The massacre in Gaza continues…please do something

The massacre in Gaza continues.

I’ve seen the accounts of Palestinians killed ranging anywhere from 430 to over 500. Too many. And with many bodies still buried beneath the rubble the body count will continue to grown. Counts of the injured range around 2700 – 3000. And this does not take in to account the trauma, and other less visible – but no less real – injuries. The ground invasion began last night.  This will no doubt increase casualties on both sides.

Bloggers and journalists living in Gaza and volunteer human rights workers on the ground with ISM report that if you look at the bombs being launched from above it seems that Israel is dropping  cluster bombs –  yet another war crime. And Norwegian medics told Press TV correspondent Akram al-Sattari that some of the victims who have been wounded since Israel began its attacks on the Gaza Strip on December 27 have traces of depleted uranium in their bodies.

The madness continues.

Al jazeera http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/01/200914103921799948.html is reporting that Israel occupation forces have now cut gaza in two:

“Perhaps the most significant military development on the ground is that Gaza has now actually been split in two. A column of Israeli tanks and artillery, and armoured personnel vehicles has made its way through from the eastern part of Gaza, reaching as far as the Mediterrannean sea on the Western part, essentially splitting Gaza. That area, mostly in the former settlement of Nitzerim, was an open area after Israel withdrew the settlement, so they were able to make strong advances all the way across Gaza, essentially cutting off the northern part from the southern”

Schools, mosques, police stations, television stations, phone lines… all targeted with many reports of hospitals, medics and ambulances being targeted as well.

The devastation is unbelievable, and seemingly never ending. Hospitals and medical personal are overwhelmed with the incoming wounded and dead.

The corporate owned media tells us nothing, but lies. Please, take the time to read the eyewitness accounts:

http://palsolidarity.org/

http://electronicintifada.net/new.shtml

http://gazatoday.blogspot.com/

http://www.michiganpeaceteam.org

 

Meanwhile, the US – with out veto power -prevents any meaningful UN action, while our tax dollars pay for the terror brought down on the Palestinian people.

It is not difficult to see that the blockade and the conditions Israel (with full US support) has created in Gaza are a breeding ground for violence and retaliation such as the rocket attacks. Gaza is a huge, open air prison. Israel closes the borders, keeps food and medical suppliers, gas, replacement parts for water pumps and other necessities from getting through, and we wonder why there are rockets fired?

And do not get me wrong, I in no way support these rocket attacks.  As a (struggling to be) pacifist I do not support violence.  All life is sacred and any death by violence is wrong. And these rockets are sent into Israeli cities and towns where civilians live. That is, in my view, wrong.  And – let’s be honest – targeting civilians is a violation of humanitarian law. The rocket fire is illegal.

But, Israel’s claims that it is “responding to” or “retaliating for” these Palestinian rocket attacks is outrageous.  On her blog, http://gretasgroundhoggrooming.wordpress.com, my friend Abby notes: “According to the BBC, in 2007, 783 rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel, and 2 Israelis were killed by rockets.  And between 2000 and Jan. 2008, a total of 13 Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza.  Here is the link to that article:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3702088.stm.  

13 Israelis killed by rockets in 7 years, compared 500 Palestinians killed in one week. How can we even pretend to talk about “both sides” as if they were equal? How can we not acknowledge that the current massacre is not beyond disproportionate?

And anyway, that rocket fire, even if it is illegal and wrong, does not give Israel the right to punish the entire population of Gaza for those actions. This is not retaliation, it is vengeance. It is ruthless.  It is collective punishment and it is a violation of the Geneva conventions.  

I find myself feeling helpless and hopeless in the face of such overwhelming horror. I believe what we are witnessing is nothing less than genocide. But, giving up hope is not an option and claiming helplessness is too often just an excuse not to act. So what do We Do?

 

For the “now” – the answer is do something. Do anything. Do everything:

 

* don’t’ hide from the truth no matter how painful –  Read accounts of those living this hell, watch the videos, look at the photos – bear witness to the truth.

 

* sign on to the many petitions being circulated.

 

* write letters –  to Congress members and the State Department, to UN officials, to Israeli officials, the Obama transition team. Amnesty International has some templates and some addresses,  http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/israelopt-immediate-access-humanitarian-workers-and-observers-essential-20081231

 

 

* write letters to the editor and op-eds for every news outlet you can find, call radio talk shows

 

* Get in the streets! Organize and join demonstrations in front of Israeli and Egyptian embassies or when not doable in front of offices for elected officials, and any other visible place. End the Occupation, http://www.endtheoccupation.org/  has been keeping track of many of the demos happening

 

* Start talking! We need to engage people and tell them the truth Hold a teach-in, seminar, public dialogue, documentary film viewing  etc.   Pass out fliers with facts and figures about Palestine and Gaza in your community. Do something to gain attention and help start a conversation with someone: put a Palestinian flag in your window, wear a Koufiya (Palestinian head scarf) ,wear Black arm bands…

 

* Write and call people in Gaza. Let them know they are not alone! Call people in your community who have family there.  Get in the way of Israel’s plans to isolate the people.

 

* Pray, hold the people of Gaza in light, and whatever else your faith traditions call on you to do.

 

* Give aid directly- . Support Shifa Hospital in Gaza Palestine Aid Society of America
P.O.Box 130572,Ann Arbor, Michigan  48113  Tax # 38-2381-291 (I know the folks here, they are great and 100% will go to the hospital! See PS note at bottom of post also) or send direct aid to Gaza through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
http://www.un.org/unrwa/

 

So – yes, do something. Anything. Everything. Do it now.

 

But we need to go beyond the immediate. We need to build for real justice (which peace does not exist without ) in Gaza and in the rest of occupied Palestine. There is lots of work to do, my friends, but I firmly believe it is doable.

———————————-

PS – the following appeal if from a friend. It’s a good organization. They are good people. I have no hesitation in passing this along on their behalf:

Dear Friends,

Genocide is being committed in Gaza by the Israeli military in violation of international law, not to mention all sense of decency and proportion. We at the Palestine Aid Society (PAS) have been inundated with calls for action by fellow Americans of all faiths and ethnicities. We feel the pain and the hurt as we watch, with horror, the terrorized children, the dismembered bodies, the wounded crying in pain, the frustrated aid workers, all on our television screens. We also hear in disgust the support for this Israeli-conducted genocide by some of our representatives in Washington DC. At the time of this writing the number of dead has exceeded 345 and the wounded more than 1650, most of them unarmed civilians. And it seems that Israel is intent on carrying this orgy of violence for days to come, proclaiming that the people of Gaza are not Israel’s enemies, but that their democratically-elected government is! The need in Gaza for immediate relief is immense. The Shifa Hospital is the major medical facility in Gaza receiving and caring for the majority of the victims and it has been inundated, especially after months of an inhumane and punitive siege that has left it short of medicine and other medical supplies. As a small gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza and in order to help alleviate a bit of their suffering, PAS is calling on all people of good will in our community to donate what they can to a fund for Shifa Hospital. Your tax-deductible donations (100% of all monies contributed) will be transmitted by PAS to the International Red Cross with instructions to deliver them to Shifa Hospital. Please make your checks payable to PAS, earmarked to Shifa Hospital, and send it to:
 
Palestine Aid Society of America
P.O.Box 130572
Ann Arbor, Michigan  48113
Tax # 38-2381-291.

Peace,

Rabia Shafie
Palestine Aid Society

 

 

 

7 responses to “The massacre in Gaza continues…please do something

  1. The fact that Hamas’ aim is so bad in no way disallows Israel’s right to defend against Palestinian attacks. It also does nothing to lessen the threat to Israel. If the Palestinians want peace, it could have been had 60 years ago, what the Palestinians want is the destruction of Israel, that can be seen in the charter for Hamas and in the statements of Palestinian leaders over the past week. The official Palestinian opinion: Israel has no right to exist.

  2. Thanks for posting. I really appreciated your last post too (Gaza: Words Fail). I hope your friends are “okay” (as okay as one can be in Gaza now.) I appreciate your willingness to admit the rockets are wrong and illegal. Too many Palestinian solidarity activists seem so unwilling to ever be critical of Palestine or even of Hamas. It’s too bad dcbarton obviously does not understand what you are saying!

  3. Skye, Thanks for your nice comments. I think it is hard for Palestinian activists to be critical because we all hear so much critisism that doesn’t take the big picture into account.

    DC Barton, I am not saying that “hamas’ bad aim disallows Israel to protect itself”. I agree that every Israeli deserves to feel safe and secure. I get that the rockets undermine that. I get that they are wrong. What I am saying is that every Palestinian has no less right to feel safe and secure. And that Israel’s actions in Gaza — as well as throughout occupied Palestine – make that impossible. Not just in the context of the current situation, but in the broader context.

    I also do not believe that bombing ever really brings about security or saftey. The conditions Israel has created lead to greater insecurity for itself. There is more I could say, but perhaps that is for a later post.

  4. Sheri,
    what exactly has Israel done except try to defend itself? Every Israeli attack in the past 60 years has been retaliation for attacks against Israel. Israeli children are murdered in their beds when Palestinian terrorists break into their homes specifically to slaughter them. Palestinian children are killed in their beds too. But here is the difference, the Palestinian children aren’t targeted, they are collateral damage caused by the terrorists hiding amongst the civilian population. Israel cannot get to the terrorists without hitting civilians. That puts Israel into a position of having to suffer attacks from Palestinians continually or risk killing children.
    I notice noone ever mentuions that Israel pulled out of Gaza and was immediately attacked by Hamas’s rockets. I’m sure you will remember that, it happened in 2006. Israel has given land for peace several times, only to be attacked again. They will continue to be attacked with Hamas in power since Hamas, and Hezbollah, has in its charter that Israel is to be destroyed and has no right to exist. Palestinian leaders during this conflict have been asked if there could be peace with Israel and if Israel had the right to exist, the answer was no. So what is Israel supposed to do?
    If the Palestinians really want peace and self rule, it is easy to do, just let Israel live in peace.

  5. I always struggle with “self defense” when it is claimed by any side in a war. It reminds me of the kids on a playground “she hit me first”… “yeah, well she said…” … it just seems more and more of a downward spiral.

    Sorry to sound cynical but I am scared and worried about my friends. And maybe shouldn’t be writting just now.

    But the thing is -even allowing for the right of self defense that is NOT what this is. I just don’t believe it. According to Richard Falk of the UN (hardly a body to be overly critical of Israel) “Beyond the immediate crisis some underlying features should be noted: about 75% of the population lacks access to sanitary water and has no electric power. Such conditions are superimposed on the circumstances of Gazans resulting from the prolonged blockade that had deteriorated the physical and mental health, and the nutritional status, of the population of Gaza as a whole, leaving some 45% of children suffering from acute anemia. Interference in the supply of medicines and health equipment, and border closures, had made it impossible for many Gazans to receive or continue treatment for life-threatening conditions. It was also reliably concluded that up to 80% of Gaza was living under the poverty line, that unemployment totals approached 75%, and that the health system was near collapse from the effects of the blockade. This set of conditions certainly led impartial international observers and civil servants to an uncontested conclusion that the population of Gaza was already experiencing a humanitarian crisis of grave magnitude prior to 27 December.”

    Bottom line, Israel’s illegal and immoral blockade creates the contions that breed violence born of desperation.

    Falk also points out that “the temporary ceasefire … had held since June 2008 until seriously disrupted by a lethal Israeli attack on Palestinian militants in Gaza on 4 November” – that is, “it was a major Israeli use of lethal force on November 4, 2008 that brought the ceasefire to a de facto end”

  6. As I go back and reread my comment I want to clarify… it does raise worries when anyone claims “self-defense” in a war. But, I also want to add that I think “war” implys some sort of “both sides” that is simply not the case in Gaza. This is not a war it is a masacre.

  7. In this particular case, without self-defense Palestinian militants were attempting to murder innocent Israeli citizens. Not exactly the same thing as children in a schoolyard saying,”she hit me first.”
    The UN? Would that be the same UN that after the Israeli-Lebanon conflict in 2006 that sent UN observers that did just that, observe while Hezbollah terrorists set up rockets and fired them off from the UN posts? The UN has never really been a friend of Israel.

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