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Israel Bombs Palestinian Trade Union HQ

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11 August, 2005ICEM News release No. 9/2002

In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today, the Global Union Federations express "grave concern about the attack by the Israeli airforce which we understand took place in the early morning on February 17 on the headquarters of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, an organisation affiliated to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), our partner in the global unions family."

The Global Union Federations are sector-by-sector worldwide trade union organisations. They include the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM). Today's letter was sent on their behalf by David Cockroft, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).

The bombed Palestinian union headquarters was "built with the support of the international labour movement," Cockroft tells Sharon. The building "was apparently severely damaged in this attack. I am sure that you will agree that military assaults on legitimate civil institutions like trade unions have nothing to do with the fight against terrorism. Such attacks risk instead damaging the functioning of legitimate, democratic civil institutions and movements, movements that will be essential on both sides in any future lasting peace for the region."

The Global Union Federations therefore call on the Israeli government to "publicly investigate the circumstances behind this air attack on the PGFTU and to make appropriate compensation to the organisation for what was, we hope, accidental damage to their headquarters and property."

In a similar protest to Sharon, the ICFTU said it was "appalled" by the bombing.