The Guardian • Issue #2080

Israel: stop bombing hospitals and stop killing kids

Girl with Palestine flag painted on her face.

Massive protest against Israel attack to Gaza in Berlin. Full gallery: http://www.montecruzfoto.org/12-07-2014-Free-Palestine-demo-Gaza-Berlin

Unionists For Palestine is an Australia-wide cross-union group of rank and file union members. We are organising actions in support of Palestinian liberation.

Each group of unionists is organising slightly differently in their respective unions. We want to see stronger positions taken by our unions, of which we are the voice.

Unions need to be democratic and responsive to their memberships. Rank and file organising is the current strategy around this. Union members may have differing views on Israel’s aggression in Palestine. This is a lamentable fact but a fact nonetheless. Statements which compare Israel and Palestine as two equal foes on an even battlefield do nothing to help disconnected union members to understand the reality of the massacre being inflicted on Gaza.

Each group of union members organises with regard to their own priorities, as best fits their circumstances. Unionists For Palestine, is the meeting place for reports and group agreements on specific actions and broader positions.

These meetings are lively, well-attended by organised workers, open to union members. The priority is to progress actions.  Healthcare workers for Palestine is a group of health unions inside the larger Unionists For Palestine group. Nurses, allied health (social workers, speech pathologists and more), doctors, and medical scientists organise together.

On World Children’s Day, Monday the 20 November, the group conducted a rally/speak out in the Parkville hospital precinct. The rally gathered near the Royal Children’s Hospital, heard from speakers, marched to the Royal Children’s, continued with the speakers, marched to the Women’s Hospital and then dispersed.

The event was attended by around 300 people – community members and unionists as well as surgeons, doctors, and nurses in uniform. Healthcare workers finishing their AM shifts came out of the hospitals and attended the rally before heading home.

The response from workers not directly engaged in the organising groups and from the wider community was enormous and gratifying. Additionally, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, (ANMF) attended the rally in union t-shirts with a flag reading ‘ANMF Members for Social Justice.’

Topics the speakers covered included:

  • the progressively diminishing ability of the Gazan hospitals to provide care.
  • the duty of healthcare workers to attempt to change the course of the genocide being inflicted on Gaza. This is an extension of our role. The duty extends beyond the operating theatre or hospital.
  • collective action in favour of immediate ceasefire – as a plea for a right to life.
  • urging medical colleges and unions to support a ceasefire. Currently there is resistance to this as it is seen as a ‘political’ statement and therefore outside the remit of a medical college.
  • 223 healthcare workers have been killed in Gaza as of 15 November.
  • The product of the Israeli onslaught is encapsulated by the following new acronym: WCNSF “wounded child, no surviving family.”
  • Keep fighting for a free Palestine: for Palestinian liberation.

Speakers noted that 25 hospitals and 52 health centres no longer function due to the Israeli aggression. Israel has targeted 55 ambulances in addition to cutting off fuel supplies, meaning the remaining ambulances cannot drive.

All workers in unions are urged to join their Unionists for Palestine group!

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