Published on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
Cease Fire, Cease Siege
ARISH, Egypt- Yesterday, en route to the Rafah border crossing that leads into
A friend, Caoihme Butterly, who had lived in
It seems that mutual understanding about the need to open
Jimmy Carter, in a January 8, 2009 Washington Post article entitled "An Unnecessary War ," noted that if importation of humanitarian supplies had returned to the normal level that had existed before Israel's 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, 700 trucks would have passed through the opened borders every day, carrying food, water, medicine and fuel. Carter writes that, following the June 19th agreement, "rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when
It's true that Hamas's consequent decision to fire primitive rockets into Israeli villages caused terror, panic and demoralization amongst Israelis living in those villages. I believe it's wrong to use weapons under any circumstance. Attacks against civilians prompt spiraling, hideous waves of retaliation and revenge. But Israel responded with a disproportionate capacity to inflict harm and suffering by imposing a state of siege, targeting innocent civilians by denying them essential medicines, health care delivery, fuel, water and food.
I learned about the horrors of economic warfare during repeated visits to
"The economic sanctions are a viable alternative," I said. "Continued use of economic sanctions would be a less violent way to persuade
What a foolish and uninformed statement I'd made. Iraq was subjected to thirteen years of the most comprehensive state of siege ever imposed in modern history, and the sanctions directly contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. Now, many people committed to peacemaking understand that economic warfare can be just as brutal and devastating as bombing, although news coverage generally recedes and then disappears once the bombing wars stop.
This morning, an Egyptian friend corrected me when I questioned him about the June 9th, 2008 cease-fire negotiation between
People who live on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing understand the impact of the bombing. At a tea shop and a barber shop, windows are cracked. An owner of a small shop near the border told me that his children can't sleep at night because they hear constant explosions. The Egyptian community of Rafah has also witnessed, previously, month after month of quiet inactivity at the Rafah border crossing, during the period when the Egyptian and Israeli governments agreed to seal the border shut. Trapped, isolated, hungry and desperate, Gazans endured economic warfare while the world ignored their pleas for relief from slow motion death. We must call for an immediate cease-fire and a "cease-siege." As the June 19th, 2008 agreement made clear, a ceasefire for
Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence , is writing from Arish, a town near the Rafah border between
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs