Unifor unequivocally condemns the atrocities committed on the people of Gaza by the Israeli bombardments that have escalated over the past week.
These deadly assaults have targeted residential buildings and refugee camps, a medical clinic, and international media offices. The death toll, including large numbers of children, climbs daily with thousands injured and homeless. The utterly disproportionate and indiscriminate military actions on Gaza must be viewed as crimes against humanity.
The latest escalation stems from coordinated political acts of aggression, including the evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the Israeli security forces attack against the Al-Aqsa mosque and the disturbing wave of violence against Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank.
Unifor joins human rights organizations and people who have demonstrated in cities around the world in recent days calling for an immediate end to the military actions in Gaza. In addition, we ask that the Canadian government take the following immediate actions:
- Denounce the violence against the Palestinian people. Without global political pressure, the occupation, denial of human rights and massive military force against Palestinians will continue.
- Issue a full weapons ban/embargo on Israel. We should not be supplying arms that Israeli forces are using to commit these human rights atrocities against the Palestinian people.
- Convince the U.S. to stop stalling and sign the United Nations Security Council statement condemning Israeli violence and calls for a ceasefire.
- Work with the international community and demand that Israel immediately restore electricity, sanitation and full water access and purification to the people of Gaza. Gaza borders should also be opened to allow for the free flow of medical supplies from international organizations — including COVID-19 vaccines — and those requiring medical interventions.
- Work with the international community to demand that Israel end all home confiscations, demolitions and construction of illegal settlements.
The military assault on Gaza is the fourth Israeli offensive since 2008. It has shown once again that there can be no lasting and just peace without an end to the occupation of the Palestinian Territories and a political solution based on the respect of universal human rights and democracy.
Human Rights Watch, in its April 2021 report A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution, concluded that Israeli authorities are committing crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.
This renewed intensification of conflict with elements of extreme right-wing racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia also underscores the crucial link between justice for Palestinians, democracy, the right to self-determination and human rights everywhere.
This context was eloquently expressed to us by our partner organization, the MAAN Workers Action Centre, working in East Jerusalem. In the words of Sister Roni Ben Efrat from correspondence to Unifor May 14 2021:
“The spark this time was a renewed attempt by Israel to evict Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.”
“Israeli leaders thought they could continue dominating the lives of 5 million rightless Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, restrict their freedom of movement, and doom them to poverty…We don’t have the luxury to stop struggling for reason and justice. We struggle not because we are sure we will win, but because we have no choice.
Unifor stands with the people of Gaza. We call on Canada to raise its voice and take all necessary diplomatic, political and economic actions to end the military offensive against Gaza, but not merely to return to the unacceptable status quo of the occupation.
We endorse the Statement by MAAN Workers Association of East Jerusalem:
“Stop the War! We call upon all who can exert influence, civilian movements, public figures and others in both Israeli and Palestinian society, to unite behind the call to end the violence and prevent further harm to innocent civilians on both sides. We call for Israelis and Palestinians to cross the borders, visible and invisible, and work together to prevent the extremists on either side from taking over. Together we can help build a just and sane society without discrimination based on religion, nationality, race or gender.”