We, the undersigned “Faculty for Gaza,” voice our outrage at the scale and nature of Israel”s military aggression since 27 December 2008 against the Palestinians in Gaza, and at Israel”s gross disregard for the dual principles of proportionality and distinction that are central to International Humanitarian Law. We decry Israel”s massacre of innocent Palestinian civilians, as well as its repeated violations of their most basic human rights. We are especially appalled by the silence under which US official, academic, and media circles have swept the current bombing and blockade of Gaza”s population and the excessive and disproportionate level of casualties among Palestinians. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on earth. Most of its residents are refugees who were driven from their homes in 1948. Since 1967, they have lived in abject poverty under Israeli occupation. Even after the pullout of its soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, Israel has continued to control all access by land, sea, and air, and to carry out frequent raids and attacks on Gaza. Furthermore, when Hamas won the elections in 2006, Israel imposed a stringent blockade on the territory, forcing its people to live on the edge of starvation, and effectively turned Gaza into a large concentration camp. During the June ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Israel did not live up to its obligation to end the siege of Gaza, and on 4 November, the fragile truce was broken when Israel launched air and ground strikes, killing six Hamas operatives. Hamas retaliated, and Israel in turn launched the current military offensive against Gaza.
As of 14 January, Israeli forces have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians, of whom 80% are civilians, among them approximately 300 children. More than 4,500 have been injured, of whom 1,600 are children and 678 are women. In addition, Israel has directly targeted and completely or partially destroyed mosques, schools, civil police compounds, a medical storage centre, and numerous government buildings, including different ministries. Its air strikes and ground incursions have to date resulted in the total destruction of countless homes and shelters. The methods of attack and the number of casualties indicate a reckless disregard for civilian life synonymous with intent. Yet, Israel”s offensive has met with little concrete action by the international community.
Israel”s massive bombardment and collective punishment of civilians contravene international law and the United Nations Charter. While a humanitarian catastrophe of untold proportions unfolds in Gaza, Israel continues to deny access to humanitarian workers, human rights monitors, and media representatives. It has even rejected requests by the International Committee of the Red Cross to investigate scenes of supposed humanitarian abuse. We demand an immediate end to the isolation of Gaza by the Israeli military, and an urgent international response to the growing humanitarian crisis therein.
Since the start of the military operations, Israel has targeted and leveled the American International School, the Islamic University of Gaza, the Ministry of Education, and several United Nations schools. Aside from causing scores of fatalities among teachers and students, the bombing campaign has obliterated Gaza”s educational infrastructure, with clear negative political, economic, and humanitarian ramifications for its population in the long term. As academics, we strongly condemn Israel”s unjustified and immoral assaults on the educational institutions, schools, and students of Gaza.
The direct assaults on Gaza”s schools are yet another chapter in Israel”s ongoing denial of the Palestinians” right to education, as guaranteed by international conventions. Since 1967, Israel has systematically undermined, curtailed, and disrupted Palestinian aspirations to study at home or abroad. As an occupying power, with effective control over the Gaza Strip through its dominion over airspace, territorial waters, land borders, and the population registry, Israel is obligated by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to respect International Humanitarian Law, and to refrain from the deliberate destruction of Palestinian academic facilities and educational institutions. We therefore insist that Israel abide by its international responsibilities towards ensuring the rights of Palestinians to education as mandated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified in 1992.
We, the Georgetown University Faculty for Gaza, hereby pledge to educate our students and the American public at large about the right to education and the egregious violations of Palestinians” rights by the government of Israel. Our campaign aims to raise awareness of the plight of the Palestinians among US academics and journalists, and to pressure US governmental bodies to:
1) Do everything in their power to obtain the implementation of an immediate cease-fire in Gaza;
2) Begin deliveries of critical humanitarian aid to its population and require that Israel allow those supplies to be delivered; and,
3) Call for investigations into the reported cases of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza by the appropriate international authorities.
Faculty for Gaza