Dear Hon. Minister Evarist Bartolo,
We write to you in relation to violence currently escalating in Palestine and Israel, the most intense since the seven-week 2014 Israeli-Gaza conflict. The number of civilian fatalities, including children, is rising, whilst the spreading of mob violence is an extremely worrying escalation.
This recent explosion of violence comes after further forced expulsions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, part of occupied Palestinian territory, to make way for illegal Israeli settlers. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Israel to stop the forced evictions as these amount to violations of international law and could also amount to war crimes.
Furthermore, on the final Friday of Ramadan and the following days, heavily-armed Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at the Al-Aqsa Mosque after prayer, with many worshippers staying on to protest the expulsions. Over 500 Palestinians were wounded in the Friday and Monday clashes. This incident is a stark reminder of the 2018 Gaza protests which saw Israeli soldiers killing 183 Palestinian protestors and injuring over 6,000 of them in incidents which an UN independent commission of inquiry found to have violated international human rights and humanitarian law. The violence has now escalated to rockets being fired and air raids launched against targets on both sides, in Gaza and Tel Aviv.
In view of the historical ties of friendship and cooperation between Malta and Palestine, and the nation’s support of the Palestinian people’s quest towards peace and stability, the undersigned organisations call on the Government of Malta to unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms the continuing occupation of Palestine and the illegal displacement of its people. Malta has, on numerous occasions, supported a just and lasting solution that would result in the establishment and recognition of an independent and contiguous Palestinian state.
We call on your good offices to urge an immediate rights-based response that centres on long-forgotten Palestinian rights, including freedom of movement and freedom from displacement, discrimination and also occupation. Additionally, Malta is urged to use all diplomatic tools available to it in order to prioritise the refocusing on peace efforts in the Middle East, towards protecting the rights and security of Palestinians over any short-term quick-fix solutions.
Malta should fulfil its mission to act as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East by urging the European Union to use all the tools at its disposal to target those responsible for serious and systematic human rights violations and abuses.
Malta, together with our partners in the European Union, must call on Israel to immediately cease any action against protesting Palestinians and to safeguard the right to freedom of expression and assembly.
Additionally, we should denounce Israel’s actions as they systematically and intentionally displace Palestinians with a view to make space for illegal Israeli settlers into Palestinian occupied territory. Such actions are prohibited under international law and could amount to a war crime.
Finally, we call on Malta to remember the Nakba, the catastrophe, that befell Palestine 73 years ago, resulting in the destruction of Palestinian homes and the displacement of a majority of its people. The Nakba continues on a daily basis in modern Palestine.
The undersigned organisations:
- aditus foundation
- Allied Rainbow Communities
- Anti-Poverty Forum – Malta
- Association for Justice, Equality and Peace
- Blue Door English
- Christian Life Community ( CLC in Malta)
- The Critical Institute
- Great Oak Malta Association
- Integra Foundation
- Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ
- LGBTI+ Gozo
- Malta Humanist Association
- Maltese Association of Social Workers
- Migrant Women Association Malta
- Millenium Chapel
- Moviment Graffitti
- OASI Foundation
- Office of the Dean faculty for Social Wellbeing, University of Malta
- Office of the Dean Faculty of Education, University of Malta
- Paulo Freire Institute Foundation
- PEN Malta
- Richmond Foundation
- Social Assistance Secretariat – AKM
- Spark 15
- SOS Malta