Social Watch: The international community should recognize Gaza as an humanitarian disaster zone
Published on Thu, 2014-08-14 19:45
Social Watch calls on the international community to declare the Gaza Strip as an "international humanitarian disaster zone", as requested by the Palestinian NGOs. The flow of humanitarian assistance needs to be accelerated and civilians need to be protected. "The recurrence of these episodes in Gaza -says the Social Watch statement- is the result of not having acted before on similar war crimes and of not having pursued with good faith negotiations towards a lasting peace. The current ceasefire has to be maintained and the international community should back it proactively.
The following statement has been issued by the Coordinating Committee of Social Watch, a network of civil society organizations from around the world monitoring their governments' commitments to end poverty and achieve gender justice.
Stop the massacre in Gaza!
During the last weeks the world has witnessed how, as part of an operation called “Protective Edge,” the Israeli army has attacked the Gaza Strip, killing two thousand people (an absolute majority of which civilians, by the IDF's own assessments), destroying 40 thousand homes, displacing half a million people and forcing the entire population of Gaza (one and a half million) into further deprivation, including power and water shortages.
Self-defense is the the only admitted excuse for the use of violent means, both in interpersonal and in international relations. For self-defense to be acceptable, it has to be proportionate to the alleged aggression. Further, collective punishment of a population is not acceptable, no matter what previous offenses some members of that population may have committed. Both basic principles of civilized life are being violated in front of our eyes in Gaza. The pain and damage inflicted upon the Palestinian people is extremely disproportionate to any suffering that this attack might “protect” from and, added to the blockade imposed on Gaza, it constitutes a blatant collective punishment by the occupying power. The evidence of war crimes being committed on a massive scale is too obvious to be ignored.
The intentional and repeated targeting of schools full of displaced people, the bombing of hospitals, the killing and maiming of children; asking people to evacuate their homes and then targeting their shelters, all of those events add to the sense of outrage.
Further, the unrestricted violation of international law and humanitarian principles adds to the instability in the region and further fuels arms race and the marginalization of the issues of poverty eradication and social justice that should be the main common priority.
The recurrence of these episodes in Gaza is the result of not having acted before on similar war crimes and of not having pursued with good faith negotiations towards a lasting peace. The current ceasefire has to be maintained and the international community should back it proactively.
The international Social Watch echoes the call of our local member, the Palestinian NGOs Network, to the international community to recognize the Gaza Strip as an “humanitarian disaster zone” and to speed up the flow of humanitarian assistance, to evacuate the injured and to ensure protection to civilians.
As citizens we will urge our governments and the international community to take effective action by speaking out and joining our forces with others to stop face this disaster.
August 15, 2014
See the Palestinian NGO call here.