From Gaza to Brazil: Stop Financing Drones That Kill Our Children

Tear gas in Bil’in. (Supplied)

By Haidar Eid – Gaza

As I write this, bombs are falling around us. Electricity is severely restricted and water is hardly available. The loud and frightening sounds of missiles, drones, constant shelling are everywhere. Awake at night, fearfully waiting for the bombing; awake during the day, assisting the injured and searching the ruins of what were once family homes.gave refuge from this harsh world). Awake during the day to search for food and medicine, to bury our dead, and to wait for the night when they will destroy it all again. The death toll has reached 1813 killed (398 children, 207 women, 74 elderly) and 9370 injured (2744 children, 1750 women, 343 elderly). 0.1 percent of the total population of Gaza has already been killed.. During the month-long Israeli assault, a child was both born and later killed.

An entire generation of children in the Gaza Strip have grown up experiencing repeated massacres and the wholesale destruction of the infrastructure that supports life in the 21st century. The recent series of massacres against the Gaza Strip, which Israel occupied in 1967, started in 2006, continued in 2008/9 and 2012 and has been made unbearable by an eight year long inhumane siege. This massacre did not start with the killing of three Israeli settlers a few weeks ago, as has been falsely claimed by many Western media outlets. These killings might have not even been committed by a Palestinian, and yet we hear this falsehood repeated uncritically by the media supposed to be unbiased and independent.

This isn’t a war between Israel and Hamas. I am a secular university professor who remembers the time before Israel hermetically locked all the entrances and exits to Gaza. The 398 children that have been killed were not Hamas fighters, the three UN schools that Israel bombed were not Hamas facilities. This isn’t even a war against the population of Gaza, for the majority of those living in Gaza are refugees displaced by Israel in 1948. This isn’t even against the Palestinian people, this is a war against humanity itself.

In recent weeks, Israeli politicians such as the deputy speaker of the Knesset Moshe Feiglin explained what might be the real aim of the military aggression, when he said that Israel should “turn Gaza into Jaffa, a flourishing Israeli city with a minimum number of hostile civilians.” In the same speech, Feiglin explained the war ethics of the Israeli military as “woe to the evildoer, and woe to his neighbor”. According to Feiglin, the surviving population from Gaza would be moved to tent encampments in the southern Sinai border “until relevant emigration destinations are determined.”

These thoughts and actions are being televised, tweeted and shared online in real time. Unlike in 1948 and 1967, or even in 2006, 2009, and 2012, no one can argue that they didn’t know what Israel intended to do. Nevertheless, governments around the globe have failed to respond, and are therefore failing humanity.

Our brothers and sisters in Latin America truly understand the urgency of our needs, and   once again bring us hope. In recent weeks, five countries recalled their ambassadors, not including Venezuela and Boliva who have already cut diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel following previous massacres on Gaza. Argentina called for an end to Israeli impunity, Chile suspended negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with Israel, and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called what’s happening to us a massacre. Each one of these acts has restored a bit of the humanity that Israel tries to strip from us with the daily assaults. These statements affirm our human rights and our humanity. They remind us that we have some value in the hearts of other human beings in the world; that all is not as dark as it feels here in Gaza.

But Palestinians today need more than hope, we need concrete and sustained action to stop the massacres. 1.5 million people have signed a global petition to divest from corporations involved in Israeli war crimes. Many millions more are out on the streets asking for a military embargo. 80 Brazilian civil society organizations have been working together for years demanding that their government stop financing the Israeli apartheid regime and call for the imposition of a military embargo and end to free trade agreements.

While bombs are being dropped on our homes, shelters and infrastructure by drones and airplanes manufactured by Israeli military companies such as Elbit Systems, Israeli Airspace Industries, our lives are being used as a testing ground and instruments of propaganda for their profit. With that being said, I have to ask: Why did Brazil announce a contract with an Elbit Systems subsidiary on the very day that apartheid Israel army launched its massacre on Gaza? Why does the government of Rio Grande do Sul insist on maintaining a contract that essentially aims at channeling public funding and Brazilian academic know- how to Elbit Systems, a company boycotted by public and private institutions in numerous countries around the world?

Finally, how is it that Brazil has recalled their ambassador from Tel Aviv for consultation, but at the same time, the Minister of Defence Celso Amorim – the same person who as Foreign Minister fought for the Palestinian right to a Palestinian State – reportedly keeps an office of the Brazilian Air Force in Tel Aviv to liase with the same Israeli military that is currently killing and maiming us?

Brazil held the presidency of the UN General Assembly and sided with the colonial interests at the moment the decision to create the Zionist state of Israel on Palestinian land was made, in 1947. Over sixty years later it has turned to play a key role in promoting the recognition of the state of Palestine by the same General Assembly. The Brazil of today has both economic and political clout to act independently and influence the post-Cold War world order. With political and economic power comes responsibility, and action weighs as heavily as inaction. The days Brazil could blame the United States or Russia for failing world peace are long gone. During funerals in Gaza, Brazil’s political position on the massacre against us is being praised. However, this contradicts their economic decisions which are less visible to the Palestinian public. Now that we know, we have a question to ask of Brazil: when will you stop financing the drones and planes that bomb us?

– Haidar Eid is an associate Professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza. This article was contributed to (A version of this article has previously been posted on Folha de São Paulo).

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