Thanks to assiduous efforts led by Egypt and Qatar, the bombings and explosions in Gaza were temporarily silenced, and with them the horrors of destruction and casualties left by Israel in the Gaza Strip. Yet Israel, aiming to bring Palestine to its knees, had been oblivious to furious global-wide sentiments expressed in demonstrations, especially in the US and Europe, calling for justice for a “free Palestine”, and protesting against their governments’ support for Israeli crimes.
Today I document live statements from political institutions, public meetings, and international figures, all of who categorically reject Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, both in Gaza and the West Bank. They condemn the blind support of their governments for these crimes, and demand recognition of the human rights of the Palestinian people in a safe, stable State in accordance with international norms and laws.
During the 41st session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in 2017, Cuban Permanent Delegate at UNESCO Yahima Esquivel requested a minute of silence for the Palestinian victims killed by the Israeli military. Ms Esquivel made her request following one by Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, for Holocaust victims. Ms Esquivel said: “I think that only the Chair can ask for a minute of silence. I do think that this is an incorrect interpretation of the decision which has again been manipulated. This committee does not take any decisions of measures against Israel or the Jewish people, and I think that that is turning this meeting into a politicised circus. What we have just heard from the delegate of Israel as we open discussion on the debates and decisions that we have just taken does not reflect any of that. Only the Chair can request a minute of silence. So with your indulgence, let me request Mr Chairman, that we stand for a minute of silence for all of the Palestinians who have died in the region.” Ms Esquivel’s statement was met with resounding applause.
Former Spanish Minister of Social Rights, and leader of Spain’s left-wing Podemos Party Ione Bellara said in a party meeting: “Let us say to Netanyahu: You are a war criminal and we do not want anything to do with you. It is very clear that we can do that. If we do not do it, no one will be able to do it. We only have to raise our voices to say that what is happening in Palestine is not war, not self-defence, but genocide. It is ethnic purging. What Israel is doing in Gaza is the annihilation of the people of Palestine. From here, with all our strength, I ask the head of our government to follow the example of Bolivia, Colombia, or Chile, and immediately sever diplomatic relations with Israel, and tell Netanyahu that he is a murderer and a war criminal, and that we do not want to have any relationship with him at all. Let us follow the example of the Belgian unions that refused to trade weapons destined for Israel because they would be stained with the blood of women and children .. it is a shame on us all. This is not war, it is genocide, it is a shameful phenomenon. It is good to raise our voices in protest, but I aspire for more. I want to ask our Prime Minister to stop buying weapons from Israel because this money will be stained with the blood of those working to exterminate the Palestinian people. Last year alone, Spain purchased weapons from Israel worth 300 million euros, and also concluded arms deals worth 700 million euros for the coming years. Let’s stop buying weapons from Israel once and for all. Now we must do better.”
Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert who had been working for 16 years in al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip said: “I’m a medical doctor, I’m a civilian. I have been all around in Shifa Hospital for 16 years. I’ve been walking freely everywhere. I’ve taken pictures and videos. I have talked to anybody, patients and staff. I have never seen any sign of any military command centre in Shifa. You have to ask the Israelis if they are so sure about this command centre they have been talking about for 16 years: where is the proof? Where are the pictures? You have to remember that Israel has a very sophisticated intelligence and they have been X raying the ground of Gaza. They have mapped all the tunnels for the resistance .. So why is it that this brilliant Israeli intelligence has not been able to put forward any proof? These are all lies. Israel is a chronic liar. Any normal human being with a heart would not attack hospitals. Israel has a long history of attacking hospitals, ambulances, health personnel, primary healthcare clinics. And they’ve done that since I first was in Gaza during the bombing in 2006. So in this situation, where any sensible person, General, Prime Minister, or anyone with a heart, would say we will have ceasefire, we will take care of the wounded, we will reach, reestablish the function of the hospitals, what is Israel doing? They are increasing the bombing, increasing the number of wounded, increasing the siege of the hospitals and the strangulation of the people. So if you are not killed during this bombing, they want to starve you, let you thirst, bleed, and scare you to death. For me these are not only war crimes, these are crimes against humanity and against the value base that we all have. Whether we are Muslims or Christians or Jews or agnostic, every human life is sacred and we should save and protect human life in Gaza. But lives are shredded like this, and the European leaders and this President Joe Biden are completely silent or even worse, they are supporting Israel’s atrocities. I think the Palestinian people today are the only people on Earth who have to prove that they are killed. They have to prove that they are dead because Joe Biden says that he doubts the numbers from the Ministry of Health in Gaza. And I say to you: Stand up for Palestine, stand up for Gaza now. Now we need solidarity more than ever. Now we need to be strong and to say to the leaders and to the world that we don’t accept this.”
In Oakland, California, Fremont High School recently flew the Palestinian flag alongside the American flag, in a move that sparked controversy. The school administration said that flying the Palestinian flag was an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people. They said that the school has students from diverse backgrounds and believes in the importance of respecting all cultures. Some parents believed that raising the Palestinian flag was a form of protest against Israel.
1 December 2023