Monday, 12 January 2009

Local MEP in Gaza

North West MEP Chris Davies has become the first British politician to enter the Gaza Strip since Israel began its attacks and has called for action to be taken to stop Israel’s attack on the territory.

Lancashire-born Mr Davies, who has visited Gaza three times since 2006 and is a member of the European Parliament delegation to the Palestinian legislature, was among nine European politicians to visit Gaza, which is still out of bounds to foreign journalists, even though the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered that the ban should be lifted.

“If Israeli politicians believe that the bombing and terrorising of a civilian population is going to destroy Palestinian resolve and reduce the causes of conflict then they are profoundly mistaken," Davies said in a press statement.

“The earth shook each time and the explosions frightened me, but many of the children in the shelter seemed to regard them almost as part of everyday life because they were 600 metres away.

“The big powers must act to enforce the latest UN resolution," he opined. "Words are not enough and action is now needed to end the slaughter of innocent civilians.

“Israeli civilians have the right not to live in fear of rocket attacks from Hamas, but their current offensive will not work and is killing unacceptable numbers of innocent people. Israel must stop the slaughter now and find another way to peace."

Earlier this month, Mr Davies condemned the ban on journalists from entering the Gaza strip, and feels the Israeli Government is ignoring its own law to stop the horror unfolding in Gaza from being exposed to the world.

“Israel must let the world see the truth. If the Israeli military action is as accurate as they claim, then why not allow foreign journalists access to Gaza to verify their claims? In the absence of independent observers the world has no choice but to assume that Israel has something to hide.”

He also called for the world’s leaders to get off the fence and to condemn the current military action.

“Those of us who defend utterly the right of Israel to peacefully coexist with its neighbours cannot defend the actions of the Israeli government in Gaza," he said. "It is completely unacceptable for Hamas to fire missiles into civilian populations in Israel. It is also wholly wrong that the people of Gaza live their lives under siege at the best of times and currently are living in a hail of bullets and bombs.

“If the international community cannot condemn brutal levels of civilian casualties including women and children, in a conflict shrouded in secrecy by the law-defying Israeli Government, then what hope do oppressed people across the planet have of a world that will come to their aid?”

Earlier this month, the president of the European Parliament also called for a cessation to the violence on both sides with immediate effect - as yet to no avail.

"The life of a Palestinian has the same value as the life of an Israeli," said Parliament's President Hans-Gert Pöttering as he expressed his growing concern about the conflict in Gaza.

"It was a big mistake that Hamas declared the end of the ceasefire. It has to be strongly criticised that Hamas recommenced rocket attacks on Israel but the massive Israeli reaction... is an escalation that is totally disproportionate.

"Such military actions will not lead to a lasting peace in the region," Pöttering argued. "Killing and injuring civilians in such a dimension will only strengthen Hamas and will push the people of Gaza and the Palestinians even further towards extremism."

Protests against the Israeli action have taken place in Lancaster over the past few weeks, while elsewhere in the region demonstrations have taken place in favour of Israel's attack.

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