Pleas amidst the chaos in Gaza

14 June 2007 at 11:25 am | Posted in Desmond Tutu, Gaza, Hanan Ashrawi, News, Sydney Peace Prize, United Nations | Leave a comment

At a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting on Wednesday, Archbishop Tutu has pleaded for an end to the fighting in the Occupied Palestinian Territories between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The Nobel Laureate and 199 Sydney Peace Prize recipient was presenting a report by the fact-finding mission he led into the killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military in Beit Hanun last November.

Tutu called on both Israel and the Palestinian authorities to hold accountable those responsible for the incident. He urged Israel to prosecute soldiers responsible for the deaths of Palestinian civilians when it shelled the Gaza town last year and the Palestinian authorities should hold to account militants who fired rockets into nearby Israel.

“Regardless of whether the casualties at (the town of) Beit Hanoun were caused by a mistake, recklessness, criminal negligence or were willful, those responsible must be held accountable,” Tutu told the HRC.

The mission report expressed concern about the  “the seemingly intractable and unending cycle of human rights violations” that has affected the daily lives of both Palestinians and Israelis.

“True peace and security can never come from the barrel of a gun. These conditions come only when the human rights of all are respected,” Tutu said.

Separately, Tutu said he is in despair over the fighting between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza, but he understood why the rival factions are fighting each other, the Voice of America reported.

“When you are oppressed, it is so very easy to turn on yourselves,” he said.  Referring to apartheid South Africa, Tutu added: “At home, we had horrendous instances of internecine conflict.  And you would say, for goodness sake, do we not realise that it is, in fact, playing into the hands of those who are abusing us, who are oppressing us.”

The increasing division within the Palestinian forces could mark “the end of the Palestinian state,” said Palestinian legislator and 2003 Sydney Peace Prize recipient, Dr Hanan Ashrawi.

“If you have two separate systems, there is no way that you can have a Palestinian state that is contiguous,” Ashrawi said. She added that if the situation contines, Gaza will become a “hostile” Palestinian ministate controlled by Hamas, while the West Bank would remain under Israel’s control with a Fatah-run militia in control of the cities.

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