The crisis in Gaza

Since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge that started on July 8, Israeli airstrikes have more than killed 1800 Palestinian civilians and injured over 7000, despite having some of the most sophisticated and advanced military equipment. A number of UN humanitarian shelters and schools have been targeted, mosques and cathedrals destroyed, schools and hospitals bombed, doctors and medical staff injured. If this isn’t a public massacre, I don’t know what is.                         

While many of Israel’s allies condone Hamas for firing rockets into Israel, I do not. Condemning Hamas would be like condemning the residents of the Warsaw ghetto for resisting their Nazi oppressors. The Palestinians will resist any way they can, as is their prerogative.

Israel has imposed a near-total embargo on Gaza and has illegally occupied Palestinian land for over 65 years. The people of Gaza live in an open-air prison with limited access to food, water, humanitarian aid, gas and electricity for over half a decade. What you see happening now is only one of many ruthless massacres committed by the Zionist regime since the beginning of the illegal occupation in 1947. Israel spreads terror among Palestinian civilians and uses the notion of “self-defence” to justify its actions. No Israel, you do not have the right to defend yourself when you are illegally occupying another country.

So what can we do to help as supporters of the Palestinian cause?

Firstly we should all be supporting the BDS campaign. Boycotting Israeli products is the simplest and most effective means of resistance against aggression. The Israeli industry is perennial to its survival as a state and it is vital a clear message is sent to Israeli businessmen and exporters that their own government is responsible for their losses and the adverse consequences to their businesses.

Since Israel began their onslaught on Gaza three weeks ago, findings show that 1 in 5 Israeli exporters are finding it difficult to sell abroad because of anti-Israel boycotting and a lot of these boycotts are coming from the UK and Scandinavian countries. The Israel Export Institute has reported 66% of Israeli businesses have cut prices desperately trying to get people to buy their products. They have received more and more order cancellations and are now calling for government intervention to protect Israeli businesses from boycotts.

It may not seem like a lot but on a large scale, with a mass movement of international boycotts, Israel will feel the pressure. And it will hurt.

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There is a new app called ‘Buycott’ which allows you to join different campaigns. I am part of ‘Long Live Palestine Boycott Israel’ and ‘Avoid Israeli Settlement Products’. The app allows you to scan barcodes from your Smartphone and it will tell you where the product has come from. It couldn’t be simpler to use and I would definitely recommend it.

We should also continue to report on social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great tools to enlighten others and reach the conscience of the world as to what is happening without the filtering and bias of news reporters. It is also a really good way of pressuring news outlets to meet objective standards and report the truth.

This is a real test of the strength of the international community and the power of non-violent resistance against Israeli aggression. Never underestimate your role in this. Each and every one of us has a moral obligation to speak up. We cannot tolerate Israel’s utter disregard for international humanitarian law and the ongoing slaughter of men, women and children.

Let us continue to educate, boycott and resist.

In the face of injustice, there is only side to choose.

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Plaza in Gaza

While the world watches as Obama tries to hold the Syrian government accountable to its war crimes and use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, it makes me sad to remember the people of Gaza and the white phosphorus that was used against Palestinians in 2008 by the Israelis.

Just before I start, I wanted to show you Gaza on the map. Gaza is the small strip of land that borders with Egypt and Israel and has been separated from the Palestinians in the West Bank.

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Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world with more than 1.5 million people living in this small space. What has come of it as an aftermath of Israel’s ongoing persecution makes me very sad and Gaza today has become like one big prison. The Israeli’s have put an electronic fence around its borders to prevent people from going in or out and Israel controls both the airspace and territorial waters surrounding Gaza. More than one third of the people who are able and willing to work are unemployed and most of the Palestinians living there are either subsidized by the Palestinian government in the West Bank, Hamas or by the UN.

The tunnels existing between Egypt and Gaza, where goods would often be channeled into the country are slowly being destroyed and sealed over time for ‘security purposes’. These goods I’m talking about include civilian and humanitarian relief, like medical supplies, food and water. Only a quarter of households receive running water every day and even the ones lucky enough to access running water only have it for a few hours. Water extracted from the aquifers in Gaza is not safe for human consumption – the UN published a report recently saying 90% of this water is actually contaminated and not safe for humans to drink.

The Palestinians in Gaza do not have the opportunity to connect with family and friends in the West Bank, they are unable to look for job opportunities outside of their borders and do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. One of the UN Millennium Development Goals to be reached by 2015 talks about halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water. I hope Gaza becomes one of the areas they succeed in.

Why did I choose to write about Gaza today?

Because I wanted to give a voice to the people living imprisoned within their own borders. Whenever people wonder why there are movements to boycott Israeli products, why Palestinians become emotional and frustrated when talking about Israel and why there is hatred towards Israel in the first place, what happened and continues to happen in Gaza today is a very small example of why.