He added that the killing of a cameraman working for the Reuters news agency, who was traveling in a clearly identified press car at the time, "is an extreme case of a constant Israeli policy to prevent the exposure of its actions on the ground in the mainstream media."
"Palestinians live in a state of constant aggression"
Pointing out that the Israeli military killed a total of 404 Palestinians in 2007, Dr. Barghouthi reported that the number of Palestinians killed in the 4 months since Annapolis now stands at 388, including 51 children. Some 22 Israelis have been killed in the same time period, 10 of them soldiers who were killed in combat whilst attacking Palestinians.
"The bombing and shelling of a captive civilian population that has nowhere to run is a crime. ’Avenging’ the deaths of 3 soldiers killed in combat whilst they were attacking Gaza is no justification for this devastating attack," commented Dr. Barghouthi.
"Israel is actively trying to destroy an important initiative proposed by former US President Jimmy Carter for a reciprocal, comprehensive ceasefire, and is once more seeking to undermine the possibility of peace in the region."
"Palestinians continue to live in a state of constant aggression," he continued. "Israel claims that it has stepped up its attacks since Annapolis due to the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip. But 46% of its attacks have taken place in the West Bank where no rockets have been fired, completely undermining Israel’s narrative," he said.
On the occasion of Prisoners Day, Dr. Barghouthi also explained that since Israel declared its ’good intentions’ at the Annapolis meeting, some 2,437 Palestinians have been arrested – 3 times more than the number released in the same time period. This brings the total number of Palestinians in Israeli jails to 9,087, including 786 in administrative detention, 88 women, and 327 children.
He warned against the signing of any peace agreement that did not provide for the release of all Palestinian prisoners without exception.
Dr. Barghouthi pointed out that the human cost of Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip is not restricted to killings in military attacks, but that it extends to deaths caused by denying the access of patients to life-saving treatment only available outside the Strip. He stressed that 133 patients have died in such circumstances since June 2007.
"Blaming the victims"
"Israel would not, and could not have crossed all of these red lines without the silence and complicity of the international community," said Dr. Barghouthi. "It is unprecedented and shameful that many people in the world have remained silent in the face of such crimes. And some members of the international community insist on blaming the victims instead of holding to account the aggressors : Israel," he added.
Dr. Barghouthi concluded that negotiations under the current circumstances are meaningless. In order for negotiations towards a genuine, just peace to take place, Israel must commit to :
1. A comprehensive and complete freeze on all settlement activity, including the expansion of settlements and outposts, the confiscation of land, and the seizure and destruction of Palestinian property 2. An end to the construction of the Apartheid Wall ; and 3. The lifting of the siege on Gaza ; the retraction of the Israeli government‘s decision to declare Gaza a "hostile entity" ; an end to Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people ; and accepting the implementation of a comprehensive, reciprocal ceasefire.