Saturday, July 31, 2010

Penn State's condemnation of the assault on the Gaza flotilla

We, the undersigned faculty, staff, and students at The Pennsylvania State University, condemn Israel’s assault on a flotilla of humanitarian aid bound for Gaza. Early Monday morning on May 31, 2010, the Israeli Army attacked a convoy of ships in international waters destined to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. According to current news reports, at least 9 peace activists were killed and dozens injured.

The six boats included over 600 peace activists from over 50 nations including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, several U.S. citizens, former Ambassador Edward L. Peck, U.S. Navy veteran Joe Meadors, 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein and U.S. Col. Ann Wright (ret.).  Their mission was to break the siege of Gaza and deliver much needed supplies.

The people of Gaza have suffered enormously since Israel blockaded the Gaza strip in June 2007. The Israeli declaration of a blockade of Gaza is unilateral and has no official support from the UN or any otherworld body.  In fact, UN secretary General Ban Ki Moon has publicly asked for the end to the blockade on Wed. June 3rd. Amnesty International describes the blockade as a “flagrant violation of international law”.  Documentation of the atrocious humanitarian situation is copious.  For example:  

·    Since the intensification of the siege in June 2007, “the formal economy in Gaza has collapsed”.  (Association of International Development Agencies-UN)
·    “61% of people in the Gaza Strip are food insecure”, of whom “65% are children under 18 years”.  (UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
·    Since June 2007, “the number of Palestine refugees unable to access food and lacking the means to purchase even the most basic items, such as soap, school stationery and safe drinking water, has tripled.” (UN Relief and Works Agency)

Not only is the inhumanity and illegality of the siege appalling, but the animosity and suffering it creates in Gaza is a breeding ground for terrorism.  It is exactly in these conditions that the more radical and violent sects of Palestinian society in Gaza gains sway.  In this way, the siege is ultimately worsening the security of Israeli citizens.

Therefore, the undersigned would like to take this opportunity to stand in solidarity with the activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla as they attempt to peacefully enforce humanitarian law.

Furthermore, we ask for an immediate, international investigation into the flotilla assault conducted by an independent UN-led body and cessation to the blockade of Gaza.

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