Category Archives: HUMAN RIGHTS

USA: 200+ Unions Launch Network to Push for Gaza Cease-Fire

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article by Brett Wilkins from Common Dreams ( licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Seven national and over 200 local labor unions in the United States on Friday announced  the establishment of a coalition to promote a cease-fire in Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.


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The American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the Association of Flight Attendants, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the National Education Association, National Nurses United (NNU), the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the United Electrical Workers (UE), and 200 local unions and labor organizations launched the National Labor Network for Cease-fire (NLNC) to “end the death and devastation” in Gaza.

The coalition says it represents more than 9 million union workers—”more than half the labor movement in the United States.”

“The war between Israel and Hamas has continued unabated since Hamas brutally attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,163 people, and taking 253 hostages,” NLNC said in a statement.

“Israel responded with an onslaught that has killed over 28,000 Palestinians and left over 67,000 others injured,” while “1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced, and humanitarian aid remains mostly blocked from those in need,” the coalition added.

NLCN is calling for:

° An immediate cease-fire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas;
° Restoration of basic human rights;
° The immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas;
° Unimpeded full access for humanitarian aid; and
° A call for a cease-fire by U.S. President Joe Biden.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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In his strongest statement yet, Biden—who has been dubbed “Genocide Joe” by some activists for his staunch support for Israel—said  Friday that he has called for a “temporary cease-fire” during private phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Leaders of the seven unions—most of which have already called for a cease-fire—issued statements underscoring the imperative for peace.

“The UAW has a long tradition of calling for peace and justice for working-class people across the globe, and we live that tradition today,” UAW president Shawn Fain said. “In that spirit, we call for an immediate end to the U.S. government’s funding and support of this brutal assault on Gaza.”

Carl Rosen, UE’s president, said: “The support for a cease-fire is overwhelming. We can’t stand by in the face of this suffering. We cannot bomb our way to peace. We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine  and Israel.”

APWU president Mark Dimondstein said that “as a union that stands for equality, social justice, human and labor rights, we unite with unions and people of goodwill around the world in calls for a cease-fire, for justice and peace. The cries of humanity call for nothing less.”

Bonnie Castillo, the NNU’s executive director, asserted that “nurses cannot allow our patients and our colleagues to continue suffering from the traumas of war.”

“We vow to protect and heal all people, and it’s our duty to speak up for every human being’s right to a life free of violence,” she added. “We’re calling for a cease-fire now before one more life is lost, before one more family faces injuries or illnesses.”

The NLCN’s formation follows last week’s cease-fire call  by the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation.

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A Working Class Victory on Colombia’s Horizon

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article by Omar Ocampo in Inequality.org (Content licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 License)

The Seventh Committee of the House of Representatives voted to approve 16 of the 98 articles of the landmark Labor Reform bill right before the start of winter recess. The bill will now advance to a second round of legislative debates that will resume next month.

This is great news for the workers movement: Labor reform represents one of the three flagship policy proposals of the Petro-Márquez administration that seeks to equitably transform society. The bill will not only restore the labor rights that were rescinded a little over twenty years ago by a far-right government — it will go a step further and expand these rights.

The road to reform thus far has not been easy. Since the bill was first introduced last March, it predictably encountered fierce opposition from the business community and its political representatives. Those corporate stakeholders argued that the bill distributes benefits to an already privileged class of formalized and unionized workers.

But as researcher Santiago Garcés Correa highlighted in an article for the magazine 100 Días, such depictions do not accurately portray the lived experiences of the Colombian working-class. Petro’s labor reform platform is a reflection of workers’ daily grievances and struggles.

Over the past few years, pro-reform advocates have organized sit-ins, work stoppages, and protests — both at a local and national level — against the increased prevalence of subcontracting, outsourcing, and anti-union corporate practices.

Palmosan S.A.S., a palm oil company in Santander, for example, fired 48 of its employees after its workforce formed a trade union, Sintrapalmosan, and voted to go on a strike when the company refused to negotiate a list of labor demands. The strike ended after six months with the signing of a collective agreement between both parties, but Palmosan only relented after the Ministry of Labor intervened in the dispute and a district court ruled in the union’s favor.

While all workers recognize the need for reform, some sectors felt differently about the solutions at hand. Despite such a difficult and unfavorable environment for organizing, workers in the digital platform sector initially expressed their disapproval of the Labor Reform bill.

Simón Borrero Posada, the CEO of the super-app Rappi — an on-demand delivery service popular in Colombia — gave a series of interviews rife with misleading statements. Posada asserted that the Labor Reform bill would force the company to hire digital platform workers full-time, thus eliminating the flexibility that so many rappitenderos currently enjoy. The problem with this statement? No such stipulation existed in the reform bill.

Still, five hundred Rappi employees organized a small protest in the capital city of Bogotá in March of 2023. Their principal demand was a rejection of a forced full-time contract. The corporate media took full advantage of the spectacle and pushed the narrative that workers and employers share an interest in rejecting the Labor Reform bill.

Right-wing opposition parties — led by Cambio Radical and el Centro Democrático — kept up the pressure and mobilized more than 90,000 of their supporters in street demonstrations to register their discontent with Petro’s entire reform agenda.

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Question(s) related to this article:
 
The right to form and join trade unions, Is it being respected?

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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By the time the Labor Reform bill reached the Seventh Committee of the House of Representatives in June, it was dead on arrival. Lawmakers did not even get the opportunity to debate the bill since the committee failed to reach quorum. As a result, the Labor Reform bill was shelved, amounting to a major setback for the Petro-Márquez administration and allied reformers.

To the surprise of many, a slightly modified version of the Labor Reform bill was filed at the end of August and, when properly debated, it advanced to the next stage of the legislative process. 

The business community still objects to the increased labor costs attendant to the expansion of workers’ rights and claim this will hinder the formalization of the informal sector. In other words, it will discourage business owners from hiring workers who currently “operate outside of the regulatory and tax systems.” But formalization will not occur significantly unless dignified employment and social protection programs are offered. 

The 16 approved articles of the Labor Reform bill are substantive. Night shifts will now begin at 7:00 PM instead of 9:00 PM (Article 15). People who work on Sundays and holidays will now have their overtime pay rate increased (Article 19). 

Employers who discriminate on the basis of sex, gender identity, race, age, economic background, and health history will face drastic penalties (Article 21). Digital platform food delivery workers will receive social security through health and pension contributions by the platform companies for whom they work (Article 30). 

Colombia will offer new training programs for rural work (Article 37). And migrants will bear the same labor rights as citizens (Article 42). 

Right before the New Year, a scandal erupted at a tuna factory in Cartagena. Van Camp’s, a firm operated by Seatech International, was making women workers feel obligated to wear diapers on the job — bathroom breaks are tallied and deducted from their pay.  

The Labor Minister Gloria Inés Ramírez publicly denounced the multinational firm, which has denied the allegations and threatened legal action against the minister. Colombia’s right-wing opposition has rallied to the firm’s defense, but testimonies from employees seem to confirm the minister’s public declarations. 

Besaiga Raga, who has worked for Seatech International for 13 years, said that many of her colleagues are “choosing to put on a disposable diaper” because they “cannot afford to forfeit the little that they earn to the company” by taking a bathroom break.

“It is not easy to go to the restroom,” added Berky Arrieta Garcia. “There are not enough toilets for the number of women who work there. Sometimes it takes 20-25 minutes, even up to half an hour, because we have to form a queue to go to the toilet.”

The Van Camp’s diaper debacle — still playing out — exemplifies why higher labor standards are urgently needed in Colombia. The Labor Reform bill is a crucial means of improving the bargaining position and labor conditions of Colombian workers. And its advancement in Congress is an overdue victory that the Colombian working-class should achieve and celebrate in 2024.

The author, Omar Ocampo, is a researcher for the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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BDS Movement: Act Now Against These Companies Profiting from the Genocide of the Palestinian People

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from the BDS Movement

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian society that is leading the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, salutes activists, organizations and institutions worldwide that have expressed meaningful solidarity with our urgent struggle to stop Israel’s unfolding genocide in Gaza by escalating boycott and divestment campaigns. The spreading boycotts of complicit Israeli and multinational corporations can be effective if done strategically.  

Below is a detailed guide of our targeted consumer boycotts, divestment and pressure campaigns. Help us spread the word to maximize our impact!


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Ending all state, corporate and institutional complicity with Israel’s genocidal regime is more urgent than ever. Our lives and livelihoods literally depend on it.

Targeted Boycotts vs. Non-targeted Boycotts

People of conscience around the world are rightfully shattered, enraged, and sometimes feeling powerless. Many feel compelled to boycott any and all products and services of companies tied in any way to Israel. The proliferation of extensive “boycott lists” on social media is an example of this. The question is how to make boycotts effective and actually have an impact in holding corporations accountable for their complicity in the suffering of Palestinians? 

The BDS movement uses the historically successful method of targeted boycotts inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the US Civil Rights movement, the Indian anti-colonial struggle, among others worldwide. 
 
We must strategically focus on a relatively smaller number of carefully selected companies and products  for maximum impact. We need to focus on companies that play a clear and direct role in Israel’s crimes and where there is real potential for winning, as was the case with, among others, G4S, Veolia, Orange, Ben & Jerry’s and Pillsbury. Compelling huge, complicit companies, through strategic and context-sensitive boycott and divestment campaigns, to end their complicity in Israeli apartheid and war crimes against Palestinians sends a very powerful message to hundreds of other complicit companies that “your time will come, so get out before it’s too late!”

Many of the prohibitively long lists going viral on social media do the exact opposite of this strategic and impactful approach. They include hundreds of companies, many without credible evidence of their connection to Israel’s regime of oppression against Palestinians, making them ineffective.

That being said, all peaceful popular efforts, including boycott and divestment, to hold all genuinely complicit corporations (and institutions) accountable for supporting Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian rights are justified and called for. It is perfectly legitimate, for instance, to boycott companies whose Israeli branch or franchise has supported Israel’s unfolding genocide in Gaza, some of which we mention below in the grassroots organic boycott targets section.

Also, a company or product may make perfect sense as a boycott target in one context or city but not another. This context-sensitivity is a key principle of our movement. Regardless, we all have limited human capacity, so we’d better use it in the most effective way to achieve meaningful, sustainable results that can truly contribute to Palestinian liberation. We therefore call on our supporters to strengthen our targeted campaigns and boycott the complicit companies named on our website to maximize our collective impact.

The following are the current top priority boycott targets of the global BDS movement.

We have split these targets into four sections:

1. Consumer boycott targets – The BDS movement calls for a complete boycott of these brands carefully selected due to the company’s proven record of complicity in Israeli apartheid.

2. Divestment targets – The BDS movement is pressuring governments, institutions and investment funds to exclude and divest from as many complicit companies as practical, especially weapons manufacturers, banks, and companies listed in the UN database  of business involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, as well as the WhoProfits  and AFSC Investigate  databases of companies enabling the occupation. Below we give some of the targets we are campaigning against.

3. Pressure (non-boycott) targets – The BDS movement actively calls for pressure campaigns against these brands and services due to their complicity in Israeli apartheid. We have not, on strategic grounds, called for a boycott of these brands and services, instead we strategically call on supporters and institutions to mount other forms of pressure on them until they end their complicity in Israeli apartheid.

4. Organic boycott targets – The BDS movement did not initiate these grassroots boycott campaigns but is in support of them due to these brands openly supporting Israel’s genocide against Palestinians.

1. Consumer boycott targets:

Siemens


Siemens (Germany) is the main contractor  for the Euro-Asia Interconnector, an Israel-EU submarine electricity cable that is planned to connect Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory to Europe. Siemens-branded electrical appliances are sold globally.

PUMA

Since 2018 we have called for a boycott of PUMA (Germany) due to its sponsorship  of the Israel Football Association, which governs teams in Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. In a major BDS win in December 2023, PUMA leaked news to the media that it will not be renewing its contract when it expires in December 2024. We continue to call for #BoycottPUMA until it ends its complicity in Israeli apartheid.

Carrefour

Carrefour (France) is a genocide enabler. Carrefour-Israel has supported Israeli soldiers partaking in the unfolding genocide of Palestinians in Gaza with gifts of personal packages. In 2022, it entered a partnership  with the Israeli company Electra Consumer Products and its subsidiary Yenot Bitan, both of which are involved in grave violations against the Palestinian people.

AXA


When Russia invaded Ukraine, insurance giant AXA (France) took targeted measures against it. Yet, as Israel, a 75-year-old regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid, wages a genocidal war on Gaza, AXA continues to invest  in Israeli banks financing war crimes and the theft of Palestinian land and natural resources.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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Hewlett Packard Inc (HP Inc)


HP Inc (US) provides  services to the offices of genocide leaders, Israeli PM Netanyahu and Financial Minister Smotrich.

SodaStream


SodaStream is actively complicit in Israel’s policy of displacing the indigenous Bedouin-Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Naqab (Negev) and has a long history of racial discrimination against Palestinian workers.

Ahava


Ahava cosmetics has its production site, visitor center, and main store in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory.

RE/MAX


RE/MAX (US) markets and sells property in illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land, thus enabling Israel’s colonization of the occupied West Bank.

Israeli produce in your supermarkets


Fruits, vegetables, and wines misleadingly labeled as “Product of Israel” often include products of illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land. Israeli companies do not distinguish between the two, and neither should consumers. Boycott produce  from Israel in your supermarket and demand their removal from shelves.

2. Divestment targets:

Elbit Systems
Elbit Systems  is apartheid Israel’s largest arms company. It “field-tests” its weapons on Palestinians, including in Israel’s ongoing genocidal war on Palestinians in Gaza. On top of building killer drones, Elbit makes surveillance technology for Israel’s apartheid wall, checkpoints and Gaza fence, enabling apartheid. The US and EU use Elbit’s technology to militarize their borders, violating refugee and indigenous peoples’ rights.
 

HD Hyundai/Volvo/CAT/JCB


Machinery from HD Hyundai (South Korea), Volvo (Sweden/China), CAT (US), and JCB (UK) has been used by Israel in the ethnic cleansing and forced displacement of Palestinians through the destruction of their homes, farms, and businesses, as well as the construction of illegal settlements on land stolen from them, a war crime under international law.
 
Barclays


Barclays Bank (UK) holds more than £1 billion in shares of, and provides more than £3bn in loans and underwriting to nine companies whose weapons, components and military technology have been used in Israel’s armed violence against Palestinians.

CAF


Basque transport firm, CAF, builds and services the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), a tram line that serves Israel’s illegal settlements in Jerusalem. CAF benefits  from Israel’s war crimes on stolen Palestinian land.

Chevron


US fossil fuel multinational Chevron is the main international corporation extracting gas  claimed by apartheid Israel in the East Mediterranean. Chevron generates billions in revenues, strengthening Israel’s war chest and apartheid system, and exacerbating the climate crisis.

HikVision


Amnesty International has documented  high-resolution CCTV cameras made by the Chinese company Hikvision installed in residential areas and mounted to Israeli military infrastructure for surveillance of Palestinians. Some of these models, according to Hikvision’s own marketing, can plug into external facial recognition software.

TKH Security


Amnesty International has identified  cameras made by the Dutch company TKH Security used by Israel for surveillance of Palestinians. TKH provides Israeli police with surveillance technology that is used to entrench apartheid. 

3. Pressure (non-boycott) targets:

Google and Amazon (US)

As the Israeli military bombed homes, clinics, and schools in Gaza and threatened to push Palestinian families from their homes in occupied Jerusalem May 2021, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud executives signed a $1.22 billion contract to provide cloud technology to the Israeli government and military. By supporting Israeli apartheid with vital technologies, Amazon and Google are directly implicated in its entire system of oppression, including its unfolding genocide in Gaza. Join the #NoTechForApartheid campaign. While the campaigns targeting these corporations have not called for boycotts, other forms of pressure have been adopted to force them to end their complicity.

Airbnb/Booking/Expedia


Airbnb (US), Booking.com (Netherlands) and Expedia (US) all offer rentals in illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land. While the campaigns targeting these corporations have not called for boycotts, yet, other forms of pressure have been adopted to force them to end their complicity.

Disney


The Disney-owned Marvel Studios (US) is promoting in the next Captain America film a “superhero” that personifies apartheid Israel. Both companies are therefore complicit in “anti-Palestinian racism, Israeli propaganda, and the glorification of settler-colonial violence against Indigenous people,” as Palestinian cultural organizations have stated.

4. Grassroots organic boycott targets:
McDonald’s (US), Burger King (US), Papa John’s (US), Pizza Hut (US), WIX (Israel), etc. are now being targeted in some countries by grassroots organic boycott campaigns, not initiated by the BDS movement, because these companies, or their branches or franchises in Israel, have openly supported apartheid Israel and/or provided generous in-kind donations to the Israeli military amid the current Israeli offensive against 2.3 million Palestinians in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip–described by leading international scholars of international law as an “unfolding genocide.” If these grassroots campaigns are not already organically active in your area, we suggest focusing your energies on our strategic campaigns above.

Remember, all Israeli banks and virtually all Israeli companies are complicit to some degree in Israel’s system of occupation and apartheid, and hundreds of international corporations and banks are also deeply complicit. We focus our boycotts on a small number of companies and products for maximum impact.

Additional resources: To learn more about companies complicit in Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights visit Who Profits, Investigate, and the UN database of companies involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.

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South Africa Initiates Case Against Israel at International Court of Justice

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article by Julia Conley in Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

“No one knows apartheid like those who fought it before,” said  one Palestinian rights advocate on Friday in response to the news that South Africa has taken a “historic”  new step to hold Israel accountable for its relentless bombardment and violent yearslong occupation of Gaza—calling on the International Court of Justice to declare that Israel has breached its obligations under the Genocide Convention.


South Africans hold a Free Palestine March on December 16, 2023 in Eldorado Park, South Africa. (Photo by Laird Forbes/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in South Africa said  it is “gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants” and called on the ICJ to take action to force Israel to “immediately cease” its current attacks on Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.

The motion was filed as the death toll in Gaza surpassed 21,500 people and tens of thousands of displaced residents fled an Israeli ground offensive, as airstrikes continued in southern Gaza.

Noting that South Africa has consistently condemned all attacks on civilians, including the assault by Hamas on southern Israel on October 7, the country’s representatives at the ICJ said Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial, and [ethnic] group.”

“The acts in question include killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction,” reads the application filed at the ICJ.

South Africa took its latest action regarding Israel less than two weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced  the government had submitted documents to the International Criminal Court (ICC) supporting its demand, made in November with several other countries, that the court investigate Israel for war crimes.

While the ICC prosecutes individuals and governments for committing war crimes, the ICJ operates under the United Nations to rule on disputes between countries. The ICJ’s orders are binding for Israel, as the country is a U.N. member state.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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South Africa has joined international human rights experts—including the U.N.’s top expert on human rights in occupied Palestine—in saying Israel’s blockade of Gaza and violent treatment of those in the enclave and the West Bank is a form of apartheid, comparing Israeli policies to the racial segregation that was imposed for nearly five decades by the white minority that controlled South Africa.

Last month, the government voted to suspend diplomatic ties  with Israel until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government agrees to a permanent humanitarian cease-fire.

“South Africa has continuously called for an immediate and permanent cease-fire and the resumption of talks that will end the violence arising from the continued belligerent occupation of Palestine,” the government said Friday.

Journalist Jeremy Scahill was among those who recognized the significance of South Africa’s application at the ICJ, noting  that the country “fought for its own liberation against an apartheid regime supported for decades by the U.S.,” which is backing Israel’s assault on Gaza despite international outcry and protests within the United States.

“The U.N. Genocide Convention must be upheld. Israel must be held accountable,” said former U.N. human rights official Craig Mokhiber, who resigned  from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in October in protest of the U.N.’s failure to stop Israel’s massacre of civilians. “International law must be preserved.”

At the ICJ, South Africa called  for an expedited hearing on Israel’s actions and asked the court to indicate provisional measures under the Genocide Convention to “protect against further, severe, and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, adopted in 1948, states that genocide includes acts committed with the “intent to destroy, either in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.”

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, pointed out  Friday that “the three leading Israeli officials have declared the intent” to wipe out Gaza’s population.

Bishara noted that Israeli President Isaac Herzog said  in October that all civilians in Gaza are “responsible” for Hamas’ attack on southern Israel, days after Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said  the military would collectively punish the enclave’s population, who he called “human animals.”

Netanyahu also  said  this week that so-called “voluntary migration” of Gaza residents is the ultimate objective of Israel’s assault.

On Friday, the spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Lior Haiat, dismissed  South Africa’s motion as “baseless” and a “despicable and contemptuous exploitation of the court.”

Despite top officials’ recent statements, Haiat said the government has “made it clear that the residents of the Gaza Strip are not the enemy.”

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, called  South Africa’s move “a vital step to propel greater support for impartial justice.”

(Editor’s notes. As of January 4, South Africa was joined in their motion by Malaysia and Turkey and as of January 11 by Brazil and Colombia. As of January 11, readers are urged to watch the proceedings at United Nations Web TV.)

UN Asked to Submit its Call for “An Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza” for Signature by the Peoples of the World

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

A letter from Mouvement de la Paix

Dear Mr. Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

As an NGO member of the United Nations ECOSOC Commission, we took part in the meeting organized by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr Ryder, in Geneva at the beginning of November. We expressed our support for the UN’s efforts to bring about a political solution to current conflicts, and for the preparation of the UN’s Avenir 2024 plan.

At this meeting, we suggested that the UN, in the name of the United Nations and in the name of “We the Peoples”, take an initiative enabling the peoples of the world, outraged both by the massacres committed by Hamas on October 7, 2023 and by the carnage currently being committed by the Israeli government in Gaza, to demand that the Israeli government immediately cease bombing civilian populations.


If we have condemned the massacres committed by Hamas on October 7, 2023, it is not to accept that the government of Israel is currently committing, with the means of a State, a carnage that strikes civilian populations.

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(click here for the article in French or click here for the article in Spanish.).)

Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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We have lent our support to the families of all the victims, whether Israeli or Palestinian, and it is in the name of our common humanity that we take the liberty of formulating a proposal to the UN and its Secretary-General.

Faced with a situation that is as unprecedented as it is monstrous and dangerous, we need to take decisions that will enable public opinion, “We the Peoples”, to support the UN’s demand for an immediate halt to the bombing of Gaza, and for emergency humanitarian aid.

We propose that the UN submit its call for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza”, with the appropriate means and forms, for signature by the peoples of the world: an end to the bombardments which are affecting thousands of women and children, and the immediate implementation of permanent humanitarian aid to respond to the intolerable suffering of the population, and to deal with a catastrophic food and humanitarian crisis.

This appeal for support could be launched by the appropriate means and with the appropriate words, in all possible languages. Just a few days before International Human Rights Day, it would be a way of “proclaiming once again our faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person”, as proclaimed in the preamble to the United Nations Charter.

At the same time, we express our support for the work of the United Nations in building a world of peace.

Yours respectfully for Le Mouvement de la Paix

Roland Nivet, National Spokesman for Le Mouvement de la Paix

Paris, Friday, December 8, 2023

Israel-Palestine: The Role of International Justice

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe

In the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, international justice is being summoned, with several complaints lodged at the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the 7 October attack by Hamas in Israel and the response by Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza.

Public hearings have also been set for February 2024 by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the “legal consequences arising from Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” within the framework of a request for an advisory opinion prior to the current conflict, emanating from the United Nations General Assembly.


Complaints filed so far include:

° Reporters Without Borders (RSF) submitted a complaint on 31 October to the ICC for “war crimes committed against journalists in Israel and Palestine,” citing the death of nine journalists, an Israeli killed during the attack on his kibbutz on 7 October, and eight Palestinians. The document mentions the destruction of 50 premises belonging to press organizations in Gaza. This is the third complaint since 2018 filed by RSF with the ICC following the death of journalists in Gaza. The most recent complaint, in 2022, was filed in conjunction with one by the Qatari channel Al Jazeera regarding the shooting death of its Palestinian journalist Shirin Abu Akleh in the West Bank.

° Nine Israeli families impacted by the Hamas attack on 7 October filed a complaint on 2 November at the ICC for “war crime, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” with their lawyer requesting the ICC consider issuing international arrest warrants against Hamas leaders.

° A third complaint for “genocide” in Gaza was filed on 8 November by a collective composed of a hundred jurists from several countries, including members of the bar in Algeria, private individuals, and representatives of associations, represented by the French lawyer Gilles Devers.

° Three Palestinian human rights organizations (Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights) filed a complaint on 8 November with the ICC for “war crimes,” “apartheid,” “genocide,” and “incitement to genocide,” requesting the issuance of arrest warrants against three Israeli leaders. The complaint cites “bombings on a densely populated area, the siege of Gaza, the forced displacement of the population of Gaza, the use of toxic gas, and the deprivation of necessities such as food, water, gasoline, and electricity.”

The ICC to investigate possible war crimes

The ICC has announced its intention to investigate possible war crimes committed in both Israel and Gaza, through its prosecutor, the British Karim Kahn.

During his visit to the Rafah crossing point on 29 October, located between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Karim Kahn stated  in his declaration that “hostage-taking is a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions,” and called for the release of the 239 individuals held by Hamas.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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He also reminded Israel of its “obligation to comply with the laws of armed conflict,” stating that “impeding relief supplies may constitute a crime“. Referring to the presence of military advocate generals within the Israeli army, he declared: “They will need to demonstrate that any attack, any attack that impacts innocent civilians or protected objects, must be conducted in accordance with the laws and customs of war, in accordance with the laws of armed conflict.

And I want to be quite clear so there’s no misunderstanding: In relation to every dwelling house, in relation to any school, any hospital, any church, any mosque – those places are protected, unless the protective status has been lost. And I want to be equally clear that the burden of proving that the protective status is lost rests with those who fire the gun, the missile, or the rocket in question.”

In 2021 the ICC had already opened an investigation  into crimes committed within what it calls the “situation in Palestine,” starting from 13 June, 2014 (Gaza War, operation “Protective Edge”).

However, Israel is not among the 139 States that have signed the Rome Statute and disputes the ICC’s competence. On its part, the State of Palestine ratified the Rome Statute in 2015  and seized the ICC. It ruled in 2021 that its “territorial jurisdiction extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.”

An advisory opinion on “Israel’s policies and practices” requested from the ICJ

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), competent to deal with disputes between states, released a statement  on 23 October regarding a request for an advisory opinion submitted on 30 December 2022 by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly prior to the outbreak of the current conflict.

This resolution, adopted by 87 states, with 53 abstentions and 26 votes against, concerns the “legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The ICJ has scheduled public hearings for 19 February 2024 in The Hague, following the receipt of written reports  from numerous states. The two specific questions  posed by the UN General Assembly to the ICJ are as follows:

“What are the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures?”

“How do the policies and practices of Israel affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal consequences that arise for all States and the United Nations from this status?”

Israel disputes the ICJ’s jurisdiction over this matter. The request for an advisory opinion stems from a report published in October 2022 by a commission of inquiry mandated by the UN Human Rights Council  and led by South African judge Navanethem Pillay. The report concluded that “There are reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies”. The document was described as “partial and biased, disqualified by its hatred for the State of Israel” by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ICJ, based in The Hague, serves as the principal judicial organ of the UN, with jurisdiction to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions. Also located in The Hague, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent judicial body competent to try individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It is governed by the Rome Statute, one of the United Nations treaties, which came into force in 2002. The UN Security Council may refer certain situations to the ICC’s prosecutor, and the relationship between the ICC and the UN is governed by a specific agreement.
 

BRICS Countries Call to End Israel’s Aggression in Gaza

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Telesur

A month and a half after the start of the Israeli offensive against the Palestinian people, the BRICS countries called for an immediate end to Israel’s aggression in the Gaza Strip.


The bloc made this request in a statement issued at the end of its summit to analyze the Gaza crisis, convened by Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, the country that will preside over the BRICS this year.

“Israel’s actions clearly violate international law, including the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Convention,” Ramaphosa said, calling for an “immediate and complete ceasefire” to the Israeli occupation army’s siege of Gaza.

“The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the illegal use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to Gaza residents amounts to genocide,” he added.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called on countries to declare Israel a terrorist regime and adopt a binding resolution at the United Nations against the Zionist State.

“The Zionist regime’s continued attacks on hospitals and medical centers, and religious sites, as well as the murder of women, children, doctors, and nurses, are all terrorist acts,” he said.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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“It is necessary to declare this false regime as a terrorist regime and its Army as a terrorist organization,” added the Iranian president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a “diplomatic solution” to Israel’s escalation against the Gaza Strip: “Russia’s position on the situation in Gaza is coherent and not opportunistic. Moscow insists on a diplomatic solution to the problem.”

The Russian leader indicated that the “efforts of the United Nations to guarantee the peaceful coexistence of the two States, Israel and Palestine, have been sabotaged, so that more than one generation of Palestinians has grown up in an atmosphere of injustice.”

Putin also blamed the United States for “monopolizing peace efforts in the Middle East”, blocking positive interventions from other international actors.

During his speech, Brazilian President Lula da Silva asked for action to prevent the Zionist escalation from spreading to other countries:

“The contribution of the BRICS, in its new configuration, together with all the actors in favor of self-control and de-escalation of war, is valuable and essential. Brazil does not believe that peace is achieved only with the force of arms,” he stressed.

“The high number of deaths, over 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, causes us great consternation. As the Secretary of the United Nations said, Gaza is becoming a children’s cemetery,” Lula said and once again defended the creation of the Palestinian State as a solution to the conflict.

“We cannot forget that the current war is also the result of decades of frustration and injustice, represented by the absence of a safe home for the Palestinian people,” he stressed.

Finally, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an end to Israel’s “collective punishment” against Gaza, including forced displacement and deprivation of water and electricity.

“China believes that the conflict must end to prevent the death of more people. The international community must act with practical measures to prevent the conflict from spreading and endangering the stability of the region,” he said and called for the opening of humanitarian corridors.

Gaza: Unlawful Israeli Hospital Strikes Worsen Health Crisis and should be Investigated as War Crimes.

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Human Rights Watch (creativecommons/license/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/)

° The Israeli military’s repeated, apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport are further destroying Gaza’s healthcare system and should be investigated as war crimes.

° Concerns about disproportionate attacks are magnified for hospitals. Even the threat of an attack or minor damage can have massive life-or-death implications for patients and caregivers.

° The Israeli government should end attacks on hospitals. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the ICC should investigate.


Medical workers treat a Palestinian injured in an Israeli strike, using flashlights due to the lack of electricity at the Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, November 10, 2023. © 2023 Anas al-Shareef/Reuters

(Jerusalem) – The Israeli military’s repeated, apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport are further destroying the Gaza Strip’s healthcare system and should be investigated as war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. Despite the Israeli military’s claims on November 5, 2023, of “Hamas’s cynical use of hospitals,” no evidence put forward would justify depriving hospitals and ambulances of their protected status under international humanitarian law.

(Note by the editor: There is no doubt that there are tunnels and bunkers underneath Al Shifa hospital, because they were constructed not by Hamas but by the Israelis, according to a recent CNN interview with a former Israeli prime minister.)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that at least 521 people, including 16 medical workers, have been killed in 137 “attacks on health care” in Gaza as of November 12. These attacks, alongside Israel’s decisions to cut off electricity and water and block humanitarian aid to Gaza, have severely impeded health care access. The United Nations found as of November 10 that two-thirds of primary care facilities and half of all hospitals in Gaza are not functioning at a time when medical personnel are dealing with unprecedented numbers of severely injured patients. Hospitals have run out of medicine and basic equipment, and doctors told Human Rights Watch that they were forced to operate without anesthesia and to use vinegar as an antiseptic.

“Israel’s repeated attacks damaging hospitals and harming healthcare workers, already hard hit by an unlawful blockade, have devastated Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure,” said  A. Kayum Ahmed, special adviser on the right to health at Human Rights Watch. “The strikes on hospitals have killed hundreds of people and put many patients at grave risk because they’re unable to receive proper medical care.”

Human Rights Watch investigated attacks on or near the Indonesian Hospital, al-Ahli Hospital, the International Eye Care Center, the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, and the al-Quds Hospital between October 7 and November 7. Human Rights Watch spoke by phone with two displaced people sheltering in hospitals and 16 healthcare workers and hospital officials in Gaza and analyzed and verified open-source data, including videos posted to social media and satellite imagery, as well as WHO databases.

Israeli forces struck the Indonesian Hospital multiple times between October 7 and October 28, killing at least two civilians. The International Eye Care Center was struck repeatedly and completely destroyed after a strike on October 10 or 11. Strikes hit the compound and vicinity of the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital on October 30 and 31. Damage to the hospital as well as a lack of fuel for hospital generators resulted in its closure on November 1. Repeated Israeli strikes damaged the al-Quds Hospital and injured a man and child out front. Israeli forces on several occasions struck well-marked ambulances, killing and wounding at least a dozen people in one incident on November 3, including children, outside al-Shifa hospital.

These ongoing attacks are not isolated. Israeli forces have also carried out scores of strikes damaging several other hospitals  across Gaza.

WHO reported  that as of November 10, 18 out of 36 hospitals and 46 out of 72 primary care clinics were forced to shut down. The forced closure of these facilities stems from damage caused by attacks as well as the lack of electricity and fuel.

Health workers at Gaza’s hospitals told Human Rights Watch they are dealing with unprecedented numbers of injured patients. Additionally, thousands of internally displaced people sheltering at hospitals have been put at risk, facing shortages of food and medicine. Gaza’s hospitals have been forced to address these issues with shortages of medical staff, some of whom have been killed or injured outside their work.

A doctor at Nasser Medical Center said: “At 3 a.m. I dealt with a 60-year-old woman with a cut wound in her head. I can’t make a suture to heal her wound—no gloves, no equipment—so we have to use unsterile techniques.”

Hospitals and other medical facilities are civilian objects that have special protections under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war. Hospitals only lose their protection from attack if they are being used to commit “acts harmful to the enemy,” and after a required warning. Even if military forces unlawfully use a hospital to store weapons or encamp able-bodied combatants, the attacking force must issue a warning to cease this misuse, set a reasonable time limit for it to end, and lawfully attack only after such a warning has gone unheeded. Ordering patients, medical staff, and others to evacuate a hospital should only be used as a last resort. Medical personnel need to be protected and permitted to do their work.

All warring parties must take constant care to minimize harm to civilians. Attacks on hospitals being used to commit “acts harmful to the enemy” are still unlawful if indiscriminate or disproportionate. The use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas heightens the risk of indiscriminate attacks. Attacks in which the anticipated loss of civilian life and property are excessive compared with the concrete and direct military gain are disproportionate. Concerns about disproportionate attacks are magnified with respect to hospitals, since even the threat of an attack or minor damage can have massive life-or-death implications for patients and their caregivers.

The Israeli military on October 27 claimed that “Hamas uses hospitals as terror infrastructures,” publishing footage alleging that Hamas was operating from Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa. Israel also alleged that Hamas was using the Indonesian Hospital to hide an underground command and control center and that they had deployed a rocket launchpad 75 meters from the hospital.

These claims are contested. Human Rights Watch has not been able to corroborate them, nor seen any information that would justify attacks on Gaza hospitals. When a journalist at a news conference showing video footage of damage to the Qatar Hospital sought additional information to verify voice recordings and images presented, the Israeli spokesperson said, “our strikes are based on intelligence.” Even if accurate, Israel has not demonstrated that the ensuing hospital attacks were proportionate.

Israel’s general evacuation order on October 13 to 22 hospitals  in northern Gaza was not an effective warning because it did not take into account the specific requirements for hospitals, including providing for the safety of patients and medical personnel. The sweeping nature of the order and the impossibility of safe compliance, given that there is no reliably secure way to flee or safe place to go in Gaza, also raised concerns that the purpose was not to protect civilians, but to terrify them into leaving. The WHO director general has said that “it’s impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives.”

The Israeli government should immediately end unlawful attacks on hospitals, ambulances, and other civilian objects, as well as its total blockade of the Gaza Strip, which amounts to the war crime of collective punishment, Human Rights Watch said. Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups need to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians under their control from the effects of attacks and not use civilians as “human shields.”

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel should investigate apparently unlawful Israeli attacks on healthcare infrastructure in Gaza.

The International Criminal Court prosecutor has jurisdiction over the current hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups that covers unlawful conduct by all parties. The ICC’s Rome Statute  prohibits as a war crime “[i]ntentionally directing attacks against … medical units and transport.” Israeli and Palestinian officials should cooperate with the commission and the ICC in their work, Human Rights Watch said.

The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and other countries should suspend military assistance and arms sales  to Israel as long as its forces continue to commit widespread, serious abuses amounting to war crimes against Palestinian civilians with impunity. All governments should demand that Israel restore the flow of electricity and water to Gaza and allow in fuel and humanitarian aid, ensuring that water, food, and medication reach Gaza’s civilian population.

“Israel’s broad-based attack on Gaza’s healthcare system is an attack on the sick and the injured, on babies in incubators, on pregnant people, on cancer patients,” Ahmed said. “These actions need to be investigated as war crimes.”

Blockade’s Effect on Hospitals

Israel’s blockade  has severely constrained hospitals, which have run out of essential medicines and basic equipment. While Israeli authorities have allowed minimal humanitarian aid into Gaza, they have continued to block  the entry of fuel, which hospitals need for their generators. WHO  reported that “hospitals are on the brink of collapse due to the shortage of electricity, medicine, equipment and specialized personnel.”

On October 22, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed grave concern about the impact of the blockade. They noted that 120 newborn children were in incubators, 70 of whom required mechanical ventilation. The incubators and ventilators cannot operate without a stable electricity supply. “The death toll will increase exponentially if incubators start to fail, if hospitals go dark, if children continue to drink unsafe water and have no access to medicine when they get sick,” UNICEF  said. Between November 11 and 13, three premature babies and 29 other patients reportedly died at al-Shifa hospital amid the power outage and lack of medical supplies, according to UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Emerging reports show that unsanitary conditions at hospitals are further affecting access to health care. Tanya Haj Hassan, a doctor who runs a support network  for Gaza healthcare workers, told The Guardian that “hundreds of people are sharing one toilet and living in the hospital corridors, and that obviously has significant concerns for hygiene, sanitation and the functioning of the hospitals.” Doctors are also reporting that more and more patients are showing signs of disease  associated with overcrowding and a lack of sanitation.

A doctor at al-Aqsa Hospital told Human Rights Watch on October 23: “There is a huge shortage of medicines, no electricity, no diesel, no solar, no water to drink or to use. And the electricity company shut electricity to all civilians. … There is a chronic triage and restrictions on medication; we have had to make referrals to Egypt, but there is no way to get there.”

Israeli Evacuation Orders

Israeli authorities have ordered  the evacuation of all 22 hospitals in Gaza city and northern Gaza. “These [evacuation orders] are impossible to carry out, risking the lives of inpatients and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and particularly the most vulnerable requiring life support,” WHO said, adding that there is “insufficient ambulance capacity for transfer and insufficient bed capacity to care for these patients in the south.” WHO described the order as “a death sentence for the sick and injured.”

OCHA  expressed concern that “thousands of patients and medical staff, as well as about 117,000 IDPs, are staying in these facilities.” Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders or MSF) general director Meinie Nicolai said: “Israel’s 24-hour notice that people in Northern Gaza must leave their land, homes and hospitals is outrageous—this represents an attack on medical care and on humanity.”

As of November 13, all but one of the hospitals in Gaza city and northern Gaza are reportedly out of service, according to OCHA.

Human Rights Watch interviewed two people with disabilities sheltering in hospitals who said they could not evacuate. “If they bomb the hospital, I will be dead. I know I cannot move,” said Samih al-Masri, a 50-year-old man who said he lost both legs in an Israeli drone strike in 2008 and was sheltering at al-Quds hospital.

Indonesian Hospital


The Israeli military repeatedly struck the compound and vicinity of the Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahiya, one  of two major hospitals in northern Gaza.

On October 7, an airstrike hit an area behind the Indonesian Hospital, which OCHA reported  killed two men, including a staff member, and injured five others. Hosni Salha, a security guard, was killed while sitting in one of the hospital’s vehicles along with the driver and a paramedic, a doctor from the hospital said. After the attack, the doctor took a photo at the scene that shows a destroyed vehicle. The second civilian was a man passing by the hospital when the attack occurred, the doctor said.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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The doctor said that the hospital was treating patients injured in the hostilities, including families wounded in airstrikes that hit their homes. He said that following airstrikes that hit his apartment building, he searched for his daughter, a second-year engineering student. The strikes killed her and four other civilians, including a child: “I started digging with my hands with all my strength; civil defense members haven’t arrived yet. I kept digging with my hands until I saw part of her t-shirt, I kept digging, when I saw her, she was already martyred.”

The doctor said the Israeli military provided no order to evacuate or advance warning before the first attack on the hospital. He said that on October 13, a week after the first strike, the hospital received an Israeli evacuation order.

Even those who finish their treatment can’t leave. They have no place to go after losing their houses and families and there is no safe place. We have a girl at the hospital who lost her entire family. She currently has no one to stay with, no place to go to. There’s also a boy staying at the hospital. We are waiting for him to be identified by a family member or relative. 

On October 16, another airstrike hit five meters away from the hospital, partially damaging the building, which the doctor said terrified patients and staff.

He said that on the night of October 27, after the Israeli government apparently deliberately disrupted telecommunications in Gaza, the hospital was struck again, causing additional damage to the building. Human Rights Watch geolocated a video and three photographs released on October 28 showing a crater inside the hospital’s courtyard.

On October 30, OCHA reported  that this attack came after a renewed order by the Israeli military to immediately evacuate the hospital.

CCTV footage published by Al Jazeera on October 29 shows the moments the hospital ceiling collapsed due to strikes near the hospital. The hospital published photos of the collapsed ceiling to its Facebook page, which it said were the result of strikes in the vicinity of the hospital. Another strike on October 30 targeted an area near the hospital, causing dust and smoke to spread to its entrance. Footage from November 4 and November 6 show additional strikes in the hospital’s vicinity.

In a November 5 news conference, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson alleged that “the Indonesian Hospital is being used by Hamas to hide an underground command and control center,” that Hamas had a rocket launchpad 75 meters from the hospital, and that it was stealing fuel from the hospital.

In a news conference  the next day, the Indonesia-based Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), a volunteer group that funds the hospital, disputed the allegations, stating that the only tunnel connected to the hospital was used to send fuel to the hospital’s fuel tank to power its generators. Human Rights Watch is not in a position to corroborate the claims by Israel or the committee.

A MER-C volunteer told the media on October 30 that 2,530 people had been treated at the hospital for injuries and that 164 patients remained hospitalized. He said that more than 1,500 displaced residents were also sheltering in empty hospital rooms and in courtyards. On October 31, an influx  of patients were sent to the hospital following an Israeli airstrike on Jabalia refugee camp that Gaza’s Health Ministry reported  killed more than 50 people and injured 150. On November 2, Gaza’s Health Ministry reported  that the hospital’s main generator stopped operating due to a lack of fuel.

International Eye Hospital

Human Rights Watch reviewed and verified photos and video footage of the International Eye Hospital in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City showing large structural damage to the main building. In the published material and in satellite imagery from October 10 and 11, damage signatures are consistent with an airstrike using a large air-dropped munition. Two strikes appear to have taken place: one on October 8 and another on October 10 or 11, which destroyed the facility. On October 21, the hospital wrote in a post  on its Facebook page that the “hospital no longer exists” with a photo showing its complete destruction. 

Human Rights Watch was unable to find any published information from Israeli authorities in English, Arabic, or Hebrew reflecting that any advance warning was given or providing any legal basis for the attacks on the medical facility.

Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital


Beginning the night of October 30-31, the Israeli military repeatedly struck the compound and vicinity of the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, south of Gaza City on the campus of the Islamic University of Gaza’s Faculty of Medicine. The hospital served as the only specialized cancer treatment center in the Gaza Strip.

In satellite imagery collected on the morning of October 30, three impact craters are visible, one measuring 10 meters in diameter, less than 100 meters from the main hospital complex. On the morning after, an additional crater is visible within the hospital complex in the courtyard, measuring at least 15 meters in diameter.

OCHA reported  on October 31 that the hospital had been “hit for the second night in a row,” that there was damage to the third floor, and that staff and people sheltering in the hospital were exposed to smoke, causing suffocation and panic.

The hospital director, Sobhi Skaik, told Human Rights Watch on November 3 that the October 31 attack struck the third floor of the hospital, affecting both the east and west wings, as well as the approximately 100 to 150 cancer patients there, their families, and hospital staff.

Human Rights Watch verified several videos posted on social media that show the effects of the attacks. A video  posted to social media early on October 30 shows damage to the hospital’s interior. A video  taken from inside the hospital and published on social media early in the evening on October 30 shows a strike near the hospital complex. A loud blast is heard in the video followed by billowing smoke.

Photos and video published by the media and on social media on October 31 show damage inside the hospital’s east wing, where there is a large circular hole in the southeastern-facing exterior wall, blown out windows, and a destroyed interior wall.

Human Rights Watch determined that the damage was most likely caused by a shell from a direct fire weapon, such as a tank’s main gun. A video  posted on social media on October 30 shows an Israeli tank along Salah al-Din Road, 1.7 kilometers east of the hospital. Multiple clusters of armored military vehicles, including tanks and bulldozers, are also visible on satellite imagery from October 31 southeast of the hospital following the Israeli offensive inside the Gaza Strip. On that day, the closest armored vehicles were less than 500 meters from the hospital.

The hospital shut down  on November 1 because of the airstrikes and lack of fuel. Skaik said hospital staff were forced to evacuate patients to the Dar al-Salam hospital in Khan Younis in unsafe conditions. “We evacuated under fire,” he said. “We had no protection.” He said an international agency told him that all they could do was “convey the message” to the Israelis.

According  to Skaik and the Gaza Health Ministry, on November 2, four cancer patients died following the hospital evacuation. Skaik said that Dar al-Salam hospital was trying to provide services but that it was unable to provide the cancer patients the treatment they needed without the medical devices at the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, which cannot be transferred, and that medications were running out. The Health Ministry warned that the condition of 70 of the hospital’s cancer patients was critical.

Human Rights Watch was unable to find any published information from Israeli authorities in English, Arabic, or Hebrew providing any advance warning to the hospital or a legal basis for the attacks on the medical facility. Turkish  officials have condemned the Israeli military’s attack on the hospital as a violation of international law.

Al-Quds Hospital


Multiple Israeli strikes had hit the vicinity of the al-Quds hospital in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City by October 16, as shown in videos and photos posted to social media that Human Rights Watch collected and reviewed. The strikes followed Israeli evacuation orders, despite visual evidence  that the hospital was being used to treat patients and shelter displaced families. Several high-rise buildings were completely destroyed in the streets adjacent to the hospital, as is evident in November 6 satellite imagery.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) issued a statement  that the hospital, which is under its auspices, had received an Israeli order to evacuate by 4 p.m. (initially 6 a.m.) on October 14. By October 16, strikes had hit the vicinity of the hospital five times, the PRCS said. A video it published  on October 18 shows a strike hitting less than 200 meters from the hospital’s entrance.

On October 20, the PRCS reported that the Israeli authorities warned about a strike on the hospital by phone and ordered an evacuation. On October 22, Israeli authorities reportedly ordered the hospital to evacuate twice within the span of half an hour. The PRCS posted a video from inside the hospital showing people standing at its entrance following what the hospital said were intense Israeli strikes 20 meters away. The hospital said the strikes occurred during a meeting of hospital staff with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

On October 29, the PRCS said that Israeli authorities warned it about a strike on the hospital and ordered an immediate evacuation, which was preceded by strikes that destroyed buildings as close as 50 meters from the hospital. Footage published on October 29 shows a strike next to the hospital building, just in front of another PRCS site, and damages to the hospital. Videos published on October 30 show the aftermath of the strike and damage to the PRCS site.

Strikes hitting the vicinity of the hospital continued on October 31, according to posts by the PRCS. Footage published on November 2 by the PRCS and other social media accounts show additional strikes in the vicinity the hospital. The PRCS announced on November 2 that fire from Israeli vehicles one kilometer south injured a man and child in front of the hospital and hit the sixth floor of the hospital where many displaced women and children were sheltering, damaging the hospital’s central air conditioning units and a water tank.

Video footage shows shattered windows, smoke, and dust as a result of what appears to be an explosion roughly 35 meters northwest of the main hospital entrance on November 3. The PRCS reported that the attack, whose effects are shown in video footage posted on social media, shattered internal glass panels and collapsed parts of the hospital’s plaster ceiling. There were 21 injuries reported, mostly to women and children. Further strikes were reported near the hospital throughout the day.

On November 5, footage shows medical personnel moving an injured man into the hospital while an explosion is audible in the background after a hit nearby. The PRCS stated that the strikes then increased in intensity, duration, and proximity to the hospital, and have led to 12 injuries among people sheltering inside, in addition to injuries to two patients, one of whom was in the intensive care unit.

OCHA reported that 14,000 displaced people were in al-Quds hospital along with hospital staff and patients as of October 29. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned that hundreds of injured, bed-ridden, and long-term patients, including those in intensive care, on life-support, and babies in incubators, were being endangered by strikes in the vicinity of the hospital along with displaced people and medical staff, and that it “is close to, if not impossible” to evacuate patients in the current situation.

Strikes on Ambulances

Israeli forces have on several occasions struck ambulances marked with the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem, often near hospitals. Ambulances, like medical facilities, have special protections under the laws of war such that they may not be attacked unless being used to commit “acts harmful to the enemy” and after due warning. In at least one case, the Israeli military claimed that armed groups were unlawfully using the ambulance that had been attacked, but did not provide more information or a warning.

On November 3, the Israeli military struck a marked ambulance just outside of Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital. Video footage and photographs taken shortly after the strike and verified by Human Rights Watch show a woman on a stretcher in the ambulance and at least 21 dead or injured people in the area surrounding the ambulance, including at least 5 children. Gaza’s Health Ministry reported that 15 people were killed and 60 injured in the strike. An IDF spokesperson said in a televised interview that day: “Our forces saw terrorists using ambulances as a vehicle to move around. They perceived a threat and accordingly we struck that ambulance.” Human Rights Watch did not find  evidence that the ambulance was being used for military purposes.

On October 7, WHO reported  that an ambulance in front of the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis was struck around 2 p.m., injuring several paramedics. A verified video  posted to social media and an Anadolu Agency photograph showed the destroyed ambulance outside the complex.

WHO reported  that a separate attack on October 7, which hit two ambulances in Jabalia, killed two paramedics and injured others.

Gaza’s Health Ministry also reported that on October 13, Israeli strikes hit three ambulances, injuring 10 paramedics.

Hostilities and Blockade

The Israeli military’s current operations in Gaza began following an October 7 Hamas-led attack in southern Israel that resulted in the killing of about 1,200 people, hundreds of them civilians, according to the Israeli government. Hamas and Islamic Jihad took hostage 240 people, including children, people with disabilities, and older people. Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have also launched thousands of rockets indiscriminately towards Israeli population centers.

Mercosur without Racism: Brazil will propose a campaign at a meeting of ministers from the bloc

TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from the Government of Brazil

The Ministry of Culture (MinC), in the exercise of Pro Tempore presidency of Mercosul Cultural, will propose the campaign “Mercosul without Racism, with Diversity and Inclusion”, to create common strategies to combat prejudice in the countries that make up the economic bloc. The action will be presented on November 9th, in Belém, Pará, during the meeting of Mercosur Ministers of Culture. The meeting will begin at 9:30 am, in the Oval Room of the Government Palace of the State of Pará. 

The expectation is that, with approval of the campaign by the participants, the bloc’s ministers and authorities will sign the joint declaration of adherence to the agenda, expressing the commitment of all Mercosur member countries to adopt actions that guarantee the promotion of ethnic-racial equality in their territories, in an intersectoral and continuous manner.
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Led by Minister Margareth Menezes, the meeting will be attended by the Minister of Culture of Argentina, Tristán Bauer, the Minister of Culture and Heritage of Ecuador, Maria Elena Machuca, the Executive Secretary of the National Secretariat of Culture of Paraguay, Adriana Ortiz, the Vice Minister of Heritage, Memories and Cultural Governance of Colombia, Adriana Molano and the director of the Office of International Cooperation of Peru, Wilyam Abelardo Lúcar Aliaga. The Minister of Cultures, Decolonization and Depatriarchalization of Bolivia, Sabina Orellana Cruz, the National Director of Culture of Uruguay, Mariana Wainstein, and the representative of the Chilean Embassy in Brazil, Alejandro Guzmán, will be present by video.

During the 54th Meeting of Ministers of Culture of Mercosur, which took place in June this year, in Buenos Aires, minister Margareth Menezes received the Pro Tempore Presidency of Mercosur Cultural. At the time, the head of the Ministry of Culture had already announced that one of the main actions of Brazil’s mandate would be Mercosur without Racism.

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(Click here for the original Portuguese version of this article)

Question(s) related to this article:

Are we making progress against racism?

Latin America, has it taken the lead in the struggle for a culture of peace?

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Officially, the Campaign is an invitation to the governments of Mercosur member countries, as well as organizations and society. “A Democratic State is only possible by guaranteeing equal rights, social equality, ethnic-racial equality and freedom for all people. At this meeting, we will reaffirm our commitment to adopting social development policies for discriminated and vulnerable populations in the countries. These guarantees are fundamental to improving the region’s economic development conditions”, highlights the minister.

The Secretary of Citizenship and Cultural Diversity in the Ministry of Culture, Márcia Rollemberg, reinforces the need for Mercosur countries to adopt measures that will guarantee the population’s equal rights. She states that the Mercosur Without Racism Campaign aims to recognize the contribution of indigenous and Afro-descendant populations to the social formation and cultural identity of member countries.

“Racism encourages the maintenance of a social structure of great inequalities in access and opportunities, in which skin color and other bodily characteristics establish boundaries and limitations in access to social and cultural rights”, he highlights. “The goal is for countries to value and promote diversity, anti-racist education and good living, strengthening the culture of peace and interculturality in our region”, concludes secretary Márcia Rollemberg.

Mercosur Cultural works in an expanded manner, with the participation of member states Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela (despite the suspension of the latter since August 2017), as well as associated states such as Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Bolivia also participates as an associated state and is in the accession process. This collaboration has strengthened public cultural policies in the region, providing a valuable exchange of information and experiences from successful cultural programs and projects.

Declaration

The Declaration, which will be presented by Brazil, highlights the importance of adopting and enhancing specific cultural policies for the black population, indigenous peoples and traditional peoples and communities, in confronting inequalities and combating racism. The measures adopted will strengthen cooperation at national, regional and international levels to ensure the full exercise of the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights of people who are discriminated against.

The text points out that racism consists of a derogatory and discriminatory attitude based on the race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin of a person or group. The consequence is racial inequality as a structural problem to be faced throughout the region. It also argues that racial discrimination encourages the maintenance of a social structure based on inequalities in access and opportunities, and affects both economic inequalities and influences social, cultural and political dynamics. 

Letter to the world from Mazin Qumsiyeh in Palestine

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

A blog from Popular Resistance the blog of Mazin Qumsiyeh

My first open letter was addressed to the people of Gaza. It had hundreds of responses mostly asking us not to give up and asking for list of actions to do (these are available at ongaza.org and my blog . )

My second open letter was addressed to Jews and Israelis who support the Israeli government. It had 13 sets of questions. Only two real committed Zionists had the courage to answer. A third person told me after answering that he is now abandoning Zionism and wishes to join the ranks of post-Zionist (though not anti-Zionist) Jews. Other reactions were from honest Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists etc, around the world were predictable and supportive. 

As promised this third open letter is addressed to other fellow human beings.

I will start by saying THANK YOU on behalf of all Palestinians. Thank you for keeping your humanity. Thank you for not succumbing to the lies and distortions you heard from corrupt politicians and from corrupt media (yes corrupt is anyone who supports a 75 year apartheid and racist regime – see ongaza.org Q#6 to 9).  Do not underestimate your individual power to act. Millions went to the streets in the last few days in this global uprising(see examples at ongaza.org Question #21 ) . If each of them took time to write to a few others (family, friends, politicians, media), we can stop this genocide. Israel cannot be above the law and cannot get away with state terrorism and with committing a holocaust (yes it is, again see ongaza.org).  We in Palestine are really afraid and not merely for the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza being eliminated but for ourselves in the West Bank and 1948 Palestine ignored for decades by the world and with increasing apartheid laws and settler rampage. We are also afraid for the potential lives to be lost by Israelis and Americans in the rage/calls for vengeance growing from the holocaust of Gaza. It is not a coincidence that the young Palestinian men who attacked areas near Gaza had relatives and friends killed earlier or had been themselves targeted in indiscriminate attacks in 2014. Further their families were expelled from those same areas now dubbed “south Israel”.  So the spiral of violence escalates, We are afraid of eroding humanity. 

Today the situation in Gaza is catastrophic as it shifts to a higher stage of carnage: from sudden death and injury of civilians by bombing them without warning to ADD death by thirst, starvation, lack of hygiene, and collapse of health care services (Israeli policies of mass murder by denial of basics of life). This is not incidental death during war: this is genocide of a captive population.  Relentless bombing of residential buildings and of even people on the streets meant hundreds of civilians die daily. Now the official number is 8010 civilians murdered and over 21,000 injured (75% women and children) and if we add those reported missing and are buried under the rubble would make this over 10,000 murdered civilians in three weeks. Compared to populations, that would be equivalent to over one million US citizens killed.  These are not numbers, as noted, the list of names and ages are available and are being translated to English now. Half the population in Gaza are Children and 42% of those killed are children.. But this pales compared to denial of even medicines and fuel (babies and patients on dialysis die with lack of fuel for generators for the remaining devastated hospitals). Health care system completely collapsed and Israel refuses even to pause or to allow humanitarian aid. 

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Two days ago we commemorated the anniversary of the 1956 Kufr Kasem Massacre, but the intentional massacres in Palestine have a 75 year history. Here are some examples.

and of course all of that is now eclipsed by the hundreds of massacres committed in the last three weeks in Gaza .Einstein and others were prophetic about the early rise of fascism when they condemned the party that committed the Deir Yassin Massacre of 1948 (my late mother’s best friend was killed with her students in Deir Yassin). Their letter is a must read. ≈Note that the perpetrators of this and many other massacres in 1948 became the Likud that now runs Israel. The language used by Netanyahu like Begin before him is genocidal. See:
Juan Cole;
Mondoweiss;
Chris Hedges.

I urge you to disseminate information like those now available on ongaza.org and hundreds of other website. Our messaging should be clear and our actions should be BOLD:

-There is an ongoing genocide/holocaust in Gaza and it is part of a 75 year program to eliminate Palestinians and transform Palestine to become Israel (an ethnocentric chauvinistic fascist and apartheid state). Like all colonizers, they never accepted the rights of the indigenous people.

-This is not about the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas (founded in 1988) or the dozen other resistance movements, secular or religious. This is about Palestine and Palestinians denied their rights for decades by a western supported regime. Their rights include the rights of refugees to return to their homes and lands and to be treated equally (no more and no less)

-We are not fooled by the endless talk about “two state solution” (Ben Gurion said this was merely a Public Relations Campaign intended to give more time to strengthen colonization). It is intended to distract us from seeking basic human rights so please insist on recognizing Palestinian rights to their lands and to be treated equally “from the river to the sea”  (see my book that centralizes these basic human rights ).

-We always need to put things in historical context but we also need to demand accountability of Israeli and western leaders that support this current unprecedented ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing (war crimes and crimes against humanity). Those leaders have blood on their hands.

-We must insist on expelling apartheid “diplomats” and businesses from all countries (remember all Israelis serve in the army and Israel is not a normal country, it is a terrorist army with fig-leaf of statehood).

-We must accelerate the boycott, divestments, and sanctions campaign (see bdsmovement.net) which helps; just like in South Africa under apartheid. 

-Arab governments like Egypt, Jordan, UAE, and Saudi Arabia should be shamed for ignoring the will of their own people. Same for subservient Western Countries

-We MUST highlight who profits from wars and from attempts at shaping the Middle East to be suppressed and subjugated people (see ongaza.org Q # 14)

-We need to liberate not just Gaza and Palestine from the Zionist occupation but also their occupation of Washington DC and other Western Capitals and their attempt through the media to colonize western minds

There are 15 million Palestinians in the world. 7.3 million are under the direct boots of Israeli occupation and apartheid. The rest are in forced exile. Palestinians have paid heavily with their blood for the imperial interests of Israeli colonialism (see Nur Masalha’s book “Imperial Israel and the Palestinians”). Our resistance and resilience (even during this holocaust in Gaza) is now what keeps Israel from expanding its empire as originally planned. PLEASE we implore you to educate yourself on reality, expose the lies, push to defend human rights, fight oppression and injustice with everything you have. For ideas of specific actions, please see What you can do and Question #19. Action is the best antidote to despair.

Stay human and ACT more