It is with deep sadness and growing concern that we at Science for Peace are watching the rising violence in the Levant and call on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and return to negotiations leading to a peaceful settlement of the conflict. We are heartbroken by the deaths and maiming of children in Gaza and the terrible loss of civilians in horrific Israeli attacks. We despair, as well, of the lives lost in Israel and the fear now gripping that country. While all resort to violence should be condemned, including Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of missiles into the territory of Israel, the Israeli response appears to be just as indiscriminate and more importantly disproportionate. This has been clearly demonstrated by the casualty figures of the last week.
The Israeli response to protests and attacks from Gaza has targeted residential areas, basic infrastructure, buildings housing the international media as well as medical clinics and hospitals. The Israeli claim that Hamas militants are using these targets as human shields for their operations does not justify their targeting under relevant laws of warfare that demand civilians be protected from harm. The accusations that war crimes have been committed must be thoroughly and impartially investigated.
The firing of rockets from Gaza represents an unhelpful escalation of the conflict – and a cynical and cruel one at that, given that the Hamas leadership knows full well the consequence of it will continue to be the further death and suffering of its own people. But the root causes of Palestinian fury must be fully understood. The political response of Palestinians is generated by Israel’s continuing violations of international law in the Territories the forceful dislocation of populations, as is occurring in Sheikh Jarrah, and the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, as well as the daily humiliations at checkpoints and other indignities such as the unjustified police raid into the Al Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.
The long promised “two state solution” is negated by “facts on the ground” in the form of expanded Israeli settlements. The situation in the occupied territories, as well as within Israel, has resulted in the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch accusing Israeli authorities of the crime of Apartheid. The Palestinian populations subjected to this unlawful system have every right to protest and resist.
In this bleak situation, we applaud the Israelis and Palestinians within Israel who have joined in the Standing Together movement demanding a ceasefire and an end to the Occupation. Indeed, we applaud all convergences of Arabs and Jews in the region seeking non-violent solutions to the current injustices and the challenge of co-existence.
We are further shocked to realize that some of the weapons or recognizance tools used by Israel in these rights violations and military attacks may include components made in Canada. Canada exported $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019 and the Liberal government cannot pretend in all conscience to be a peace proponent while it persists in this dirty trade. As Jagmeet Singh made clear calling for Canada to cease the export of weapons to
Israel: “selling arms to one side of a conflict undermines the peace process and supports the illegal occupation.’’
Science for Peace calls on the Liberal government, in emergency fashion, to abandon this complicity and do the following:
1) Immediately cease all trade in military goods and technology with Israel
2) Call for an immediate halt to all hostilities
3) Condemn all human rights violations committed by Israeli authorities, and use its positions in international institutions like the U.N. to pressure the government of Israel to seek a serious peace
4) Join with the world community in sending medical supplies and emergency aid to the people of Gaza