The situation in Gaza is inhuman. According to official figures, more than 35,000 people have died, including 15,000 of them children. According to the United Nations, Israel is deliberately targeting civilians, including women and children. At the same time, Israel is organising famine and a shortage of medical equipment and medicines through the blockade, and the conflict is claiming many victims among healthcare workers, humanitarian workers and journalists. The World Bank and the UN estimate the damage caused to Gaza’s infrastructure at 18.5 billion dollars, or 97% of the combined GDP of Gaza and the West Bank. Since 7 October 2023, the Palestinian trade union movement has reported numerous cases of violence by settlers or violent arrests of Palestinians on their way to work in Israel or in the occupied territories of the West Bank, sometimes with the complicity of employers. It also reports that the ban on working in Israel is causing a loss of income of 1 billion dollars for Palestinian families and a further loss of 80,000 jobs in the West Bank, on top of the 350,000 already unemployed. This war on Gaza is a continuation of the colonial and occupation policy of the State of Israel.

The Belgian state and Belgian academic institutions have a role to play. They must take a clear stand against the massacres and work for a ceasefire. This begins by ceasing all collaboration with the Israeli army, academic institutions and companies that are complicit in the policy of occupation.

Since 17 April, a historic student occupation movement has been taking place internationally to demand concrete action to impose respect for human dignity and international law, both in universities and with their partners. It is important to note the role played by certain Israeli universities in the training of soldiers and in the development of army techniques and technologies that make apartheid and ethnic cleansing possible. Now more than ever, universities around the world have a duty not to be complicit in the ongoing massacres.

As trade unionists, we declare our solidarity with the Palestinian people and students` occupations under way at the universities of Liège, Louvain-La-Neuve, Brussels, Ghent, Leuven and Antwerp.