Baguio Muslims Welcome Gaza Ceasefire, Call for Probes into Civilian Killings

The Muslims in Baguio City welcomed the news that both the Palestinian group Hamas and Israeli troops have declared a ceasefire, but reiterated their condemnation of the civilian killings in the 23-day offensive by Israeli troops.

Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. North of Manila) – The Muslims in this highland city welcomed the news that both the Palestinian group Hamas and Israeli troops have declared a ceasefire, but reiterated their condemnation of the civilian killings in the 23-day offensive by Israeli troops.

Imam Abdullah Bedejim said that the ceasefire development is welcome but asked, “Until when will it hold?” He urged for the exhaustion of peaceful avenues to achieve justice in the area, like investigations of war crimes.

The Cordillera Region Muslim Organization, Inc. (CRMO) said that the rules of war under the Geneva Conventions were grossly violated in the attacks in Gaza.

Civilian casualties

The Israel bombings and ground troop attacks in the Gaza Strip had caused the death of at least 1,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to media reports by Gaza health officials. The attack started on Dec. 27 and ended Jan. 18.

They added that 5,000 homes were destroyed while 20,000 other structures, including mosques and government buildings, were damaged. The United Nations compounds in Gaza were reportedly shelled by Israeli troops, pushing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to call for an investigation after he visited the area last week.

A ceasefire from both sides started last Jan. 19.

Permanent ceasefire

The Muslim organization in the region called for a permanent ceasefire for humanitarian reasons.

Lawyer Kissack Gabaen of the CRMO said that civilians are the main victims of the conflict.

He urged the UN to exercise objectivity and swift action on the Gaza issue. “The UN should be objective in settling the issue,” he said in an interview.

As the casualties of the bombing and killings were mostly civilians, he supported the call, including those of Israeli human rights groups, to conduct investigations on Israeli forces’ violations of the rules of war under International Humanitarian Law.

Imam Bedejim welcomed the call for an investigation as such would be for the betterment of all.

Root cause of war

The Palestine-Israel conflict is commonly considered a war ignited by religious differences.

Israelis left Judea in the ancient period and many of them went to Europe, where they were persecuted.

Under the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British government (Palestine had come under British mandate immediately after World War I during the early 20th century), declared that it favored the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Israel was established after World War II, when the UN General Assembly approved the partition of Palestine into two states: one for the Jews and one for Arabs. On May 14, 1948, after the British left Palestine, Israel was carved out of the land of the Palestinians and was established as a state for Jews.

The Palestinians, mainly through the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) fought for their right to their land. The PLO, through the late Yasser Arafat, and Israel entered into peace negotiations premised on the recognition of both Israeli and Palestinian homelands.

The PLO, with UN help, later established the Palestinian Authority. However, the on-and-off negotiations continued while Israel expanded Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Hamas militants subsequently defeated the Al-Fatah in parliamentary elections and refused to recognize Israel.

Israel had defeated combined forces of Arab countries in the Middle East in the past due to support by the US, the British and other countries which supported Israel as a supposed force for “regional peace”.

Gabaen said that the Gaza conflict is both racial and territorial. Progressive analysts argue that the root cause of the conflict, which is oppression by Israel and intervention by imperialist states like the US, should be addressed to achieve a long-lasting peace in Gaza. Northern Dispatch / Posted by

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