Tag: <span>Gaza Strip</span>

Israeli-Lebanese Tensions Appeals

Increased Israeli-Lebanese Tensions: Conflict Resolution Measures Urgently Needed.

On June 6, 2024, United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an urgent ceasefire in the armed conflict on the Lebanese frontier between the armed forces of Israel and the armed militia within Lebanon of Hezbollah.

Clashes between Hezbollah and the Israeli military along the Israel-Lebanon border have recently increased in scope in terms of both the territory under fire and the weapons used. Already 100,000 Israelis and an equal number of Lebanese have been forced to flee their home. UNIFIL – the U.N. peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon – has not been able to prevent this escalation.

United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

Lebanon: Israel’s White Phosphorous Use Risks Civilian Harm.

The Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) Human Rights Watch, in a new report called Lebanon: Israel’s White Phosphorous Use Risks Civilian Harm, stated that white phosphorous, which poses a high risk of burns and long suffering, was used by Israeli forces in at least 17 towns in southern Lebanon since October 2023.

Amnesty International has also documented the use of white phosphorous in southern Lebanon. In addition, Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Health says that the white phosphorous attacks have caused hundreds of forest fires in Lebanon.

99of9 / * The map is made by Thomas Blomberg using the UNIFIL map, deployment as of July 2006 as source., CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Gaza Strip ceasefire, while necessary, is only a first step in the process needed of negotiations in good faith among Israelis and Palestinians.

An end to the armed conflict in the Gaza Strip remains the key to ending the hostilities between Hezbollah and the Israeli military. Hezbollah has stated that a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is a precondition for stopping its attacks. Currently, there are discussions among Egyptian, Qatari, and U.S. mediators on a ceasefire with phases. The U.S. proposals were set out by U.S. President Biden on May 31, 2024, but progress is very uncertain.

A Gaza Strip ceasefire, while necessary, is only a first step in the process needed of negotiations in good faith among Israelis and Palestinians. On October 8, 2023, in light of the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks on Israeli settlements, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) had stated.

A picture of a Hezbollah sign over the highway in South Lebanon near the Litani River. By Eternalsleeper, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Citizens of the World, we call for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict:

  • The release of all hostages held by Hamas and other Palestinian groups.
  • The release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, often under administrative detention without trial.
  • Preventing the extension of the conflict to the frontier of Lebanon through negotiations with Hezbollah.
  • Preventing an increase in violence on the West Bank among Israeli settlers and Palestinian villages.
  • The start of negotiations in good faith for a political solution that ensures freedom and the collective safety of Israelis and Palestinians.

The Association of World Citizens believes that these proposals can build on a pool of shared values, create a climate of dialogue and trust, and set the stage for a new political reality.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Rafah Appeals

Rafah, Gaza Strip: A Human Catastrophe in the Making.

“I am disturbed and distressed by the renewed military activity in Rafah by the Israeli Defense Forces. Make no mistake – a full-scale assault on Rafah would be a human catastrophe,”

(UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on May 7, 2024. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, some 78,000 have suffered injuries, and nearly 2 million have been internally displaced. The number is rising as the ground invasion of Rafah begins.

The UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteurs have painted a grim picture of the disproportionate level of suffering experienced by girls and especially pregnant women in Gaza.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

“The treatment of pregnant and lactating women continues to be appalling with the direct bombardment of hospitals and the deliberate denial of access to health care facilities by Israeli snipers, combined with the lack of beds and medical resources placing an estimated 50,000 pregnant Palestinian women and 20,000 newborn babies at unimaginable risk.”

Many of these military actions are in direct violation of International Humanitarian Law as set out in the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 and the Protocol Additional adopted in 1977. In order to meet new situations, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) has evolved to cover not only international armed conflicts but also internal armed conflicts. IHL prohibits the indiscriminate killing of civilians, the holding of hostages, and the destruction of medical and educational infrastructure.

The Association of World Citizens stresses the importance of IHL as a vital part of world law that will replace unilateral actions by States based on narrow domestic political considerations. The standards of IHL require political will if they are to function effectively. Thus, nongovernmental action on the Gaza Strip armed conflict is urgently needed.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

A Palestinian refugee Camp near Tyre, Lebanon. Photo shows: IDF aroured troops inside Lebanon stationering near by a camp for Palestinians refugees. By Dan Hadani / Dan Hadani collection / National Library of Israel / The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Credit:

Featured Image: Image by Amrulqays Maarof on Pixabay.
UN Security Council Appeals

UN Security Council Reforms: Necessary But Difficult.

    Ambassador Pedro Comissario of Mozambique who is chairing the UN Security Council for this month of May said:

“The veto should never have been allowed in cases of flagrant violations of international humanitarian law as we are witnessing in Gaza at the moment.” 

Some 35,000 persons have been killed in the Gaza Strip since 8 October 2023.

Many bodies are still under the ruined buildings and are not yet counted.  The United States has vetoed four resolutions concerning Gaza, despite the fact that many governments are calling for a lasting ceasefire, for the freeing of hostages held by the Palestinians, for the release of political prisoners held by the Israelis and for increased humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.

HE Mr Pedro Comissário Afonso, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Mozambique, presents his credentials to Dr Lassina Zerbo, Director of the International Data Centre and Executive Secretary-elect of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, on 1 July 2013. By The Official CTBTO Photostream, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

UN membership for Palestine.

    Under a new UN procedure voted late in 2023, when there is a veto in the Security Council, the subject is moved to the General Assembly for consideration.  The State having cast the veto must explain its position and its justification for the veto.  Thus on 10 May 2024, the General Assembly will discuss the US veto of 18 April concerning UN membership for Palestine, a debate worth following closely as it is closely related to current events in the Gaza Strip.

    Since the start of the United Nations in 1945, a total of 312 vetos have been cast in the Security Council: 152 by the Soviet Union and its reincarnation as the Russian Federation.  91 vetos have been cast by the USA.

Two Major issues in the on-again, off-again discussions concerning reform of the UN Security Council.

 One issue has been the veto power of the five permanent members. The other issue has been the make up of the Security Council: should there be additional permanent members, if so should they have the veto?  In addition to the discussion of new permanent members, should there be more than the current 15 States?  There has been no agreement of these issues. In practice, more issues are moved to the General Assembly, but finding adequate solutions to crucial issues is difficult also in the General Assembly.

    The review and reform of UN structures has often been advocated.

However, a Charter Review Conference on the UN agenda for 1955 was pushed under the rug by an agreement of the USA and the USSR both of which did not want their policies in the UN discussed.  Such a review would be helpful but difficult to create.

   Professor René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Gaza Conflict Appeals

Preventing the Expansion of the Gaza Conflict: Are Peace…

Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, has been again in the Middle East working to prevent the violence of the Gaza Strip of spreading to much of the area.  The Gaza Strip conflict has already spread to the West Bank with increased violence between Jewish settlers and Palestinian inhabitants.  There is increased violence along the frontier of Lebanon with the activities of the armed faction Hezbollah and the displacement of Israeli villages.  Negotiations in good faith seem far off, and political speeches grow more conflictual.  Could there be a role for unarmed, non-governmental peace brigades to monitor frontiers and lessen tensions?

    One possibility, inspired by the efforts of Shanti Sena (Peace Army) developed by followers of Mahatma Gandhi in India to deal with Hindu-Muslim violence is to place some nongovernmental teams on the frontier between antagonists in order to provide an opportunity for all parties to “cool off” and negotiate.

Antony J. Blinken, 71st U.S. Secretary of State. By U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

    Friends of Humanity.

One such effort in which I was directly involved was an effort to place a peace team on the Nicaraguan-Honduras frontier in 1981. At the time, it was thought that the 400 strong U.S. troops stationed in Honduras might cross the frontier to attack the Saddinista-leftest government in Nicaragua or to help actively the anti-Sandinista “Contras” to do so.  A group of persons associated with the Santa Cruz Resouce Center for Nonviolence in California and affiliated to the organization Peace Brigades International were able to put a team together and move to the Nicaragua-Honduras frontier on short notice.  The group called itself “The Jalapa Brigade” after the small Nicaraguan city near the Honduran frontier where it was posted.

    When the Jalapa Brigade was being put into place, the Ambassador of Nicaragua to the United Nations in Geneva was a former student of mine, and his brother, also a former student of mine, was the legal advisor to the President of Nicaragua.  In fact, when the team arrived, Daniel Ortega, the President, introduced the team as “Friends of Humanity.”

The Gulf Peace Team.

    Through the Ambassador, I was able to inform all the Central American Missions to the U.N. as to the aims and role of the Peace Brigade.  In the end, the U.S. military did not cross the frontier.  Perhaps it never intended to do so. It may also have been that the interposition of U.S. citizens with good organizational contacts helped to weigh in the U.S. military decision-making process.  When the team left, the leader of the Protestant “Evangelical Committee for Development Aid” said:

“The proof of your triumph lies in the fact that no attacks were made while you were in the Jalapa area.”

    There have been other such interposition efforts.  One was the Gulf Peace Team created at the time of the 1990 Iraqi annexation of Kuwait.  The aim of the 73-member Peace Team was to be an “international multicultural team working for peace and opposing any form of armed aggression by setting up one or more international peace camps between the opposing armed forces.  Our object will be to withstand nonviolently any armed aggression by any party to the present Gulf dispute.”  However, on 27 January 1991, the peace camp was closed by Iraq because the authorities had:

“decided that the continued presence of the camp was a security risk.”

Peace Team a Possibility?.   

Likewise a January 2022 proposal of the Association of World CitizensUkraine-Donbas-Russian Frontier: Is a Nongovernmental Interposition Peace Team a Possibility?” was followed three weeks later by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    Thus the creation of interposition peace teams in the Israel-Palestine conflict would not be easy to create for political and logistic reasons.  There are economic and logistic resources required and, more importantly, there is the need to raise enough volunteers who are mature, culturally sensitive, and analystically-minded to achieve a critical mass that would make a difference in the decision-making of the conflicting parties.  There is also the need to keep the unity of purpose within the teams if they have not worked together before.

However, the current situation is very dangerous.  The dangers are widely recognized.  Therefore all forms of conflict reduction need to be explored.

Image: The famous Independence Square in Kiev on a sunny day. Photo by Euan Cameron on Unsplash.

Ukraine-Donbas-Russia: Can the Normandy Format Be Reactivated? 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Israel y Hamás Appeals

World Citizens Call for an Inmediate End to Hostilities…

Featured image: The impact of the Israeli bombing on a civilian building in Gaza (2021). By Osama Eid, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The AWC, a Nongovernmental Organization in Consultative Status with the United Nations (UN) and accredited with the UN Human Rights Council, is deeply alarmed at the latest flare of violence between the armed militias of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Most importantly, we are appalled at the consequences of the deliberate attacks from both sides on the rights of civilians in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Since the attacks launched by its forces in the early morning of October 7, Hamas has been targeting civilians in Israel, even capturing Israeli citizens, both civilians and IDF soldiers, to keep them as hostages. The legitimate cause of a people long deprived of their own land, a cause that even the UN recognizes as internationally legitimate, cannot be served in dignity by such methods that run counter to international law.

A map of the Gaza Strip showing key towns and neighbouring countries. By Gringer (talk) 14:01, 8 January 2009 (UTC), CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

The current government of Israel has been constantly pushing the limits of disregard for the same international law, through repeated and insistent statements and practices aiming at systematic discrimination against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Within the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel, the current Israeli Government has also sowed the seeds of discord and political strife by trying to lessen the powers of the executive branch and, in so doing, to end Israel’s tradition of democracy with checks and balances.

Palestinian solidarity protester with Palestinian flag and a “Free Palestine” sign outside Downing Street, London, 5 June 2018, by Alisdare Hickson, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

The Middle East conflict right from its root causes.

This misguided conduct has proved harmful to both the Palestinian people and the citizenry of Israel. It is now creating new chaos in the region amounting to, in the very words of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, a threat to international peace and security. The situation could get even worse as Hezbollah, notoriously backed by Iran, has now unwisely joined the fight from South Lebanon.

Once more, the rights of civilians in Israel and the Gaza Strip are falling victim to the hatred and violence unleashed by both sides in the absence of a badly needed but constantly denied international effort to tackle the Middle East conflict right from its root causes, including the Palestinian people’s demand for justice and the State of Israel’s need for security.

Consequently, the AWC reiterates its call for an immediate end to hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip. We also call for the release of every person, civilian or military, taken hostage by Hamas.

We further urge the international community to finally undertake a genuine peacebuilding effort in Israel and the OPT by addressing the root causes of the conflict and duly acting on the legitimate claim of the Palestinian people for justice and the equally legitimate claim of the Israeli people for security.

There is truly no other option now.

Separation wall between Israel and the West Bank in Palestine. By Ilya Varlamov, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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