“Israel continues to use security as a pretext to its aggression against Palestinians and to evade any commitments to peace,” said Dr. Barghouthi. He underlined that since Annapolis, Israeli attacks have increased by 220%, and that Israel has carried out a massive 880 attacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 28 November 2007, the day after the Annapolis peace meeting. These attacks have killed 178 Palestinians (18 in the West Bank and 160 in the Gaza Strip, including 3 children), and injured a further 617 (191 in the West Bank and 426 in the Gaza Strip, including 8 children).
He added that 4 Israelis had been killed in the same time period, including 2 soldiers and 1 border policeman, setting the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed since Annapolis at 45:1, and to 55:1 since 1 January 2008.
“It is unacceptable to justify such large-scale killings under the pretext of security," said Dr. Barghouthi. "The question here is about security for everyone not only Israelis, and about equality and the equal rights of all peoples to life. Israel can ensure the security of its peoples by accepting a comprehensive, reciprocal ceasefire - thereby ensuring the security of Palestinians too – not by imposing collective punishment and military violence on 1.5 million Gazans. But facts on the ground show very clearly that the Israeli government and its military do not believe in security for Palestinians and in their most basic right to life.”
Reviewing the current situation in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Barghouthi drew specific attention to the fate of the 103 Gazan patients who have died since June 2007 after Israel denied exit them from the Gaza Strip to receive urgent treatment.
He also reported that most Gazan households now experience power cuts of at least 8 hours per day, while some have no electricity for up to 12 hours a day, and almost half of Gaza’s population has no access to running water. 40 million litres of untreated waste water is being pumped into the sea for lack of electricity to treat it. All hospitals are relying on emergency generators and inadequate fuel supplies to maintain reduced services. Many have had to suspend operations to ensure emergency services.
Gaza currently faces a daily shortfall of 60 megawatts out of the 240 megawatts that it needs per day. On 30 January 2008, the Israeli High Court gave the legal green light to intensify electricity and fuel cuts in what Dr. Barghouthi described as “the legitimization of collective punishment in direct violation of international law.”
The MP also exposed the manipulation behind Israel’s “goodwill gesturers” in liberating prisoners. The Israeli military systematically arrests more prisoners than it releases. Immediately prior to Annapolis, Israel set free 432 Palestinians. But since then, it has already arrested 1,162 more Palestinians (1,008 in the West Bank and 154 in the Gaza Strip, including 6 children), clearly showing that the Israeli military has no intention of stopping its arrest campaigns. Moreover, some 48 democratically elected Palestinian deputies and ministers remain under administrative detention. “These 48 Palestinians are in Israeli jails for the crime of having been democratically elected by the Palestinian people,” stated Dr. Barghouthi.
Dr. Barghouthi emphasized that Israel was using the mirage of a peace process to cover up its actions on the ground. "Ultimately, Israel is seeking to escalate the situation to the point where it can launch a wide scale attack on the Gaza Strip with impunity. Such an attack would further Israel’s goal of achieving the creation of a politically, socially and economically divided Palestinian Bantustan state within temporary borders."
“Inflicting collective punishment on the people of Gaza will not bring security to Israel. Only a negotiated, comprehensive and reciprocal ceasefire can bring security and initiate a real peace process,” he concluded.