We are here to denounce the continuing war crimes perpetrated by the Israel government against the million and a half residents of the Gaza Strip, and to demand that your government cease its military actions immediately. We bring to your attention the June 30, 2006 Amnesty International report that « deliberate attacks by Israeli forces against civilian property and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip violate international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes. » On July 3 the government of Switzerland issued a statement accusing Israel of actions that « have violated the principle of proportionality and are to be seen as forms of collective punishment, which is forbidden. »
The Israeli government is resorting to a lethal form of collective punishment of the Palestinian people and threatening their very existence by:
Subjecting Palestinians – more than half of whom are children under the age of 14 years – to incessant shelling, tank fire, missile attacks and sonic booms which smash windows and generate terror, and using residents as « human shields » during an invasion which had by July 8 killed more than 40 people, including at least three small children.
Destroying Gaza’s only electricity power plant, water mains, bridges, roads; firing missiles at the Islamic University and using tanks and bulldozers to create a wide swath of destruction around Beit Lahiya in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Seizing half the members of the Palestinian cabinet and a quarter of the members of the democratically-elected Parliament, as well as mayors and other local officials.
Israel’s actions have precipitated a major humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Without electricity, there is no way to pump water, and no way to purify water from wells into which the sea has seeped. Without potable water and a functioning sewer system, cholera and other disease is sure to spread rapidly in the summer heat in one of the most densely populated areas on earth. Lack of electricity means food cannot be preserved and further exacerbates the food crisis brought upon Gaza by the siege imposed by your government to punish the people for voting for a Hamas government. As Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has written, « A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization » (Ha’aretz, June 2, 2006). An Ha’aretz editorial of June 30 states: « Arresting people to use as bargaining chips is the act of a gang, not of a state » and that « the government is losing its reason. »
Your government should be aware that under the 1945 Nuremberg Charter, « wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity » is a war crime. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits « collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism. » Article 54 states it is « prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. » The Geneva Convention calls for all state parties to ensure the prosecution of perpetrators of the war crime of « causing extensive destruction…not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. »
We urge your government to act immediately to alleviate a humanitarian disaster by ceasing its military actions, opening the Gaza Strip’s borders, and providing sufficient supplies of electricity, water and food to meet the needs of the population.
Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia * American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee – Massachusetts Chapter * Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights * Boston to Palestine * Grassroots International * Jewish Voice for Peace – Boston * Jewish Women for Justice in Israel/Palestine * Palestine American Congress of Boston * The BootCAT Campaign * United for Justice with Peace * United for Justice with Peace – Israel/Palestine Task Force * Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East