Published: 2018-05-29 13:49
Last Updated: 2018-05-29 16:57
While the foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) in Brussels discussed the situation in the Gaza Strip on Monday, members of the global citizens movement Avaaz covered the Jean Rey Square, which is located in front of the EU Council building, with 4,500 empty pairs of shoes to memorialize the victims of the conflict over the last decade.
The shoes were donated by citizens across Europe as part of a growing call for EU governments to protect Palestinian lives by reining in Israel’s government violence.
Avaaz indicated that the number was chosen based on estimates provided by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) that over 4,500 lives have been lost since the Gaza war in 2008, adding that the exact number is unknown as “Israel and the United States have blocked the UN from conducting impartial investigations on the ground.”
A large placard in the form of a Palestinian flag read “Palestinian lives matter,” indicating the support of almost half a million EU citizens.
Avaaz Campaign Director, Christoph Schott, called on the EU member states to put sanctions on Israel as “History has shown that targeted sanctions can be impactful, morally responsible, and, at times, the world’s last available non-violent option to protect human rights and achieve peace.”
“Citizens across Europe have one clear message for our governments: Palestinian lives matter to us and they need to matter to you. As Israel’s largest trading partner and political ally, it is our moral responsibility to send a clear signal to Netanyahu’s government that the violence must stop. What is happening in Palestine is a modern-day apartheid, and for Europe to turn a blind eye to that does not protect Israel: it only undermines our humanity,”Schott added in the press release.
This isn’t the first time the movement advocates for Palestinians’ rights. It has been a constant voice of support since 2012, including the international recognition of Palestine at the UN, and the release of Palestinian minor Ahed Tamimi from an Israeli prison, among other appeals.