Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gaza - one year on

One year ago today (December 27) the Israeli Zionist regime began its military onslaught (Operation Cast Lead) against the entire population of Gaza.

For more than 20 days, Israel pounded Gaza from the air, dropping thousands of tonnes of high explosive bombs, artillery and tank shells onto densely populated civilian areas causing carnage and widespread death and destruction. Following weeks of the initial campaign of air strikes and rocket attacks against the people of Gaza, Israel stepped up their campaign of murder and state terrorism by launching a brutal land invasion. As they entered Gaza, Palestinian homes and property were deliberately and systematically destroyed while Palestinian civilians were used as human shields by the advancing Israeli military.

And while the Israeli's may have ended “Operation Cast Lead” back in January, the lengthy and inhumane siege of Gaza continues. More then 1.5 million people live in this tiny strip of land. They live sealed off from the outside world, with Israel controlling their borders, by land, sea and air, ensuring that the only supplies that enter Gaza are whatever Israel decides to let in.

During that operation Israel deliberately destroyed virtually the entire social and economic infrastructure of the area. Despite the widespread destruction of property in that murderous assault, schools and homes have yet to be rebuilt. Water and sewage systems which were destroyed remain to be repaired also. People continue to die within Gaza due to a lack of medical supplies and medical care, a situation brought about by Israel's deliberate policy of preventing sufficient quantities of basic necessities from getting into Gaza.

In recent days, Gaza has being described as an “open prison” by Dublin Foreign Minister Micheál Martin who was denied access by the Israeli authorities to visit the Palestinian territory. According to John Ging, who heads the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the UN and the international community are failing to uphold the basic rule of law for the civilian population of Gaza.

To mark the anniversary of this assault and to highlight the continuing siege of Gaza by Israel, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) are holding a month of commemorative events throughout Ireland from 27th Dec 2009 through to 30th Jan 2010. Among the many events that will be taking place are various, vigils, film screenings, rallies and boycott actions.

On December 31st, what is known as the Gaza Freedom March takes place in Gaza itself. Among the 1,000 men and women from around the globe who will bring a close to 2009 by marching side by side with the Palestinian population of Gaza in a peaceful demonstration demanding an end to the continuing illegal Israeli siege of Gaza, will be a number of Irish citizens.

To co-incide with this, the IPSC will be forming “Human Chains” in a series of events throughout Ireland in towns and cities including Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny and Sligo. Similar events will be taking place worldwide as an expression of solidarity to the People of Gaza and to remember the more than 1400 Palestinians killed twelve months ago.

Sligo's 'Human Chain' will take place between 2pm and 3pm on Thursday December 31 at Hyde Bridge in Sligo town centre. All those who oppose the ongoing siege of Gaza and Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people and who support human rights and freedom for the Palestinian people are encouraged to attend. For more information on this and other events in the IPSC's “Gaza: A month of remembrance” please click here

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