(source: Global BDS Movement)
On the morning of 27 December 2008 Israeli forces initiated a 23-day military offensive against the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip killing more than 1400 and injuring over 5000 Palestinians, predominantly civilians and refugees since 1948. Two years have passed and those responsible for the atrocities committed have not yet been held accountable. The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on conscientious people and organizations around the world to step up efforts to end Israel’s long record of impunity through boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) until international law and Palestinian rights are upheld.
The UN Goldstone report — endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, UN General Assembly, European Parliament, Arab League, among others — found serious evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated mainly by Israel against the occupied Palestinian population in Gaza. The findings of the Mission confirmed earlier investigations conducted by independent Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations. The Goldstone report called for credible and independent investigation and prosecution of those responsible, and for reparations for the victims. It called upon the United Nations and its members to activate international judicial mechanisms, should domestic measures fail to meet the required international standards.
In the two years since Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead”, no effective judicial investigations have been conducted into the conflict, and Israel has refused to cooperate with the UN Fact Finding Mission. Referring to “structural flaws” in the so-called Israeli justice system, the Goldstone report concluded that Israel cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards1. In such situations, international law demands recourse to international judicial mechanisms. States blatantly shielding Israel from international legal scrutiny, chiefly the US and some European governments, have thwarted Palestinian recourse to international justice mechanisms, highlighting the need more than ever for intensifying the global BDS movement’s efforts to end Israel’s impunity and Western complicity in perpetuating it.
Violations of international law continue to this day, inter alia, through the continuing Israeli-imposed illegal siege of the Gaza Strip. Israel’s ongoing blockade of essential foods, construction supplies, as well as access to health and educational services is not only immoral; it is a severe form of collective punishment, a war crime that is strictly prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Itis inducing mass poverty, water contamination, environmental collapse, chronic diseases, economic devastation, and hundreds of deaths. This medieval, patently illegal siege, in its fourth year, against 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza has been squarely condemned by leading legal experts, including UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the oPt, Prof. Richard Falk, who described it as constituting “slow genocide.” This is but a continuation of Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, including their mass expulsion from their homes during the Nakba in 1948, military rule, occupation andcolonization of their land, apartheid, and persistent denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands and to receive reparations, as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
Followingthe massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla on 31 May 2010, Israel announced that it would “ease” the siege of Gaza. However, as a recent report2 by a coalition of leading humanitarian organizations concluded, “Israel has done just enough to ease the pressure on itself from the international community, but far too little to ease the restrictions on the daily lives of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.”
Cast Lead marked a turning point in public opinion reminiscent of the international reaction to the1960 Sharpeville massacre in apartheid South Africa. Support for BDS has been growing at a spectacular rate around the world. Governments arefinding it harder to justify policies that treat Israel as if it were above international law. Israel is increasingly seen as a pariah state. On the occasion of the second anniversary of Israel’s brutal aggression on Gaza, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee calls on:
– People of conscience around the world to intensify BDS efforts to hold Israel accountable and pressure their governments to immediately suspend arms trade with Israel, implement trade sanctions, and bring to justice all Israeli officials and militarypersonnel who took the decision and/or implemented Israel’s massacre ofPalestinians in Gaza.
– Civil society organizations — includingfaith based groups, universities, trade unions, women’s associations, student groups, academic and professional associations, etc. — to boycott Israeli goods and complicit institutions and to divest their owninvestment and pension funds of all stock in Israeli and international companies that are complicit in maintaining Israel’s occupation, apartheid and violation of international law.
– Governments to respect their obligation to provide access to justice for the Palestinian victims via the United Nations and in domestic and international courts, and to impose pressure, including sanctions, on Israel to immediately end its illegal siege of the occupied Gaza Strip and to cease its policies of colonialism and apartheid that oppress the Palestinian people.
Without paying a price, Israel is very likelyto continue on the path of massacres, forcible displacement, and construction of colonial settlements on occupied Palestinian land. On the second anniversary of the Gaza massacre, nothing can be more effective than creatively and persistently spreading and deepening BDS campaigns to hold Israel accountable. This is the shortest and most reliable path to justice, freedom, equal rights and sustainable peace.
1 Goldstone Report, paragraph 17562 Dashed Hopes, Crisis Action November 2010