Press Release 12 March 2002

Scottish Friends of Palestine strongly condemn the current onslaught by the military occupation forces of the State of Israel against the Palestinian civilian population – men, women, children, the sick and the elderly.

We condemn the use of F-16 fighter planes, helicopter gunships, tanks and gunboats – the full military might of the Israeli army – against a civilian population. This is all the more deadly as a result of the occupier penning the occupied people into their villages, towns and cities – effectively, their ghettos – which presents them as a sitting target, allowing them no escape.

We emphasise the criminal nature of this onslaught

Extra-judicial killings, the shelling of ambulances, the refusal to let ambulances attend to the wounded, the killing and wounding of medical personnel are a gross contravention of the Geneva and Hague Conventions which oblige the occupier to deal with the occupied in a humane manner. They are war crimes.

The events of recent days, the brutality used against the Palestinians under occupation is nothing short of state sponsored terrorism.

We reject any notion of symmetry between the occupier and the occupied, the oppressor and the oppressed. Just as we reject any notion of symmetry between the brutal, murderous attacks of the occupation forces and the legitimate resistance of the occupied. We urge the media to acknowledge this asymmetry and report events with this in mind.

Just as in 1948 and in 1967, massacres were perpetrated against the Palestinian people in order to promote ethnic cleansing, we are witnessing the beginning of the same. In Jabaliya Refugee Camp all male residents have been ordered to surrender themselves to the occupation forces. What happens to those who don’t. Are they “legitimate” targets, to be killed at the first opportunity? All this has resonance with events in 1967 when male Palestinians were herded together and forced into exile. There is resonance with Sabra and Shatilla in 1982, with Sharon yet again in command control of the situation, when about two thousand Palestinian males were rounded up and never seen again.

This time the Palestinians will not flee, they have learned from history. It is to the shame of the government of Israel and its supporters, that they have not learned from history.

Scottish Friends of Palestine urge the international community, particularly the US and Britain, along with the rest of the EU states to intervene to halt the slaughter. The mechanics for intervention have been long established – the enforcing of the Geneva Conventions, the enforcing of the appropriate UN Security Council Resolutions, which are all embedded in International Law, by the international community can no longer be avoided.

We urge all concerned Scots to support the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign which is being launched today, Wednesday 13 March, in the Scottish Parliament. We wish the newly constituted Cross Party Group on Palestine within the Scottish Parliament every success in helping bring a measure of security and justice to the Palestinian people.

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