Thursday, June 30, 2011

Botswana National Front: "We do not want a repeat of last year's "Flotilla incident"!"

Reproducing a statement of the BNF, the main opposition party in Botswana:

Press Release

The Botswana National Front (BNF) would like to identify itself with the efforts of believers in Human rights and the struggle for emancipation of the Palestinians who have seen it fit to mobilise humanitarian support for them. The New Peace Flotilla to Gaza will not only deliver the much needed humanitarian aid, but will also draw world attention to the plight of the Palestinians and expose the inconsistencies of the World when it comes to Israel and Palestine. Hopeful this will bring the liberation of Palestine closer.

As it is right now, 10 vessels from different countries boarded by people of different nationalities, some of whom are Jewish, are currently on the way to Gaza. The Israeli government continues to illegally occupy Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem. The people living in these areas have been subjected to so much abuse and have no Human Rights.

We should remember that in 2008/9, Israeli Defence Force assault of Gaza which the Amnesty International dubbed, "22 days of death and destruction" left over 1400 dead. Of these, 326 were children under the age of 16. 112 were their mothers, said a UN Fact Finding Mission. Schools, hospitals, power installations and other badly needed infrastructure were badly damaged. The Israeli army used missiles, cluster bombs, rockets, banned white phosphorus, tank shells and machine guns against unarmed civilian population, save for a few stone throwing youths.

Just last year, Israel shot and killed 26 children whose sin was to scavenge for construction material from the war ruins. Unemployment figures within Palestine stand at a staggering 45%. Medical supplies and medicines have almost run out.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza, which is illegal, has turned the Palestinians into a group of holed up abused people. This is leaving bad scars on the minds, souls and bodies of the Palestinians. It breeds hatred and war.

The Geneva Convention on Human Rights allows a blockade if it is against an enemy during wartime and is used to secure borders and the population. What we are seeing in Gaza is a blockade that seeks to punish a civilian population of 1.6million unarmed people by a heavily armed expansionist regime that kills as and when it wants to. A state that receives billions of US$ annually in the form of US aid. A state that commits so many atrocities but is never punished.

There is no doubt that there has been incidents of firing of home made missiles from Palestinian territory to the nearest point in Israel, Sderat. This was done by some who were venting their anger at the illegal settlements and their treatment at the hands of the ruthless and barbaric Israeli state. Most of the missiles landed harmlessly except for one or two instances where there has been death.

The killings on innocent people,the type of fire power and the length of the operation by far surpasses what Muammar Qaddafi has been accused of by the ICC. Why the Israeli leaders have not been brought before the ICC up to now shows that this Court was set up for certain individuals and to achieve "certain" goals. This therefore makes it compulsory for the international bodies like the UN to be transformed so that they can serve us fairly and democratically.

UN Security Council Resolution 1860, adopted on January 2009, calls for "the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of Humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel and medical treatment." International Humanitarian organisations doing work in Gaza say that this has not been fulfilled.

On 31st May 2010, in what got to be known as "Flotilla raid", the Israeli Forces, on International waters, attacked and confiscated 10, 000 tons of Humanitarian aid destined for Gaza which were on six ships of the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla".

The BNF position regarding the resolution of the Middle East crisis has not changed; Israel should abide by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 which called on it to withdraw to the 1967 borders and for all the countries in the Middle East, including Israel to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats of force.

It is our hope that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government will make its voice heard and put pressure on its friend and close ally, Israel to ensure safe and unhindered passage of the much needed humanitarian aid to Gaza. We do not want a repeat of last year's Flotilla incident! Israel should not attack the Second Flotilla! The people of Gaza need the aid! Away with Israeli blockade of Gaza!

Moeti Mohwasa
BNF Information and Publicity Secretary.

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