Over the past 21 days 1,133 Palestinians have been killed by Israel, including 346 children and 105 women. 5,200 have been injured. As of this morning, these are the latest reported casualties. I add my voice to the many thousands to speak out in condemnation at the on-going assault by Israel on Gaza.
The latest attack, this time on the UN Headquarters in Gaza, on the hospitals and medical centres, is outrageous. The use of white phosphorus – a chemical weapon – against innocent civilians, is also indefensible and must be condemned.
It must be recognized that the on-going illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and the now two-year old blockade is a root cause of the current conflict and must cease. I have previously written to Prime Minister Harper calling on the Canadian government to do everything in its power to seek a diplomatic and political solution: http://libbydavies.ca/blog/2009/01/07/libbys-letter-prime-minister-gaza
Canada should join other international leaders in condemning this aggression, which is contrary to international law, and is, as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated yesterday, "indefensible". I urge all Parliamentarians to speak out for an immediate ceasefire, for immediate humanitarian assistance, and an end to the blockade.
In May 2002, I was part of a Parliamentary delegation that visited the Occupied Territories. It was a life-changing experience as I witnessed the daily impact of checkpoints, restricted access, loss of human rights and dignity. We met with many Palestinians and Israelis who work together to end the Occupation and the illegal settlements. What I learned during that visit was my responsibility as a Member of Parliament to speak out in defense of human rights and in favour of a just settlement for Palestinians. I am an active and founding member of the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Association and will continue to work within my party, within Parliament, and in the community on this issue.