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Israeli assault on Gaza must stop, says SACC

Statement from SACC, 16 November 2012

SACC calls on the British Government, the Scottish Government and civil society organisations to demand an immediate halt to Israel's assault on Gaza.

The US has given Israel the green light to continue its assault. British Foreign Secretary William Hague claims that the "principal responsibility" for the crisis lies with Hamas.

This view is not supported by the chronology of events leading up to Israel's assault. Rocket fire into Israel from Gaza was insignificant in the period immediately preceding the assault. A Palestinian attack on an Israeli army jeep on 10 November was followed by Israeli strikes against civilians, followed in turn by rocket fire from Gaza into Israel on the night of 10 November, apparently without casualties. There was then a further period of restraint from the Palestinian side, which ended with the Israeli airstrike in which Ahmed al-Jaabari, a senior Hamas official, was assassinated on 14 November. Ahmed al-Jaabari is said to have been involved in negotiations for a truce at the time of his assassination.

Other governments, including the Scottish Government, have rightly avoided placing explicit blame for these events on Hamas, but have nevertheless failed to call for a halt to the Israeli assault and have instead called for restraint by all sides. In doing so, they fail to make the distinction necessary in international law between Israel as a nation and the Palestinians as a people under occupation.

Notwithstanding Israel's partial disengagement from Gaza in 2004, Gaza remains, in international law and in frank reality, under Israeli occupation. The Israeli government is alone in disagreeing with that view. The failure of the international community to assert this well-established legal position obscures the true character of the conflict in Gaza. Israel is a powerful nation; the Palestinians of Gaza are a people living under occupation, with no significant resources for self-defence or the exertion of political power.

Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza is in clear violation of international law. It is disproportionate, and the form it has so far taken is incompatible with Israel's duty to minimise civilian casualties. Statements by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu threatening to exact a "heavy price" indicate that Israel's aims are punitive rather than defensive, and that the assault is intentionally disproportionate. As well as being in breach of the general obligations applicable to nations engaged in armed conflict, Israel is in breach of its obligations as an occupying power towards a people under occupation.

Israel's assault on Gaza must cease immediately. SACC urges governments, trade unions, political organisations and civil society organisations to say so. SACC is supporting the Scottish demonstration against the assault on Gaza to be held in Edinburgh on Saturday 17 November.

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