Dec 31, 2010

#BDS: 2010 and the Palestinian cause


In the beginning of 2010 the world saw international activists protest in Cairo to pressure the Egyptian regime into opening its borders for them to enter Gaza with their aid convoys.
They eventually succeeded and in the following months hundreds of international activists managed to break the siege of Gaza. The most famous of them was the Freedom Flotilla, which had 663 passengers from approximately 40 nationalities.
The flotilla was attacked in international waters (and this wasn't the first time for Israel). 9 activists were killed, and at least 42 were injured. The massacre generated global rage and was condemned by many governments. Israeli ambassadors were summoned from 7 countries as well as the EU. And although the US tried to block it, an international inquiry soon began. In addition, a fact-finding mission was launched by the UN Human Rights Council. They found that Israel broke international law, and found "clear evidence" for prosecuting Israel for the war crime of "willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment". The report accused Israeli commandos of summarily executing 6 passengers.
But why were international activists attempting to reach Gaza in the first place? The reason is the Israeli blockade held since 2007. The blockade killed hundreds of Palestinian patients, and destroyed Gaza's economy. It was considered a "war crime" by the UN Fact Finding mission led by Judge Richard Goldstone, and it was considered a form of "collective punishment" by both a UN humanitarian affairs chief and a UN Human Rights Council monitor in 2008. This year another international testimony was added: the International Committee of the Red Cross called the blockade a violation of the Geneva Conventions and described it as "collective punishment". Another strong legal statement in 2010 came from Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who announced Gaza's blockade as "illegal".
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