BAYAN leads Philippine protest in solidarity with Gaza

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)

(More photos below. Photos from Tinay Palabay / BAYAN)

Cause-oriented groups picketed today the Israeli embassy in the Makati, Philippines to denounce Israel’s continuing airstrikes on Gaza which has so far claimed more than 90 Palestinian lives. The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN, New Patriotic Alliance) accused Israel of engaging in “state terrorism that is supported by imperialist powers such as the US and UK.”

The group called for an immediate halt to the airstrikes and opposed any further escalation of the conflict, even as Israel prepares for a possible ground assault on Gaza. The group also called on the Philippine government to exercise an independent foreign policy and not echo the US line in support of Israel.

Protesters included activists, migrants, academicians, Muslim and Christian groups.

“We in the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, our member organizations and formations in the Philippines and abroad, stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza against the brutal airstrikes being undertaken by Israel. The attacks, no doubt, have the support of the United States and other imperialist powers. The bombings must end. The Israeli occupation must end,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“We strongly oppose any escalation of the Israeli offensives which include the possibility of a ground invasion. The Palestinian people have been living an inhuman Israeli occupation of their lands for decades now. The occupation is supported primarily by the US,  which provides  Israel with weapons and other forms of aid. The US also remains Israel’s most reliable ally and enforcer in the UN Security Council. Israel remains a vital cog in the plans of the US to impose its will on the Middle East,” Reyes said.

Bayan also called on the Philippine government to publicly condemn the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.

“It is not enough that the Philippine government assure of us of the safety of Filipino workers Gaza. It is not enough that the Philippine government sends a crisis team to the region. The Philippine government, in accordance with international law, should vigorously condemn the Israeli airstrikes and the killings of civilians. The Philippines must not tow the US line that Israel is simply acting in self-defense,” Reyes said.

“What Israel is doing is not self-defense. Taken in the context of its decades-long occupation of Palestinian lands, the airstrikes are meant to crush the Palestinian resistance,” he added.

Bayan said that Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense comes just before the Israeli elections on January 22 where current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking re-election. It should also be noted that Israel has long-prepared for such an invasion, raising the possibility of another ground assault  as early as February this year, because of the supposed “great success” of a similar offensive started in late 2008. Operation Cast Lead in late 2008 resulted in the death of 1,400 Palestinians.

“We have to speak out against this atrocity. Israel has also taken its war vs. Palestinians to the internet and social media, posting arrogant tweets and videos that celebrate the assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Jahbari and live-tweeting the airstrikes conducted against the Palestinians. On the other hand, Israel  has threatened to cut internet and other communications in Gaza to prevent the world from the knowing Israeli atrocities,” Reyes said.

“Bayan stands with Gaza, the Palestinian people and the peoples of the world who are condemning the Israeli airstrikes. The path to genuine peace in the Middle East must include a free Palestine.  The road to genuine peace will require the defeat of US imperialism, in the Middle East and the world,” he added.

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