Call to action to end the siege of Gaza

Here’s an alert we received from a coalition of U.S.-based organizations with some suggestions on how to protest the siege of Gaza:

Action Alert: End the Starvation and Siege of Gaza

Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East
Network of Arab-American Professionals of NY
Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee of NY
Brooklyn For Peace
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

November 17, 2008

Take Action

With Gazans already impoverished and struggling to survive, on November 5, Israel completely sealed Gaza’s border crossings. This followed an unprovoked Israeli attack on Gaza that killed six Palestinians, despite a ceasefire, and Palestinian rocket fire in response. As a result of Israel’s closure, the United Nations has been forced to stop food distribution to 750,000 needy people, and 70% of Gaza is now without power due to a lack of fuel.

According to reports, even candles are now in short supply. “Let’s see this for what it is.” said UN spokesman Chris Gunness . “Fifty-six percent of the Gaza Strip are children. Let us not cause suffering of innocent children.” Blocking witnesses, on November 13, Israel denied the entry to Gaza of 20 senior EU diplomats.

Israel also has refused to allow foreign journalists to enter Gaza. Foreign Press Association chairman Steven Gutnik called the ban “a serious violation of freedom of the press” and said “it is essential that journalists be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip since it is the foreign media that serves as the world’s window into Gaza.

Israel allowed a trickle of aid to enter Gaza today.

Gaza has 1.5 million residents, the large majority of whom are displaced refugees from 1948.

In response to calls from Gaza, we urge you to take one or more of the following actions:

1) Contact Your Political Representatives

If you are American, contact your congressional representatives and demand that the US government pressure Israel to stop starving Gazans, end the siege, and respect basic Palestinian rights.

Tell this directly to the U.S. Mission to the UN: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Phone: (212) 415-4053, E-mail: usa@un.int

2) Organize a Protest: Organize public protests and educational events calling for an end of Israel’s abuse of Palestinian rights in Gaza.

3) Boycott the Occupier, Not the Occupied: Take action for long-term change and join the growing international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement.  Organize a BDS campaign in your community, in response to the call by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations , until Israel ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands, dismantles the Wall, recognizes the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, and implements the right of return for Palestinian refugees as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Impacts of Israeli Actions

The latest measures are the culmination of a long-term Israeli policy and strategy of displacement and oppression that started in 1948, when Israel expelled Gaza’s current refugees from their original villages. According to Oxfam, CARE and Save the Children, “The rise of poverty in Gaza relates to the crippling impact of the Israeli blockade within the broader context of a long-term pattern of economic degradation in Gaza stemming from Israeli-imposed closures since the early 1990s and, more recently, the eighteen-month international aid embargo on the Palestinian Authority that was in place until June 2007.”

According to the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health in Gaza, 257 Palestinians have died in Gaza in the last year because they have been unable to leave for necessary advanced care.

Israel’s Obligations

Israel’s claim that it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip has been rejected by the international community and rights organizations because “it still maintains effective control over the territory via its control of Gaza’s land borders, airspace, territorial waters, tax collection, and population registry.” Because Israel is occupying the Gaza Strip, it is morally and legally responsible for protecting the human rights of Gaza’s citizens.

Yet Israel’s siege violates international law and basic human rights like the rights to healthcare, education, freedom of movement, and employment, as well as broader rights like the right to self-determination. Israel’s siege also violates its most basic obligations as an Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention, including the “duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population,” and the prohibition against collective punishment.

Thank you for taking action and please spread the word.

Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East – http://www.adalahny.org

Network of Arab-American Professionals of New York – http://www.naaponline.org/ny

Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee of NY (http://www.adcnewyork.org)

Brooklyn For Peace (http://www.brooklynpeace.org)
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (www.endtheoccupation.org)

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