DOZENS of people threw shoes and stones at UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s convoy as it entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
Many of those were family members of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons. They also hit the vehicles with signs bearing slogans accusing Ban of refusing to meet the relatives of prisoners.
A number of Gazans, whose homes were destroyed in Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ war on the coastal strip in 2008, held up signs reading ‘Gaza is living in darkness’ and ‘Save the children of Gaza’.
About 5,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails.
Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007, updating a previous policy of closure on the coastal enclave.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has called the blockade ‘a collective punishment in clear violation of international humanitarian law’.
Despite all these crimes, on Wednesday Ban urged Israeli leaders to offer ‘goodwill gestures’ to Palestinians to provide fresh momentum for peace negotiations.
However, the UN Security Council over which Ban presides has refused to show good will to the Palestinians by allowing Palestine its right to become a member of the United Nations.
The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators – the US, UN, EU and Russia – said last year that they expected both sides to use ‘exploratory talks’ to submit detailed proposals on borders and security arrangements, for the establishment of a Palestine state. The Palestinians have said that Israel has refused to make any proposals at all.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has repeatedly rejected demands for a settlement freeze as a precondition for talks.
There is no goodwill from Israel. Palestinians consider that any principled UN leader would be seeking Palestinian membership of the UN and also seeking Israel’s expulsion for its numberless crimes against humanity.
Israel is still shelling Gaza and planning a new ‘Cast Lead’ offensive to bomb and blast the Gaza Strip. The last operation killed and wounded thousands of Gazans. Israel has pledged that the next attack will be even more devastating.
Even a group of European Parliamentarians on Wednesday called on Israel to release 26 imprisoned Palestinian lawmakers.
26 members of the European Parliament urged ‘the EU and its member states to take immediate action’ to release all imprisoned members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The EU lawmakers condemned the recent arrest of Palestinian parliamentary speaker Aziz Dweik, who was seized by Israeli forces at a Ramallah checkpoint on January 19.
They also criticised the arrest of Palestinian MP Mohammad Tawtah and former Jerusalem affairs minister Khalid Abu Arafa, who were detained on January 23 during a raid on the Jerusalem headquarters of the International Red Cross. Ban will not make any such call.
Meanwhile, Ban calls for the Israeli government to cooperate in ‘creating a positive dynamic’, when Israel is planning, in fact, another ‘final solution’.
Already, new settlements are being built in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank, where over 500,000 Zionists now live in 100 settlements, all of them fortified, and armed and equipped to the teeth. The settlements are illegal under international law; nevertheless, Ban insists on calling on Israel to make ‘positive initiatives’.
No wonder Palestinians in Gaza are hurling shoes at him!
Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza on Wednesday night to protest the slow progress being made in the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks to establish unity to end the occupation.
From his prison cell, Marwan Barghouthi has called for a massive campaign all over Palestine to drive Israel out of the Occupied Territories and establish the Palestinian state. It will not be long before the Palestinian masses answer his call.