July 22, 2006
TORONTO - The Muslim Canadian Congress has condemned the wholesale destruction of Lebanon and the killing of hundreds of innocent Lebanese by Israel. In a statement today, the MCC urged both Israel and Hizbollah to heed the call of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for an immediate cease-fire and a complete cessation of all hostilities.
In the statement, the MCC called on Hizbollah to hand over the two captured Israeli soldiers to the Lebanese government, after the ceasefire takes into effect, so that the issue of prisoner exchange can be resolved between the governments of the two countries. Such an exchange should and must lead to the freedom of all Lebanese prisoners currently held in Israeli prisons.
The MCC feels that the response by Israel to the capture of its soldiers has been horrendous and cruel. It is utterly disproportionate and amounts to a collective punishment of the Lebanese people with deliberate destruction of the country's infrastructure and essential services.
The MCC statement said Israel should take notice of the warning by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, who has said the "killings of innocent civilians could amount to war crimes." She stated clearly that "International humanitarian law is clear on the supreme obligation to protect civilians during hostilities."
While the MCC acknowledges that Hizbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers was a dangerous provocation and condemns the action, it notes that the kidnapping of combatants and civilians did not start with Hizbollah or Hamas. Kidnapping has been an Israeli practise for a long time and has also been used by the United States. In fact, Arik Dimant, a former Israeli soldier, now an IDF Reservist, has revealed that hundreds of Palestinians have been kidnapped by Israel. In an article, this IDF reservist goes on to explain how he himself was involved in such kidnappings. (click here to read Arik Dimant's statement)
To bring stability to the area, the MCC called for an international force under the UN to be moved to South Lebanon to help implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559 that expresses grave concern "at the continued presence of armed militias in Lebanon, which prevent the Lebanese government from exercising its full sovereignty over all Lebanese territory."
The MCC statement said, armed conflict and war is not the answer to the challenges posed by the Middle East crisis. Sixty years of overwhelming military superiority has not given Israel the security it wants.
Long term peace in the region can only come about with Israel renouncing unilateralism and negotiating with the PA the withdrawal of its forces from occupied Palestinian territories. Israel should return to peace talks and negotiate a treaty with the Palestinians based on mutual respect and dignity. The Roadmap to Peace offers a starting point to re-ignite peace talks for a solution that should be based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 leading to Israel and Palestine as two independent sovereign states with mutually recognised international borders.
MCC grieves the loss of our sons and daughters in Afghanistan, who died serving Canada in the line of duty. We offer our condolences to the families of the dead soldiers and hope to see all our troops back home safely.
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