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Palestinian Civil Society Calls on International Allies to Hold Israel Accountable

28 July 2014

Palestinian Civil Society Calls on International Allies to Hold Israel Accountable

for its Violations in Gaza

Palestinian civil society organizations are shocked at the irresponsible public reactions of

major international aid agencies working in the oPt toward Israel’s latest military assault

on Gaza.

In recent weeks, numerous international bodies and organizations have come out in

condemnation of the senseless loss of Palestinian lives in Gaza that has now surpassed

900 casualties. In doing so, however, many of these entities have insisted on

condemning “both sides” and calling for an unconditional ceasefire and return to


In a joint statement published by the Association of International Development

Agencies (AIDA) on July 14, 34 major international organizations argued,

“Military actions by all parties must stop,” explaining that, “military operations

have failed to bring peace and security for people in Gaza and in Israel.”

The appeal continued on to say that, “With civilians in Gaza killed by Israeli

airstrikes and homes, schools, and water facilities damaged and destroyed and

as rockets continue to be fired from Gaza towards Israel, we now call again for a


In a separate release on July 22, Christian Aid echoed similar remarks,

explaining that the INGO “is explicit in its concern for the security of Israeli and

Palestinians alike and publicly condemns the escalating violence by all sides.”

On July 24, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon likewise issued a statement

in response to news of a UN school in Gaza coming under fire, stating that he

condemned Hamas rocket fire and called on Israel to exercise particular care.”

UNICEF issued a comparable announcement the following day, adding simply

that “much more needs to be done to protect innocent children” without any

reference to the Israeli rocket fire that hit the school.

The language in each of these positions reinforces the misconception that the current

happenings in Gaza constitute a war being fought by two sides of equal capacity and

legitimacy. In reality, Israel is executing a military campaign aimed at amassing as many

Palestinian deaths as possible. Armed resistance from within the Gaza strip, however, is

lead in struggle against an illegal blockade and broader occupation of Palestinian land.

Moreover, citing the consequences endured in Gaza in the same breath as those

sustained in Israel once again perpetuates the erroneous notion that the two areas are

facing conditions of relative likeness.

As supposed allies in the effort to bring about an end to the Israeli occupation and

defend international law, we expect our partner INGOs and supporting UN bodies to do

everything within their capacities to hold Israel accountable for its rights violations. This

includes public recognition of the imbalance of power – politically, economically and

militarily – that Israel wields.

We therefore reject any statements that seek to portray Israel and Palestine as two

equal sides and call on all condemnations of the current situation to recognize the


– Israel is executing a military assault on Gaza and explicitly targeting civilian

populations in hospitals and designated safe zones. This assault is merely one

component of the state’s systemic occupation of Palestinian land that has been

continuous since 1948.

– As an area under military occupation, Palestinians have the legal right to defend

themselves – including through armed struggle – in accordance with United

Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978.

– Israel’s claim of “self-defense” is in contradiction of international humanitarian

law, which does not identify such a pretext as a legitimate justification of force by

an occupying power in the midst of ongoing armed conflict.

– The united Palestinian leadership has presented clear conditions, in accordance

with international law, to which it will agree to a 10-year ceasefire with Israel.

These terms include an end to the suffocating blockade on Gaza since 2006, the

release of hundreds of political prisoners illegally detained by Israel since June

12th 2014, the right to fishing in Gaza waters for up to 12 miles, access to and

utilization of the buffer zones, free movement of goods in and out of Gaza and

the opening of the Rafah border with Egypt. This proposal, which merely

promotes the provision of basic human rights, has been effectively ignored by the

international community and elicited zero response from Israel.

Aid agencies and UN bodies play a critical role in pressuring Israel to adhere to its

international obligations as well as in shaping public perceptions of the Palestinian

struggle. As members of Palestinian civil society, we therefore call on all relevant groups

to fulfill their stated purposes for being present in the oPt: That is, to accurately

represent conditions on the ground and work in harmony with their Palestinian partners

to protect their fundamental human rights. Aid alone is not sufficient to achieve this aim

and ought not to be used merely to respond to the damages caused by Israel’s crimes.

Rather, we call on all of our allies to utilize their resources instead to address the root

cause of this violence and advocate for an end to the Israeli occupation.

The Coalition for Jerusalem

Jerusalem, 28th July 2014

The Coalition for Jerusalem is a league of religious dignitaries,

political factions, civil society organizations, and individuals

based in Occupied Jerusalem. It is a non violent, direct action

group formed in 2004 to oppose Israeli Government arbitrary

measures to alter the Status of Jerusalem in violation of

International Legitimacy and Human Rights Conventions, and to

reaffirm that East Jerusalem is the Capital of the future

Palestinian State.