Apartheid Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza has led to a humanitarian crisis where there is an extreme shortage of basic items, like food and fuel. Chronic problems, such as access to healthcare, sanitation, electricity, clean water, education and unemployment are the order of the day.
As the two million Palestinian residents of Gaza live under a continued blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, the many daily hardships they face are having an increasingly adverse effect on physical and mental health, particularly for the most vulnerable.
Rebuilding homes, schools and other essential community facilities has been next to impossible because the siege prevents construction materials, such as steel and cement, from reaching Gaza. Gaza’s pipelines and sewage treatment infrastructure are also damaged due to Israeli missile attacks and ground incursions leading to sewage seeping into drinking water resulting in an increase in waterborne diseases. The people of Gaza have been inflicted with at least three ghastly wars in the last decade (2008-2009 Caste Lead, 2012 Pillar of Defence, 2014 Protective Edge) that have caused catastrophic devastation to infrastructure and affected thousands of Palestinian lives.
In some instances, entire families have been killed and those who survive bear both emotional and physical injuries. These criminal actions by the IDF incontrovertibly constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
We also state that the decade long imposed siege and blockade is crippling the civilian population, bearing in mind that previous humanitarian Flotilla Aid Missions carrying essential medical supplies and building materials to rebuild infrastructure have been thwarted by the IDF. Life for the people of Gaza has become characterised by soaring unemployment, acute fuel shortages, electricity supply for a couple of hours a day, a crippled water and sanitation system, prison-like movement restrictions, and the ever-looming threat of full-scale Israeli aggression on the horizon.
This unbearable situation in Gaza is further compounded by the heartless and tyrannical decision by Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority (PA), to suspend payments to Israel for electricity for Gaza. The PA also decided to reinstate taxes on fuel destined for Gaza, making it unaffordable to access much needed fuel causing a shutdown of Gaza’s only power plant, which was already operating at reduced capacity due to damage sustained in repeated Israeli bombardments over the years further reducing the amount of electricity available to Palestinians in Gaza.
Going even further the PA has reduced funding to Gaza’s hospitals and clinics as well as put into effect a salary cut of between 60 to 80 percent to public sector employees whose salaries have provided a vital stream of revenue in the impoverished Gaza Strip. The PA has imposed restrictions on the supply of much needed food and medicines to Gaza.
We are also aware through authentic and verified sources that the PA security arm are shamelessly collaborating with apartheid Israel under the auspices of “security agreements” by arresting Palestinian Activists in the West Bank thus weakening the resistance movements that are fighting the occupation.
With apartheid Israel and the PA unwilling to supply more electricity or fuel, Gaza’s hospitals and health clinics will be forced to stop critical services leading to an immediate life-threatening situation for the most vulnerable patients and compromising refrigerated blood and vaccine stocks.
Abbas is effectively making common cause with apartheid Israel against the resistance movements, while playing politics with the welfare of two million Palestinians. He’s ultimate intention is to crush legitimate Palestinian resistance so that the PA can regain some measure of control over Gaza and thereby develop a stronger alliance with Israel, Egypt and the United States.
Hence, we call on Abbas and the PA as a whole to revisit these draconian decisions that goes against fundamental human rights, international law and international humanitarian law, so that the blemish of collusion with the evil forces of Israel, Egypt and the US will not forever taint the legacy of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.
We, as South Africans, commit ourselves to continue the support for the liberation movements within Palestine towards their struggle for a free, non-racial, and democratic Palestinian State and towards International movements that supports the campaign to isolate apartheid Israel through the programme of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
We the undersigned representatives of organisations in South Africa that support the freedom of Palestine, call on the Palestinian Authority (PA) of the West Bank to immediately rescind its decision not to pay Israel for the much needed lifesaving electricity destined for Gaza, cancel taxes imposed on essential fuel and earnestly commit to continue as well as increase funding to Gaza’s hospitals, clinics and schools. We also urge the PA to facilitate the much needed medical care required by the people of Gaza, especially children, wherever the care is made available.
The accelerated restrictions imposed by the PA on essential medicines and food to Gaza together with apartheid Israel’s occupation, siege and blockade are crimes against humanity and aids in strengthening and giving undue credibility to the status quo of the Zionist apartheid state.
We urge the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) to join us in working towards the lifting of the siege on Gaza and towards the liberation of all of Palestine. This is only possible through a concerted effort to unify all the Palestinian Liberation movements, factions, groupings and organisations against the illegal occupation by apartheid Israel.
Ziyaad Patel – Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA)
Ronnie Kasrils – Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)
Feroze Boda – Cage Africa
Raees Noorbhai – Amnesty International (WITS)
Nadeem Muhammed – Muslim Students Association (MSA UNION)