The following statement was released by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee on June 1. For more information visit bdsmovement.net.
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The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) strongly condemns last night’s fatal attack by the Israeli navy on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. The BNC conveys Palestinian civil society’s condolences to the families and friends of those killed by the Israeli assault and warmly salutes the principled solidarity and moral commitment of all those involved in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
In response, the BNC calls on international civil society to:
• Mobilise for an emergency global BDS day of action on June 5 — the 43rd anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem;
• Pressure governments to start implementing trade sanctions and arms embargos;
We call specifically on transport and dock workers and unions around the globe to:
• Refuse to load or offload Israeli ships and airplanes, following the historic example set by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) in Durban in February 2009 and endorsed by the Maritime Union of Australia (Western Australia).
The Freedom Flotilla, which was attacked in international waters in violation of international law, was carrying relief supplies that Israel has persistently prevented from entering Gaza, including medical supplies, cement and food. Israel’s siege is considered a form of collective punishment, a war crime under Article 33 of the Geneva Convention.
All of the relief workers and activists on board the Gaza Freedom Flotilla ships were unarmed. In legal terms, Israel’s military assault against the Freedom Flotilla is an act of aggression against the countries whose flags the ships were carrying; politically, it is an assault against human decency and all people of conscience around the world who support freedom and justice.
Israel’s impunity is the direct result of the international community’s failure to hold it accountable for its ongoing occupation, colonisation and apartheid against the Palestinian people. Israel’s most recent war crimes committed in Gaza and documented in the Goldstone report as well as crimes committed in 2006 against the Lebanese people did not trigger any UN or official sanctions, entrenching Israel’s feeling of being above the law.
In fact, Israel’s grave violation of international law was recently rewarded when the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) voted unanimously to accept its membership. The BNC urges international civil society to end this deep and fatal complicity.
The BNC also welcomes and affirms the call of the UN expert on human rights Professor Richard Falk who stated, “It is time to insist on the end of the blockade of Gaza. The worldwide campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel is now a moral and political imperative, and needs to be supported and strengthened everywhere.”
The UN Security Council has, unsurprisingly, failed to hold Israel accountable for its aggression against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The BNC calls upon the UN General Assembly, the European Union, the Arab League and their member states to undertake practical measures which will end Israel’s impunity for its massive and systematic violation of international law, including:
• Immediately ending all collusion with Israel’s unlawful blockade of the Gaza Strip and pressuring Israel to guarantee unrestricted humanitarian access and freedom of movement of people and products into and out of the Gaza Strip;
• Bringing to justice all Israeli officials and military personnel who took the decision or implemented this latest massacre as well as earlier war crimes;
• Pressuring your government to immediately suspend arms trade with Israel, and to implement trade sanctions and arms embargos against Israel;
• In particular, we call on the EU to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, Mercosur to suspend the FTA, India to reverse the decision to hold negotiations around an India-Israel FTA and to stop arms deals with Israel, and Turkey to impose an arms embargo on Israel.
The BNC also calls on people of conscience all over the world to intensify BDS campaigns against Israel as the most effective means of holding it accountable to international law and ending its fatal impunity.