European MPs and Ministers Assess Gaza Today - by Stephen Lendman
During a recent visit, a 50-person European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG) assessed conditions on the ground firsthand, one year after Operation Cast Lead:
"to collect and document the facts, and then return to our respective countries and the European Parliament to push for actions that will bring immediate humanitarian relief and an end to the siege, as well as peace and justice to the Palestinian people," what they've long been denied under a repressive occupation.
ECESG (http://www.savegaza.eu) calls itself:
"an umbrella body of non-governmental organizations across Europe that advocates (for) the fundamental right of the Palestinian people in Gaza to live in peace and dignity without being subjected to any form of collective punishment....ECESG supports the restoration of (Gazans') inalienable rights....and lobbies for pressure to be exerted on (Israel) to lift its siege and end the human tragedy there."
Meetings were held with Palestinian Legislative Council members, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, and UNRWA Director of Operations, John Ging.
Areas toured were most affected, including Izbet Abet Rabu, the Al-Fakhoura School, and the Al-Salam neighborhood. Delegates also met with Al-Samouni family survivors who lost 23 members during the war.
They saw firsthand what human rights and various international organizations documented, including the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Goldstone Commission's damning indictment of Israeli crimes of war and against humanity after its extensive 2009 fact finding mission.
The combination of destructive war, siege, and humanitarian crisis has been well reported. Nonetheless, ECESG's report is important because it's current and by 50 European parliamentarians and ministers, able to reach other high level officials at home, perhaps with enough clout for action - if not now, toward it happening sooner.
Israel's edifice is weakening. It's just a matter of time until it's effectively pierced. The ECESG, Judge Goldstone, the Global BDS movement, and other committed activists will realize it by relentlessly hammering for peace, equality and justice. Nothing less must be accepted or tolerated.
Highlights of ECESG's Report - Destruction of Homes
Many thousands need "complete rebuilding (or) major repairs" - besides the huge backlog of others from previous Israeli-inflicted destruction. As a result, throughout Gaza, houses are half built for lack of materials, many "condemned as unhygienic or unsafe to live in."
Colin Low, UK House of Lords member and president of the European Blind Union said:
"I was immediately struck by the desperate condition of the inhabitants of Izbet Abed Rabu, a small village (in) northeastern Gaza. Some 300 - 400 houses, a factory and farmland had been completely razed to the ground. (What's left) could only be described as a bomb site through which I had to pick my way carefully. We met a family who were obviously (for over a year) living in the most abject of conditions - three or four generations, including an old lady....over 100, living in a tent without washing facilities of any kind and only a make shift fire on the ground for cooking."
Clear evidence also found showed Israeli forces targeted civilian homes with heavy-caliber weapons and shells - attacks unrelated to military necessity, but to target civilians and ease access for IDF troops.
"The use of such unwarranted weapons on civilian buildings....indicates a deliberate breach of" Fourth Geneva, unmentioned in the Goldstone report. It also corroborates Israeli NGOs (including Breaking the Silence) saying commanders ordered troops to intimidate the local population - kill civilians and destroy homes, other property and non-military structures to prevent a return to normalcy post-conflict.