Palestine: For Gaza — Let’s escalate BDS campaigns to hold Israel accountable

A Nakba day rally in Times Square, New York City, in 2018. Photo: Joe Catron/Flickr

For almost two weeks, Israeli military forces have bombed Gaza, terrorising its two million Palestinian inhabitants. In response, the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) released the following statement on August 23.

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In response to apartheid Israel’s ongoing bombing of the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) reiterates Palestinian civil society’s calls for targeted and lawful sanctions on Israel, in particular an urgent and comprehensive military embargo, and for escalating boycott and divestment campaigns to end its crimes.

For more than eleven consecutive nights, the Israeli military forces have bombed Gaza, terrorising its two million Palestinian inhabitants, who live in the world’s largest open-air prison due to Israel’s 13-year-old siege.

Israel’s excuse this time is the incendiary balloons flown from Gaza, causing fires in agricultural lands in Israeli colonies near the military fences that encircle Gaza.

The absolute majority of Gaza residents are descendants of the more than 750,000 Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed — by Zionist militias and later the Israeli army — during the 1948 Nakba.

The Israeli attacks damaged homes and civilian infrastructure, including a primary school in the Shati refugee camp run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), bombed at dawn on August 13. UNRWA has challenged Israel’s claim that the attack was a result of an “accident”, given that all up-to-date UN facilities’ coordinates are provided to the Israeli occupation authorities. 

The fall of the Israeli missile on the school a few hours before opening averted a massacre of children and their teachers, a fact that caused widespread panic and fear among the refugee children. 

This new wave of Israeli bombings of Gaza coincides with the sixth anniversary of Israel’s 2014 massacre of more than 2250 Palestinians, including 551 children, during a protracted military attack. A statement signed at the time by more than 140 international law and criminal law scholars, human rights defenders, legal and other experts said, “Most of the recent heavy bombings in Gaza lack an acceptable military justification and, instead, appear to be designed to terrorise the civilian population.”

A 2019 UN investigation of Israel’s attacks on unarmed Palestinian protestors participating in the Great March of Return, launched on March 30, 2018, said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognisable as such.” The UN report concluded that, “These serious human rights and humanitarian law violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.”

These repeated Israeli crimes against a captive civilian population that has nowhere to escape can only proceed with impunity due to the complicity of Western governments, especially the United States, Britain and the EU, and the collusion of some despotic Arab regimes. 

Any attempts to “normalise” relations or to justify “business as usual” with Israel amounts to material support to its ongoing apartheid and massacres against the Palestinian people. 

Israeli military companies, including Elbit Systems and Israeli Aerospace Industries, field test their weapons on Palestinians to then showroom them as battle-tested around the globe. International arms and hi-tech producers reap their own profits by supplying Israel with arms and munitions for its assaults on the Palestinian people. 

Apartheid Israel has tightened its suffocating blockade of the 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in recent days by completely banning fishing off its shores and shutting down the entry of goods and fuel since August 10, causing a complete stop to the overcrowded Strip’s only power plant. This may lead to a real humanitarian catastrophe, including the disruption of the health system at a time of a global pandemic, transportation and other vital services that have suffered since 2007 from a stifling electricity crisis and other shortages of basics due to the Israeli siege. 

The UN had previously predicted that Gaza would be "unliveable" by 2020. Still, Israel continues its brutal siege and military attacks, its relentless gradual ethnic cleansing of the Naqab (Negev) and the West Bank, especially in and around East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, without consequence. The UN and world governments have failed to hold Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid to account by imposing targeted sanctions on it.

To stop Israeli apartheid and ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity and to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, we call on people of conscience worldwide to:

  1. Pressure governments and parliaments to fulfil their international legal obligation by imposing a comprehensive military embargo on Israel, as called for by Palestinian civil society and Amnesty International;
  2. Intensify the academic and cultural boycott of Israel and its complicit institutions, especially in light of its continuous devastating attacks against Palestinian educational and cultural institutions in Gaza, Jerusalem, and elsewhere; and
  3. Increase engagement in boycott and divestment campaigns targeting corporations that enable Israeli crimes against Palestinians, particularly those in the UN database and the many complicit companies not yet added to it

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