Solidarity for the Palestinian People in Gaza
Joint NGO Statement -
January 19, 2009
[The following is an English
translation of a statement issued by an ad-hoc coalition of Timor-Leste
NGOs at a Dili press conference on 19 January 2009. The Tetum original
and a photo, are available at http://www.laohamutuk.org/War/09PalestineStmt.htm.]
The armed conflict from Israel
against Palestine which began the day after Christmas 2008 has killed more
than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, but under international law civilians
must not be targeted in armed conflict. There are 1.5 million Gaza residents,
encircled in an area of 378 square kilometers. All the borders with Israel
and Egypt are closed, so there is no way for civilians to escape the area
of the war.
Reports in the media and
from nongovernmental organizations document that the Israeli military uses
force without looking at where they shoot, resulting in civilian deaths,
destruction of infrastructure, showing that the object of their attacks
is civilian society. Schools and UN facilities in Gaza have also come under
attack by Israeli missiles.
According to Israeli human
rights organizations, the people of Gaza are faced with a very difficult
The conflict in Gaza is not
new. Many people in Gaza have been refugees since Israel was created in
1948. Gazans live under Israeli occupation. Even though Israel withdrew
its troops from Gaza in 2005, the people in Gaza, and in all of Palestine,
are not free. They cannot travel freely, Israeli military checkpoints control
them, and Palestinians need permission from Israel when they want to go
somewhere. When Timor-Leste youth held an international conference in 2008
to commemorate the Santa Cruz Massacre, the Palestinian participant could
not come to Dili because he didn’t receive permission from the Israeli
government. The area of Gaza (as well as the West Bank) is surrounded by
Israeli soldiers, who control all Palestine’s land borders, and Israeli
troops can enter into Palestine. As is happening now, with firing from
the air, Israel’s soldiers enter Gaza at their will. Israel also controls
Gaza from the sea and the air. The people of Palestine are not free in
their own land.
The fighting is taking place
throughout the Gaza Strip, whose border crossings are closed, so that residents
have nowhere to flee, neither inside the Gaza Strip nor by leaving it.
They are forced to live in fear and terror.
The health system has collapsed.
Hospitals are unable to provide adequate treatment to the injured, nor
can patients be evacuated to medical centers outside of the Gaza Strip.
This state of affairs is causing the death of injured persons who could
have been saved.
Areas that were subject to intensive
attacks are completely isolated. It is impossible to know the condition
of the people who are there, whether they are injured and need treatment
and whether they have food, water and medicine. The army is preventing
local and international rescue teams from accessing those places and is
also refraining from helping them itself, even though it is required to
do so by law.
Many of the residents do not
have access to electricity or running water, and in many populated areas
sewage water is running in the streets. That combination creates severe
sanitation problems and increases the risk of an outbreak of epidemics.
As people who lived under
24 years of Indonesian occupation, we strongly empathize with the suffering
that confronts the people of Palestine in Gaza. We feel the suffering of
Gazans when they become refugees, because many of us had to run from Timor-Leste’s
cities and seek refuge in the forests to escape the war when our armed
forces resisted Indonesian military aggression in 1975. We also feel for
the children of Gaza, who lose their parents from Israeli bombing, because
our parents were killed by bombing from sophisticated warplanes when we
fled to Mt. Matebian in the east and Mt. Taroman in the west. We feel the
hunger that confronts the people of Gaza, as we also starved when Indonesian
soldiers destroyed our fields and farms, and we had to live in Indonesian-controlled
areas from 1979 to 1983. We feel for the parents who have lost their children,
as many of us experienced the same tragedy. We understand the denial of
freedom to travel, and the loss of dignity that confronts the people of
Gaza, because for many years we also had military posts controlling us
when we went out of our houses. Because of these experiences, we feel a
special solidarity for the people of Gaza and all of Palestine.
We would like to make the
Dili, 19 January 2009
Ask the United Nations to take
rapid action to stop the war in Gaza.
Ask Israel to stop its military
aggression and withdraw from Palestine, especially from Gaza.
Ask Israel to respect international
humanitarian law which prohibits attacks on civilians in time of war.
Ask the Palestinian resistance
Hamas to stop its attacks on Israel.
Ask both parties, Israel and
Palestine, to find a peaceful solution in Gaza.
Ask the United Nations to enact
strong sanctions against Israel to stop military aggression against the
integrity of Palestine, and to withdraw from Palestine.
Ask the United States to stop
military support for Israel, and to follow international consensus to find
a peaceful resolution for the conflict in Gaza.
Ask the Government and President
of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to take an active role in looking
for a peaceful solution for Israel and Palestine.
Responsible: (Dinorah S.X.
Action for Peace in Palestine
 Organizations: Adalah --
The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel; Amnesty International
Israel Section; Bimkom -- Planners for Planning Rights; B'tselem -- The
Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories;
Gisha -- Legal Center for Freedom of Movement; Hamoked -- Center for Defence
of the Individual; Physicians for Human Rights - Israel;Public Committee
Against Torture in Israel; Yesh Din -- Volunteers for Human Rights made
a joint declaration to the government of Israel on January 14, 2009, with
the title “A Clear and Present Danger - An Israel Call for Urgent Humanitarian
Action in Gaza”
Forum Tau Matan (FTM)
Institutu Edukasaun Popular
Mata Dalan Institute (MDI)
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