R2E, Birzeit University, 17 January 2009
In light of the ongoing massive Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in which over 1,200 people have been killed – over 1,000 (86%) of whom were civilian men, women and children – and where over 4,000 have been maimed and injured, the Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University calls upon the international academic community, unions and students to show support and solidarity with the people of Gaza by calling upon their respective governments to impose immediate boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel until it abides by international human rights and humanitarian laws, dismantles its apartheid regime spanning both the occupied territories and Israel proper, and commits to pursuing a long-lasting, just peace.
The state of Israel began its military attack on the Gaza Strip on Saturday the 27th of December and on the same day an air missile hit the Gaza Training Centre in downtown Gaza City killing 8 students and wounding 19. In the early hours of Monday, an F-16 fighter plane bombed the Science Laboratory and Library of the Islamic University in Gaza, just a few hours before some of its 20,000 students were to enter the campus to sit their exams. A few days later, on the 3rd of January a jet leveled the private ‘progressive’ American school in Gaza, killing its security guard and denying some 200 students their education for the foreseeable future. Later the same day, the Agricultural School in Beit Hanoun was damaged by 4 artillery shells, and 4 more schools were damaged throughout the Strip.
As a consequence of the ongoing attacks, the Gazan education system has been unable to function for the last three weeks; 27 of UNRWA’s installations – almost all of which are schools – are being used to shelter 45,000 desperate Gazans who have fled their homes in response to ultimatums by the Israeli army: become homeless or die in the rubble of impending bombardments. However on the 6th of January, 2 UNRWA schools were bombed, killing all who were inside, in one case 42 people, and injuring 55. A number of other schools have been hit – just this morning Israeli forces shelled a UN-run school in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, killing a mother and son. As well as taking lives, the attacks on Palestinian schools deprive thousands of children – those who survived – of their educational facilities in the near future. As of 17th of January, a total of 68 schools have been destroyed.
The targeting of schools, particularly those being used as civilian shelters and whose coordinates are known to the Israelis, reaffirms the genocidal intentions of Israel’s war and exposes their ‘surgical’ efforts as a mere public relations exercise. There is no doubt that Israel targets civilian infrastructure and implants conditions of terror and dysfunction amongst Gaza’s 1.5m people, over 50% of whom are under 18 years of age.
The war on Gaza marks a breaking point: the world cannot remain silent while Israel instigates a war (they broke the cease-fire by killing 6 Palestinians on the 4th of November 2008 and 4 more on the 17th of November 2008), annihilates all civilian infrastructure, targets civilian shelters, prevents medical teams from reaching victims, uses internationally banned substances like white phosphorous on civilians, prevents medical aid and equipment from entering the Strip, cuts off fuel, electricity and running water making daily life, especially for the injured, a living hell, and prevents anyone from escaping their carnage. These are not actions of a state which respects international laws and norms. Distinguished international lawyers have denounced the disproportionality of Israel’s attacks as a war crime, and its indiscriminate killing as a crime against humanity.
Enough is enough. Please join the calls from artists, writers, lawyers, academics and students the world over and help bring an end to a regime that has continuously (since the beginning of the 20th century) relied on killing, dispossessing, incarcerating, and discriminating Palestinians in order to fulfill its own political agenda – the establishment and maintenance of an ethno-religious autocracy.
The time to act is NOW.
Useful links and resources:
300 British Academics: boycott, divestment and sanctions now, British Academics, The Guardian UK , 16 January 2009 – http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article703
End the Carnage in Gaza – Boycott the Israeli Academy now! Press Release, Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, 3 January 2009 – http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article665
A Petition Signed by Academics, Educators and Teachers
Science for Peace, Educators for Peace and Justice, 13 January 2009 – http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article696
Open letter to U.S academics on Gaza from American academics teaching in Middle East, Rania Masri, Marcy Newman , 10 January 2009 – http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article691