Ismail Haniyeh: My message to the West – Israel must stop the slaughter

http://www.independ opinion/commenta tors/ismail- haniyeh-my- message-to- the-west- ndash-israel- must-stop- the-slaughter- 1366726.html
The Independent Thursday, 15 January 2009

I write this article to Western readers across the social and
political spectrum as the Israeli war machine continues to massacre my
people in Gaza. To date, almost 1,000 have been killed, nearly half of
whom are women and children. Last week’s bombing of the UNRWA (UN
Relief Works Agency) school in the Jabalya refugee camp was one of the
most despicable crimes imaginable, as hundreds of civilians had
abandoned their homes and sought refuge with the international agency
only to be mercilessly shelled and bombed by Israel. Forty-six children
and women were killed in that heinous attack while scores were injured.

Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 did not end its
occupation nor, as a result, its international obligations as an
occupying power. It continued to control and dominate our borders by
land, sea and air. Indeed the UN has confirmed that between 2005 and
2008, the Israeli army killed nearly 1,250 Palestinians in Gaza,
including 222 children. For most of that period the border crossings
have remained effectively closed, with only limited quantities of food,
industrial fuel, animal feed and a few other essential items, allowed
in. Despite its frantic efforts to conceal it, the root cause
of Israel’s criminal war on Gaza is the elections of January 2006,
which saw Hamas win by a substantial majority. What occurred next was
that Israel alongside the United States and the European Union joined
forces in an attempt to quash the democratic will of the Palestinian
people. They set about reversing the decision first by obstructing the
formation of a national unity government and then by making a living
hell for the Palestinian people through economic strangulation. The
abject failure of all these machinations finally led to this vicious
war. Israel’s objective is to silence all voices that express the will
of the Palestinian; thereafter it would impose its own terms for a
final settlement depriving us of our land, our right to Jerusalem as
the rightful capital of our future state and the Palestinian refugees’
right to return to their homes. Ultimately, the comprehensive
siege on Gaza, which manifestly violated the Fourth Geneva Convention,
prohibited the most basic medical supplies to our hospitals. It
disallowed the delivery of fuel and supply of electricity to our
population. And on top of all of this inhumanity, it denied them food
and the freedom of movement, even to seek treatment. This led to the
avoidable death of hundreds of patients and the spiralling rise of
malnutrition among our children. Palestinians are appalled that
the members of the European Union do not view this obscene siege as a
form of aggression. Despite the overwhelming evidence, they shamelessly
assert that Hamas brought this catastrophe upon the Palestinian people
because it did not renew the truce. Yet we ask, did Israel honour the
terms of the ceasefire mediated by Egypt in June? It did not. The
agreement stipulated a lifting of the siege and an end to attacks in
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Despite our full compliance, the
Israelis persisted in murdering Palestinians in Gaza as well as the
West Bank during what became known as the year of the Annapolis peace. None
of the atrocities committed against our schools, universities, mosques,
ministries and civil infra-structure would deter us in the pursuit of
our national rights. Undoubtedly, Israel could demolish every building
in the Gaza Strip but it would never shatter our determination or
steadfastness to live in dignity on our land. Surely, if the gathering
of civilians in a building only to then bomb it or the use of
phosphorous bombs and missiles are not war crimes, then what is? How
many more international treaties and conventions must Zionist Israel
breach before it is held accountable? There is not a capital in the
world today where free and decent people are not outraged by this
brutal oppression. Neither Palestine nor the world would be the same
after these crimes. There is only one way forward and no other.
Our condition for a new ceasefire is clear and simple. Israel must end
its criminal war and slaughter of our people, lift completely and
unconditionally its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, open all our
border crossings and completely withdraw from Gaza. After this we would
consider future options. Ultimately, the Palestinians are a people
struggling for freedom from occupation and the establishment of an
independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of
refugees to their villages from which they were expelled. Whatever the
cost, the continuation of Israel’s massacres will neither break our
will nor our aspiration for freedom and independence. The writer is the Prime Minister of Gaza