The bloodshed in Gaza is escalating while diplomats talk — the death toll now stands at over 600 people and rising, almost half of them civilians and over 100 children dead. As Israeli tanks, airplanes and artillery bombard thickly populated urban areas, hitting UN schools yesterday, thousands more have been injured and 1.5 million terrified civilians have no escape from this prison-like enclave — the borders have been sealed. Hamas continues to fight and fire rockets deep into Israel: 11 Israelis have died, including from friendly fire.
Our worldwide call for an internationally-guaranteed ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides has begun to ring out loud and clear, winning the support of leaders in Europe, the Middle East and beyond, with hopeful outlines of a deal emerging from Turkey, Egypt and others. Amidst the confusion, Israel is rejecting a truce for now and escalating its offensive, while US President Bush is blocking a negotiated UN ceasefire, trying instead to impose a skewed alternative that could legitimize Israel’s suffocating isolation of Gaza.
Enough is enough: these civilian deaths can’t go on, and we can’t let Bush and co block a fair, negotiated ceasefire. 250,000 of us have signed the ceasefire petition, let’s make it half a million — we’ll publish it in a hard-hitting ad in the Washington Post and deliver it in meetings with UN Security Council members — follow the link below to see the ad, sign the petition, and forward this message to all your friends and family:
Our efforts really can make a difference — Israel’s own foreign minister admits that international pressure, if intense enough, could ensure a ceasefire. As the international community debates and delays, civilians are dying by the day. The top UN official in Gaza says, “There’s nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized.” Opposing a United Nations resolution, Bush reportedly proposes to exclude Hamas from any ceasefire deal and leave Israel a free hand, something that would guarantee that the violence continues. That’s why we’re targeting incoming President Obama and US decision-makers, as well as the European Union and other international leaders, to pursue a fair and stable resolution.
To be lasting, a ceasefire must protect civilians and end all attacks — Israeli bombings and incursions as well as the rockets Palestinian factions fire into southern Israel. International supervision is desperately needed at the borders, to reopen Gaza’s borders and crossings for food, fuel, medicine and goods, to prevent weapon-smuggling which has only grown under the blockade, and to monitor and enforce the ceasefire on both sides.
Sources say Israel could soon agree to such a ceasefire, and Hamas, which won elections in 2006 and now runs Gaza, has suggested it could do so too. Both should be challenged to abide by a fair deal. There is no military solution for either side — it’s time for world powers to step in, advancing arrangements to protect civilians on all sides and let them live their lives in peace and security. Sign the petition now at the link below and send this message to everyone you know — we’ll publish it in The Washington Post and elsewhere, and seek face-to-face meetings to deliver the petition with the Obama team, the UN Security Council and European leaders:
With hope and determination,
Paul, Graziela, Ricken, Luis, Alice, Brett, Ben, Iain, Paula, Veronique, Milena and the whole Avaaz team
P.S. We wrote to European, US and Arab leaders last week about our campaign, and received several responses — now we need to escalate the pressure. Click here for a report on many of Avaaz’s other campaigns so far.
1. Associated Press: “Israel Shells Near UN School, killing at least 30“ (5 January 2009)
2. “Gaza: outlines of an endgame“, Ghassan Khatib (6 January 2009)
Al-Jazeera: “Arab ministers hold UN ceasefire talks“ (6 January 2009)
Associated Press: “Diplomats seek truce as civilian toll rises“ (5 January 2009)
3. Yediot Aharonot, “Cabinet: Gaza op to continue, Israel has not yet accepted the Egyptian-French ceasefire initiative“, 7 January 2009
Israel Today: “Israel rejects European, UN efforts for immediate ceasefire“ (5 January 2009)
Yediot Aharonot: “Israel examining international treaty to isolate Hamas“ (5 January 2009)
4. These parameters are advocated by a broad range of experts and policymakers. See for example International Crisis Group’s Ending the War in Gaza report (5 January 2009)
5. Reuters: “Hamas seeks truce but says lifting siege a must“ (5 January 2009)
Strikingly, the US Army War College has just released a substantial report supporting the view that Hamas can and must be brought into negotiations and is capable of sustaining a long-term truce, or even peace with Israel.
The inside story of the civil strife between Fatah and Hamas and the Bush administration’s involvement in this debacle is best-told in The Gaza Bombshell, an investigative article published in the leading US magazine Vanity Fair in April 2008
“Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?“ (6 January 2009) is a statistical analysis by an MIT professor, based on Israel’s own data for rocket fire and on which side struck first. It provides useful factual background for how the Israel-Hamas truce collapsed, poorly reflected in some news reporting