A million and a half residents of the Gaza Strip have been suffering for years from ongoing siege and Israeli assaults, which peaked in the recent War. Israel’s severe military aggression has become possible due to a gradual process of isolating Gaza – politically, geographically, economically and socially. While Israel portrayed the disengagement as if it were the end of occupation, it actually made Gaza into the largest prison on earth.
The Gaza Strip was occupied by Israel in 1967, along with the West Bank. Its residents are part of the Palestinian people which lost their lands in 1948. Since then, the state of Israel persists and intensifies its control over the Palestinians. By doing so Israel confirms that the Nakba is not yet over. Ending the occupation, lifting the siege and realizing the right of return are all vital elements in achieving a just peace.
The Coalition of Women for Peace launched its campaign against the siege in November 2006, to put on the public agenda the existence of the blockade and its consequences. During the years, several dozens of organizations participated in the campaign, including parties and movements from throughout the country, Palestinian and Jewish alike. Events included mass rallies in Tel Aviv, convoys of solidarity, cultural events, and a major women march under the slogan “Women marching for Gaza and Sderot.”
During the Israeli assault on Gaza in winter 2008-2009, CWP quickly formed a coalition of dozens of organizations nationwide and coordinated an action that called for an immediate ending of the war. On the first day of the war, CWP led thousands in a Tel Aviv demonstration, demonstrations and held back a day – daily Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem. On the first weekend of the war, CWP, together with the coalition of organizations, held a demonstration of ten thousand participants in Tel Aviv, and two weeks later organized another mass demonstration in Jaffa.
The coalition provided legal aid and media support for hundreds of activists in the field, and initiated large-scale international activity against attack.
Feminist demand for justice
As a feminist movement, we believe that all citizens of the region have a real interest in brining war criminals to justice. Personal safety of all residents in this country, Palestinians and Israelis alike, is continually undermined by the actions of the Israeli government that chooses occupation and military operations instead of peace. In light of Israel’s stubborn refusal to deal seriously with allegations attributed and in lights of its inability to conduct a thorough investigating, it seems that there is no alternative to an external legal process. Such a procedure can take place at the International Court in The Hague or in countries where the universal jurisdiction principle is applied.
In December 2009, CWP initiated an international appeal to British government signed by 95 feminist groups – Israeli, Palestinian and international – demanding that it not cancel universal jurisdiction. This appeal was a response to a declaration of the British government, stating that they plan to cancel this legal mechanism, after an arrest warrant was issued in London for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. As of today, following public pressure exerted on it, the UK government decided to postpone the decision on the issue to after the elections.
That Israel immediately removes the siege of Gaza, without delay or conditions
That Israel recognize Hamas as the elected government in Gaza and negotiate the release of prisoners;
To ensure the connection between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and allow the Palestinian people to have collective cultural, political and social life
Tp investigate the war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza and prosecute those responsible.
Background: Isolation of Gaza – Policy not Response
In September 2005, Israel completed the implementation of what was known as the “disengagement plan”. This plan included the dismantling of all settlements in the Gaza Strip, evacuating residents into Israeli territory and the withdraw of military forces from the Gaza Strip. Upon completion of the implementation of the plan, Israel issued an order declaring the termination of military rule in Gaza and sought to exempt itself from responsibility for the safety and welfare of residents. However, even after the implementation of the “disengagement” Israel continues to control border crossing, airspace and territorial waters of Gaza.
In June 2007, after the Hamas takeover, Israel tightened its control of the crossings and nearly shut them completely for movement of people and goods. Three months later the security cabinet decided to declare the Gaza Strip as “hostile entity” and to take collective punitive measures, including reducing electricity and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip. The Siege led to a significant decrease in the civilian population access to basic consumer goods, including food and medicine. Most of the factories in the Gaza Strip and hundreds of private businesses were closed.
Between 2005 and the outbreak of the war, the Israeli army entered the Gaza Strip several times. According to B’Tselem data, in these invasions, 522 Palestinians who did not participate in hostilities lost their lives. Of them 195 were minors, 49 women and 25 men over the age of 50. In December 27, 2008 Israel launched an unprecedented attack on Gaza, killed 1,390 people, including 759 civilians that were not involved in the fighting. Thousands were injured and thousands lost their homes. During the attack, Israel destroyed civilian infrastructure and industrial buildings without any justification.
In October 2010, following the work of the Gisha, Israel revealed that its policy regarding the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip is based on the deliberate creation of essential reduction of basic goods, a ban on bringing “luxuries” (such as paper and chocolate), and an ongoing ban on products that may allow rehabilitate Gaza after the war.