End the war, says visiting Palestinian MP

November 17, 1993

Clayton McDonald, Sydney

There are 800,000 children under 14 years of age in Gaza, and the sonic booms being deliberately created by low-flying Israeli military aircraft are inflicting psychological damage on these children, Dr Bernard Sabella, a visiting Christian Palestinian MP told a forum at Sydney Trades Hall on July 10.

Dr Sabella is the executive director of the Middle East Council of Churches' Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees, and a professor of sociology at Bethlehem University. He was also recently elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Sabella's tour was sponsored by the Public Theology and Research and Advocacy Project. The meeting, which was also addressed by Dr Izzat Abdul Hadi, head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia and New Zealand, was hosted by the Islamic Friendship Association.

"What is happening in Israel and Palestine is a symptom of the system of domination and oppression of one people by another", Sabella said about the new offensive in Gaza. "Israel has all the power in the region; it is the number four military power in the world."

Referring to the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine that provokes Palestinian militants to commit suicide bombings in Israel, Sabella said, "An evil occupation must provoke an evil response".

Sabella insisted that "Peace and security in the Middle East are possible and this is what the Palestinian people want. It is what the Israeli people want, but the Israeli government does not seem to be listening."

Abdul Hadi supported the Swiss government's recent statement accusing Israel of violating international law in its attack on Gaza, which is destroying infrastructure and killing, injuring and endangering civilians in acts of collective punishment banned under the Geneva Conventions. The statement demanded that "Israel forgo any further attacks on civilian property, ensure the protection of the civilian population, and release the detained representatives ..."

Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association said that the Palestinians were extremely generous to allow Israel to keep 78% of historic Palestine in exchange for peace. "Yet, the Israelis are not satisfied; they seem to want the whole lot and are in the process of grabbing another 11% of the remaining 22%."

Trad said that Australian Muslims, along with the wider community, are "greatly disturbed at Israel's escalation of the war", and called on the Australian government to pressure Israel. "With half a million Lebanese Australians, Australia has a moral obligation to intervene to stop this war."

From Green Left Weekly, July 19, 2006.
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