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Amani Alfarra is from Gaza, currently studying for her PhD in hydrology in Germany. We met in May 2006, in Gaza, while she was writing a report for the United Nations about the water situation in Gaza. She needed photos so I toured the entire region with her. I’ve slightly edited her writing.

Jan 16, 2009 at 3:16 PM

We hope at the end our voices will be heard and someone will feel the people’s pain in Gaza and help them. For 2 days now I can’t speak with my boys.

Even waiting for things to be improved is quite hard, my friend.

—Amani

Jan 16 at 9:22 PM (Gaza is 7 hours ahead in time)

Oh Amani, I’m so sorry to learn that you have boys still in Gaza. I shall pray.

Love,

—Skip

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By Joe Devoir

Jan 16, 2009 at 3:32 PM, Amani Alfarra <amani.alfarra@gmail.com> wrote:

I thought you knew. Don’t worry. I am just praying to God to keep them safe until things cool down and I find a way to take them out. I am sooooooooooo unhappy, my friend.

When I called them, trust me, I hold my self hard. They have no electricity, no bread. When their father could find some wheat for bread, that was good for them. Every day they make a fire to keep warm.

I try and try to call them to find out if they are still alive. For the third day now I can’t contact them. So can you imagine how hard waiting is?

What did all these children do to deserve this life besides being born as Palestinian-Gazan?

Life is hard my friend

—Amani

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An Israeli soldier prays next to ammunition on the Israel-Gaza border, Monday Jan. 19, 2009. Israeli officials say troops will leave the Gaza Strip before Tuesday’s inauguration of Barack Obama as the new U.S. president. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Jan 16 at 3:51 PM

At the beginning my ex-husband took them from me. But I had hopes that one day we might meet again. Now I am afraid the war will take them and I can’t see them at all.

Jan 19 at 12:29 PM

My Kids! I just spoke to them, el-Humdila (thanks be to god). Two days ago the Israelis pumped something into the area. During the night while my oldest son was sleeping the window broke and collapsed on his head. El-Humdila, he is ok. Some wounds but no problem, he is ok, still alive. This was God’s mercy that he doesn’t want me suffer.

Thanks for asking, my friend.

Warm Regards

—Amani

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Amani Alfarra, Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, May 2006

My photos while traveling with Amani Alfarra, Gaza, May 2006

Set one

Set two

Amnesty International has accused Israel of using white phosphorus in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip.

CEASE FIRE NOW!

Large Gush Shalom ad – published in Haaretz, December 30, 2008

This war is inhuman, superfluous and harmful. Nothing good for Israel will come out of it!

The killing of hundreds of Palestinians and the destruction of the infrastructure of life in the Gaza Strip are abominable acts. Those who hope to reap electoral profits from them are greatly mistaken.

A ground invasion will cause even greater harm, destroy what is left in Gaza and cause many casualties – Israelis and Palestinians, soldiers and civilians.

If, after hard battles, the Israeli army will succeed in conquering the ruins of Gaza, the result will be, at most, to drive Hamas underground and to increase their influence both in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank.

The attack, which has already deepened the hatred, will

AROUSE the whole civilized world against us,

RAISE all over the region a new generation that will hate the State of Israel even more,

INCREASE the impact of Hamas,

UNDERMINE even more the status of peace-seeking Palestinians,

PREVENT Palestinian unity, without which there can be no peace.

On behalf of thousands of Israelis who have demonstrated in the streets of Tel-Aviv within hours after the start of the war, we demand:

– To stop at once the attack on Gaza!

– To propose – and to maintain – a cease-fire that will include the end off all violent actions by both sides, a real opening of the border crossings and the termination of the blockade against the population of the Gaza Strip.

– To start a dialogue with Hamas. Hamas is an integral part of Palestinian society and the Palestinian political system. Without their participation, all negotiations and agreements are meaningless.

Gush Shalom

P.O.Box 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 — info@gush-shalom.orghttp://www.gush-shalom.org

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Boston, January 10, 2009

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Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

—Arundhati Roy

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Lakota Sioux along the Brule River

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Wounded Knee, December 29, 1990

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The medicine man

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Ibrahem Shatali

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Palestinian men bury the body of 4-year-old Lama Hamdan at Beit Hanoun cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. Lama and her sister were reportedly riding a donkey cart Tuesday near a rocket-launching site that was targeted by Israel. (MOHAMMED SALEM/Reuters)

INTRODUCTION

The Lakota Sioux Indian people, those massacred at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890 (that anniversary came just two days after the beginning of the massacre, December 27, 2008] had lived on the Plains for more than 100 years, long before white people settled there. And their roots on the North American continent continue back for perhaps 15,000 years. They were long-term residents. Whites entered the region in the early 1800s, mainly in wagon trains heading further west—to settle, they were settlers, they built settlements. Many of these whites believed god was on their side, that they had rights to the land because of their superior culture and because of their affinity with god.

Are there significant parallels between the massacre at Wounded Knee and the current massacre in Gaza?

OUTLINE

Lakota Sioux, 1890 Palestinians, 2008-2009
Some 300 killed As of January 9, 2009, more than 780 killed, 3300 injured and increasing
A few rifles, knives, perhaps bows and arrows Rudimentary rockets and mortars, some rifles
Against rapid firing Hotchkiss cannon
and other heavy weapons
Against Apache helicopters, F16 fighters, artillery, gun boats
Few noticed but some outcry existed Few noticed or spoke out, even among Arab-Muslim states, limited UN role
Massive firepower did not discriminate between Indian and civilian Massive firepower did not discriminate between Hamas militant and civilian
Forced onto reservations Forced into a concentration camp
White fear, in part a misreading of the Ghost Dance Jewish fear, in part a misreading of the Hamas Covenant
Memory of Indian raids, and especially Custer’s loss 14 years earlier Memory of the holocaust and two millennia of persecution of Jews
US belief in armed force, the
government resisted negotiations
Israeli belief in armed force, the government resists negotiations
Faulty treaties Faulty agreements, such as Oslo
Awarding Congressional Medals of Honor to 27 officers and soldiers Possible lauding of the officers and soldiers
Widespread white support Widespread Israeli and international Jewish support
Last major armed confrontation between Indians and rulers Last major armed confrontation between Palestinians and rulers?
Cemented white supremacy in the
United States
Cemented Israeli supremacy?
Accountability: virtually none altho some called for a truth and reconciliation process Accountability: virtually none altho some might call for a truth and reconciliation process, tribunal, or other forms of international adjudication
No rebuilding of the nation How will rebuilding of Gaza occur?

SET THE STAGE

For most of the 19th century the US army had forced American Indians from their ancestral areas into confined zones, mostly reservations with few natural resources. The Lakota Sioux people, a vigorous and hearty group of Plains Indians with roots on the east coast, were first “transferred” onto the Great Sioux Reservation (GSR), a large area in what is now South and North Dakota and Wyoming. This region shrank dramatically when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, originally a part of the GSR and for at least 2 centuries a sacred site for Lakota. By 1890 the remaining lands were minuscule compared with what Lakota roamed over in the late 18th century.

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General Sherman and other government officials with Lakota Sioux meeting about the treaty forming the Great Sioux Reservation in 1867

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For good reason many Lakota resisted this imprisonment, notably Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Whites orchestrated the murder of Crazy Horse by his own people, and then in December 22, 1890, Sitting Bull, also by his own Lakota. A band led by the peace chief, Big Foot, fled south. They were trapped along the Wounded Knee creek in the Pine Ridge Reservation. Next morning, surrounded by elements of Custer’s old unit, the 7th Calvary, they were massacred. Some 300 died, most of them women and children and elderly. Warriors offered little resistance, since they lacked effective weapons. (Incidentally, early road signs erected by the state of South Dakota called the massacre a “battle” until many opposed this misnaming and the state agreed to change the wording to “massacre” at Wounded Knee.)

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Chief Big Foot propped up in death for a photograph

Prior to the massacre, whites had been settling in the area. Observing the Ghost Dance of the Lakota people, a failed attempt to non-violently resist white incursion, local whites mistook this for a war dance. They feared; they demanded army protection. Using newly developed weaponry which had not been fully field tested, mostly the Hotchkiss rapid firing cannon, the soldiers, some of them reportedly drunk, many of them recalling the debacle of their once heralded leader, General George Custer at the Battle of Greasy Grass or Little Big Horn, fired on everyone in the camp. Chief Big Foot, already sick from pneumonia, was one of the first killed.

People in the East noticed; there was an outcry against the massacre, leading to a hearing that questioned the officers. They were cleared, and many officers and soldiers awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

POSSIBLE PARALLELS

Now, what might be parallels with the current killings in Gaza? Is it fair to call the Israeli attack on Gaza a massacre? Is it a battle? Is it the proper and legal exercise of Israel to defend itself? Is it justified killing?

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A wounded Palestinian girl is carried into the Al-Shifa hospital on December 28, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza. (Abid Katib/Getty Images)

As of this writing, January 9, 2009, at least 795 Palestinians are now dead (martyred in in the language of many Palestinians—a word I concur with), upwards of 3300 are injured (400 of them dangerously), at least 10 Israeli soldiers and 5 Israeli civilians are dead, some soldiers by friendly fire, some by militants shooting rockets and perhaps using other weapons. An unknown number of casualties lie beneath rubble. Among the dead—230 are children, 92 women, 60 elderly men, 6 medical assistants, 2 journalists, and 3 foreigners. (statistics based on UN and Red Cross figures) Estimates of the  proportion of civilian causalities ranges from 20% to more than 60%, that percentage rising with the ground campaign now underway. The carnage continues as I write this.

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Many bodies lie outside the Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on December 27, 2008. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

Most media and most governments in the western world state, “Israel has a right to defend itself. The attacks will stop when Hamas stops firing rockets. Hamas broke the truce with their rockets.” However, numerous observers counter this and declare, “Back up a few steps. Israel has kept the Gazans under siege for nearly 2 years, ever since Hamas was elected in an open, fair, democratic election. Gazans have been suffering food, water, medical, and educational deprivations during this period, on top of the occupation that dates back to at least 1967. During the recent 6-month truce, ending on December 19th, Israel did nothing to end the siege. Palestinian rocket fire decreased dramatically.

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Samera Baalusha (34) (right) sits with her daughter Eman (15) and surviving son Mohamad (15 months) while waiting to see the body of her 4-year-old daughter Jawaher Baalusha during the funeral held for Jawher and her four other sisters who were all killed in an Israeli missile strike, on December 29, 2008 in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Jawher Baalusha and her sisters were killed during an Israeli air raid while they were sleeping together in their bedroom. Medics stated that the raid had targeted a mosque near their home in Jabalia. (Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Until recently the US either blocked the UN Security Council from issuing a cease-fire demand or abstained from voting. In addition, the US Senate voted unanimously for an unqualified declaration of support for Israel. Should Israel be found to be committing war crimes, the US Senate is complicit. Not only that but the US supplies most of the weapons used by Israel, including helicopters, fighter jets, heavy artillery and communication equipment.

In early November Israel broke the truce by attacking tunnels and homes at the ends of those tunnels that they claimed were used by militants to bring in weapons. They killed some 5 Palestinians. Only then did Hamas and other armed groups significantly increase launching their home made, poorly targeted rockets and mortars on Israeli civilians. They also deployed for the first time longer-range rockets. Indeed, Israel’s attack did nothing to stop the rocket fire, it exacerbated it. These rocket attacks on civilians are deplorable and constitute war crimes. I and many others oppose them. Do they justify the disproportionate Israeli attacks?

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A medic crouches over the body of an Israeli man after he was killed in a rocket attack launched from the Gaza Strip and hit the southern Israeli town of Netivot on December 27, 2008 following Israeli bombardment on the Palestinian costal strip. The rocket attack killed one man and wounded four others, according to the Magen David Adom, Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross. (HAIM HORENSTEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

During the late 1800s, whites claimed Indians had few rights to the lands they’d inhabited for centuries, and that Indian attacks on setters were grounds for retaliation. North American rulers left out the prior history—American Indian domination of the entire continent. And the fact that Indians never invited whites into their lands. Whites invaded and called it the equivalent of “Manifest Destiny,” or god’s will. They did not recognize the Indians rights to defend themselves, violently if necessary. Instead Indians were termed bloodthirsty savages, the 19th century equivalent of “terrorists.”

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Rosemary Jumping Eagle, town of Wounded Knee, 1982

Moreover: overwhelming white firepower against the Lakota matches Israel’s overwhelming force. World opinion, at least the western world, then and now, match. Resisting honest negotiation matches. Source of weapons matches for the most part: cannon, rifles, revolvers and ammunition used at Wounded Knee, and Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, 155 mm artillery rounds, artillery firing those rounds, missiles, rockets, bombs, all or mostly all USA made, and communication equipment made at least in part by Motorola, bulldozers if used manufactured by Caterpillar. Motives match: wipe out the Indians, wipe out the Palestinians, whether with the velvet glove, making conditions of survival so dismal that most, if allowed, would flee (as is happening in the west bank), or under cover of the “right to defend itself” commit outright murder—the Hanukah Massacres.

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An Israeli F15 fighter made in the United States flies over the northern Israeli-Gaza Strip border on December 28, 2008. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

OUTCOMES

Will results match? American Indians, altho surviving, are much diminished. What will become of the Palestinians? How will the Gazan nation—and the equivalent of a small nation it is—rebuild itself? Till now Israel prevents all building materials and most chemicals, experts, and money from entering. Unless the world community, thru the United Nations and the international court system, applies significant pressure, I’m afraid Israel will maintain its course of impunity. One possibility, as might be happening now in the US: self-destruction. A suicidal course. The minor empire in the Middle East, the “only democracy in the Middle East with its “army of pure means,” might founder. Israel, like the US, struggles with a hopelessly contradictory set of founding principles, more dishonored than honored. Can a nation hope to survive with such cognitive dissonance? Perhaps Marx will be right after all, not about the imminent implosion of capitalism, but of certain western nations whose war making boomerangs on them.

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PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT

I am personally involved in both themes, American Indians and Palestinians. I’ve visited Wounded Knee several times, most recently for the Big Foot Memorial Ride to Wounded Knee in 1990, commemorating the centennial of the massacre. Inspired by Black Elk who prophesied that the seventh generation of Lakota would be the last generation able to “Wipe Away the Tears” and  “Mend the Sacred Hoop,” i.e., end the mourning period and rebuild the nation, for two weeks the ride traversed the same path at the same time of the year used by Big Foot and his people. I’ve camped near Wounded Knee, summer and winter, and have felt the powerful negative—and positive—force fields emanating from the earth. I grieve for the Lakota people and all native peoples who have been dispossessed. However, I do not feel their cause is hopeless.

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Big Foot Memorial Ride to Wounded Knee, December 1990

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Big Foot Memorial Ride to Wounded Knee, December 1990

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Big Foot Memorial Ride to Wounded Knee, December 1990

Similarly I’ve been 3 times to Gaza since 2004, most recently just one year ago, January 2008. I’ve lived under the siege, suffering the loss of electrical power, the sealed borders, the lack of food, the buzz of the drone that might target me at any moment, the nearness of death—and the presence of resilience, sumud, in Arabic, steadfastness. I’ve met young men volunteering in their communities to serve the poor, I’ve met members of the Palestinian Initiative, a group dedicated to nonviolently ending the fighting between rival political parties, I’ve worked with the Gaza Community Mental Health Program watching as psychologists assessed the psychic damages of the siege on children (their offices suffered indirect attacks recently and are closed), and the American Friends Service Committee’s youth programs training in community building and leadership skills. And I’m in close daily contact—if electricity and Internet work—with friends in Gaza. I also hope to return in summer 2009. What and who will greet me then?

I was not able to be present during the Wounded Knee of 1890. I’m unsure what I’d have done if knowing about the impending massacre, or what I’d call for once I’d learned its results. I am sure about Gaza: the occupation of Palestine is apartheid, the attack on Gaza is a massacre, several parties are committing war crimes, and all must be held accountable, as is true for all those governments supporting Israel’s occupation, siege, and ruination of Gaza. Which includes me, as a citizen of the United States. Especially if I pay income tax. I can act, you can act. Now.

Some are guilty but all are responsible.

—Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

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The body of a Palestinian security force officer lays in the rubble after an Israeli missile strike on a building in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Fadi Adwan)

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Eli Azran father of Irit Shitrit (39), a mother of four, leans over her dead body as he mourns during her funeral on December 30, 2008 in Ashdod, Israel. Shitrit was killed yesterday by a Hamas rocket in Ashdod, Israel, after hearing a warning siren and taking shelter in a roadside bus stop. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

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Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2009

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Links:

Truly horrible photos from inside Gaza

“Too much to mourn in Gaza”
By Eva Bartlett, Live from Palestine, 8 January 2009

“US weaponry facilitates killings in Gaza”

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Ibrahim a friend sent me a message on my mobile said : look outside .. F16 warplanes are smiling for you, missiles are dancing for you, “Zanannaa” the discovery planes are singing for you, because I have requested them all wishing you “Happy New Year”

—Adham Khalil from Jabaliya Camp in Gaza, who blogs at Free Free Palestine

Amal Sabawi is at afscg@palnet.com, and directs the American Friends Service Committee’s Popular Achievement program in Gaza. Amal in Arabic means hope. All writing as is, unedited by me. Because of Israeli destruction of internet and phone infrastructure, further communications are in doubt.

12/30/08:

Dear Skip

How are you doing , i hope all is fine with you and you have plan to enjoy
the new year , i do think of you and know how you concern on people here ,
unfortunately things going badly , after the long suffer of people with
the tighten closure and prohibiting people of most important basic needs
and commodity , it was so horrible to have this bloodshed against
civilians ,
i try to write about the situation and update our friends outside on
what’s going on , hope this would be useful , will continue writing ,
hope you can come to come to Gaza next summer  as you already have plan to
do so ,
we pray to end this massacre and stop killing of civilians

My best wishes and wish you happy new year

Amal

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1/2/09:

After asking if I could put her writing on my blog:

Hi Skip

I hope you are doing very well and have blessed new year
for sure you can use it i hope it been useful , i try to write and update
my friends in US on the situation but the electricity most of the time is
cut off , will continue send you what i have
wish you and all people all over the world have peaceful time and the
joyous of the holidays

be well

amal

Later on 1/2/09:

Dear Skip

We used to live this tragedy long time , i dont have positive memory to
have safe time here , under occupation we grown up , we were very young
and the only thing we have around was the solders and their tanks ,
the first Intifada was also difficult continued for seven years to face
the shooting and prisons  , when the Palestinian authority established we
didnt belive that we have some peaceful time cross the pain and suffer ,
only few years when the second and current Intifada started as life turned
to violence , and the peak was with the fight and division among
Palestinian , Caza suffered a lot and every time you have new tragedy ,
this one is the most dreadful one , Gaza is comletely destructed under the
missiles and tons of bombs ,

despite that we shouldnt give up and well hold our dream and hope  to live
in peace and freedom , Gaza its not stones or cements Gaza is people the
people will rebuild it again and they will pass this , the sun will shine
one day

best wishes

amal

hope you the best

It’s a War

by Amal Sabawi
written a few days after the massacre began on the last day of Hanukah

The military operation against Gaza Strip began on Saturday noon of the 27th December 2008 by intensive air raids pounding all  security centers attached to the dismissed Hamas government. About 60 war planes took part in the air raid which has left some 150 killed and 200 wounded just on the first day of the assault. The timing of the air raid started as students were leaving schools and universities, and women rushed into the streets frantically looking for their children.

Gaza is known to have the highest population density of the world, where one million and a half people live in an area of not more than 360 square kilometers.  Above all, it is worth mentioning that there are no air raid shelters or secure places are built. Thus civilians are more likely to be an easy target and more casualties are inflicted on them.

On the other hand, Israel has declared that this operation will continue as long as necessary until the capabilities of Hamas and other Palestinian associates are paralysed.  This is aiming at stopping rocket and mortar attacks that have so called ‘traumatized’ southern Israel.

These new waves of air raids have expanded to include homes and civilian possessions. These air strikes and mortar shelling have left 300 killed and 800 wounded according to hospitals statistics for the second day of the military action.

The Israeli aggression on Gaza began after 17 months of absolutely complete blockade, and closure of borders for goods, commodities as well as the mobility of people. This blockade includes the embargo of drugs and essential medical equipment.  According to the Ministry of Health estimates, more than 100 kinds of medicines are not available. Gaza hospitals are not well equipped and unable to receive a large number of casualties. When these hospitals are not able to give primary care to patients including simple surgical operations as well as shortage of medical manpower, they are completely unable  to cope with serious cases. To transfer such patients to neighboring countries hospitals Is hindered due to the conflict between the Egyptian government and Hamas. It seems that Hamas resents the role of the Egyptian government and accuses it having colluded with Israel. Thus, it refuses to transfer the wounded to the Egyptian hospitals. However,  this conflict will put the lives of hundreds of wounded at a great risk.

Subsequently,  Israel began a psychological warfare by striking civilian houses after their being notified of evacuating them. Several houses have been demolished, which resulted in a multiple number of casualties among inhabitants of adjacent houses; and if starvation, shortage of foodstuff is added, which necessitates immediate intervention to stop Israeli assaults, and lifting embargo and blockade for the dignity and humanity of people.

Links:

American Friends Service Committee in Gaza

Popular Achievement Program in Gaza

Photos of AFSC work in Gaza

AFSC Relief Work in Gaza, 1949

Photos of rally and march in Boston supporting Gaza, January 3, 2008

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I tend to see it as a flaw in my cognitive abilities that deaths of people who live across the ocean or [die from] poison in the water in Woburn, Massachusetts seem distant to me. I don’t think I am alone in this at all. Actually, I am probably different from some people in that I actively seek to personalize suffering that is distant from me. And if I am not using that to make brave, radical steps toward environmental and social change every day, what are the people who actively try to distance themselves from other people’s suffering doing? What is going to act as a catalyst for them?

—Rachel Corrie

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Injured by Israeli sniper, hospital, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip, 2004

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Injured by Israeli sniper, hospital, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip, 2004

The writing below is from Mahmoud Abu Aisha who I met on my last trip to Gaza, in January 2008. We met briefly at the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. When he contacted me recently I recalled an earlier meeting at the GCMHP: Mohamed Mukhaimar, a man dedicated to healing the traumas of children in Gaza.

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In 2004 with Mohamed I photographed in several hospitals as he assessed psychic damages to children hit by deliberate Israeli sniper fire. As I photographed I felt water surging behind my eyes, about to burst thru my eyeballs. Later in the taxi, I stifled my need to weep, waiting until I was private. Now at times I weep uncontrollably at the slightest stimulus, whether related to Gaza or not.

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Mohamed Mukhaimar, 2004

That’s me. Imagine Mohamed or Mahmoud, or Amal Sabawi (her name means hope in Arabic), the director of the American Friends Service Committee Popular Achievement program, who I’ll write about in another blog, or Rawand who translates for me or Ibrahem who helps train college age youth or Mosab at the AFSC in Gaza or Mustafa a professor in one of the Gazan universities, perhaps the one destroyed by Israel. They live there, they can’t leave. Imagine the children living there. Imagine the soldiers and fighter-bomber pilots delivering their Hanukah massacre, a macabre form of New Year’s blessing from Israel. Imagine the Israeli leaders who issued the orders. Imagine the Israeli citizens who at this point overwhelmingly support their government’s actions in Gaza. Imagine the governments who support this carnage. Imagine the taxpayers who pay for this havoc. Do they weep—from sorrow, or from joy?

I wonder also how Gaza can ever be rebuilt. If the siege continues, Israel will ban all building materials, most money, most experts, most equipment. Unless they relent—and they may not without massive international pressure—the Gazans are fated to slowly perish. Is this behind the Israeli strategy? Not only to stop the rockets, not only to demolish Hamas, but to punish and eventually annihilate the Gazans who purportedly support Hamas? And then the entire region, ethnically cleansed. Seem far-fetched? Read The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by the renowned Israeli academic (now in exile because of threats), Ilan Pappe.

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Jabaliya, Gaza Strip, 2004

In recent memory I cannot recall another instance of such savagery, and not only savagery but international compliance. Ah, yes, one, the “shock and awe” campaign of President GW Bush against Iraq. How could I have forgotten? Whose tax money bought the bombs dropped on Baghdad, on Gaza? And then the Nazi driven holocaust. Are there parallels?

Let’s imagine a slightly different scenario. Hamas is labeled a terrorist organization, and there is truth to this. It is certainly extreme and does state in its covenant its goal to erase Israel, a position I oppose. Let’s identify a similar organization in Israel, say, led by Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party who is now a candidate for prime minister. Let’s imagine the Palestinians have the 4th most powerful army in the world, Netanyahu wins, and Palestine declares his party to be terrorist, a charge I’d support. And then, as night follows day, Hamas sends in its war machinery to eliminate the Likud party and Netanyahu himself. Might as well rub out all the government offices, the entire infrastructure and while we’re at it, wink when anyone says they’re intentionally killing civilians. They could claim, we have a right to defend ourselves, and civilian deaths are regrettably but unavoidable. Would the international community acquiesce, merely mouthing platitudes, like end the violence, sit down and talk?

One bright possibility (“To the stars over rough roads, oh valiant friends!”): finally, finally the international community, you and me, rise up and declare: Enough! Yesh Gvul! There is a limit! No more! End the carnage! Pull back! Resolve this justly! End the occupation! Two peoples living securely and freely in one land! Soon!

—Skip Schiel

My next blog will feature the words of Amal Sabawi.

Late breaking: the bombing of a police station near the Gaza Community Mental Health Program offices destroyed part of the center—closed until further notice <http://www.gcmhp.net/&gt;

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Hospital, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip, 2004

From Mahmoud Abu Aisha – GCMHP <mahmoud@gcmhp.net> (unedited)

January 1st, 2008

Gaza Bleeding under the Israeli War

Dear Friends and Supporters…

I’m writing to you in this very critical situation in Gaza. Now at 3:30 am I still hear the shelling all over Gaza…We are in unbearable conditions where we are subject to the Israeli undiscriminating missiles; we live moments of fear, panic and terror under the Israeli war. Israel practices its brutal crimes against innocent civilians in an attempt to attack Hamas movement or to put and end to the rocket shelling at its settlements. Under this pretext, Israel has entirely destroyed the Gaza Strip Infrastructure and the civil society completely.

Under these dreadful conditions, our children are terrified and I tried to avoid them viewing any scenes of the war at TV when electricity comes. In my home, whenever a bomb happen my young brother and nephews scream, terrified from these extremely loud explosions. I tried to calm them down and said these are sounds of a party outside, but these lies can no longer deceive them as they hear the roaring of the helicopter and the terrible shattering of buildings due to airplanes’ strikes… Many symptoms immediately appeared among our children as I noticed, they have suffered from urinating in the day, bed wetting in the nigh, clinging to the elderly, wanting to die with elderly and not to be left alone, panic, fear and hyperactivity…

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Jabaliya, Gaza Strip, 2004

In these moments, the Palestinian populations live in very hard conditions with very short provision supplies of basic food and lack of electricity in most of day hours. No more 6 hours a day the electricity comes and cuts off the rest of the day… we can hardly receive our bread through waiting 3-4 hours to take a sack of bread that is very rare in the Gaza strip as most of the bakeries have shut down their doors due to lack of flour in the Gaza Strip. They used to grind the wheels used for cattle. Though, we have to eat it willingly or unwillingly… December and January are the coldest months in the area, yet we have no electricity for heating or cocking…

Israel has destroyed the whole community in Gaza; infrastructure and civil society have also been devastated by the Israeli war planes… Neither mosques, nor universities, nor charities, nor sport clubs, nor ministries, nor civil homes were exempted from the Israeli bombardment. My heart is bleeding about what happened to my university, the Islamic University of Gaza that I graduated from in the last July, 2008. I feel honored to have two certificates, the Bechelor Degree in English Literature and a General Diploma in Education from this university in the Gaza. Israel warplanes shelled many buildings of by home university and demolished many buildings entirely…

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With brother, hospital, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip, 2004

Moreover, Israel has practices the psychological warfare in hideous way. Israeli authorizes sent phone threats to many houses calling them to evacuate their homes within 5 minutes or less to shell their homes. If they were late for few moments, they collapse happen on their heads as what happened yesterday in the north of Gaza Strip when the Israelis gave Ba’lousha Family two minutes only to evacuate the home that included seven daughter… the parents couldn’t evacuate in this limited time especially the children were sleeping, and the air strike was faster… FIVE Daughters were killed under the rubble of the demolished home… Israel used missiles weighed over 1000 tons against simple homes or charities in intensively crowded areas… Israel has been sending phone threats to thousands of homes and civil society associations calling them to evacuate, but they find no other places to live in!!! Israel intended to start the war in the time of children’s departure of their schools at 11:25 am where they used over SIXTY F16 warplanes. This resulted in big numbers of injuries among school children. It is a real war against the Gaza Strip that is only 360 Km2 with over 1.5 million people, over 50% under 18 years old. About 60 children  were killed in Gaza since the beginning of this war against Gaza in addition to 400 killed and about 1800 injuries, aren’t these war crimes?

motherhospitalkhanyunis_7950

With mother and brother, hospital, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip, 2004

Israel acts the desperate choice to end the home made rockets against its towns around the Gaza Stip. Israel has imposed this cruel severe siege since 15 June, 2007, denying the access of all life supplies just with very limited amounts… the Gazans have had no choice to obtain their food rather than digging tunnels under the Palestinian-Egyptian boarders, and smuggle food and fuel and other possible needs from Egypt. This has accumulated the life under siege as prices have become doubled and they couldn’t afford their needs under the difficult economic hardship with 80% poverty and 85% unemployment rate…Nevertheless, Egypt denies entry of humanitarian aids into the Gaza Strips…Egypt controls the Gate of Gaza, though mobilize forces at the Boarders with the Gaza Strip, and Israel destroy the tunnels at the Gaza Side… Egypt is exposed to pressures, yet we say that agreements on papers are not equal to national, Arab, historic ties between the two nations… I’m writing now and following up what the Security Council will conclude regarding its urgent session to discuss the situation in Gaza???

Finally, we have nothing to do just to ask Allah to rescue us from this terrible War…

Please mention us in your prayers…

Blessings,

Mahmoud Abu Aisha – GCMHP <mahmoud@gcmhp.net>

Links:

My photos from Gazan hospitals, 2008

From Gaza with Love, blog by Dr. Mona El-Farra

Free Free Palestine, blog by Adham Khalel

Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza

In Gaza, blog by Eva Bartlett

US Campaign to End the Occupation

B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

Free Gaza

Extraordinary photographs of the current attacks: Israel and Gaza – The Big Picture – Boston.com

More photos from Gaza

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When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you—and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally.

Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

—Deuteronomy 7: 16

From Yusef  al-Ghalban in Gaza:

gaza,: hello, what’s up man

me: hey yusef, i’m here but talking with my daughter for a few more minutes. can you wait?

gaza,: ok, take your time

me: ok yusef, now i’m free and happy to chat with you.

me: yusef, i’m still here.

gaza,: ok
there’s a bombing in the area between khanyonis and rafah
many bombs
ambulances in her way

me: can you take shelter anywhere?

gaza,:
this is the problem dear, there’s no shelter, any place could been targeted
mainly they are destroying thesecurity centers of hamas, all places of them
but the problem is that all these places are crowded with innocent people, there’s no (special)
place for hamas or others
about the statistics you ask

me: how often do they target homes, schools, hospitals, and other civilian areas?

gaza,: yes for sure,
they destroyed mosques,
3 of them, they say it is a store of weapon for hamas
perhapse this is true but in these attacks on mosques they killed more than 10 civil Palestinians

me: today some of us go to a senator
today some of us go to a senator’s office in boston to persuade him to be more supportive of
palestinian rights. later today another vigil in cambridge which i will attend and photograph. we
try.

gaza,: that sounds very good,
you know skip, i don’t blame you as US citizen,, but do other citizens of US are aware that their
army manficture which used with no sense of humanity here in gaza?
this war isn’t against Hamas, even thought it look like this. today the spokes man of israeli army said that we will continue the war till we destroyed every place of Hamas, and killed every one of them..
but in fact, they can’t kill Hamas people only, bullets don’t know the difference between the children and a man, this bombs don’t know the difference between a weapon place and a civilian house,

me: very well written yusef, maybe i can quote you in one of my future writings, if that is ok.

gaza,: ok skip;
now they opened the bordered of Rafah between Egypt and Gaza strip, many aid supplies entered by these moment

me: that is very good news. i hope it stays open and much aid can come in and many injured persons can get out for medical treatment.

gaza,: yes
skip till now there are more than 1000 injuries,
all gaza strip hospitals can’t handle that much of cases

me: have you heard about west bank borders closed? someone told me they heard israel sealed all west bank borders. but i’ve seen no news about this. this morning i wrote friends there to confirm or deny that claim. what do you hear, and about the west bank generally responding to the gaza horror?

gaza,: there are demonstrations in west back
conflicts between palestinians and israeli army,

me: yes, i heard one palestinian was killed in a west bank clash.

gaza,: i think there are more than 5 palestinians were killed in these demonstration
they are more by now
i don;t know the number for sure we are busy on events in gaza about the martyers
more than 320 palestinian
40 percent of them are children and women civiliants
the UNRWA asked for a committee of enquiry about gaza events

me: this is a quote from unrwa:
Even before the present Israeli blitzkrieg, Karen Koning Abu Zayd, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), asserted that, “Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and – some would say – encouragement of the international community.”

gaza,: the UNRWA said that more than 55 children and a women were killed
yep
yes yes

me: is your computer battery working so that when electricity stops the computer continues? or are you plugged into power without using your battery? i’m curious about why we can’t maintain our video connection.

gaza,: i think these percentage is more accurate than the first one
my battery is good, it’s about the internet router, it turn off every time the electricity cut and reopened
let\s try again

me: how are my friends, ibrahem, adham, issam, ehab, amal, belal, rawand, and the others? any word from them?
ok, now i understand, yes let’s try again for video. i’ll call you. 9 minutes
me: oh shit, lost it again. i’ve heard that israel is phoning people in homes and telling them that if they have any weapons in their homes, israel will attack the home. is this accurate?

gaza,: am back, sorry, as usual, electricity issue
about our question it’s true
night in near area in khyanyounis, Bani-Suhaila, they called a house and ask the people to leave within 5 minutes bcz they went to destroy the house in 5 minutes they destroy it by an F16 bomb
yes it’s true
and not onlu for people who has any weapon
also for people who work, support, any one of Hamas
here’s a new thing, i was listening to the radio 10 min. ago, the israelian army broadcast a message through Radio channels
it is for Rafah people, those houses which had a tunnel, a weapon, or those who live in it and participated in “Terror activities” will be destroyed by now,, please leave your houses we will bomb it right away.. and forewarned is forearmed and repeate it again and agai
perhaps it’s a propaganda in a war, perhaps it’s true.. will we will wait and see…
Take Care of yourself Skip, Peace from Gaza.. yeeeeeeeeeeh

…resistance as spectacle has cut loose from its origins in genuine civil disobedience and is becoming more symbolic than real. Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are fun and vital, but alone they are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe.

—Arundhati Roy

Another view: Israel vows war on Hamas in Gaza (BBC)

Israeli Attacks Kill Over 310 in Gaza in One of Israel’s Bloodiest Attacks on Palestinians Since 1948 (Democracy Now interviews)

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Even before the present Israeli blitzkrieg, Karen Koning Abu Zayd, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), asserted that, “Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and – some would say – encouragement of the international community.”

The news is mixed: Israel opened the borders with Gaza for one day, Friday, allowing in humanitarian aid. They followed that with widespread missile attacks allegedly killing thousands. Israel claims this is in response to continuing rocket and mortar attacks by Gaza militants. One of the Gazan mortars fell on a house in Gaza, killing and injuring Palestinians. I’m including today’s Google alerts for Gaza which because of timing perhaps do not include the recent Israeli attacks. These I learned about only minutes ago from a dear friend in Gaza, Yusef. I’ll include some of our conversation.

I deplore all the violence, no matter how various parties try to justify it. And feel it is suicidal for all parties, locked in by wretchedly primitive thinking. As Martin Luther King Jr famously said in his Nobel prize acceptance speech (largely unheeded, by the US government as well, including our newly elected president who favors increased military action in Afghanistan),

“Violence as a way of achieving … justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

From a recent chat with a friend in Gaza:

gaza: hello
Sent at 8:52 AM on Saturday, December 27, 2008

me: hey yusef, want to chat? i’m around for another hour or so.

gaza,: i thought perhaps you hear the news from gaza

yusef08_2936

Yousef Al-Ghalban
me: what’s the latest? i try to keep up.

gaza,: today morning,about 155 Palestinians killed by F.16 bombardment all over Gaza strip..it’s a new massacre, very very horrible…
there are more than 300 injuries

me: oh god, yusef, this is indeed tragic. and just when israel opened the borders and aid apparently came thru.

gaza,: they opened the borders for one day only. yesterday, just to keep the international silence, situation is very dark.

gaza,: about 60 army planes hits 100 target once,,. you now how is difficult in such crowded place like Gaza

me: thanks so much yusef for informing me. i’d heard of israeli threats and now they deliver. i’ll send out the news this morning to my list, and i’ll include the latest news in my slide show about gaza. i’ve shown it a few times aroud the country in the past few months.
may i include some of your words in my message to others?

gaza,: of course

me: thanks, and any time you’d like to chat, when i’m on line, and try video chat again, just let me know. it’s satisfying to me that we can remain in contact.

yousef-smiling

By Yousef, 2008
gaza,: yes dear
i suggest as well to visit http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php
you will find information and photos..
take care of yourself dear

me: i’ll do all that. i’m composing the message to my list now and plan to send a copy to you and other friends in gaza. i am so thankful for our friendship and that you’d think of me to receive this dreadful but vital news.

gaza,: you are welcome Skip, i thought you should know about that, and am not so comfortable about the credibility of international media. i thought you should know the news from the source.. i am sorry if i made you confused,,

me: you’ve clarified the picture yusef, not confused it. my google alerts today only pointed to relatively good news, not the recent attacks. these will probably show up on google tomorrow since they compile only once per day.

gaza,: and the spoken man of Israeli army said that it’s just the beginning.. how funny is that.. so i think that the few hours/days coming will be a new scene in the film of killing Gaza..

the strange thing is that israelien army believe that gaza strip is like south Lebanon or something, it’s different here, you know that they used a very powerful bombs..our house tremble like a leaf,, i will send you a photo of the bombing in Khanyounis were i am,

gaza, is busy. You may be interrupting.

Friends, I’ve written my congressional people, a feeble response admittedly, and continue with more verve and dedication my mission to photograph and portray lives in Israel and Palestine. I pray we can all find suitable means of action and expression.

yousefkidssurvived
By Yousef, 2008

Israel Reopens Gaza Crossings
New York Times – United States
By REUTERS Israel reopened border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Friday, a day after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned militants there to stop firing
See all stories on this topic
‘Iran Red Crescent vessel heads to Gaza
Jerusalem Post – Israel
COM STAFF AND YAAKOV LAPPIN An Iranian Red Crescent vessel laden with humanitarian supplies is due to set sail for the Gaza Strip on Saturday, AFP reported,
See all stories on this topic
Egyptian aid convoy enters Gaza
Xinhua – China
26 (Xinhua) — A convoy of Egyptian aid offered to the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip entered the costal enclave on Friday, the official MENA news
See all stories on this topic
Report: Iran to send humanitarian aid ship to Gaza Strip
Ha’aretz – Tel Aviv,Israel
By Haaretz Service An Iranian freighter carrying tons of humanitarian equipment destined for the Gaza Strip will set sail from the Islamic Republic on
See all stories on this topic
Two Children Dead In Apparent Gaza Mortar Misfire
EasyBourse.com – Paris,France
GAZA CITY (AFP)–Two young girls were killed in northern Gaza Friday when their house was hit by a mortar round apparently fired by Palestinian gunmen who
See all stories on this topic
AFP

Gaza braces for Israeli offensive
AFP
GAZA CITY (AFP) — The spectre of a military invasion on Friday hung over Hamas-run Gaza Strip where two children were killed as Palestinian militants fired
See all stories on this topic

AFP

Gaza bracing for Israeli military strike
AFP
JERUSALEM (AFP) — The spectre of a military invasion is hanging over the Gaza Strip as militants fired another volley of rockets despite Israeli warnings
See all stories on this topic

Israel allows aid into Gaza
Jewish Telegraphic Agency – New York,NY,USA
By Eric Fingerhut · December 26, 2008 (JTA) — Israel has reopened its border with Gaza to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. The Israeli military said
See all stories on this topic
Palestinian rocket causes Gaza casualties -medics
Reuters – USA
GAZA, Dec 26 (Reuters) – A rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza toward Israel on Friday accidentally struck a house in the coastal territory,
See all stories on this topic
AFP

Iran to send aid ship to Gaza
AFP
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran’s Red Crescent is sending a shipment of aid to the Gaza Strip in the face of a blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory by Islamic
See all stories on this topic

Google Blogs Alert for: gaza

Here are concrete and constructive actions you can take regarding Israel’s barbaric attacks on Gaza.

The following is a BBC report which includes a graphic video of the suffering. I’ve been thru many of the hospitals in front of which bodies are now being piled.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7801662.stm

Thanks for taking whatever action seems appropriate to you. My friend Yusef who I quoted in an earlier message (he warned me to expect no further emails for some time because of an impending power cutoff), as well as other friends of mine, and I’m sure the 1.5 million people imprisoned in Gaza, will appreciate your action.

<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=tJFnD6JiwWTkomPUBJK30kBGvYVGC1Ep>

Emergency Alert: Take Action to End

Israeli Attacks on Gaza
December 27th, 2008

As of this writing, Israeli Air Force attacks today on the occupied Gaza Strip killed an estimated 200 or more people and injured hundreds more. These Israeli attacks come on top of a brutal siege of the Gaza Strip, which has created a humanitarian catastrophe of dire proportions for Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian residents by restricting the provision of food, fuel, medicine, electricity, and other necessities of life.

While the scope of civilian casualties in today’s attacks is not yet clear, it is unmistakable that Israel carried out these attacks with F16 fighter jets and missiles provided by the taxpayers of this country. From 2001-2006, the United States transferred to Israel more than $200 million worth of spare parts to fly its fleet of F16’s. In July 2008, the United States gave Israel 186 million gallons of JP-8 aviation jet fuel. Last year, the United States signed a $1.3 billion contract with Raytheon to transfer to Israel thousands of TOW, Hellfire, and “bunker buster” missiles. In short, Israel’s lethal attack today on the Gaza Strip could not have happened without the active military and political support of the United States. Therefore, we need to take action to protest this attack and demand an immediate cease-fire.
TAKE ACTION 1. Contact the White House to protest the attack and demand an immediate cease-fire. Call 202-456-1111 or send an email to comments@whitehouse.gov.

2. Contact the State Department at 202-647-6575 or send an email by clicking here <http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=mQqbyH%2BOehflRNIJzzK3JkBGvYVGC1Ep> .

3. Contact your Representative and Senators in Congress at 202-224-3121 or find contact info for your Members of Congress by clicking here <http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=UI2KulxDTPywgSaMbtldZkBGvYVGC1Ep> .

4. Contact your local media by phoning into a talk show or writing a letter to the editor. To find contact info for your local media, click here <http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=46Rj06lSQvjp%2BuOD7cmF%2BEBGvYVGC1Ep> .

5. Organize a local protest or vigil and tell us about it by clicking here <mailto:congress@endtheoccupation.org> .

6. Sign our open letter to President-Elect Obama calling for a new U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine and find out other steps you can take to influence the incoming Administration by clicking here <http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=4sLlCGoEEl0yT8HWl8%2Br3EBGvYVGC1Ep> .


US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

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