Science for Peace is a Canadian-based non-governmental organization founded in 1981. We research, educate, and advocate on issues of war and peace, human rights and social justice.
We are writing now to support The Lancet’s coverage of Israel’s 2014 “Operation Protective Edge” attack on Gaza and to commend Richard Horton for his integrity in covering this massive assault on a captive people. The Lancet’s publications about the situation in Gaza are exceptional in the medical literature. The campaign to vilify Richard Horton is egregious but not surprising. Well-documented are Israel’s aggressive measures to staunch exposure of its crimes.
It is disturbing that many physicians have colluded with this attack on Richard Horton and have pressured The Lancet and its publisher, Reed Elsevier, to withdraw the Maduca letter protesting Israel’s crimes. The Lancet published the letter as civilians were being subjected to massive assault. The letter’s content finds corroboration from Richard Falk, former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories and Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. Falk defined Operation Protective Edge an atrocity, possibly a crime against humanity. He said that the illegality is compounded because there is no option for civilians to escape, either by crossing borders or by becoming internally displaced into safer enclaves. “No other residents of Gaza have the option of leaving, whether disabled, sick, elderly, or young. The civilian population of Gaza is denied the possibility of seeking refugee status by fleeing Gaza during this time of intense warfare, and there is no space available that might allow Palestinian civilians to become internally displaced within Gaza until Protective Edge ends…..Back in 2008-09 and 2012, Israeli launched major military operations in Gaza, and the issue of the entrapped civilian population was brought to the attention of the UN and the international community, a challenge met with silent irresponsibility. This makes the UN and international failure to act unforgiveable with respect to the people of Gaza, so often severely threatened with dangers that approach genocidal thresholds. Even so the UN and its leading member governments turn their heads and look away. This exhibits either a sense of helplessness in the face of Israel’s military juggernaut or even more disturbingly, a silence that can be construed as tacitly blessing this infernal entrapment of innocent and long suffering people.”
We are well-informed about Israel’s five attacks on Gaza (2002, 2006, 2008-09, 2012, 2014) and about the siege of Gaza. We are also well-aware of repeated attempts to suppress information and to derail investigations by the UN Human Rights Council and by the International Criminal Court. Key witnesses such as Dr. Mads Gilbert and Richard Falk are now barred from entering Gaza, and the U.S. and Canada have refused to recognize the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead. Despite this, there is a great deal of information and testimony available to the public about the assaults and the siege, including details about collective and disproportionate punishment, the use of unconventional weapons, attacks on schools, hospitals, vital infrastructure.
But saddest of all is the needless killing of so many people. Between July 8, 2014 and August 11, 2014, Israeli forces killed 2,168 Palestinians, 519 of whom were children. Palestinian resistance forces killed 71 Israelis, one of whom was a child. Approximately 77% of the Palestinians killed during this period were civilians, while approximately 9% of Israelis killed were civilians.
For all victims of extreme danger and gross injustice, disseminating information is obviously a crucial step in ending atrocities. The Lancet, through its editor Richard Horton, was right in its compassion for the victims and in its determination and commitment to bring Israel’s crimes to public attention.