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‘6 facts on the current Gaza crisis’

Tuesday July 15 2014

1.  Two Palestinian children were shot dead by Israeli soldiers on 20 May, days before 3 Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered.  Hamas denies any involvement in the deaths of the 3 Israeli teenagers yet Israel, which began aerial strikes on Gaza within days of the bodies of the teenagers being found, has used the deaths as a pretext to collectively punish Gazans and pursue its longstanding policy of undermining the Hamas government in Gaza.  Western media barely featured the Palestinians who were shot dead two months ago. Nor has the media featured news of the further 5 Palestinian children who were killed as Israel began revenge attacks for the dead teenagers.

2. Israel has continually broken the terms of the Egyptian brokered ceasefire of November 2012. The terms of the ceasefire, which brought Operation Pillar of Defense to an end, called for “ending all hostilities by Israelis and Palestinians, and facilitating the freedom of movement and transfer of goods within Gaza.” Israel has violated these terms repeatedly with extrajudicial killings and sustained restrictions on the free movement and transfer of goods within Gaza. Reports suggest over 120 violations by Israel within one year of the ceasefire, few of which have ever made the news. Lopsided coverage in our media gives the false impression that Israel remains committed to peace while the Palestinians stoke conflict.

3.  In the last  two weeks, 500 Palestinians have been killed and 40 Israelis.  Despite Israel claiming it is under attack, it has suffered no fatalities whilst scores of Palestinians have been killed or injured, the majority of them civilians; women and children. The UK is responsible for tens of millions of pounds worth of arms sales to Israel. Figures are difficult to come by and FOI requests shed little light on the matter, but this report of 2002 by the Campaign Against Arms Trade reveals the exponential growth in UK arms sales to Israel from £12.5m in 2000 to £22.5m in 2001. Further details can also be found in reports by the parliamentary Joint Committee on Arms Export Controls.

4. The BBC’s coverage of current hostilities has been woefully lacking in impartiality, accuracy and objectivity.  Past studies have shown the disproportionate coverage given to Israeli spokespeople over Palestinian officials on the BBC, as well the public sector broadcaster’s poor record on contextualisation and historical background to the conflict. Coverage of the current hostilities suggest the BBC has learnt nothing from this criticism of its approach with newsreaders adopting patronising and combative postures with Palestinian officials while allowing their Israeli counterparts to present a biased narrative without being challenged.

5.  John Kerry (US Secretary of State) said Israel would risk becoming ‘an apartheid state’ if it failed to grasp the opportunity for peace  After failing in his most recent attempt to reconcile both parties over the last 8 months, Kerry primarily blamed Israel for the deadlock in progress towards peace.

6.  Life under the Israeli imposed blockade of Gaza is unbearable.  The blockade on Gaza which Israel has maintained since 2007, has led to a sharp decline in heath, sanitation and food security for Gazans. The UN estimates abject poverty in Gaza has increased 300% and over 60% of households are ‘food insecure’.  Worse still, illegal settlements and (unpunished) settler violence towards Palestinians in the West Bank are a regular occurrence. The US has rightfully termed ‘price tag’ attacks by Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories acts of ‘terrorism’.

Send them the ‘6 facts on the current Gaza crisis info’ (above) and ask them to write to the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the shadow Foreign secretary and the heads of the main political parties asking them to condemn Israel for its disproportionate use of force against the Palestinians and to ease the economic blockade of Gaza. Remind them that the UK has a responsibility, as a member of the Quartet, to push for peace. Remind them too that no ceasefire or peace will materialise while the blockade of Gaza remains in force and the illegal settlement building continued unabated.

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