With the people of Lebanon still reeling from Israel’s brutal bombardment which killed over a thousand civilians, let us not forget that Israel’s onslaught against the Palestinian people of Gaza and the West Bank has continued unabated. Since 25 June, when Palestinian militants took an Israeli soldier prisoner, some 240 Palestinians have been killed, of whom at least 197 were civilians and including 48 children.
Moreover, despite Israel’s much-vaunted pullout from Gaza in the summer of 2005, its army continues to encircle the strip, making it the largest open-air prison in the world. Israel, moreover, has blocked all trade, even forbidding fishermen to go far from the shore.
In addition, since the election of the radical Islamic Hamas government last January, western governments have witheld all funding to the Palestinian National Authority. This exposes the utter hypocrisy of the west. Having demanded that the Palestinians hold elections, they have been punishing them for exercising their democratic right in a manner of which the west disapproves.
Israel, moreover, has suspended vital tax payments owed to the Palestinian government. Gazans were already among the poorest people in the world - two thirds are unemployed, and the remaining third, mainly state employees, are not being paid. Now they are threatened with mass starvation. And, of course, Israel continues to steal Palestinian land so as to complete its Apartheid Wall and enlarge its illegal settlements.
The suspension of funds by the US, the EU and Japanese governments, at the behest of the Israeli government, is shameful. As several commentators have pointed out, the Palestinians must be the only occupied people in history to have sanctions imposed on them rather than on the occupying power.
The Palestinians don’t have the economic and military power to defeat the Zionist state on their own. They need our support. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Boycott of Israeli Goods Campaign (BIG) have called for a day of action on Saturday 7 October. This is a call to activists around Britain to take part in a day of boycott action against Israel’s occupation. A mass boycott campaign must be built similar to that against apartheid South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. The campaign consists of a boycott of Israeli goods, a demand for divestment by companies with investments in Israel, an academic boycott and a campaign to pressurise the British government to impose an arms embargo. On 7 October, activists will take part in activities against organisations supporting Israel’s policies and against supermarkets selling Israeli goods.
For information about what’s happening in your area, go to www.palestinecampaign.org