The Guardian • Issue #2097

PALESTINE WILL WIN!

Palestine rally Sydney.

Photo: Anna Pha

For 7 months now the people of Gaza have been under siege from Israel with the death toll continuing to rise, at the time of writing more than 34,000, with estimates of more than 7,000 more buried under the piles of rubble that were once homes, hospitals, places of worship, and essential infrastructure.

Israel continues to act with impunity, ignoring mounting international opposition. It does so with the material support and cover of the US, Australia, the UK, and EU governments, who opportunistically call for a ceasefire at the same time as further arming Israel.

Hamas is seeking a permanent ceasefire, the free return of displaced people, an acceptable deal for the exchange of hostages and Palestinian prisoners in Israel, and an end to the siege. It is also demanding the recognition of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, in line with UN resolutions.

The charity Save the Children reports that since 7 October, the rate of attacks every month on medical facilities and healthcare workers “has been higher than in any other recent conflict globally, standing at an average of 73 attacks each month.”

Becky Platt, a paediatric nurse at the field hospital in Rafah told Save the Children that, “We’ve recently seen an influx of children from other hospitals with wounds and lost limbs, often needing skin grafting and multiple operations, but even getting hold of simple things like strong pain relief is a major challenge.”

“When children have to undergo a procedure to save their limbs and avoid infection, we are forced to do it with less pain relief than we’d normally use. So, I brought bubbles and games on my phone to distract them, but the reality is that a lot of these procedures need strong pain relief. That is causing huge distress, and it will also add to long-term psychological damage.”

She added, “We treated a 10-year-old boy who had shrapnel in his thigh that had shattered his femur. He lost a lot of muscle and tissue, so he needed skin grafting and also had an external fixator on the leg. He had multiple operations, but he was so distressed by the way his leg looked that he couldn’t even look at it. He was silently crying; that was heartbreaking. But this is a standard story. Children are psychologically destroyed by everything that’s happened.”

Peaceful anti-Palestinian protests continue to spread across university campuses in the US despite a heavy response from police. (See page 9) In Australia the rallies continue on a weekly basis without a break.

FAMINE

“We are getting closer by the day to a famine situation,” says Gian Caro Cirri, Geneva director of the World Food Program. Half of all Gazans are experiencing “catastrophic” hunger, with famine projected to hit the north of the territory this month unless there is urgent intervention, a United Nations-backed food security assessment warns.

Aid charity Oxfam has accused Israel of continuing to “systematically and deliberately block and undermine” the delivery of aid into Gaza, in violation of international humanitarian law.

“People in Gaza are starving to death right now. The speed at which this man-made hunger and malnutrition crisis has ripped through Gaza is terrifying,” said Cindy McCain, head of the UN’s World Food Programme. Starvation is a brutal and deliberate weapon of war against a defenceless population. The health and well-being of an entire future generation – if they survive – is being compromised.

Hospitals have become mass graves.

Gazans struggling with displacement, destruction of medical facilities and scarcity of food are also having to deal with the stench from rotting rubbish, which has become a breeding ground for disease.

“There is an accumulation of over 90,000 tonnes of waste, and with rising temperatures, it has become a real environmental catastrophe due to decomposition and the significant increase in the spread of foul odours in recent days,” said Hussni Mohanna, spokesman for the municipality in Gaza city.

GOVT MUST ACT!

In a significant and important departure from the Labor government’s appalling disregard for human life and human rights, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has issued a statement calling on the government to take immediate steps to secure peace. (See ACTU statement on Gaza)

The CPA calls on the Australian government to:

  • Increase funding for the UN aid agency UNWRA
  • Cease military and other support for Israel
  • Impose economic sanctions on Israel
  • Recognise an independent Palestinian state.

Israel’s occupation must end. A ceasefire cannot be seen as an end in itself. It must be permanent and be seen as the beginning of a just and enduring political solution, including the recognition of an independent Palestinian state by the international community.

Palestine will win!

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