WILPF International calls for renewed and wider efforts, in particular the complete inclusion of women in decision-making, to achieve the immediate cessation of lethal attacks from Israel into the occupied territory of Gaza and of rocket fire from occupied Gaza into the State of Israel.
WILPF stands in sympathy with the mothers and fathers of recently murdered Israeli and Palestinian teenagers whose deaths appear to have been deliberately used as an excuse to escalate the current violence.
We echo WILPF-US’s words urging Israel to be held accountable for its human rights violation with the aid of the United States . We call on women and men in peace movements around the world to stand in solidarity against this latest failure of male-led diplomatic efforts to peacefully conclude the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Reports from the occupied Palestinian territory detail the effects on civilians of unceasing Israeli airstrikes against Gaza overnight, which have so far resulted in the deaths of 100 children, women and men and the injury of hundreds more in the besieged enclave.
We note with alarm that Gaza has been without the medical and human resources necessary to deal with any large-scale emergency since the Israeli siege began in 2007. Nonetheless of this incapacity, Gaza been subjected to several large-scale military attacks in that time. Civilian medical personnel and institutions are by no means prepared to deal with this latest prolonged military assault, a fact that is well known to the Government of Israel.
Noting the significant number of infants and elderly among the dead named by Palestinian human rights agencies, WILPF recalls that a major cause of death and permanent disability in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead (2008/09) was that civilians with limited mobility were simply unable to get to safer places in the face of Israel’s high-level military assault.
We also note with concern the ongoing, slow violence of this conflict: the price paid by civilians, the majority of whom are children, who fall victim to un-cleared unexploded ordnance and other military material that continues to claim lives in between escalations in attacks and the social and psychological impacts of the destruction of civilian houses by Israeli military violence as an intentional act of retribution for political action, which brings untold misery to Palestinians even as unrestrained illegal building continues by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
In light of this history of the unrelenting impacts of military violence on unarmed civilians, coupled with unfolding facts on the ground in the past twenty-four hours, it is impossible to give credence to statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel is not deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians. His claims that his military can accurately mark only those believed to be directly engaged in action against the State of Israel is neither accurate nor credible, given decades of evidence that civilians in the overcrowded territory are the invariable ‘collateral damage’ of any military strike. His words renew doubt that the elected leader of the Occupying Power takes seriously any of his obligations under the Geneva Conventions to protect unarmed civilians, especially the most vulnerable.
In addition to calling for the full observation of international humanitarian law, WILPF reminds the State of Israel, as a full signatory of CEDAW and a member of the United Nations, of its obligations to protect civilian women and their children, and to meaningfully include women in decision-making on all aspects of national peace and security as laid out in United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and subsequent related resolutions.
The mothers and fathers of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, the teenage Israeli settlers murdered near Hebron, and the mother and father of Mohamed Abu Khdeir, the 16 year-old Palestinian in occupied east Jerusalem who was burnt alive in revenge by Jewish terrorists, have joined other victims’ families to call for an end to further bloodshed.
WILPF joins all women and men who call for an end to cycles of retribution and the endless aggression it fuels. In the face of male leaders’ ongoing threats, incendiary language and actual use of military force in areas known to house millions of civilians, we call on the United Nations to urgently call for an end to hostilities and remind the Secretary General of his repeated promises to ensure that women’s visions for peace and security are listened to and acted on respectfully and with equal seriousness to the solutions suggested by men.