Around the Globe: Gaza

Unionists call for an end to the war amid catastrophic conditions

In a letter to Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong, dated 9 February 2024, the IEUA (the IEU’s federal union) called for support and protection for children and educators in Gaza. The letter said in part: “We acknowledge and support your strong advocacy for the immediate and unconditional release of all Israeli hostages held by Hamas. The terrorist attack on 7 October 2023 on Israeli civilians was reprehensible and must be unequivocally condemned.”

The article below was published by Education International (EI), the global federation of 380 teachers’ unions, of which the IEU is a member. It was published on 28 March 2024 and updated on 4 April 2024.

“After 173 days of the war on Gaza, more than 32,414 people have been killed, more than 74,787 wounded, and more than 10,000 are missing ... More than 5,826 students and 264 teachers have been killed, and 9,570 students and 960 teachers are trying to recover from their injuries.” This is the alarming situation described by Saed Erziqat, General Secretary of the General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT), addressing the Education International (EI) Executive Board meeting on March 28th.

Thanking EI and its member organisations for their support and solidarity with Palestine, the GUPT leader went on to describe the harrowing conditions in Gaza where education has been completely halted and more than 625,000 students have lost their right to education. “The situation in Palestine is a humanitarian disaster, a real famine. The United Nations confirms this. People cannot find food,” he added.

In addition to the devastating human toll, the Israeli bombing completely and partially destroyed more than 286 government schools and 65 United Nations run schools. The remaining 133 schools were turned into shelters. All 12 universities in Gaza were destroyed and 95 academics and staff were killed, he said.

Union-led relief efforts

Thanks to the support from EI members around the world, GUPT has provided direct financial assistance to more than 1,077 teachers – 913 in Gaza and 164 in the West Bank, Erziqat explained.

In addition, “we carried out psychological support activities in 5 shelter centres for more than 2,000 children in the city of Rafah. We trained 64 teachers in the West Bank on social emotional learning skills, and they applied that to students in West Bank schools that were subjected to violations by the occupation army.”

Erziqat also called for continued support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) an institution supporting Palestinian people with food and education “because it is in real danger after some donor countries announced a suspension of their funding.”

He also urged EI members to “increase pressure on governments to work for a permanent and compulsory ceasefire. The ceasefire must be very quick, and food and medical aid must be brought in. Your voice is very important because you represent truth, law, and human conscience.”

Restore peace, end the war

Erziqat insisted that “killing and destruction will not create peace. Peace can only be achieved through acceptance of international law, UN resolutions, and the two-state solution. Our people want to live in peace and love life. What is spilled is not water, but our blood, and what is cut is not branches, but our remains. Do not remain silent but demand an end to the war.”

EI General Secretary David Edwards answered this call reiterating EI’s demand for an urgent humanitarian cease-fire in Palestine and will continue to advocate for the funding of UNRWA.

EI continues to advocate for an end to this terrible war, the release of all hostages, and an end to indiscriminate violence to prevent the continued humanitarian catastrophe and loss of life.

Read more:

EI article: Unionists call for an end to the war

IEUA letter to Senator Penny Wong in full

ACTU statement 22 April 2024

ACTU statement 22 October 2023

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA

UN Photo-Shareef Sarhan