Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Cartoon by Latuff.

Covid-19 – a possible death sentence for Gazans

So writes Laurie Holden of Hastings and Rye Palestine Solidarity Campaign of the situation in Gaza, where years of Israeli occupation have brought the health system to the verge of collapse. In order to pursue its campaign in support of Palestinian rights and justice, the local PSC branch has transferred its activities online.

Clearly the lockdown is causing big problems for us in the UK. But the threat of a serious Covid-19 outbreak is especially dangerous for those forced to live under Israeli occupation. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, suffering from the devastating illegal 13-year siege, and facing regular Israeli military attacks.

Covid-19 has reached Palestine. In late April there were 344 confirmed cases and two deaths in the Occupied Territories. We are not aware of separate figures for the West Bank and Gaza.

In 2015 the United Nations stated that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020. Israeli policies of collective punishment and ethnic cleansing have taken their toll. Gaza’s health system is on the verge of collapse, there is a severe water crisis, an extreme power shortage, high rates of unemployment and a crumbling infrastructure. Just one statistic will give an idea of the problems faced: Gaza has three ventilators for every 100,000 people; Israel has 40 per 100,000.

So with the possibility of this virus spreading throughout Gaza, this may prove to be a death sentence for many of its inhabitants.

Stall at St Leonards Festival, July 2016.

Virtual information stall

We were approaching the weekend when the local Palestine Solidarity Campaign was due to stage a benefit for Medical Aid for Palestinians along with a vigil in support of the demonstrators protesting against Israel’s siege of Gaza and calling for Palestinians’ right of return, but we clearly had to put these activities on hold. It also meant no more weekly information stalls in the town centre. So we had to translate these activities into the online equivalent, a virtual information stall.

Our Facebook Challenge

With public activities out of the question, the local PSC is determined to carry on showing solidarity with Palestine. So now our work is 100% online. Like or loathe Facebook, the fact is that it’s so easy to use. It’s also a good way to encourage people to engage, to stimulate responses, even if it’s just a case of someone clicking on a ‘like’ button. Our Facebook Challenge, where we asked people to make an ‘End the Siege of Gaza’ poster, take a photo of themselves holding it and send it in, received a great response. The challenge has resulted in over 1,600 hits so far.

Petitions? We’ve got petitions

We have always sent out a monthly online newsletter. This goes out to over 1,000 people, mainly local people. We’ve now started to publish this more frequently. We’re encouraging people to get involved. So we’ve included numerous online petitions. One is to our local MP: End the Siege of Gaza.

There is also the online version of the petition that we regularly have at our stalls – calling for Israel to end the mistreatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. Israel is the only country in the world where children – only Palestinian children that is – are systematically tried in military courts and, as UNICEF has documented, subjected to ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment’.

Videos, reading material and books

There’s a whole range of great videos about Palestine. One film we’re now happy to see available to a wider audience is From Balfour to Banksy. We showed this film in January at the Pig’s Palace to a full house. This film gives a useful background to the dispossession of the Palestinian people, the military occupation and Britain’s role in this. The final cut is now available to view on YouTube. We’ve also given information about some of the webinars involving Palestine that are available.

We give links to a wide range of news items about Palestine mainly from Palestinian sources. Now that’s a novel concept! News about Palestine from Palestinians. It seems that whenever the corporate media deals with anything from the area, the first source it finds is a spokesperson from Israel.

With our news items we include the latest victories in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement. Just as the boycott movement played an important role in defeating apartheid in South Africa, we’re confident that the BDS movement will play its part in defeating apartheid in Israel.

Facebook Challenge with Katy

Now is the time to get involved

We also list books that our members and supporters might find useful. One book we featured recently is State of Terror by Tom Suárez, which is based mainly on declassified source documents in the National Archives in Kew, showing the violence used in the setting up of the Israeli state.We’ve even set up a Twitter account; and are now trying to get to grips with the world of Twitterland. We might even look at Instagram. The national PSC is using Zoom for videoconferencing; this enables branches throughout the UK to share information. We might start using this for our own branch meetings.

There has never been so much support for the Palestinian struggle for justice as now. But there has never been such a need for support for Palestine as now. So in the absence of public activities, now is the time to get in front of your PCs, laptops and smart phones and get involved. Petitions, books, videos, articles, webinars – what more could you ask for while in lockdown and social distancing!? So get clicking. Support Palestine!

Facebook Challenge with Phil

Hastings and Rye PSC website, Facebook page and Twitter.
Latest newsletter.


Posted 18:44 Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020 In: Campaigns

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