Thursday, January 1, 2009

Notes on Gaza

In June 2008, according to an article in Middle East Online, "sixteen people in southern Israel [had] been killed by rocket or mortar fire from the Gaza Strip "since the start of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in September 2000, which protested against the long and illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories."

However, in the same period, the Israelis had killed roughly 3770 Palestinians.

That number is derived from a Palestinian Centre for Human Rights fact sheet which says that "the IOF [Israel Occupation Forces] have implemented a systematic policy of extra-judicial executions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). From the beginning of the Second Intifada, in September 2000, until 30 June, 2008, the IOF carried out 348 extra-judicial execution operations in the OPT. During these operations, a total of 754 Palestinians were executed, representing 20% of the overall number of Palestinians killed by IOF since the beginning of the Second Intifada. "

"The victims included 521 targeted persons and 233 civilian bystanders, including 71 children and twenty women. 405 of the victims were executed in the Gaza Strip, and 350 were executed in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, 248 of the victims were targeted people, and 157 were civilian bystanders. In the West Bank, 274 of the victims were targeted persons and 76 were civilian bystanders.

"IOF claim that extra-judicially executed Palestinians are wanted by the Israeli security services, and have been 'targeted' as they pose serious threats to the national security of the State of Israel. In addition, IOF utilize a host of rhetorical terms, such as 'self-defence, military response, Palestinian terrorists/militants' in order to claim these extra-judicial executions are essential preventative responses in order to ensure the continuing security of Israel."

Although the current military campaign by Israel is being blamed on the rocket attacks by Hamas, it's interesting to see elsewhere the speculation that it is really due to the upcoming election for Prime Minister in Israel and the need for politicians to show some resolve in dealing with Hamas.

The election, scheduled for February 10, was set up in order to fill the vacated spot created by the awkward resignation of current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over financial scandal. It pits Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is running on the Kadima ticket, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who heads the Labour Party, against Benjamin Netanyahu, of the opposition party Likud.

Chris Marsden writes in, that Ms. Livni "has threatened further assassinations of Hamas leaders, warning that "nobody is immune." "Until now we have shown restraint," she said. "But today there is no other option than a military operation."

Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Marsden writes, "threatened a ground invasion Saturday and ruled out any possibility of a cease-fire. 'For us to be asked to have a cease-fire with Hamas is like asking you to have a cease-fire with Al Qaeda,'" Barak told Fox News. "If boots on the ground will be needed, they will be there."

"Netanyahu has focused his campaign on calls," Marsden says, "for an even more aggressive 'active policy of attack' against Hamas, accusing the current coalition government of Kadima and Labour of being too "passive."

"In the long term," Netanyahu declared, " the toppling of the Hamas regime is inevitable. In the short term...there are a wide range of possibilities, from doing nothing to doing everything, meaning to conquer Gaza."

Ilan Pappe, one of the world's leading historians of the Middle East and senior lecturer in the University of Haifa Department of Political Science, has written an interesting article for the Electronic Intifada on Towards A Geography of Peace: Whither Gaza in which he favors BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel in dealing with the conflict. It's a very pointed view of Gaza's background and some history leading up to this mess.

We've had some interesting responses to our initial proposal to boycott Israel. All have been supportive, none have vocally opposed a boycott, unless we count the two who unsubscribed. We also have the opinions of the two people that were shared on Facebook. If you haven't done so already, this is your opportunity to vote on United Progressives policy as a union member. Help us make this union a success.

If you support a boycott, vote yes and send an email to with I vote Yes in the subject line and the statement in the body, "I believe that United Progressives should support a boycott."

If you oppose a boycott, vote no and send an email to with I vote No in the subject line and the statement in the body, "I believe that United Progressives should not support a boycott."

I believe that a boycott should be held until Israel lifts travel restrictions and opens the borders to Gaza to all forms of support necessary to it's recovery and return to normalcy.

Paul Barrow
Co-Director/ Policy and Communications

United Progressives
44 Music Square East
Nashville, TN 37203


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