Mina Remy's blog
By Mina Remy
December 18th, 2012
Globally, activists at the forefront of human rights protection are coming under increased scrutiny and attack by state and non-state actors. Although being a human rights defender is becoming dangerous work, the commitment to human rights promotion and defense amongst activist has not waned. Nowhere is this truer than in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), where our partners have had their offices raided and equipment confiscated by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
Although the January 2010 earthquake suspended the government’s work on a national strategy to combat violence against women, women’s organizations led by SOFA (Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen/Haitian Women’s Solidarity) have pressed on in their struggle.
Operation Pillar of Defense (Pillar of Cloud in Hebrew) is once again destroying Gaza missile by missile, building by building. Our partner Raji Sourani, the director of Palestinian Center for Human Rights, sees history repeating itself with each civilian casualty. As he makes clear in a recent article on Al-Jazeera (posted below), the world is standing by while scores of civilians lose their lives, Gazans human rights are violated and community infrastructure is destroyed.
Hurricane and Superstorm Sandy caused billions in damages from the Caribbean to Canada, killed more than 100 people and left many in its wake without basic necessities. For those of us who live in countries where our cities, states, and federal governments have the resources to tackle complex emergencies, the return to normal life, though unimaginable now, will slowly unfurl.
For the past year, Stop the Wall and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (both Grassroots International partners) have been working diligently with their Palestinian and Brazilian allies to fulfill the call issued in 2011 at the World Social Forum in Dakar. Then, participants expressed a desire to hold a thematic World Social Forum to explore ongoing social injustice in the occupied Palestinian territories; and to formulate an international response from the peoples of the world since states have either been unwilling or unable to provide pathways toward a just peace.
Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property, which escalated this summer, is on the rise again with this October’s olive harvest season in the West Bank. Officials from the United Nations as well as activists in Palestine and Israel are calling on Israeli forces to intervene to stop the violence.
Before I arrived at Grassroots International (nearly a year ago), I thought I understood the hardships imposed on Gaza. I knew about the imposed siege, had read and heard of the Turkish flotilla of 2010 and other humanitarian attempts to reach Gaza. I even knew about loss of acres of farmland, inadequate access to potable water, shortage of medicines, shortage of building materials, and periodic bombardment by the Israeli Defense Forces.
Today, a civil court in Israel issued a verdict in the 2003 death of Rachel Corrie. Judge Oded Gershon of Haifa District Court concluded that Rachel’s death was not caused by the negligence of the Israeli state or army. Rachel, a nonviolent 23-year-old activist, was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer while trying to physically protect Palestinian homes in the Gaza strip from destruction by Israeli Defense Forces.