Gaza family, victims of Israeli war crimes, appeal to British Queen to remove “blood diamond”
The Sammoni family, 29 members of which were killed by the Israeli military in Gaza in 2009, have issued an appeal to the British Queen to remove the Steinmetz Forevermark Jubilee Diamond which De Beers put on display in the Tower of London to mark the Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee.
In total, 29 members of the Sammoni family were killed by the Givati Brigade of the Israeli army during the Israeli assault on Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) in December 2008 – January 2009. 21 were killed in a single airstrike on a building in which the family were taking cover, and 8 others killed during the course of the 23-day-long attack. The Steinmetz diamond company has “adopted” a Unit of the Givati Brigade which it funded and supported during the brutal assault on the people of Gaza.
In the appeal, posted to YouTube today, Helmi Sammoni, speaking on behalf of the family said: “On behalf of the surviving members of the Sammoni family and the hundreds of other families in Gaza who have been killed by war crimes committed by the Givati Brigade of the Israeli Army, we are shocked and disappointed by the decision of De Beers to present the Queen of England with a diamond manufactured by the Steinmetz Diamond company – a company which supported the Givati Brigade during the Israeli war on Gaza late 2008 as they murdered 29 members of our family in cold blood. We the Sammoni family call on the Queen of England and the British people to decline this gift. We demand that De Beers be instructed to remove this offensive blood diamond display immediately.” (Translated from Arabic)
In one of the most despicable example of gross human rights violations recorded during the three weeks of the attack, twenty one members of the Sammoni family – innocent and defenceless children, women and men – were killed by the Givati Brigade in a single incident. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem describes the incident as follows:
“On 4 January 2009, at the start of the ground phase of operation Cast Lead, about 100 members of the extended a-Samuni family were huddled inside one house in the a-Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City. The next morning, an Israeli airstrike killed 21 people inside the house, including 9 children and 10 women, and injured dozens of other family members. During the next two days, the army refused access to medical teams, in spite of being informed of the terrible outcome by family members who managed to escape the bombed home and human rights and humanitarian organizations, including B’Tselem. When medics managed to get to site, they found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses, and evacuated several wounded people. The army refused permission to evacuate the bodies and they remained in the rubble for a further two weeks.”
A UN Human Rights Council investigation concluded that Israeli forces committed serious war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during Operation Cast Lead.
Sean Clinton, coordinator of the Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds campaign for the Boycott Israel Network (BIN) and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) stated: “Diamonds that generate revenue used to fund a regime guilty of war crimes, in this case Israel’s apartheid regime, are de-facto blood diamonds. We call on De-Beers to show respect for the surviving victims of the diamond-funded Givati Brigade’s actions in Gaza and remove the Forevermark Steinmetz Jubilee diamond from the Tower of London.”
1. The Sammoni family’s appeal – http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Helmi Sammoni, speaking on behalf of the Sammoni family, issued this appeal to Queen Elizabeth II.
2. De-Beers Forevermark Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/
The Steinmetz Forevermark Jubilee Pink Diamond has gone on display at the Tower of London to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This unique, fancy pink-brown colour, 35.60 carat cushion cut Forevermark diamond has been inscribed with a bespoke number, 19522012 – the year of HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and the 60th year of her reign. It took the experts at Steinmetz Diamonds six months to perfect the cut, crafting the beautiful cushion cut from the original 179.96 carat rough diamond.
3. Steinmetz Foundation Website – http://www.steinmetz-
The Foundation has “adopted” Tzabar Unit of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Givati Brigade. The Foundation fosters a close relationship with the commanders and their soldiers, helps the brigade organize evening events, buys equipment for end-of-course ceremonies and gives aid to needy soldiers. During Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, the Foundation helped the Unit purchase complementary equipment as well as visited and cared for the wounded soldiers.
4. ICRC report – http://www.icrc.org/eng/
The ICRC/PRCS team found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses. In another house, the ICRC/PRCS rescue team found 15 other survivors of this attack including several wounded. In yet another house, they found an additional three corpses.
5. UN Human Rights Council Report of the Fact-Finding Mission of the Gaza Conflict – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/
Relevant section pp.159 – 166