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Gaza: Ceasefire Now

Dear friends,

The Gaza crisis has exploded -- put your name to our emergency petition demanding a ceasefire. We'll deliver it immediately to the UN Security Council, the Arab League, the US and other world leaders!
Take Action Now

As we watch the Gaza bloodshed with horror, appalled at how the crisis is spiraling further out of control, one thing is clear -- this violence will only lead to further civilian suffering and an escalation of the conflict.

There must be another way. Over 280 are dead so far in the Gaza Strip and hundreds more injured -- rockets are striking Ashdod deep inside Israel for the very first time, and the sides are mobilising for invasion. A global outcry has begun, but it'll take more than words -- the immediate violence won't end, nor will wider peace be secured, without firm action from the international community.

Today, we're launching an emergency campaign which will be delivered to the UN Security Council and key world powers, urging them to act to ensure an immediate ceasefire and address the growing humanitarian crisis -- only with robust international oversight and action can civilians on all sides be protected and real steps be taken toward a wider peace. Follow this link now to sign the emergency petition and send it to everyone you know:

After Gaza's bloodiest day in recent memory and eight or more years of ineffective US and global diplomacy, we need to get world leaders to do more than issue statements if they're to ensure a lasting ceasefire.1 Through the UN Security Council and other international bodies, the world can provide the help and pressure needed to stop the violence and change the situation on the ground in Gaza -- preventing the rockets and incursions, re-opening crossing-points under international oversight so that instead of weapon-smuggling, the 1.5 million ordinary people of Gaza can get the fuel, food and medicines they so desperately need.

All sides to the conflict will continue to act as they have in the past if they believe that the world will stand by and allow them to do so. We mobilised for a ceasefire in 2006's Israel-Lebanon war and succeeded, but this time the international community must not delay -- let's raise a truly worldwide outcry. 2009 is a year that things can be different. As we face this crisis, and the possibilities of a new year, it's time for us everywhere to work together to stop this violence.

With hope and determination,

Brett, Ricken, Alice, Ben, Pascal, Paul, Graziela, Paula, Luis, Iain and the whole Avaaz team

1 Further actions could include: a formal resolution from the Security Council rather than issuing a press statement as was done on 28 December 2008; explicit private and public international pressure on the parties to end the hostilities including developing clear terms for the resumption of negotiations; proper international oversight of the Rafah border; and in time, a detailed Security Council resolution setting out the terms in international law for a permanent peace between Israel and Palestine. For background, see this Jerusalem Post article, "No international pressure to end op":


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  • edited January 2009
    End the Gaza War Crimes - sign petition

    This letter was sent to Gordon Brown-Prime Minister, David Miliband and Bill Rammell from the Foreign Commonwealth Office. If you wish to add your names for a follow up petition use this link:


    From: Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine.

    30 December 2008

    Rt Hn David Miliband MP

    Secretary of State

    Foreign and Commonwealth Office

    London SW1

    Dear Mr. Miliband

    RE: End the War Crimes on Gaza

    We are writing to you to urge effective international intervention on Israel to immediately cease its siege and disproportionate Guernica style attacks on Gaza. The UN Security Council have called for an end to the fighting where 360 people including many civilian men, women and children have been killed and over 1400 injured in Gaza (with four Israelis killed by Qassem responses) in the last four days. The huge casualty toll during the rush hour, intended to inflict maximum casualties, now includes a terribly damaging destruction of civilian infrastructure, including all police stations, security compounds, and government buildings. Gaza’s port, schools, residential buildings, universities, factories, mosques and hospitals were also hit by the massive tonnage of the bombing. Israeli Brigadier General Dan Harel said, “After this operation there will not be a single Hamas building left standing, and we plan to change the rule of the game.” This is basically a one-sided war on a defenceless population, with Israel’s underlying intention to totally destroy Palestinian civil society, as evident over 40 years of brutal occupation.

    The wilful targeting of the civilian police forces is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention under Article 147 and therefore, a War Crime. The Geneva Convention bans military action that harms civilians, in this case an inevitability since the infrastructure was attacked by carpet bombing in the heart of dense city centres, using deadly F16s, and heavy war machinery against a defenceless population crippled by a catastrophic three year siege, in which hundreds have already died. On day four now, Ehud Olmert the Israeli PM has said, “This is only the beginning”.

    It was Israel who violated the six-month ceasefire in Gaza and the West Bank, carrying out an average of 33 incursions, 42 arrests or detentions adding to a total of 22 killings of militants since the ceasefire began. These killings are part of Israel’s ongoing campaign of collective punishment against the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip, which Israel has put under siege since June 2007. The rockets from Gaza did indeed stop, but Israel did not keep to its part of the agreement to relieve the blockade – propelling Gaza into a humanitarian crisis as underlined by all UN and human rights observers and agencies working in Gaza. The international community put no effective pressure on Israel to end this crisis or the assassinations.

    The media and the Quartet swamped by a massive PR machinery, disinformation and blatant lies, have overlooked Israel's historic tactic of provoking the Palestinians with assassinations and killings, right through declared ceasefires, and when there is a response, blaming the escalation on the victims of the Occupation, who are acting in justified self-defence as an occupied people, under international law.

    Israel now intends to launch a massive ground attack, (no doubt with US tacit approval). All international efforts must be made to stop these deadly attacks on Gaza, to implement international law, under Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prosecute those responsible for grave breaches of the Convention. EU member states should take immediate restrictive measures and sanctions, due to Israel’s breaches of humanitarian law and stop upgrade privileges. All Palestinians should be brought into proper peace negotiations including the democratically elected Hamas government.

    Unless Israel ends its strangulating grip on the West Bank and Gaza, its relentless illegal settlement expansion and land expropriation that destroys any possibility of a viable two state solution, its illegal apartheid wall, and its violent sieges, and relentless state terror on the imprisoned Palestinian people, there will be no peace in the Middle East.

    Yours sincerely

    Abe Hayeem, Chair APJP & the following signatories:

    Charles Jencks,

    Ian Martin

    Zahira Zamuch

    Fahmi Salameh, Ramallah/Barcelona

    Martin O'Shea

    Uri Davis , Israel

    Malkit Shoshan (FAST)Amsterdam

    Kelvin Bland

    Steve Kessel

    Karin Pally (LA)

    Martin White

    Joanna Heilig-Sweden

    Anil Korotane (FAST)

    Stephen Kerpen (Oregon)

    Malcolm Hecks

    Dena Qaddumi

    John Murray

    Gail Waldman

    John Lynes

    David Berridge

    Ian Macdonald

    Wade Sowman (New Zealand)

    Steve Fox

    Muhammad Nusrat Alam Khan

    Cem Ertur

    Aun Qurashi

    Mariah Jones

    Ahmad Barclay

    Judy Price

    Faisal Khan

    Isabel Camacho (Spain)

    Mehmooda Khan

    Safa Mahmoud

    Asif Khan

    John Dinnen

    Saleha Sayeed

    Nurhan Abujidi

    Laiba Khan

    Hana Khan

    Saleha Sayeed

    Nazish Khan

    Beatriz C. Maturana

  • edited January 2009
    For some historical background on the issue:
    How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
    Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions
    "... the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question."
  • edited 5:33AM
     from the Sydney Morning Herald - a compassionate politician!
    Getting away with murder
    Julia Irwin

    January 11, 2009
    YOU'VE got to hand it to the Israeli public relations flacks: only they could convince you that killing children was an act of self-defence.
    As the recent bombing of Gaza began, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni gave instructions for the Foreign Ministry to take "emergency measures to adapt Israel's public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip". Livni went on to call for foreign language speakers to put Israel's case to the world.
    In Australia, the ABC relies for "independent" comment on the smooth Mark Regev, an official spokesman for the Israeli Government, and Martin Indyk, a former official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
    It's the oldest trick in the book: if they look and sound like us, we are more likely to be sympathetic towards them. Anyone putting an alternative view is immediately cast as anti-Semitic. Our media glibly accept the excuses of the Israeli public relations machine and ignore the horrific realities ofIsrael's barbaric behaviour in Gaza.
    It's the same in most Western countries - the groundwork has been laid and the responses of world leaders are predictable. When the Israeli attacks began, right on cue Western leaders regretted the killing of children but in the same breath condemned Palestinians for firing rockets from their walled ghetto into Israel.
    While French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for an immediate ceasefire by both sides, US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called only for Hamas to halt rockets fired from Gaza. They did not call for Israel to halt its bombing.
    There was a lot of handwringing by world leaders but no tough talk when it came to the bombing of the Islamic University of Gaza or the killing of 40 civilians in a United Nations school. We saw the same during the 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon.
    It all reminds me of an old story from the days of the Roman Empire. The Emperor Nero was upset that his prized lions were being distressed by Christians who ran away from them in the Colosseum. Nero ordered that at the next circus a Christian was to be buried up to his neck in the sand to make things easier for the lions. When the lions entered the ring, the biggest and meanest saw the hapless condemned, swaggered over and stood astride the Christian's head, roaring for approval from the crowd. At that moment, the Christian craned his neck and bit off the lion's testicles. The crowd was shocked. "Fight fair! Fight fair!" they yelled.
    It seems that no matter what injustice Palestinians have suffered in the past 60 years, they should be grateful for the privilege of being able to live under the jackboot of Israeli occupation.
    For three years since daring to democratically elect a government not favoured by Israel or theUS, the people of Gaza have been subjected to a starvation blockade. Yet the civilised world has barely raised a note of concern. Is this the standard by which we judge the behaviour of nations? We talk about Darfur and Zimbabwe but say little of the gross abuse of human rights that occurs daily in the illegally occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Our double standards have made a mockery of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention.
    Our failure to condemn the totally disproportionate, not to say illegal, attacks by the Israeli Defence Force has changed the way conflict is regarded around the world. Last August, Russia employed the same tactics in its attack on Georgia as Israel did agains tLebanon.
    Neither Russia nor China sought UN Security Council emergency meetings in response to the Israeli attacks on Gaza. What happens in the Middle East today sets the standard for the world. And that applies to weapons as well as tactics.
    Using cluster bombs or phosphorus bombs against civilian targets is perfectly legal if you can believe the Israeli Defence Force.
    Assassinating Hamas leaders during a ceasefire does not constitute a breach. Collective punishments against communities, obstructing medical and humanitarian relief - all part of Israel's tactics - could now be considered acceptable behaviour in national and international conflict.
    How can we criticise brutal regimes elsewhere in the world when we condone worse atrocities when they are committed by Israel? The Security Council has become a laughing stock. The Secretary-General is a pathetic figure reduced to faint pleas for a ceasefire while UN personnel are murdered on the ground in Gaza. And who will pick up the pieces when the bloodshed has finally stopped? The rest of the world will, of course. Through the world's contributions to the UN, its largest budget item is the UN Relief and Works Agency. With an annual $700 million budget going to support Palestinian refugees, the biggest component is being spent on Gaza.
    Even before the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza, the UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur responsible for reporting on conditions in the occupied territories, Richard Falk, was denied entry to Gaza.
    Last month, Falk called for an International Criminal Court investigation to determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for theGazasiege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.
    To that long list of war crimes and crimes against humanity we can now add the atrocities committed in this recent invasion. But, with its superior public relations forces, Israel can easily deflect concern about its barbaric assault.
    And will the world call Israel's leaders to account for their crimes? Not likely. Western leaders - including Australia's - will merely call on Palestinians to fight fair.
    Julia Irwin is Federal MP for the NSW seat of Fowler and a member of the Parliament's Palestinian Friendship Group.
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