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Four Years on from Operation Cast Lead: Worsening Impacts of Israeli Military Aggression on Community Agriculture in Gaza
By Sara Mersha
January 2nd, 2013
Last week marked the 4th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s deadly 23-day military offensive launched in 2008, which resulted in the killing of 1,167 civilians and injury to 5,300 more in Gaza. It also caused widespread destruction of infrastructure in the already besieged Gaza Strip, which had been struggling under the Israeli blockade since 2007.
By Alice Rothchild
December 20th, 2012
The recent war between Hamas and Israel was fought not only in the bloodied cities and refugee camps of a huge civilian population and in vulnerable cities and towns of Israel, but also on newsfeeds and social media. In the papers, the websites and twitter feeds, reports and analysis of the Gaza war rarely revealed any context and no reports of the deadly siege and frequent incursions that have crippled Gaza for years. Reporters and politicians often spoke with a level of racism and disregard for Palestinian civilians that should be disconcerting to anyone who values human life and the right of people to resist oppression.
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).
The toll Operation Pillar of Defense (Pillar of Cloud in Hebrew) is taking on Gaza’s population is unimaginable to most Americans, but Twitter is changing that. As information flows from Gaza City, Beit Hanoun, and Khan Younis the pain, suffering, and senseless death of innocent men, women, and children cannot be denied. More than half of the 105 Palestinians killed during the last seven days of this operation have been civilians, including children.
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.
Once again, the steady violence that passes for “normal” in Palestine and Israel has escalated to alarming proportions. After months of rocket exchanges between militants in Gaza and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the situation rapidly deteriorated in the past 24 hours. Grassroots International joins the growing chorus of voices calling for an end to violence from both sides, a return to negotiations for a just and lasting peace, and enforcement of international human rights and humanitarian law as outlined by the Geneva Conventions.
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.
Beit Ummar used to be known as the fruit basket of Palestine.
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.