“Over the past three weeks has seen nearly 9,000 Palestinians killed with two thirds of these being women and children. Thousands of Palestinians have been reported missing and are presumed to be trapped or dead under the rubble.”
By Louise Regan
Last Saturday half a million people filled the streets of London and thousands more in cities across the UK and the world to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza. This is the biggest demonstration in support of the Palestinians in UK history.
This follows two huge protests on the previous Saturdays. Many trade union members were on these marches with their union banners and flags to show their solidarity. As trade unionists many of us will have watched in horror the events unfolding in Gaza and Palestine. We must condemn all attacks on civilians and we should be calling for an immediate ceasefire.
The Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza Strip over the past three weeks has seen nearly 9,000 Palestinians killed with two thirds of these being women and children. Thousands of Palestinians have been reported missing and are presumed to be trapped or dead under the rubble. 1.4 million people have been forcibly displaced, mass graves are already full, and the UN has reported that there are not enough body-bags in Gaza for the dead.
About 45% of all housing units in the Gaza strip have been destroyed or damaged since the start of the attack. Public buildings including schools, Mosques and hospitals have been targeted including the Al Ahli hospital where more than 500 Palestinians were killed. Over 40% of Gaza’s education facilities have been hit since the start of the hostilities including 38 schools which have been destroyed or severely damaged.
Israel has sealed the Gaza Strip completely and cut off all electricity, food, water and fuel from a population of which almost half are children. Vital services, including health and sanitation are being pushed towards collapse. Hospitals are losing power, some have already been forced to close, and clean water is running out. Since the 21st October 227 trucks carrying food, water and medical supplies have been allowed to enter through the Rafah crossing from Egypt in to Gaza however Israel has refused to allow fuel to be sent in which will prevent vehicles transporting injured civilians. This is about 4% of the daily imports in to Gaza prior to the current hostilities. This is a fraction of what is needed following the 26 days of complete siege and will do little to relieve the humanitarian crisis on the ground.
On the 27th October contact with the Gaza strip was cut off following the shutdown of landlines, cellular and internet services. Fragmented information available indicates that following this Gaza was subject to the most intense Israeli airstrikes and artillery since the start of the hostilities.
These acts of collective punishment and indiscriminate killing are prohibited under international law. The Israeli government has said it plans a weeks-long brutal assault on the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million residents, including a ground invasion. Israeli politicians and military leaders are using genocidal language and threats.
Palestinians inside Israel, the West Bank and East Jerusalem face a lockdown and a growing number have been killed by settlers and military personnel. The unconditional endorsement of the actions by the Israeli government by various national governments including the United States of America and the United Kingdom render them complicit in the actions of the Netanyahu administration and culpable in the outcome.
The origins of the present bloodshed has its roots firmly in the ongoing denial of the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood through the actions of successive Israeli governments including the expansion of the illegal settlements, the seizure of Palestinian land, erecting roadblocks and the Apartheid Wall.
The trade union movement has a proud history of standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people recognising their right to self-determination. We know that only through the achievement of the rights of the Palestinian people will a lasting peace be achieved.
Now more than ever our solidarity, our words and our actions are needed. We should be asking all our members to contact their MPs and urge them to call for an immediate ceasefire, a complete end to the attacks on the Gaza Strip and for the siege on Gaza to be lifted so that water, food, fuel, and medical supplies can reach the population. We must also ensure a huge trade union presence on demonstrations and build for a million people on the streets of London on the 11th November.
Finally we must not be silenced. For decades the Palestinians have been voiceless. Our job is to keep speaking out, to keep raising awareness and to keep building solidarity for the Palestinian people.
- Louise Regan is an executive member of the National Education Union (NEU) writing in a personal capacity. You can follow her on twitter here; and follow the Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- If you support Labour Outlook’s work amplifying the voices of left movements and struggles in the UK and internationally, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon.