3rd July: Israeli tanks, armored bulldozers, and APCs roll into the northern Gaza Strip in the early morning. (AFP/David Furst)
BACKGROUND: Israel is using weapons supplied by the United States to target Palestinian civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in violation of the US Arms Export Control Act and the Geneva Conventions.
* On June 9th, Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya killing 8 civilians and injuring 32. At the site of the killing, Human Rights Watch found evidence of a 155mm artillery shell consistent with those fired from an Israeli M-109 Self-Propelled Artillery. Between 2000-2005, the United States licensed to Israel $69,163 worth of M-109 spare parts and 155mm artillery shells.*
* On June 13th, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in an extrajudicial assassination of two Palestinians in Gaza City. A second barrage of missiles fired shortly afterward killed nine Palestinian bystanders.
* On June 20th, Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City. The missile missed its intended target and killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.
* On June 27th, Israel launched a massive invasion of the Gaza Strip. Israeli aircraft fired missiles targeting civilian infrastructure. In illegal acts of collective punishment, Israel demolished three key bridges, the Gaza Strip’s only electricity generation plant, and part of a university, thereby endangering Palestinian human rights to food, water, health, electricity, education, and freedom of movement. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted that the purpose of these measures is to “apply pressure” to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli air force fighter squadrons are composed of Lockheed Martin F-16I Fighting Falcons and Boeing F-15Is, which fire US-manufactured AMRAAM, Sidewinder, and Sparrow missiles. Between 2005-2005, the United States licensed to Israel at least $1.062 billion of spare parts, engines, and missiles for its F-15 and F-16 fighter planes.*
Israel’s month of killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is a clear reminder that Israel remains the occupying power of the Gaza Strip despite last year’s “unilateral disengagement”. Living under military occupation, the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip are “protected persons” under the terms of the Geneva Conventions. Israel’s targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and constitutes war crimes.
In addition, by using US-supplied weapons to commit these atrocities, Israel is violating the terms of the US Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act. The Arms Export Control Act restricts the use of US weapons to legitimate self-defense and internal policing; US weapons cannot be used to attack civilians in offensive operations. The Foreign Assistance Act prohibits US aid of any kind to a country with a pattern of gross human rights violations.
TAKE ACTION: Hold Israel to account for its killing of civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
1. This extended holiday weekend, organize a protest or vigil in your community. Distribute flyers at your community’s July 4th celebration to educate people that Palestinians are not free to enjoy independence and self-determination because of US support for Israel’s denial of human rights to Palestinians. Post your event on our on-line calendar at: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/calendar_input.php
2. Contact the White House, State Department, and your Members of Congress to demand that Israel is held accountable for its violations of the US Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act and urge that military aid to Israel be cut off as required by law. Click here to send an email: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/uscampaign/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=4460
3. Write a letter to the editor or op-ed for your local newspaper and call your local talk radio stations to protest Israel’s atrocities in the Gaza Strip and highlight US support for these actions. For contact information for your local media, click here: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media/
4. Make a donation to support humanitarian efforts to reprovision the Gaza Strip with much-needed medical supplies for Palestinian children. The Middle East Children’s Alliance, a member organization of the US Campaign, is accepting tax-deductible donations to send medical supplies. Click here to donate: http://www.mecaforpeace.org/GazaMeds.html
* Statistics for US weapons licensed to Israel are compiled from the State Department’s annual report to Congress pursuant to Sec. 655 of the Foreign Assistance Act. For more information, click here: http://pmddtc.state.gov/
UPDATE: Since this Action Alert was written, Israeli tanks and armoured bulldozers have entered northern Gaza. Keep an eye on these Palestinian blogs from Gaza for updates: Raising Yousuf, From Gaza, with Love