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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2007 arrow June 13, 2007

June 13, 2007

A Few, Thoughtful, Committed Citizens Who Are Out To Change The World

[*updated 10:45 AM EST]


[Washington, D.C. June 10, 2007] The final speakers at the 27th annual ADC/Arab-American Anti-Discrimination conference inspired a wave of hope amongst the SRO crowd in the Empire Room at the Omni Shoreham, by announcing that this summer ten boats will be sailing through international waters to bring food, water, medicine directly to the people of Gaza.

Irish American dissident, [not a Jew, but had once been married to one] Greta Berlin, a proud member on the Jewish S.H.I.I.T.E. List, of 7,000 Jews who have been labeled as "self-hating and Israel-threatening Ediots" informed the crowd, "We have been invited by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of Gaza to go to Gaza. The people of Gaza expect us and will come out in their boats to meet us. We will fish together."

Co-visionary of End the Siege in Gaza, Dr. Paul Larudee, a former Fulbright-Hayes lecturer and piano tuner who had scheduled twenty piano tuning appointments throughout the West Bank during the summer of 2006, but spent two weeks in a Ben Gurion jail cell instead further ignited the crowd, "So far we have raised the money for two boats, but we want to send ten. So far eighty people have committed to ship themselves to Gaza through international waters; we are not going through Israel. Israel claims Gaza is unoccupied and so, we are going to unoccupied territory, as soon as we raise another $150,000.00 for six more boats. We will embark in Cypress and disembark in Gaza. This can play out in many ways; we may get blown out of the water, we may get towed away, but we will remain nonviolent and exercise the sovereignty of international waters, for we are not going through Israel. We will not allow the Coast Guard to enter onto our boats; we will demonstrate nonviolently our solidarity with the residents of Gaza who invited us. We are taking food, water, medicine, but the issue is solidarity with the people of Gaza. If our rights are denied, we will remain nonviolent."

So far, scores of writers, teachers, medics, musicians, secretaries, parents, grandparents, lawyers, students, activists, actors, playwrights, politicians, singer-songwriters, web designers, international training consultants, a former Hollywood film industry worker and an aviator, who come from South Africa, Australia, America, England, Israel and Palestine are supporting this creative nonviolent action. Human rights observers, aid workers, and journalists have committed to be on board and they bring years of experience volunteering in Gaza and the West Bank. Because of the ever increasing stranglehold of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine many have found it impossible to enter Gaza, many have been refused entry to Israel and the West Bank as well. Despite the humanitarian crisis, the Israeli Government, who under international law is responsible for the welfare and needs of those they occupy continues to control air, water and land borders of the 1.5 million inhabitants of the largest open air prison in the world.

"Missing from Israel's security framing is the very fact of occupation, which Israel both denies exists...and that 'security' requires Israel control over the entire country...rendering impossible a just peace based on human rights, international law, reconciliation." –Jeff Halper, Obstacles to Peace: A Reframing of the Palestinian Israeli Conflict, page 1.

 Sara Roy, another speaker at the ADC Conference and a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and political economist who has worked in Gaza since 1985 just returned from there.

Sara stated, "In 1948 we began with emergency food aid and we are still there. There is nothing new in Gaza, just more acute and the internal breakdown due to restrictions and 527 physical barriers and cantonizations make it impossible for Palestinian businessmen to move their goods and they have been forced to hire Israelis as middle men who are able to transport Palestinian goods over the 535 miles of roads that Palestinians have been denied access to. The few Palestinians who are able to access these roads have become a privileged class.

"This new class is also dependent on international donors who are not building new structures to challenge the occupation and this has resulted in the humanitarization of Palestine; donors and Israelis are not treating them as human beings with political rights.

"This has caused fragmentation, isolation, cantonization which will soon become worse. The physical impediments, roadblocks and required permits have caused most of the people to give up, for their efforts to move their goods increases their costs so much and since there is no guarantee that their efforts will result in them being able to transport their wares, many have given up.

"In Gaza there are literally streets under Hamas control and within a few blocks other streets under Fatah control. The neighborhoods have become so fragmented that my taxi driver kept changing his radio station and flag on his windshield so we could travel from block to block.

"There is a great sense that the people are robbed of their space and time and this has resulted in a de-development of the human being. The impact of the divisions in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank means the people can no longer carry the mantle of nationalism, they are so drained by just trying to get through the day there is no time for politics, so the mantle of nationalism is now being upheld by Arabs in Israel.

"Soon Palestinians will be required to obtain visas to move from one canton to the other and visas will also soon be issued at Ben Gurion for any foreigners wishing to enter the West Bank. 

"The issue is no longer occupation but sovereign control...Palestinians have become interlopers in their own country. All vestiges of Palestinian presence is being destroyed by Israel."

"In September 2005, Israel completed the "Gaza disengagement plan"...however, Israel continued to control the air and sea space, movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (also via neighboring countries), the population registry, family unification, and the crossing of goods to and from Gaza . Also, residents of the Gaza Strip rely solely on Israel for its supply of fuel, electricity, and gas. Until 28 June 2006, an independent electric-power station operated in the Gaza Strip, producing about one-half of the electricity needed by the residents in the Strip. The station relied completely on fuel and gas from Israel. On 28 June, Israel bombed the electric-power station. Since then, residents of the Gaza Strip have relied completely on Israel for their electricity...the disengagement did not lead to any improvement in the living conditions of the area's residents, and Israel continues to violate their rights by its various acts and omissions...forty percent of the work force in Gaza is unemployed. Israel froze, following the establishment of the Hamas government, the transfer to the PA of tax moneys it collected for it. This action prevents the payment of salaries to public employees and aggravates the already bad economic condition. Eighty percent of the residents of the Gaza Strip live under the poverty line.

"Following disengagement, some of the armed Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip continued to initiate attacks against Israel, mostly by launching Qassam rockets at Israeli communities near the Green Line. In response, the IDF opened artillery fire at "Qassam launching spaces," thus endangering the lives of civilians living in those areas. Israel also increased its attacks on armed Palestinian activists, killing many bystanders in the process. Lastly, following the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, on 26 June 2006...Israel began a major wide-scale operation that has included, in part, bombing of civilian infrastructure and incursions into densely-populated areas. In doing so, Israel's security forces have systematically violated many fundamental principles of the laws of war, among them the principles of distinction and proportionality."   http://www.btselem.org/english/Gaza_Strip/Index.asp

Another speaker at the ADC Conference, Ambassador Afif Safieh joked, "Someone asked God if there would be peace in the Holy Land and God replied, 'Yes, of course, but not in my lifetime!'"


A voice from the audience rose up and exclaimed, "Don't bet on it God!"

My money is also on a few, thoughtful, committed citizens who just might change the world, and as Margaret Mead affirmed:

"Never doubt that a few, thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

 Learn More About the FREE GAZA MOVEMENT:
 
http://www.freegaza.org/ 

Learn More about Dr. Larudee:

http://www.norcalism.com/paulstory.htm 


UPDATE:

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article7017.shtml

For the third consecutive day, Gaza City has witnessed unjustifiable violent internal fighting, and an atmosphere of tension has spread over Gaza that is not less violent than that which has spread as a result of the offensive that has been launched by Israeli Occupation Forces for nearly a month. Since Monday evening, violence has extended to most areas in the Gaza Strip from the north to the south, and militants have deployed in the streets, at the entrances of towns and near governmental headquarters and security compounds. Militants from Hamas and Fatah movements have used various kinds of weapons and have occupied a number of official buildings belonging to the Palestinian presidency and government. The attacks have even targeted the house and the office of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and the presidential compound. Militants have been more violent than ever before as they have stormed hospitals and forced medical crews out. They even fired inside a hospital and killed a number of persons. Moreover, mutual kidnappings and field executions have been reported. The two movements have even threatened to escalate the situation and extend the fighting to the West Bank. In this atmosphere of terror, approximately 67,000 students have attended the exams of the General Certificate of Education (Tawjihi), in addition to thousands of university students who have attended their final exams. The current situation threatens the overall educational process. PCHR strongly condemns such fighting which is not of the ethics, sacrifices and struggle of the Palestinian people, and warns that it threatens the overall national aspirations and lives of innocent Palestinian civilians, whose daily activities have been paralyzed.

PCHR would like to apologize for not being able to report on many details of this fighting as its staff members have not been able to move freely and its office in Gaza City has been besieged by the exchange of fire. Branch offices have also worked with a limited capacity and under severe challenges. According to information available to PCHR so far, 21 Palestinians have been killed and at least 150 others have been wounded in the past 72 hours.

This press release is an update for the information reported in PCHR's previous release issued on Monday afternoon, 11 June 2007.

At approximately 16:00 on Monday, an exchange of fire erupted between members of the Executive Force and armed members of the al-Masri clan near Beit Hanoun Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. A member of the Executive Force was killed. Members of the Executive Force pursued members of the al-Masri clan and killed three of them: 'Eid Mahmoud al-Masri, 51; his son Ibrahim, 21; and his nephew Faraj Fadel al-Masri, 22.

At approximately 16:20, the fighting extended to the vicinity of the house of Jamal 'Abed Rabbu al-Jedian, 50, Secretary of Fatah movement in the northern Gaza Strip. Abu al-Jedian, his brother Majed, 38, and a member of the Executive Force, Mohammed Mehjez, 24, were killed and at least 50 persons, including two women, were wounded.

Over night, fighting erupted throughout Gaza City, especially in al-Shati refugee camp, al-Maqqousi housing project near security sites. Eight Palestinians, including five civilians, two of whom are women, were killed:
1. Yasser Ghassoub Baker, 25;
2. Saddam Mohammed Baker, 21;
3. Mazen Sa'di 'Ajjour, 25;
4. Mohammed Na'im al-Dahdouh, 30;
5. Raya Ahmed Muhsen, 75;
6. Maysaa' Hasan Muhsen, 15;
7. Dalal Mahmoud Muhsen, 19; and
8. Mousa Mohammed Abu Zaina, 49.
In addition, 53 persons, mostly civilians, were wounded.

In the early morning on Tuesday, militants stormed the transmission station of Palestine Television in Abu Rahma building in the center of Gaza City. Mutual kidnappings and arsons of houses were reported. The houses of the Palestinian President and Prime Minister were also attacked. In addition, fierce fighting erupted near the house of Maher Miqdad, the spokesman of Fatah movement, in al-Maqqousi housing project.

Also on Tuesday, militants deployed in the streets in the central Gaza Strip. They closed a number of roads and stopped and checked people. A number of Hamas militants also seized a number of sites of the Palestinian National Security Forces. At approximately 10:00, Mohammed Rezeq Safi, 35, a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces, was killed in an exchange of fire near a security site near Gaza Valley. At the same time, Eihab Sa'id Nassar, 19, a member of the Executive Force, was killed in an exchange of fire in Deir al-Balah. In addition, 16 persons were wounded.

In Khan Yunis, at approximately 22:30 on Monday, 11 June 2007, a number of militants traveling in a civilian car kidnapped 'Amru Nabhan al-Rantissi, 21, a member of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas). His body was found later on Khan Yunis-Rafah road.

At approximately 09:30 on Tuesday, hundreds of members of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades deployed in the streets and near sites of security services in Khan Yunis. Later, they called on security men to get out of their sites threatening to shell those sites. They also seized five of those sites and the building of Khan Yunis Governorate. An exchange of fire erupted between those militants and those of Fatah movement in various areas in Khan Yunis. As a result of the exchange of fire, 11 persons were wounded.

In Rafah, at the time of this writing, many militants deployed on Rafah-Khan Yunis road. They are stopping and checking people.

PCHR strongly condemns the bloody internal fighting between Fatah and Hamas movements, and:

1. Calls upon the Palestinian President and Government to fulfill their responsibilities, and to take immediate steps to restore order and security, and to protect civilians from the effects of these disgraceful clashes.

2. Holds the two movements fully responsible for any damage to the educational process, warns of the consequences of the continuation of fighting on Tawjihi students, and stresses that there no justification to sacrifice the educational process and push students into disgraceful fighting and a conflict over authority.

3. Calls for a serious investigation into all these incidents, and for the prosecution of the perpetrators regardless of their identity.

4. Calls for the withdrawal of all forms of militancy from streets, intersections, and residential buildings, including members of security forces and militias, as continued militant presence threatens the lives of innocent civilians.


 

   
 
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