Collective punishment of Gaza population must end!

November 8, 2007

As Jewish members of European civil society and peace activists, European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP) profoundly condemn the ongoing collective punishment by the Israeli government of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. These actions are not only in complete contravention of the Geneva Convention but also amount to crimes of war.

The civilian population of Gaza has been virtually imprisoned and under constant siege, a siege imposed by the occupying power, Israel. It has suffered arduous sanctions, boycott, economic strangulation, total deprivation and poverty, especially after the democratic elections held in the Occupied Territories in January 2006 that brought Hamas into power. The constant and brutal attacks by the Israeli army on a civilian, captive and defenseless population, almost half of which are children, constitute a direct violation of human rights.

The Israeli government’s recent decision to cut electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza, affecting its 1.5 million people, has been protested in a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court, submitted by Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations. Harsh criticism of the deliberate destruction to the health and welfare of the entire Palestinian population has constantly been expressed by leading international human rights organizations, the United Nations and prominent individuals. Israel’s arbitrary and cruel refusal to permit the exit of critically ill patients via the Erez crossing (currently the only exit from Gaza), under the guise of security precautions, as outlined in recent press releases from the Israeli human rights group, Physicians for Human Rights, is indefensible.

European Jews for a Just Peace strongly believe that the EU must insist that the Rafah crossing is reopened and that Israel guarantees access to the crossing for the EU monitors who have the responsibility of overseeing the running of this border crossing

Should Israel refuse to permit the EU to fulfill these commitments – agreed by all parties, including Israel – the EU should suspend the preferential terms of trade that Israeli goods exported to the EU enjoy, an agreement which includes conditions regarding human rights obligations which Israel is currently unable or indeed unwilling to meet. Boycott, divestment and sanctions against the occupation are also steps we encourage.

European Jews for a Just Peace is deeply concerned for freedom and security of Israelis and Palestinians alike. We firmly believe that unless the government of Israel changes its present course, it is headed for self-destruction.

European Jews for a Just Peace Executive Committee:

Dror Feiler, Chair (Sweden); Dan Judelson, Secretary (UK); Max Wieselmann, Treasurer (Netherlands); Paula Abrams-Hourani (Austria); Judith Bernstein (Germany); Paola Canarutto (Italy); Sonia Fayman (France); Dorrie Iten (Switzerland); Ulla Jessing (Denmark); Adi Raz,(Belgium)