources have to meet the constant flow of the injured. Assistance from abroad cannot get through.
While we should be all rejoicing together in this Holidays Season, a dark shadow of destruction, death and suffering has engulfed our hopes for peace, security and a brighter tomorrow. In fact, the State of Israel has not just launched one of its deadliest military operations against the Palestinian people for decades; it has started a war aimed at destroying all peace efforts and perpetuating the Occupation.
On our behalf and on behalf of the workers of Palestine and their families, we ask you to reach out to your parliament members, your government officials and community leaders, and demand them to condemn in the strongest terms the Israeli military operation and do their outmost to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people of Gaza. The Israeli military operation needs to stop, and the siege on Gaza must be ended so that humanitarian assistance can be brought in at once to relieve the sufferings of the population.