Israel/Palestine: Coalition of Women for Peace on Goldstone Deadline

Women in Black

Coalition of Women for Peace have posted a call for Action to Mark the UN Goldstone Report Deadline. Friday, February 5th, marks the deadline given by the UN General Assembly to Israel and to  Hamas to launch independent committees to investigate the findings of the Goldstone Report. The Goldstone Report has concluded that Israel's offensive against Gaza during Operation Cast Lead was "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population".

The fact-finding mission found concrete evidence that Israel committed war crimes such as targeting Palestinian civilian populations, using Palestinians as “human shields”, using white phosphorus munitions and direct and intentional targeting of civilian structures – among them a school, a hospital, a market, a mosque and a humanitarian aid warehouse.

Despite these severe findings, Israel has yet to conduct an independent and reliable investigation of the war crimes it has committed. Nor has Israel ended the siege of Gaza, which is intended to isolate and debilitate Gaza and constitutes a collective punishment of a civilian population.

We feel that it is the obligation of the international community to ensure that Israel will comply with international human rights and humanitarian law. We call on our friends in the international community to mark the February 5th deadline by organizing international actions and demonstrations – calling Israel to investigate the war crimes it committed, to punish those who were responsible for the crimes and to end the siege of Gaza.

Persecution of Palestinian and Israeli Human Rights Defenders

Ironically, while Israel has not launched an independent committee to investigate war crimes committed in Gaza – the Israeli parliament decided this week to launch a committee to investigate foreign funding of Israeli civil society organizations. This process was sparked by a report published by the Israeli extreme-right organization Im Tirtzu (“if you will it”), citing 16 Israeli human rights organizations that provided evidence for the Goldstone Report and accusing them of collaborating with the enemy.

Among these organizations are the Coalition of Women for Peace, including our project “Who Profits from the Occupation”, and two of our member organizations: New Profile and MachsomWatch. Despite the factual inaccuracies and the anti-democratic premise of this right-wing report, the Coalition is proud to be mentioned among the Israeli organizations that struggle against the war crimes that Israel is committing in Gaza.

This McCarthyist parliamentary committee is part of a new wave of assaults on Palestinian and Israeli activists and organizations that are struggling against the occupation. Further examples are the violent quashing of the Palestinian nonviolent resistance by Israeli security forces, the nighttime raids and arrests of Palestinian organizers and activists, as well as attempts to delegitimize Palestinian human rights organizations.

While these constant assaults on Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders are troubling, we feel that they also represent the growing fear among Israeli officials, who recognize the threat posed by international pressure and by the Palestinian nonviolent struggle. To quote Ben Caspit, a senior Israeli reporter who accused Israeli human rights organizations of destroying Israel from within: “They (Israeli organizations) are winning the war on public opinion, big time. Israel is bleeding, IDF officers are hiding in their headquarters, our leaders are canceling visits overseas, Israeli merchandise is taken off the shelves and this is only the beginning (...) Israel’s image is at an all-time low. International pressure is mounting, and with it the calls for boycott”.

It is clear that international pressure is currently one of the greatest threats to the continuation of the Israeli occupation. Therefore, we call on our international allies to increase this pressure – despite the growing political persecution – so that together we will bring an end to the occupation and justice to all inhabitants of this region.

February 4, 2010