Erekat: World’s Silence to Gaza Atrocities Cold Shoulder to Justice

Press Releases
November 23, 2006


As the Israeli Defense Ministry announced broadening its operations in the occupied Gaza Strip, a new report from the Palestinian Monitoring Group (PMG) revealed that Israel’s assault on Gaza has already dramatically intensified in the first two weeks of November.

Since Israel intensified its military operations on the Gaza Strip on June 27th, the Israeli military has killed 400 Palestinians, including 326 civilians. During the same period, 2 Israelis, both civilians, have been killed by home-made Palestinian ordinances fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat decried Israel’s decision to escalate its operations. “It’s not enough for Israel to control every aspect of life in Gaza, it [seems it also] has to visit untold horrors on an imprisoned and embattled civilian population. This is a war crime that the international community must address.”

Dr. Erekat cited statistics on the decline of Gaza’s economy during recent months. “In less than a year, Gaza’s deep poverty rate has jumped from just over 20% to just under 80%. Since Israel bombed Gaza’s power plant, 90% of Gaza’s population now lacks reliable access to electricity and water. And Israel is preventing food and medicine from getting in and students, patients, and goods from getting out.”

Quoting United Nations official John Dugard, Dr. Erekat reiterated: “Gaza is a prison and Israel seems to have thrown away the key.”

According to the PMG’s report, Israel killed more Palestinians in the first two weeks of November than in the months of October and September combined. Since November 1st, the Israeli army has killed 109 Palestinians [2 additional Palestinians have been killed since the report’s coverage period ended], including 17 members of the al-Athamnah family while they slept in their home.

Under international law, the Gaza Strip remains occupied territory. Israel continues to control all movement of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip, as well as its sea space, airspace, and ultimate immigration policy. This means Israel is legally responsible to protect both Gaza’s people and land.

Erekat noted that the international community also has a responsibility to bear: “The international community is largely responsible for maintaining a stifling boycott—the first boycott against an occupied civilian population in world history. And the international community is responsible for failing to ensure implementation of the Agreement of Movement and Access (AMA), which US Secretary Condoleezza Rice spent so much energy negotiating a year ago.

If the international community simply lifted the boycott and implemented the AMA, both Palestinians and Israelis would be more secure. And if the international community finally ensured Israel’s compliance with international law—the one thing that has never been tried during nearly 40 years of occupation—both Palestinians and Israelis would likely be living in peace and prosperity in two independent and secure states.”

The Palestinian Monitoring Group publishes daily and monthly reports, as well as trend analyses and special reports, detailing activity in the occupied Palestinian territory. 

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