Belize Calls for Peace in Ongoing Middle East Crisis
The crisis in the Middle East continues unabated with thousands of men, women and children already killed in the wake of an age-old dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians. While the fight and tragedy are thousands of miles away, the effects can still be felt in multiple ways should the war persists. In today’s Senate meeting, Senator for Government Business, Eamon Courtenay spoke on the crisis, saying that Belize is calling for peace and cease fire.
Eamon Courtenay, Foreign Minister of Belize: “I am sure that all Belizeans have been glued in horror to their televisions and mobile devices since the 7th October 2023 when Hamas Militants crossed into Israel and reeked mayhem killing some 1,500 civilians and injuring thousands more. Belize deeply regrets the loss of innocent lives of men, women and children of several nationalities because of this operation. More than 200 innocent persons were captured and are being held hostage by Hamas. We demand their immediate and unconditional release. On Sunday 8th October the State of Israel formally declared war on Hamas. That declaration of war obliges Israel to abide by and respect the laws of war. For the past nineteen days the world has watched in horror at the scale of Israel’s indiscriminate attacks and unrelenting bombing of Gaza. To date more than 6,000 Palestinians including 2,500 children have been slaughtered. A further 17,000 Palestinians have been injured. Targetting or recklessly wounding and killing defenseless civilians is barbaric. We all stand as witnesses as millions of Palestinians in North Gaza are forced by order of the Israeli government to run for their lives with nowhere to go. The amount of explosives that have been dropped on Gaza exceeds 12,000 tons. That Madam President is equivalent to the size of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Our collective conscience is shocked. Madam President the Israeli siege of Gaza intentionally depriving millions of the necessities to sustain human life in a civilized world; food, water, electricity, medicine. Deprived of electricity, water and medicine the healthcare system of Gaza has virtually collapsed, this is inhumane. Humanitarian assistance has started to trickle in but not yet at the scale needed. The use of food as a weapon of war leading to mass starvation is a gross violation of international humanitarian law. The scale of the humanitarian crisis evolving in Gaza is unconscionable. The collective punishment of Palestinians by Israel is a war crime. As the occupying power Israel is under an obligation to ensure that the basic needs of the residents of Gaza are met. This is the standard to be met in a civilized world and we have not seen the end. This hell on earth created by Israel is to get worse. A ground invasion is imminent. The risk of a wider confrontation is real. Madam President Israel is not above international law. As the United Nations Secretary General has repeated several times “Even war has rules.”. Those rules of war, international human rights and international humanitarian law are being flagrantly violated by Israel. The declaration of war against Hamas is not a license to collectively punish innocent Palestinians. The siege and its effects, the unending and indiscriminate bombing and forced displacement of Palestinians is wholly disproportionate. Such wanton violations of international law demand accountability for the perpetrators. The histories of Palestine and of Israel are as long as time itself. It is a complicated history weighted by religion, by war, by oppression, by geopolitics, by apartheid policies, by systematic violations of human rights, by impunity, by disregard for international law, the appropriation of territory and by occupation. Not withstanding this complicated context Belize’s position is clear. We condemn the unjustified use of force and the killing of innocent civilians by both sides. We call for an immediate ceasefire. We call for the immediate release of all hostages. We demand that international humanitarian and human rights law be respected by all parties. We call for the safe unimpeded access for adequate humanitarian support to Gaza. Madam President Belize will never waiver from it’s long standing support for the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self determination and for an independent Palestinian state within it’s 1967 borders.”
Also rising to speak on the situation was the NGO Senator, Janelle Chanona.
Janelle Chanona, Senator for NGOs: “On behalf of the NGO community to align ourselves with the statement condemning the acts of violence playing out in the Middle East. I think we are all absolutely horrified thanks to modern media of seeing babies being slaughtered and children amputated by missiles on a daily basis. And while we’re impacted personally I think it’s also not lost on any of us that these things do not happen in a vacuum and we might be seeing other impacts play out across our planet so we certainly join in the call for peace and for humanitarian rights to be respected across the board.”
CNN has reported that the Israel military had conducted a “targeted raid” overnight in northern Gaza and vowed earlier today to continue ground raids in the coming days. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly met to discuss a proposed resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire.