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By Salena Tramel
January 2nd, 2009
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
By Safa Joudeh
January 2nd, 2009
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.
In an article I co-authored a few weeks ago, I wrote that Gaza continually redefines what it means to hit rock bottom. Since that time, the bottom seems to have dropped out as Gazans face an even worse reality.
December 30th, 2008
Grassroots International joins our partners in Palestine and Israel and thousands of peaceful activists worldwide to call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the siege of Gaza , especially the violent attacks on Palestinian civilians including women and children, and the resumption of negotiations for a lasting and just peace in the region. We call for an immediate end to all attacks on civilians on both sides.
We salute Representative Dennis Kucinich for his compassionate and courageous letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking her to use her influence to press the Israeli government to honor international law and end the blockade against Gaza. (Click the link below to read his letter.)
Gaza is once again in a heightened state of emergency and panic as UN food aid has been unilaterally blocked by the Israeli authorities. According to UN and other sources, more than 80% of Gaza's 1.5 million residents are dependent on food aid. The Gaza Strip is completely sealed off from the outside world by the strictly manned borders with Israel and Egypt, and the Mediterranean waters patrolled by Israeli gun boats. Palestinian civilians are once again facing the threat of military incursions. On the other side of the border, some Palestinian rockets are reaching as far as the city of Ashkelon, terrifying the Israeli population as the cycle of violence intensifies.
In a part of the world where hope is scarce, these past weeks have been one of those rare moments that have defied testing times in Gaza. More than 40 civilians from more than a dozen countries arrived on Gazan shores after a long sail from Cyprus on Saturday evening August 23, breaking the siege and bringing with them a powerful message of commitment to human rights for the Palestinian people.
The construction of the Wall by the Israeli government in the West Bank is viewed by many as the third and final wave of expulsion of the Palestinian people, following the forced Palestinian exodus in 1948 in the wake of Israel's independence, and then the 1967 Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps, more than any other element of the occupation, the Wall illustrates the severity of the Palestinian situation and the urgency for access to resources, including water.
After nearly one year of a suffocating siege imposed on Gaza by the Israeli military establishment, a truce agreement was reached between Hamas and Israel. This followed months of dedicated Egyptian good offices. Rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli settlements were to stop in return for gradually lifting the blockade. A cease-fire sustained for six months would then roll over to the West Bank. Gilad Shalit, the hostage Israeli soldier, would be released in a separate deal involving exchange of Palestinian prisoners. Future negotiations would set the terms for opening the borders between Egypt and Gaza.
The other night I went to listen to Sandy Tolan read from his book The Lemon Tree. Grassroots International’s friend Hilda Silverman, a long time activist for Palestinian rights who sadly passed away recently, had invited Sandy to Cambridge.
The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew and the Heart of the Middle East is an agonizingly beautiful, sad and yet even hopeful story of two people and two peoples, two nations and one land. Listening again, as I have before, to the stories of partition, independence, refugees and war, I was overcome with emotion and my thoughts wandered as they have often during such times to my own India-Pakistan. And I had to remind myself that this was Palestine-Israel.