The awful bloodshed in Gaza is only escalating, despite our small victory of a first UN resolution -- 758 Palestinians now lie dead including 257 children and 60 women, and 15 Israelis. As Israel's tanks, airplanes and artillery bombard targets in thickly populated urban areas, thousands more have been injured and 1.5 million terrified civilians have no escape from this prison-like enclave -- the borders are sealed -- and Hamas continues to fight and fire rockets, with neither side yet accepting the UN's call. This will be tougher even than our campaign for a ceasefire in Lebanon in 2006.
But we can make a difference -- even Israel's own foreign minister admits that intense international pressure could force a ceasefire. To that end, we've delivered our new petition, already 330,000-strong, to top officials of the UN, EU and Arab League. Outrageously, the US Bush administration did not vote for the UN ceasefire proposal and its loopholes leave the bloodshed worsening by the hour: meanwhile attempts are being made to impose skewed arrangements that would legitimize the suffocating blockade of Gaza, which Hamas cite as reason for their rocket attacks.
Enough is enough: these civilian deaths can't go on, and we can't let Bush and co block a fair, negotiated ceasefire. Let's get to half a million signatures -- we'll publish our ceasefire call in a hard-hitting ad in the Washington Post and deliver it in meetings with key powers -- follow the link below to see the ad, sign the petition, and forward this message to all your friends and family:
As the international community talks and talks, civilians are dying by the day. Last year, we campaigned hard for a comprehensive ceasefire to end all attacks and rockets and lift the counterproductive blockade -- finally the sides agreed a halfway truce, rockets and incursions stopped almost completely for four months, and the borders opened a fraction -- but that deal was grudging and flawed on all sides, lacking many needed elements: it's not surprising how it started to collapse in November. We must do better this time.
And better proposals for an immediate, internationally-guaranteed ceasefire are now coming from many states in Europe and the Middle East. Yet Bush's behind-the-scenes "ceasefire" proposals reportedly seek to exclude Hamas from any deal and leave Israel a free hand, a disastrous approach that would fan the flames of hatred and guarantee that the violence continues.
To be lasting, a ceasefire must protect civilians and end all attacks -- Israeli bombings and incursions as well as the rockets Palestinian factions fire into southern Israel. International supervision is desperately needed at the borders, to reopen Gaza's borders and crossings for food, fuel, medicine and goods, to prevent weapons-smuggling (which has only grown under the blockade), and to monitor and enforce the ceasefire on both sides.
Sources say Israel could agree to such a ceasefire, and Hamas, which won elections in 2006 and now runs Gaza, has suggested it could do so too. Both should be challenged to abide by a fair deal. There is no military solution for either side -- it's time for world powers to step up and broker a ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides and let them live their lives in peace and security. Sign the petition now at the link below and send this message to everyone you know -- we'll publish it in The Washington Post and elsewhere, and seek face-to-face meetings to deliver the petition with the Obama team and European and world powers:
With hope and determination,
Paul, Graziela, Alice, Ricken, Luis, Brett, Ben, Iain, Paula, Veronique, Milena and the whole Avaaz team
P.S. We wrote to European, US and Arab leaders last week about our campaign, and received responses -- now we need to escalate the pressure. For a report on many of Avaaz's other campaigns so far, see: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/report_back_2
1. "Gaza bloodshed continues despite UN calls for ceasefire", 9 January 2009:
Daily Telegraph (UK): "Gaza medics describe horror of strike which killed 70":
Associated Press: "Israel Shells Near UN School, killing at least 30" (5 January 2009)
Yediot Aharonot, "Cabinet: Gaza op to continue, Israel has not yet accepted the Egyptian-French ceasefire initiative", 7 January 2009:
2. Reuters: "US haggles with Arabs over UN action in Gaza" (8 January 2009):
Yediot Aharonot: "Israel examining international treaty to isolate Hamas" (5 January 2009)
3. "Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?" (6 January 2009) is a statistical analysis by an MIT professor, based on Israel's own data for rocket fire (which it shows stopped for four months) and on which side struck first. It provides useful factual background for how the Israel-Hamas truce effectively collapsed in November well before it expired (facts poorly reflected in some news reporting):
4. E.g. see 5 January Yediot Aharonot article above, and this from the Israeli site DEBKA:
5. These parameters are advocated by a broad range of experts and policymakers. See for example International Crisis Group's Ending the War in Gaza report (5 January 2009):
With days to go till President Obama's inauguration, this Rasmussen Reports poll is of interest: Only 31% of Democrats support offensive, most prefer a diplomatic solution:
6. "Gaza: outlines of an endgame", Ghassan Khatib (6 January 2009)
Jerusalem Post: "Israel must get out of Gaza now", 8 January 2009: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1231167305710&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull
Reuters: "Hamas seeks truce but says lifting siege a must" (5 January 2009) http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L5111105.htm
Strikingly, the US Army War College has just released a substantial report supporting the view that Hamas can and must be brought into negotiations and is capable of sustaining a long-term truce, or even peace with Israel. Linked via:
The inside story of the civil strife between Fatah and Hamas and the Bush administration's involvement in this debacle is best-told in The Gaza Bombshell, an investigative article published in the leading US magazine Vanity Fair in April 2008: