Our history books are filled with stained pages that compel us to criticize our predecessors for their inaction and failure to implement changes, in the hope that we will not repeat our errors and allow for the recurrence of human rights violations. From Apartheid South Africa to the massacres of Rwanda, we have time and again failed to learn from history. The most recent and ongoing tragedy is that of the Palestinian people, subject to the longest occupation in modern history.
Last year, from December 27 until January 18, Israel launched “Operation Cast Lead” a brutal military campaign against the Gaza strip and its 1.5 million people. This followed an 18-month siege on Gaza that left its population in dire conditions. The operation created a dramatic humanitarian crisis, leaving 1,417 Gazans dead, and 400,000 without running water, as well as 4,000 destroyed homes. These actions were condemned by the United Nations, along with many human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Moreover, Israeli war crimes as well as numerous human rights violations were carefully documented in the Goldstone report, released as part of the UN fact-finding mission in Gaza in October 2009.
One year after the Israeli incursions into Gaza, its population is still subjected to an inhumane siege which restricts essential supplies such as food and health care. This prompted Gazans to rely on tunnel-smuggled goods from neighbouring Egypt, which has just announced its intention to build a wall which stretches underground with hopes of rendering the tunnels useless and in turn cutting off the invaluable lifeline to Gaza.
In the hope that we learn from this ongoing human tragedy, take steps to end the suffering, and prevent future occurrences, Gaza Remembrance Week will be held at McGill this year, from February 1 to 5. Activities will include a week-long exhibition at Redpath library, as well as a February 5 keynote lecture by Dr. Mads Gilbert, a world-renowned Norwegian doctor who was actively involved in emergency medicine in Gaza during the conflict. Dr. Gilbert was one of the few foreign doctors allowed into Gaza and his correspondences were well documented on CNN, ABC, BBC and Al-Jazeera.
I encourage the McGill community to participate in Gaza Remembrance Week as part of a global effort to raise awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people and the ongoing tragedy that has befallen Gazans.