A Call to Action: Israeli War Crimes in Gaza
We, the undersigned, scholars in a diverse range of fields, residing in a number of Arab countries and across the world, of different nationalities, ethnicities, and religious and political persuasions, express herein our strongest condemnation of the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated on the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; and specifically Israel’s latest campaign of aggression against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
We condemn not only the State of Israel, but also the states providing Israel with the military, political, and economic support that enable it to continue its violence with impunity. As the major backer and ally of Israel, the United States in particular has long enabled Israel’s extreme violence against Palestinians. We express our disappointment in the failure of the United Nations to act promptly to halt the present Israeli rampages in the Gaza Strip, and in the disgraceful silence and failure of the Arab States and the Palestinian Authority to lead such a call for action.
Israel’s aggression in Gaza continues a long pattern of violence and contravention of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In a span of 50 days, Israeli forces killed over 2100 Palestinians in Gaza and injured 11,000 more. Israel deliberately targeted civilian structures, resulting in entire families wiped off the face of the earth. Over 500 Palestinian children were killed and thousands injured. Thousands of Palestinians will suffer life-long disability from their injuries. Over 40,000 homes have been completely or partially destroyed. Half a million people in Gaza suffered displacement, many for the third or fourth time, as 1.2 million of Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants are refugees from previous Israeli military campaigns and systematic ethnic cleansing. Nor is this attack unprecedented: a seven-year old child in Gaza today has now experienced her third Israeli military onslaught.
The Israeli military has targeted homes, schools, universities, hospitals, ambulances, journalists, banks, mosques, and churches. It has destroyed infrastructure vital to human life, including water lines, sewage facilities, and Gaza’s only power plant. It has shelled UN buildings and clearly designated UN-designated shelters, in one case after having been informed of a shelter’s location no less than seventeen times. Civilians have been targeted in their homes and in shelters. Children have been killed on beaches, in playgrounds, in kindergartens, in UNRWA schools, while playing and while sleeping. Civilians fleeing one area found death in another. There is no escape or safe place.
Israel has propagated the narrative, repeated throughout mainstream American and European media, that its violent military actions are in "self-defense.” This narrative distorts reality. The current military assault was initiated on the flimsiest pretext: That the Palestinian organization, Hamas, was responsible for the disappearance and killing of three settlers in the West Bank. No shred of evidence was produced in support of such a claim, yet Israel arrested hundreds of people in the West Bank, demolished homes, destroyed property, and killed six Palestinians. The racist hysteria ignited within Israel led to a 16 year old Palestinian boy being burned alive, reportedly by ultra-Orthodox Jewish settlers. Israeli violence against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank continued even after official acknowledgement that Hamas might not have been responsible for the deaths of the three Jewish youths. Moreover, Israel’s devastating military operation in Gaza was sustained in complete disregard of a Hamas proposal for a ten-year truce.
Since 2007 Israel has imposed collective punishment on the people of Gaza in the form of a total blockade, denying their right to freedom of movement as well as to basic and critical necessities of life, including food, medicine, and materials to repair homes and civilian structures destroyed in successive Israeli campaigns. The people of Gaza are expected to give up their right to self-defense and to free themselves from Israeli occupation, domination, and control, and instead accept a perpetual, strangulating siege.
The current assault has numerous precedents throughout the history of the Zionist campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestine and create an exclusive “Jewish State.” Throughout, Israel has used repression, violence, and historical falsifications to deny Palestinians the right to return to their homes and properties (affirmed by the 1948 UN. Resolution 194 and by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights), the right to self-determination (recognized in General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960), and the right to self-defense from colonization and violent oppression (recognized in the Fourth Geneva Convention and related bodies of law). These fundamental rights are enshrined not only in international law, but also in moral and human principles.
Meantime, Israel’s own claim to “self-defense” in the context of the illegal “Separation Wall” has been dismissed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which found the claim to self-defense on the basis of Article (51) of the UN Charter invalid, as Israel occupies and controls the territories against which it is “defending” itself.
Israel functions as an apartheid state, as evidenced in the erection of the illegal ‘Separation Wall’ in the Occupied West Bank; expansion of illegal Jewish colonies; uprooting of trees; demolition of homes; the establishment of checkpoints and Jewish-only roads; the stripping of residence permits from Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem; discriminatory immigration laws; and segregationist building and land laws. These, coupled with mass arrests, extrajudicial killings, and unrelenting collective punishment, characterize Palestinian life under Israeli occupation. Meanwhile, the institutionalized racism inherent in the Zionist project has subjected Palestinians within Israel to discrimination in employment, education, property, residency rights, and more. This racism has been codified in discriminatory legislation affecting every area and sector of Palestinian life.
Israeli violence could not be sustained without explicit support from western states, especially the United States. Arab regimes and the Palestinian Authority have remained conspicuously silent during Israel’s latest military campaign in Gaza, in stark contrast to the principled stand of Latin American states and peoples. Among these, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, and Uruguay, have courageously spoken out in support of Palestinian human rights. The Arab League, however, has stood by as the children of Gaza were slaughtered.
We call for an end to the repeated Israeli assaults on Gaza, and for the complete lifting of Israel’s illegal blockade against the Gaza Strip.
We support recent efforts toward Palestinian unity, and we extend our support to the demands of the Palestinian delegates, representing all political organizations, recently submitted to Egypt.
We call on the UN to take concrete steps to end the Israeli occupation; to dismantle illegal settlements on Palestinian land as well as the illegal 'Separation Wall' and pay reparation to Palestinians injured through its construction, as called for by the International Court of Justice; and to respect and implement international laws and UN resolutions regarding the rights of the Palestinian people in their entirety.
We call on the Palestinian Authority to cease collaboration with Israel, especially with regards to “security,” and to immediately ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as a first step to holding Israel responsible for its war crimes and other crimes against humanity.
We call on Arab states and the Arab League to fulfill their mandates toward Palestine as a member state of the Arab League and as co-signatory of the Arab League Charter and of the Arab Collective Defense Treaty.
We call on Arab civil society and the Arab peoples to pressure their governments by every means possible to support Palestinian human, political and national rights.
Finally, we are deeply grateful to people around the world for their spontaneous and principled mobilization on behalf of Palestinian human rights as a core issue of justice in our times. Now is the time for all those willing to stand up for human rights, justice, and dignity to step up their efforts toward the realization of these goals. We urge all peoples in the world dedicated to peace, justice, freedom, and equality to join our call.
Dr. Ismael Abdelrahman, Professor of Economics, Jordan
Mr. Ali Abdolell, English Lecturer, Canada
Dr. Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Professor of Race and Resistance Studies, USA
Dr. Faiha Abdulhadi, Writer and Researcher, Palestine
Dr. Bashir Abu-Manneh, Professor of Comparative Literature, USA.
Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, President, Palestine Land Society UK
Mr. Nader Abuljebain, Engineer, Kuwait
Dr. Jose Abu-Tarbush, Professor of Sociology, Spain.
Dr. Anis Mustafa Al-Qasem, Lawyer, Member of PNC, Secretary General of EAFORD, UK
Dr. Marwan Al-Sayeh, Engineer, Jordan
Dr. Saif al Zahir, Professor of Computer Science, Canada
Dr. Naseer Aruri, Professor of Political Science, USA
Mr. Moussa Baggili, Independent Consultant, USA
Dr. Hatem Bazian, Professor of Ethnic and Near Eastern Studies, USA
Dr. George Bisharat, Professor of Law, USA
Ms. Diana Buttu, Lawyer, Palestine
Dr. Souad Dajani, Independent Consultant, USA
Dr. Nabil Dajani, Professor of Media Studies, Lebanon
Dr. Zahi Damuni, Professor of Biochemistry/Chair, Palestine Right to Return Coalition, USA
Dr. Randa Farah, Professor of Anthropology, Canada
Dr. Hani A. Faris, Professor of Political Science, Canada.
Dr. Leila Farsakh, Professor of Political Science, USA
Dr. Mahmoud Haddad, Professor of Economics, USA
Dr. Elaine Hagopian, Professor of Sociology, USA
Dr. Sari Hanafi, Professor of Sociology, Lebanon
Dr. Marwan Hassan, Professor of Hydrology, Canada
Dr. Naila Jirmanus, Boston BDS, USA
Dr Mohja Kahf, Professor of Comparative Literature, US
Dr. Taher H. Kanaan, Member of Parliament, Jordan
Dr. Mujid S. Kazimi, Professor of Nuclear Engineering, USA
Ms. Rania Madi, UN Geneva Consultant on Human Rights, Switzerland
Dr. Lisa Suhair Majaj, Writer and Scholar, Cyprus
Dr. Ahmed Mashal, Professor of Economics, Jordan
Ms. Mai Masri, Filmmaker, Palestine
Dr. Isam Naqib, Professor of Physics, UK
Dr. Ahmad S. Nufal, Professor of Political Science, Jordan
Dr. Mohamed Olwan, Professor of Law, Jordan
Dr. Ibrahim Othman, Professor of Sociology, Jordan
Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor of Genetics, Palestine
Dr. Anthony Sahyoun, Professor of Surgery, USA.
Dr. Helmi Sari, Professor of Sociology, Jordan
Dr. Salim Sari, Professor of Sociology, Jordan.
Dr. Taleb Sarie, Higher Education Consultant, Jordan.
Ms. Rima Tarazi, Former President of the General Union of Palestinian Women, Palestine
Dr. Rabab Ward, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. A.B. Zahlan, Professor of Physics
Mr. Mahmoud Zeidan, Human Rights Specialist and co-Director of Nakba Archive, Lebanon
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