CUPE is joining workers around the world in providing urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. Canada’s largest union is contributing $25,000 to the humanitarian relief initiative for Gaza, which was launched by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and supported by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
CUPE sent a letter on July 16 to the Canadian government voicing concern about the escalation of violence and rising death toll in Gaza. At that time, 200 people in Gaza and one person in Israel had been killed and we requested that the Canadian government demonstrate genuine support and recognition of human rights and international humanitarian law as a principle underlying demands for a ceasefire.
The world has since watched in horror as the death toll rose to nearly 1,900 in Palestine, most of whom are civilians and 67 in Israel, all but three of whom are soldiers. Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the UN, stated this week that “the massive deaths and destruction in Gaza have shocked and shamed the world.” Through their refusal to recognize the unjust and disproportionate violence inflicted on the people of Gaza by Israel, the Canadian government has demonstrated little concern for human rights and international law.
Civilians in Gaza have been wounded and killed under the conditions of occupation and siege which has meant that while under bombardment the population was trapped without safe refuge, and without access to lifesaving support such as medical supplies, electricity and clean water etc. When three UN Schools, operating as shelters, were bombed in Gaza it galvanized world opinion; the US government and the UN denounced these Israeli acts. CUPE called on the Canadian government in our letter to condemn the collective punishment that was targeting civilians and infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and water systems, but to date, they have not spoken out.
We are now in a situation where humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza is critical.
CUPE’s contribution of humanitarian aid is provided with the critical understanding that peace in the region cannot be achieved unless there is an end to all aggression on both sides, an end to the blockade against Gaza and an end to the illegal occupations of the Palestinian territories by Israel.
CUPE joins the international community in calling for just peace in the region and we continue to call on the Canadian government to be a leader in the world and to recognize that a pre-condition for peace is the recognition and adherence to UN resolutions and international humanitarian law, which must include the following
- Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;
- Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties;
- An immediate end to Israel’s illegal settlements and blockade on Gaza.
CUPE’s policy on the Middle East as adopted at the 2003 National Convention
Be it resolved that CUPE call on the Canadian Government to:
Demand that the Israeli Government immediately withdraw from the occupied territories and abide by UN Resolution 242 and Resolution 338;
Call for and actively work towards an end to all acts of violence that take the lives of innocent people, whether they be Palestinian or Israel;
Help develop a peace process based on equality between Israelis and Palestinians and based on the implementation of UN resolutions and international law