Despite Israel’s disengagement in 2005, Israel remains the de facto ruler in Gaza. Some ten years after the beginning of the blockade – which limits access to basic supplies and movement – the people of Gaza face an increased crisis with the decision last week by the Israeli government to limit electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip. Gazans currently have access to only 2 hours of electricity a day, a decision which – Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organisations, and even the Israeli Energy Minister, argue – is entrenching an already existing humanitarian crisis. Hospitals and sewerage systems, amongst countless other aspects of everyday life, are in dire need of regular, reliable electricity, and the devastation caused by the inaccessibility of power is incalculable.
That this decision by the Israeli Government came at the request of the Palestinian Authority does not justify or excuse it. There are numerous requests from the PA that the Israeli government and army ignore: it is instructive that this request was met. And regardless of the internal reasons for the request, Israel should not be issuing this violent, collective punishment upon the people and land of Gaza. As well as being illegal under international law, it is shameful and unjust. As the occupying power currently controlling most of Gaza’s borders and economy, Israel has a responsibility to its people to provide for their welfare.
These actions by the current Israeli government, and the implicit and explicit support they receive from Israelis and Jewish communities and organisations internationally, are deplorable. It is incumbent upon us all to take a public stand challenging Israel’s actions and calling upon them to reverse their decision.
The AJDS calls on the Israeli Government to respect Palestinian claims for justice and self-determination, and to ensure the provision of services and freedom of movement. We call on the Australian Government to put pressure on the Israeli Government to urgently reverse their decisions. We urge our members to contact representatives of both governments to demand immediate change. And we call on other Jewish organisations and individuals in Australia and internationally to stand alongside Gazans in calling for an end to the humanitarian crisis they face. To be silent is to stand with the oppressor and enable injustice. Our community needs to be better than this.
Contact details for government representatives:
H.E. Mr. Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, Israeli Embassy, Canberra: [email protected]
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop MP: [email protected]