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By Salena Tramel
January 12th, 2009
Grassroots International consultant Safa Joudeh has been reporting on the crisis in Gaza from Gaza City, providing first-hand accounts of the affects of the violence on the civilian population. Two of her accounts were recently published, Living in Gaza, Under Starlight and Bomb Blasts and Displaced and Desperate in Gaza. Both of these stories offer a glimpse of what is taking place behind Gaza's closed doors.
By Lindsay Shade
January 10th, 2009
You already know that the news looks grim:
- Both Israel and Hamas have rejected international calls for a cease fire and the violence has escalated
- Gaza's border with Egypt and Israel remains closed
- Humanitarian aid has halted due to attacks on UN and Red Cross/Red Crescent workers.
Direct updates and news make it out of Gaza only in short bursts, when there is sufficient power to feed cell phone batteries and computers. Grassroots International's locally based partner organizations within Gaza continue to send us word as they can about how they are responding to the crisis and facilitating relief and reconstruction. Because of their ongoing commitment to social justice and human rights in the region, their efforts stand the greatest chance of having a lasting impact.
When I talk to people in Gaza these days, two things usually come up. The first, even in the midst of such a devastating war, is sincere gratitude for keeping in touch. The second is the question of why the world - especially the US whose taxpayers are financing the war - is silent. Although our actions have not yet been able to halt the attacks on Gaza, I can honestly tell our Palestinian friends that we are not silent.
January 7th, 2009
Again raising both legal and moral questions, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on January 6, 2009. Below are both his introduction to the letter and the text itself. Please write to thank Rep. Kucinich for his leadership on this issue.
From Dennis Kucinich:
In light of press reports that Israeli forces fired on a United Nations school where civilians were taking shelter, I sent notice today to Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, that Israel's actions in Gaza since December 27th, 2008 may constitute a violation of the requirements of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA).
Yesterday, I was on the phone with a friend in Gaza when we were cut off by a loud noise. When I reached her a few minutes later, she politely apologized for the interruption, explaining that a missile had just hit a target next to her apartment building for the sixth time that day. "It's already totally flattened," she said, "I don't know what more they want."
As the death toll rises in Gaza to over 650 with thousands more wounded in
the 11 days since the Israeli military campaign began, mainstream U.S. media
outlets are toeing the official Israeli government line, scarcely mentioning
statements from the international human rights community, progressive Israelis,
On the evening of January 3, we residents of Gaza realized that if there is any truth to Ehud Barak's words, it is that this invasion will be a long one. At approximately 9:15 pm local time Israeli forces entered the strip from three locations. From the east of Gaza City, tanks rolled into the Palestinian residential areas while Israeli F16s provided cover from the sky. At the same time, Israeli tanks and infantry troops entered Rafah from the south east, while tank shelling and artillery fire rained on the Mintar area of Gaza City. Israeli warships were simultaneously barraging Gaza City from the sea. The entire strip was surrounded and being heavily pounded by Israeli missiles and artillery fire.
- Numerous reports, including by Amnesty International, have cited Israel's November 4th raid into Gaza as effectively breaking the ceasefire.
- The Israeli 'disengagement' of 2005 DID NOT end the occupation of Gaza – and an occupying power is responsible for the welfare of people under its occupation. An occupation is determined by whether there is effective control – not simply the presence of illegal settlers and soldiers.
- Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed a ceasefire that included Gaza on November 26, 2006. However, Israel continued to conduct incursions into the West Bank and carry out “targeted assassinations,” some of which resulted in the murder of civilians.
Grassroots International's long time grantee, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP) has been hit by extensive shelling in the now weeklong military campaign against Gaza. GCMHP provides mental health services, with special emphasis on vulnerable groups such as children, women and victims of trauma and human rights violations. They are also the lead organization of the International Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, which Grassroots International has supported in coordination with alies such as Jewish Voice for Peace and Global Exchange.
The Israeli shelling caused massive damage in GCMHP Headquarter in Gaza
It's interesting how, at the most terrifying and horrific of times, we still manage to make light of the events, and even enjoy a dark sense of humor. Here are two recent personal examples from Gaza.
My 10-year-old cousin was eating a sandwich, when one of my younger brothers, 12, looked at him and, quoted a line from one of his favorite video games. In his dead-on imitation of the character's voice, he said to his younger cousin, "Enjoy it, it could be your last!" I looked at him for a second and began laughing almost hysterically at his imitation and the absurdity of the situation.