Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gaza reports and views: OCHA, FOSNA, Amnesty, Brit Tzedek

I have a few items pertinent to Gaza which you may not have seen.

1. Statement of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory
2. Friends of Sabeel-North America joins international cry for end to Israeli attacks on Gaza
3. Amnesty International: Humanitarian implosion in Gaza.
4. Brit Tzedek v'Shalom: Podcast, Transcript, & More with Rabbi Marc Gopin


Statement of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory
Mr. Maxwell Gaylard
6th January 2009

Three members of the same Palestinian family were killed last night whilst taking shelter in an UNRWA school designated as a temporary refuge from the violence. Well before the current fighting, the UN had given to the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including the UNRWA school which was struck. In addition yesterday, an entire family of five children and their parents were killed when the Israeli army shelled their home.

These deaths highlight the tragic reality of the situation in Gaza that for civilians, neither homes nor UN shelters are safe. Nearly one and a half million civilians are dangerously exposed to the fighting around them. There are no safe places to flee. We call on all parties to uphold international humanitarian law and protect civilians.

More than 500 people have been killed and more than 2400 injured in just ten days. As one of the most densely populated places in the world, it is clear that more civilians will be killed; more homes, buildings and civilian infrastructure will be destroyed, if the conflict continues.

These tragic incidents need to be investigated, and if international humanitarian law has been contravened, those responsible must held accountable.

I reiterate the Secretary General’s call for an immediate cessation to this violence. Human beings have the right to life, liberty, and security no matter who they are and where they live.

Gaza Crisis Center:

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December 31, 2008
Friends of Sabeel-North America joins international cry for end to Israeli attacks on Gaza

Friends of Sabeel-North America calls on Christian leaders in the U.S to speak out in a strong, concerted voice to condemn Israel's excessive violence against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza. President George Bush, president-elect Barack Obama and his transition team, and all members of Congress, need to hear from church leaders urging immediate and decisive political action to end Israel's attacks.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sabeel's international patron, said in a statement on Sunday that "the attacks would not bring Israel security or peace", adding, "It is a blight not only on the Middle East, but on the entire world - and particularly world leaders who have consistently failed the people of Palestine and Israel over the past 60 years."

Sabeel in Jerusalem and its Friends in the U.S. promote nonviolent solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recognize the great disparity of power and Israel's misuse of its massive military power against a people long oppressed by its illegal military occupation. With the world's fourth most powerful military, Israel is guilty of excessive violence that far exceeds that of the occupied Palestinian people.

Sabeel's peace partners in Israel also condemn their government's violence. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, for example, stated: "Let's be crystal clear. Israel's massive attacks on Gaza today have one overarching goal: conflict management. How to end rocket attacks on Israel from a besieged and starving Gaza without ending the impetus for those attacks, 41 years of increasingly oppressive Israeli Occupation without a hint that a sovereign and viable Palestinian state will ever emerge."

Sabeel asks Christian leaders to stand for the poor and oppressed and to speak and act on their behalf. Leaders should demand that: Israel immediately end the bombing of Gaza, as well as its 15-month long blockade of food, fuel, electricity and medicines into Gaza, and its collective punishment of 1.5 million Gazan men, women and children. In addition, Hamas should immediately end rocket fire into Israel.

The Rev. Canon Richard Toll, Chairman
Friends of Sabeel-North America
PO Box 9186, Portland, Oregon 97207

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Amnesty International: Check out the home page for a series of good reports:

Gaza civilians endangered by the military tactics of both sides -

Amnesty International: Humanitarian implosion in Gaza.
Urge Secretary Rice to help end the civilian bloodshed!

It may be a new year, but the bloodshed in Gaza this past week is a clear reminder that there's no time to wait to protect human rights in 2009.

Since December 27, these horrific attacks on Gaza have caused over 400 Palestinian deaths and 2000 injuries. Rocket fire by armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas, has taken the lives of 4 Israelis and caused several dozen injuries. Amnesty International condemns the violence on both sides and calls on both parties to abide by international law and policies.

The U.S. government cannot continue this lop-sided blame on Hamas for the crisis.

Ask Secretary Rice to urgently express deep concern about Israel's disproportional response and its policies which have brought the Gaza Strip to the brink of humanitarian disaster.

Civilians in Gaza, already trapped in disgraceful humanitarian conditions, are victims of Israeli air strikes and intensified attacks. Israeli blockades of humanitarian supplies continue to deny Palestinians the food and medical supplies they desperately need.

Join Amnesty International in calling for Secretary Rice to:
- Pressure Israel and Palestinian armed groups to cease attacks on civilians
- Demand an end to Israel's disproportional response
- Urge Israel to open the crossings to let humanitarian aid in

Together we can help lift Gaza out of this crisis.

Curt Goering, Senior Deputy Executive Director
Amnesty International USA


Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Podcast, Transcript, & More with Rabbi Marc Gopin

The Crisis in Gaza: An on-the ground Report from Jerusalem

Dr. Marc Gopin, rabbi, author, lecturer and conflict-resolution expert, spoke with Brit Tzedek from Jerusalem on December 31, 2008 where he has been meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and activists of every stripe. In this conference call, he provides his on-the-ground perspective of the recent upsurge in violence in Gaza and southern Israel and the need for U.S. leadership.

To listen to the podcast:

To read the transcript:

To read Rabbi Gopin on the U.S. role in creating and resolving the crisis:

Recommended Reading: – Rabbi Gopin’s personal blog -
What Exactly is Pro-Israel? by Marc Gopin. Common Ground News Service. June 12, 2008
Mideast Peace Talks After Bush’s Visit: Analysis by Marc Gopin. Canadian Television. May 18, 2008

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603

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