“Shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian people”
Greetings and solidarity from the PCS union to this demonstration and to all Palestinians, particularly the people of Gaza, including those who lost loved ones recently, in the Israeli state security forces’ bombing of the Gaza Strip. There is no sign to the ending of this violence by the Israeli government despite continued requests for a ceasefire as at least 24 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces since the start of 2019, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
I represent a workplace with a very high percentage of Muslim members in PCS who are disgusted by our government’s neglect of the atrocities committed on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Mark Serwotka, our general secretary, could not be here today but he stands shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian people amid the iniquitous situation that they face.
Today marks one year since the start of the Great Return March which has seen thousands of protesters demonstrating every week for their fundamental right to return to the homes from which they were expelled in 1948 and 1967. Since its start, over 200 demonstrators have been killed and over 27,000 injured - more than during the entire 2014 war on Gaza.
People have the right to demonstrate for their democratic rights, including all Palestinian workers being represented by trade unions, an end to the illegal occupation and freedom from the threat of violence. Just last week, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a report which accused Israel of committing war crimes against unarmed civilians along the Gaza fence, including medics, journalists and children.
Israel has further entrenched its system of oppression, passing a racist nation state law, maintaining its crippling siege on Gaza and continuing to rapidly expand illegal settlements in defiance of international law. This is de facto apartheid! It is a massacre of innocent civilians who are denied their right to national self-determination and trade union rights, for which there can be no justification.
February 24th marked the 25th anniversary of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre, when an Israeli settler randomly opened fire at Muslim worshippers, killing 29 and injuring 150 others. Since then, international observers were put in place to enforce peace-keeping in Hebron. But these have been removed by the current prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.
This indiscriminate killing and de facto apartheid system have to end. The British government should condemn this brutal illegal act against peaceful demonstrators who are fighting for their democratic rights. Our country should be bringing the maximum diplomatic pressure to bear on the Israeli government who are solely responsible for these deaths. We need to impose Boycott Divestment Sanctions on all illegal “settler” goods in the occupied lands of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Britain should follow the example of the Irish Republic, soon to be the first country in the European Union to impose Boycott Divestment Sanctions.
We in PCS are committed to ending the unnecessary suffering of the Palestinian people and supporting their basic human right to live in a secure and peaceful state.