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Home arrow Blog arrow January 2009 arrow January 23, 2009

January 23, 2009
WAWA Blog January 23, 2009: Messages from a priest in Gaza and FAB RE: INTERNATIONAL LAW and ISRAEL'S WAR ON GAZA and something you can do as a person of conscience
Message from the Church of God in Gaza

Note: A message has arrived from courageous and widely admired pastor of the Catholic Church in Gaza, Fr Manuel Mussallam, written on 20 January, speaking of the plight of his community in the wake of the Israelis' vicious assault. Here is what this veteran of the long struggle says.

By Fr Manuel Mussallam - Gaza

From the Church of God in Gaza: Peace and blessings upon you, as we pray to God to lift man's anger and shower Gaza with his mercy and kindness.

Gaza was suffering prior to the war, it suffered during the war and it will continue to suffer after the war.

Hundreds of people have been killed and many more injured in the Israeli invasion. Our people have endured the bombing of their homes, their crops have been destroyed, they have lost everything and many are now homeless. We have endured phosphorus bombs which have caused horrific burns, mainly to civilians. Like the early Christians our people are living through a time of great persecution, a persecution which we must record for future generations as a statement of their faith, hope and love.

Many families fled to United Nations (UNRWA) schools where they thought they would be safe. But with 50-60 people to a room, no electricity, water, bedding or food and nowhere to wash, living conditions are terrible.

Emergency aid has not yet arrived at the Church and because they are too frightened to venture onto the streets our people cannot reach the warehouses which hold Red Cross and UNRWA relief supplies. We trust in God but appeal to the whole world and in particular the Church to help Gaza. Your prayers and your kindness will be our salvation.

The war has affected everyone in Gaza. A teacher fled to our school with her husband and four children. He was hit by shrapnel from an Israeli bomb and his legs badly injured. She is distraught and terrified and when I spoke to her she was desperately looking for clean water to make a bottle for her baby.

The Church has lost a 26 year old Catholic man, Naseem Saba, who was killed in an Israeli air raid on 7 January. The day before, Israeli jets destroyed his family home where he lived with his three uncles.

As well as the destruction and physical injuries the mental trauma of our people is incalculable. They will need help and support for years to come. They will have to find somewhere to live and we will need centres for those injured and disabled in the shelling, special schools for traumatised or orphaned children and a whole array of rehabilitation services.

Clean water is scarce so both our schools in Remal and Zaitoon provide local people with water from an artesian well, dug through the generosity of Austrian donors. The school's generator produces electricity for the nearby bakery as there have been no bread deliveries for weeks. People say: “The priest has become a baker," and it’s true - we are glad to be able to do it.  

The war must end now. The world has to find a solution for the Palestinian people and not simply revert to the position they were in before it began. The borders with Israel must be redrawn and the occupation, which began 60 years ago, has to end.

The status of Palestinian refugees must be resolved pursuant to the Right of Return, and East Jerusalem must be the Palestinian state capital. We must tear down the Apartheid Wall, open the border crossings, free Palestinian detainees and remove Israeli settlements so the land can be returned to its original Palestinian owners.

Peace is only possible if it embraces justice. If the world grants the Palestinian people their human rights there will surely be peace in the Middle East.

From all the people of Gaza we thank you, our friends everywhere, for your constant prayers and particularly for the support which we urgently need and we hope will reach us soon. We thank His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI for his stance in calling for peace in the Middle East and for his generous support to the poor of Gaza. And we thank all bishops, priests, pastors, monks and nuns across the world for remembering us in their prayers.

On behalf of every Gazan, we share your prayers and say to the world: “From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.” (Galatians 6: 17-18)

- Father Manuel Musallam is the Pastor of the Catholic Church in Gaza. (His message was relayed by Stuart Littlewood.)
http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=14724

Francis A. Boyle:FAB


INTERNATIONAL LAW and ISRAEL'S WAR ON GAZA
by Francis A. Boyle
Professor of International Law
Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations (1991-93)

When the Oslo Document was originally presented by the Israeli government to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations in the Fall of 1992, it was rejected by the Delegation because it obviously constituted a bantustan. This document carried out Menachem Begin's disingenuous misinterpretation of the Camp David Accords--expressly rejected by U.S. President Jimmy Carter--that all they called for was autonomy for the people and not for the land too.

Soon thereafter, unbeknownst to the Delegation and to almost everyone else, the Israeli government opened up a secret channel of negotiations in Norway. There the Israeli government re-presented the document that had already been rejected by the Palestinian Delegation in Washington, D.C. It was this document, with very minor modifications, that was later signed at the White House on 13 September 1993.

Before the signing ceremony, I commented to a high-level official of the Palestine Liberation Organization: "This document is like a straight-jacket. It will be very difficult to negotiate your way out of it." This PLO official agreed with my assessment and responded: "Yes, you are right. It will depend upon our negotiating skill."

Of course I have great respect for Palestinian negotiators. They have done the best they can negotiating in good faith with the Israeli government that has been invariably backed up by the United States. But there has never been any good faith on the part of the Israeli government either before, during or after Oslo. Ditto for the United States.

Even if Oslo had succeeded, it would have resulted in the imposition of a bantustan upon the Palestinian People. But Oslo has run its course! Therefore, it is my purpose here today to chart a NEW DIRECTION for the Palestinian People to consider.

An agenda for an international legal response:

First, we must immediately move for the de facto suspension of Israel throughout the entirety of the United Nations System, including the General Assembly and all U.N. subsidiary organs and bodies. We must do to Israel what the U.N. General Assembly has done to the genocidal rump Yugoslavia and to the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa! Here the legal basis for the de facto suspension of Israel at the U.N. is quite simple:

As a condition for its admission to the United Nations Organization, Israel formally agreed to accept General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) (1947) (partition/Jerusalem trusteeship) and General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) (1948) (Palestinian right of return), inter alia. Nevertheless, the government of Israel has expressly repudiated both Resolution 181 (II) and Resolution 194 (III). Therefore, Israel has violated its conditions for admission to U.N. membership and thus must be suspended on a de facto basis from any participation throughout the entire United Nations System.

Second, any further negotiations with Israel must be conducted on the basis of Resolution 181 (II) and its borders; Resolution 194 (III); subsequent General Assembly resolutions and Security Council resolutions; the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949; the 1907 Hague Regulations; and other relevant principles of public international law.

Third, we must abandon the fiction and the fraud that the United States government is an "honest broker." The United States government has never been an honest broker from well before the very outset of these negotiations in 1991. Rather, the United States has invariably sided with Israel against the Palestinians. We need to establish some type of international framework to sponsor these negotiations where the Palestinian negotiators will not be subjected to the continual bullying, threats, harassment, intimidation and outright lies perpetrated by the United States government.

Fourth, we must move to have the U.N. General Assembly impose economic, diplomatic, and travel sanctions upon Israel pursuant to the terms of the Uniting for Peace Resolution (1950), whose Emergency Special Session on Palestine is now in recess.

Fifth, the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine must sue Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for inflicting acts of genocide against the Palestinian People in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention!

Sixth, An International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) can be established by the UN General Assembly as a "subsidiary organ" under article 22 of the UN Charter. Article 22 of the UN Charter states the UN General Assembly may establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions. The purpose of the ICTI would be to investigate and Prosecute suspected Israeli war criminals for offences against the Palestinian people.

On January 4, 2009, Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire wrote to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and Father Miguel D'Escoto President of United Nations General assembly adding her voice to the many calls from International Jurists, Human rights Organizations, and individuals, for the UN General Assembly to seriously consider establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel in view of the ongoing Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza and Palestine.

Maguire said:

"In November 2008 I visited Gaza and was shocked at the suffering of the people of Gaza, being under 'siege' as they are for over two years. This collective punishment by the Israeli Government, has lead to a great humanitarian crisis. Collective punishment of the civilian community by the Israeli Government breaks the Geneva Convention, is illegal and is a war crime and crime against humanity.

"Instead of protecting the civilian community of Gaza and relieving their Suffering by lifting the 'siege', the Israeli military have carried out 7 days consecutive bombardment of civilians, by sea and air. Dropping Israeli bombs from the air and sea on unarmed civilians, many women and children, destroying mosques, hospitals, and and homes, and infrastructure, is illegal and constitutes war crimes. The deaths of people in Gaza is now over 600 with over 2,500 people injured - many women and children. The infrastructure of Gaza has been destroyed, and the people cut off from the world – including journalists, Humanitarian workers, locked out of Gaza, and unable to go to the aid of the people.

"The UN must help uphold Human rights and Justice for Palestinian People, by seriously considering establishing an International criminal tribunal for Israel, (ICTI) in order that Israeli Gov., be held accountable for war crimes."

NOTE:  Professor Boyle's call for an International Criminal Tribunal on Israel is now being circulated by member states of the UN General Assembly.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/world/middleeast/22phosphorus.html?ref=world



To:  President and Member States of United Nations General Assembly

PETITION

To President and Member States of United Nations General Assembly

The Creation of a Special Tribunal to try Israeli War Criminals

Recalling that Israel was created by virtue of a General Assembly Resolution in 1947 against the wishes of the indigenous population of Palestine;

Recalling that the creation of Israel was achieved through the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population, which resulted in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, and that more than half of the population of 1.5 millions of the Palestinian Occupied Territory called the Gaza Strip are Palestinian refugees who have become, with the other civilian population, victims of the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip;

Noting that the UN Human Rights Council, in its ninth Special Session, has adopted on 12 January 2009, a resolution “on the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression of the occupied Gaza Strip” in which it “strongly condemned the ongoing Israeli military operation which had resulted in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people and systematic destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure”; and “decided to dispatch an urgent independent international fact-finding mission to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory”(United Nations Press Release of 12 January 2009, Human Rights Council, ROUNDUP);

Recalling that Israel has in the past refused to cooperate with similar fact-finding commissions or even give them visas to enter;

Recalling Article 22 of the Charter of the United Nations

Recalling further the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9th July 2004 on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall by Israel, the occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in which the Court emphasized the special responsibility of the General Assembly for the Question of Palestine;


The undersigned NGOs and individuals

Call upon the General Assembly to create a special international tribunal to try Israel, its political and military leaders, for such crimes in violation of international law, human rights law and international humanitarian law in the Palestinian Occupied Territory of which they may be charged.


To Sign:
http://www.petitiononline.com/EAFORD09/petition.html


PS-i was the 3594th to sign


   
 
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