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End the Siege of the People of Gaza

January 26th, 2008

Call for a Comprehensive Ceasefire, End US Military Aid to Israel

Israel is continuing to escalate its attacks on Gaza, killing more than 40 Palestinians just this past week and wounding scores more, and has placed the already besieged territory under complete lockdown.That is eliminating what little access the besieged population had to food, fuel, clean water and ever-more-urgent medical services. By Sunday Gaza’s only power generator was shut down because of a lack of fuel; hospitals are starting to be affected and Palestinian medical officials reported five gravely ill patients had died.

Israel’s announcement, under international pressure, that it would allow one day’s worth of fuel to re-start Gaza’s only power generating plant does not mean an end to the crisis; Gaza will remain desperate as Israel continues to use the access to vitally needed fuel and other goods as a weapon of occupation to impose collective punishment on the entire population of Gaza. The conditions in Gaza have become desperate, and international solidarity organizations in London, Rome and elsewhere around the world are mobilizing to demand an end to the siege of Gaza in protests on January 26. That same day Israeli peace groups are organizing an emergency convoy to try to break the siege.

Israel’s increasing attacks on Gaza – the economic blockade and military assaults – are not in response to the rocket attacks from Gaza. The Israeli attacks, and Israel’s continuing occupation-through-siege of Gaza, are the reason for the rocket fire in the first place. But even if the Israeli attacks were in response to Gaza rockets, such a response would still be illegal (collective punishment is always illegal), disproportionate, and ultimately futile.

U.S. military support bolsters Israel’s occupation and enables the current escalating punishment. The U.S. must stop all military aid to Israel, and demand that Israel end its collective punishment and indiscriminate bombing of the civilian population of Gaza. Further, the U.S. must push for a comprehensive ceasefire that covers all the occupied Palestinian territories. Otherwise, the U.S. will continue to be vilified for its support of collective punishment and attacks on civilians, U.S. citizens will be seen by the rest of the world as complicit in major human rights violations, and any future talks about “peace” will be viewed as providing continuing support for an Israeli-imposed military settlement.

TAKE ACTION:

Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at 202-647-7209. Demand:

  • An immediate end to the assault on Gaza, and the opening of its border crossings to people and goods.
  • A comprehensive ceasefire that covers all territories and all parties to the conflict.
  • An end to U.S. military aid to Israel. Oppose the new $30 billion military aid package to Israel by clicking here.

Call your national as well as your local media. Demand:

  • Coverage of what’s going on in the Occupied­ Palestinian territories. This is particularly important since the Israeli lock-down of Gaza has resulted in very little news emerging of the most recent attacks.
  • Write a letter to the editor in response to an article in your paper using the talking points in this action alert.

For contact information, click here.

If your group has consultative status at the United Nations, call the office of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon:

  • Demand that the UN hold Israel, as a member state, accountable for its human rights violations.

  • Protest the Secretary-General’s statement of January 17, 2008, repeated on January 18, in which he demanded an “immediate halt” to Palestinian rocket and sniper fire from Gaza, but only urged “maximum restraint” from the Israeli occupation forces assaulting Gaza. In both statements he “reminds all parties of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law and not to endanger civilians,” without acknowledging the different obligations between an occupied population and an occupying power already violating numerous UN resolutions that demand an end to the occupation itself.

Contact:Office of the Secretary General, Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar:

nambiar@un.org or 1-212-963-8922.

Find out about the January 26 convoy that will try to break the siege of Gaza with food and medicine:

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/events/1200266785

Join Protests in the United States on Jan. 26 or Organize Your Own by adding your event here:

Anaheim, CA:

Saturday, January 26, 1 p.m. 512 S. Brookhurst St., Between Orange Ave. & Broadway)

Atlanta, GA:

Saturday, January 26, 10:00 am. Meet at 10am ­at the IBEW Building ­501 Pulliam St, 30312. Look for the Georgia Peace and Justice Truck. Organized by Atlanta Palestine Solidarity. Call 404-405-7703 with further questions.

Boston, MA:

Saturday, January 26, noon-1pm in Harvard Square
Organized by Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights


Charlotte
, NC
:

Saturday, January 26, 4:00pm Forum, Charlotte Energy Solutions, 337 Baldwin Ave

Organized by Action Center for Justice. For  information, contact David Dixon bringthemonhome@yahoo.com

Chapel Hill, NC:

Saturday, January 26, 1:00pm-2:00pm Peace and Justice Plaza, corner of East Franklin and Henderson Streets.

Organized by the Coalition for Peace with Justice.

For more information, contact Mary Lou Leiser Smith on 919-967-5181

Chicago, IL:

Sunday, January 27, 12:00pm-1:00pm Water Tower Park, 830 N. Michigan
Co-sponsored by AFSC and JVP _ Chicago

For information on the vigil, call Lynn Pollack @ 312-427-2533, ext. 26, or e-mail lpollack@afsc.org

Tuesday, January, 29, 5 pm at the Lakeshore Theater, 3175 North Broadway (at benefit for the Friends of the 'Israeli Defense Force').

Initiated by ISM. Call 773-463-0311 for more information.

Cleveland, OH:

Saturday, January 26, for more info contact donmbryant@yahoo.com

Sponsored by ClevelandMiddle East Peace Forum

Costa Mesa, CA:

Friday, January 25, 5:00pm-7:00pm, vigil at Bristol & Anton

Durham, NC:

Saturday, January 26, 12:00pm-1:00pm, Brightleaf Square, corner of Main and Gregson

Organized by the Coalition for Peace with Justice.

For more information, contact Mary Lou Leiser Smith on 919-967-5181

Eugene, OR:

Saturday, January 26th, 12:00pm-3:00pm, Ferry Street Bridge-Meeting first in the EWEB parking lot 500 E. 4TH

Sponsored by Al-Nakba Awareness Project Palestine: Just Justice!

For more information, contact Mariah Leung, HappyHeartMom@comcast.net, 541 513-3833

Montreal, Canada:

Friday January 25, 2:00 PM De Maisonneuve Boulevard corner of MacKay Street, Montreal (Metro Guy-Concordia).

New Haven, CT:

Friday, January 25th, 4:30pm-5:30pm The Federal Building on Church Street (opposite the flagpole on the Green). Bring signs. Bring candles.

New York City:

Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 7 PM at The Center for Constitutional Rights, 666 Broadway, 6th Floor To build a coalition for Nakba events)

Friday, January 25 3:00 pm (after friday prayers) RALLY at the Israeli Consulate 42nd & 2nd ave & MARCH to the  EGYPTIAN Consulate (58th & 2nd ave)

Saturday, Jan. 26, 1 p.m. at the Israeli Embassy, 43rd St. and 2nd Ave.

Philadelphia, PA:

Friday, January 25, 12:00pm, Press Conference and vigil, Israeli Consulate, 15th & Locust

Saturday, Jan 26   Assemble at 12 noon to march from 5th and Market Sts. to the Israeli Consulate (15th & Locust)

Contact: rkamel@verizon.net

St. Louis, MO:

Friday, January 25, 4:15 pm-5:30pm, Corner of Summit and Snelling Aves

Organized by Coalition for Palestinian Rights
For more information, call 612-379-4716   or Florence, 651-696-1642

St. Paul, MN:

Friday January 25, 4:15pm-5:30pm, Corner of Summit and Snelling Aves

St. Petersburg, FL:

Saturday, January 26, 8:30pm-10:00pm Baywalk, 2nd Ave. and 2nd St. N
Organized by St. Pete for Peace. For more information, contact info@stpeteforpeace.org

San Francisco, CA:

Friday, January 25, 4:00pm-6:00pm, Israeli Consulate, 456 Montgomery St. (near California)

San Diego, CA:

Friday, January 25, 3:00pm-5:30pm downtown corner of Broadway and Front Street.

Seattle, WA:

Friday, January 25, 4:00pm, WestlakePark, 4th & Pine Sts.

Saturday January 26, 12:00pm-2:00pm, Leafleting/sign-waving protest on at WestlakeCenter downtown.

Sioux Falls, SD:

Saturday January 26, 12:00pm at 12th & Phillips

Tempe, AZ:

Saturday, January 26, 6:30pm Downtown Tempe, at the corner of Mill Ave and University Dr. Sponsored by Al-Awda - Phoenix. Contact Marwan Ahmad alawdaphx@yahoogroups.com 602-330-6785

Toronto, Canada:

Friday January 25, 5:00pm Israeli Consulate at 180 Bloor St. West

WashingtonDC:

Friday, January 25, 4:00pm at the Israeli Embassy, 3514 International Dr. N.W.

 

BACKGROUND & TALKING POINTS

1. Demand an immediate end to the assault on Gaza and open borders

The 1.5 million citizens of Gaza, half of whom are children aged 14 and
under, have been under an increasingly tight siege since January 2006 when Hamas was elected in free and fair elections – at least as free and fair as any election held under military occupation can be. The living standards of the population have plummeted and their access to medical services, education, and basic food has dwindled.Over 80% of Gazans now live in poverty according to the United Nations and the World Bank. The World Bank has identified Israel’s tight control of movement of people and goods into and out of, as well as within, the occupied territories as the single most important reason for the collapse of the Palestinian economy. Israel has never implemented the agreement on movement and access that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice negotiated in November 2005. Israel must end its assault on Gaza and let Gaza have open borders to the rest of the world.


2. Call for a comprehensive ceasefire that covers all territories and all parties to the conflict


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. Between November 26, 2006 and April 3, 2007, Israeli forces killed 51 Palestinians in the West Bank. Rocket fire from Gaza into Israel came as a clear retaliation to these killings. The ceasefire collapsed on April 22, 2007. Although the U.S. media continually claims that Israeli attacks are in response to Palestinian rocket fire, the actual pattern of Israeli attacks provoking Palestinian responses has been documented by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy.(See his July 9 and December 3 2006 articles on www.haaretz.com, as well as Institute for Palestine Studies Policy Notes No. 15 on www.palestine-studies.org) Official U.S. statements supporting Israel’s assaults on Gaza make the U.S. government complicit in Israeli violations of the Geneva conventions (which prohibit all collective punishment).

3. Urge an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.

Although Israel has not dismantled even the West Bank “outposts” as it had promised the U.S., let alone the rest of its illegal settlements and infrastructure in the West Bank, the U.S. has increased military aid to Israel by 25% for a total of $30 billion over the next 10 years. U.S. military and political support means Israel can ignore legitimate Palestinian aspirations for independence, sovereignty, equality and justice. It makes a mockery of claimed U.S. support for the “peace process,” because the U.S. guarantees the overwhelming superiority of the Israeli occupier and its decades-long exploitation of Palestinian land and resources.

The U.S. must not be complicit in what the rest of the world understands to be one country’s destruction of a country and people.Only an end to U.S. military aid to Israel will signal that our country is beginning to get serious about peace.­­