Trades unionists call for end to Gaza violence as journalists are targeted

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By John Millington

TRADES UNION organisations from across the world have called for an ending of the violence in Gaza, today.

The World Federation of Trade Unions, (WFTU) ITUC and International Federation of Journalists have all called for an immediate halt to the violence.

Nearly 100 Palestinians have been killed with over half identified as civilians, many of them children.

170 have been wounded including 6 journalists, one of which had to have his leg amputated as result of his injuries.

3 Israeli civilians have also been killed from Hamas rocket fire.

With the death toll mounting journalists working in the Gaza strip have become the latest victims of the the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) onslaught.

“We obviously know there are journalists in the building,” said IDF spokesperson Avital Leibovich hours after an attack, confirming the Israeli military knowingly targeted news organizations in a military strike supposedly to destroy an antenna that was located on the roof of the building which was being used by Hamas.

Ms Leibovich added: “So we did not attack any other floor in the building, but my advice to journalist visiting Gaza is to stay away from any Hamas positions, or Hamas sites, or Hamas posts for their own safety.”

She later implied in an interview on RT that journalists only had themselves to blame if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The IDF are also on record as saying they will “bomb Gaza back to the middle ages” as they prepare for a ground invasion of the impoverished and densely populated area.

However the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the  National Union of Journalists in Britain and the refused to accept the IDF’s excuses and  called on the international community to investigate deliberate attacks by Israeli military against media buildings in Gaza.

Cameraman Khader al Zarah lost a leg after the offices he was in came under sustained bombing from the Israel’s military which targeted in the early hours of Sunday Al Shawa and Husari where several media organisations, including  Al Quds TV, Al Qudsa radio, Maan network and many other radio stations are based.

Another media facility, the Asshurouq building, which houses Sky, ITN, Al Arabiya TV and Abu Dhabi TV has also been attacked. 

“We demand a full inquiry by the United Nations to investigate the attacks and to take action against the Government of Israel,” said  IFJ President Jim Boumelha,

“The international community must respond immediately to this outrage. The rights of journalists in conflict zones have been particularly highlighted by the United Nations and members states cannot stand by when one state acts in a reckless and dangerous manner.”

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) condemned the bombing and the National Federation of Israeli Journalists (NFIJ), has called for the respect of journalists’ safety.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The targeting of journalists and media workers must stop immediately. These attacks are a disgraceful attempt to intimidate the press and prevent journalists from reporting unfolding events. This is not the first time that the Israeli authorities have deliberately turned their fire on media houses and the journalists they have a duty to protect. The international community must condemn such actions in the strongest possible terms and launch an immediate investigation into these attacks.”

Sister union, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey urged the British government to bring maximum pressure to bare on Israel to halt their bombing of Gaza.

“Unite the union unreservedly condemns the outrageous Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people of Gaza.

“We call for an immediate halt to the continuing attacks that have so far caused massive destruction, enormous suffering, countless civilian casualties and terrorised an entire population.”

And we call on the “UK Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to make a clear and unequivocal condemnation of the Israeli aggression and to exert maximum pressure on Israel to halt its attacks.”

For the last 45 years Israel has ignored and defied numerous UN resolutions and continues to occupy Palestinian lands and subject the Palestinian people to a system of oppression, discrimination and humiliation. The result of this has been to destroy the local economy and leave millions in poverty with little perspective for the future

Earlier the WFTU which describes itself as a “class orientated, democratic federation” representing workers the world over said it was firmly on the side of the Palestinians during the current spike in violence.

“The WFTU denounces in the strongest possible way the murderous attacks of Israel against the Gaza Strip”  a spokesman said.

“Once again the World Federation of Trade Unions does not stay neutral in a blatant ongoing massacre against the Palestinian people who deserve the right to a Palestinian state as they demand in the boarders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

“This aggressive plot against the Palestinian people, part of the general escalating imperialist aggressiveness in the Middle East against Syria and Iran, must end now.”

“We call upon the trade union organizations of the world to actively express their solidarity to the struggle of the Palestinian people and demand the immediate ending of this massacre against them.”

He added that the governments of the “USA, Germany, Britain, France, Canada had provided alibi to the Israeli aggressiveness either openly or by blaming equally the perpetrator and the victims.”

ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “The world has been shocked by the attacks on Gaza. The UN and the governments with real influence in the region must put the maximum possible pressure for an immediate end to the killing of innocent civilians. For too long, major powers have sat by and tolerated the Israeli government’s policy of refusing to negotiate a just and lasting two-state settlement and the Hamas refusal to even recognise Israel’s right to exist.

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