Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights University of Ottawa (SPHR) is a student run, non-profit organization that advocates on a strong social justice platform to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people in the face of human rights violations and all forms of racism, discrimination, misinformation and misrepresentation.

January 21, 2008

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Palestinian Canadians & Others Demand that the Siege on Gaza be Broken.
January 21, 2008

Gaza City was plunged into darkness Sunday after Israel blocked the shipment of fuel that powers its only electrical plant. 1.5 million Palestinians civilians who live in Gaza are already besieged and are suffering from severe food, medicine and life essentials shortages imposed on them by the inhumane Israeli aggression. Israel who occupies the Palestinian lands are committing a 21st century Holocaust against the Palestinians by starving and killing them hoping to force them into submission and into accepting the illegal occupation of Palestinian land and to forgo the right of return.

We the Palestinian Canadian community and our Canadian friends, signatories below, demand that the Canadian government, our politicians, our MPs:

1. Condemn the latest Israeli aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza,
2. Demand an immediate halt to all Israeli brutal use of military force against the Palestinians which is taking a serious humanitarian toll on civilians,
3. Lift the blockade on the Palestinian people and allow all living essentials, food, medicine and energy to enter the territories without any delay.
4. Allow an independent international tribunal to enter the Palestinian territories to investigate the Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip and
5. Call upon the international community and Canada in particular to act immediately to stop these crimes;
6. And call upon the international community and Canada in particular to renew the call to the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their responsibility under Article 1 of the Convention, to ensure that it is respected under all circumstances, and their responsibility under Article 146 to pursue persons suspected of perpetrating serious violations of the convention. We affirm that Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) violations are considered war crimes under Article 147 of the Convention and under its first protocol.
We ask that our Mayor, our MPs, MPPs and MNAs join the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and international human rights groups who have warned that the blockade will cause a health catastrophe, will drastically affect hospitals, sewage treatment and water facilities and to condemn Israel and force it to lift these inhumane measures which defy basic humanitarian standards.

Israel is responsible for creating an impossible balance of human suffering on both sides of the border. Basic foods such as rice, flour and cooking oil are in acute shortage; bakeries stopped operating because they had neither power nor flour. People are dying in hospitals and homes because dialysis machines are not working and medicine supplies are gone.

Although Israel supposedly pulled out of Gaza in 2005, Israel still controls most land, sea and air access to the territory. Israel must lift the blockade because of the humanitarian crisis developing in Gaza.

Gaza is a prison where 79 percent of households live in poverty, and children scavenge through dumpsters. It is also an Israeli target range, where schools, bridges and electric plants have been destroyed.
In the West Bank, Israel continues to expand its settlements and build its wall deep inside Palestinian territory, destroying dozens of Christian and Muslim Palestinian communities. Meanwhile, Palestinians are the first ever occupied population to be placed under international sanctions.

The international community including Canada must ensure that the Israelis meet their legal obligations, without discrimination against the Palestinians and to respect and recognize their right to live in freedom and dignity.

The Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza has led to a collapse in Palestinian living conditions and many people only survive by looking for scraps of food in rubbish dumps. The siege created mass despair, anger and a sense of hopelessness and abandonment.

Israel closed the entry and exit points into the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, this last week and has conducted frequent raids and bombings that have killed well over 35 people and wounded hundreds for the past week. The crisis in Palestine has been largely ignored by Canada. People are eating only one meal a day, bread with tomatoes or cheap vegetables, the crisis has worsened; some 80 per cent of people in Gaza could not meet their family's food needs. People are raiding garbage dumps.

Not only do Palestinians in Gaza get little to eat but what food they have is eaten cold because of the lack of electricity and money to pay for fuel. In one month alone 6 per cent of Gaza's agricultural land was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers. The total closure imposed by Israel, supplemented by deadly raids, has led to the collapse of the Palestinian economy. The 35,000 fishermen cannot fish because Israeli gunboats will fire on them if they go more than a few hundred yards from the shore.

The people of Gaza are paying a heavy price for being Palestinian; for merely inhabiting the land which every nation in the world has confirmed belongs to the Palestinian people. We believe that this Zionist escalation is the result of Bush's visit and a natural result of the cover supplied by Bush to the Israeli occupation authorities to go forward in their aggression against the Palestinian people, particularly in the Gaza Strip. 115 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF since the end of the Bush's Annapolis Peace Conference.

A Palestinian boy sits at his house, which was destroyed during an Israeli army raid on the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. This is the area where the Israeli army previously destroyed over 250 homes.

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