People of all faiths call for lifting the Gaza blockade

Posted on January 23, 2008


Press Release from Jewish Voice for Peace

The 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are facing a tremendous humanitarian and medical crisis. Israel’s sharp restrictions on fuel and electricity have severely damaged the provision of safe drinking water, forcing people to make do with extremely poor quality water which is dangerous to their health.

Lift the Gaza Blockade

A group of Israeli organizations is planning a major action for Saturday, January 26th, to bring a relief convoy of desperately needed water filters to be distributed in Gaza by their Palestinian partner there, The End the Siege Campaign.

We must not stand idle.

Join our solidarity rallies THIS WEEK in Boston, Philly, and San Francisco!

Call on Congress to speak up! The United States must call for an immediate end to the siege on Gaza, urging Israel to open its border crossings to people and goods. Rep. Barbara Lee has called on Secretary of State Condolezza Rice to request that the Administration “do all it can to secure the delivery of these vital humanitarian goods and services to Gaza.” (For full letter in pdf format,click here: page 1, page 2)If you live in Rep. Lee’s Congressional District, click here to send her a letter of thank you. If you live elsewhere in the United States, click here to send a letter to your Congressperson urging them to speak out on Gaza today.

Press Release from CAIR

Muslim group says Israeli blockade violates international ban on ‘collective punishment’

(WASHINGTON DC, 01/21/08) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the Bush adminstration to immediately intervene to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The crisis triggered by an Israeli-imposed blockade forced the closure, Sunday evening, of the only electric plant that serves the Gaza city’s 400,000 residents and one third of the Gaza Strip’s 1.5 millions residents. The blockade prevents the entry of fuel that is essential to the operation of the plant.

SEE: Gaza dark amid Israeli blockade (LA times)

Gaza is already suffering from economic hardship, which according to the World Bank, is primarily a result of being cut off from the rest of the world by Israel. Without power, hospitals, water facilities and other crucial lifelines may completely shut off and homes may be left without heat, plunging Gaza into disarray.

On Monday, the U.N. said it would suspend food distribution to 860,000 Palestinians unless Israel eased the blockade imposed on Friday in response to rocket fire from Gaza. The World Food Program, which distributes food to another 270,000 Gaza residents warned that it too would have to suspend operations by Thursday due to lack of fuel.

A European Union (EU) official termed Israel’s blockade “collective punishment,” a practice banned by international law. “I have made clear that I am against this collective punishment of the people of Gaza,” said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. (Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.”)

SEE: U.N. Agency Says May Have to Halt Gaza Food Handout (Reuters)

In a statement CAIR said:

“Because American taxpayers provide Israel with billions of dollars of economic support each year, we have the right and the responsibility to demand that Israel abide by American and universal human rights standards and end its practice of collective punishment against the Palestinian populations. Such practice amounts to war crimes.

“Silence from American officials will only serve to increase the sentiment worldwide that our nation cares little for the suffering of the Palestinian people.

“The perception that the US abets cruel and inhumane treatment of civilian populations provides fodder for anti-Americanism that may threaten the security of the United States.

“According the Human Rights Watch World Report 2007, “Israel [retains] effective day-to-day control over most key aspects of life in Gaza, including ingress and egress and thus the economy.”

Press Release from Christian Aid

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Christian Aid relief agency condemns Israel’s blockade of Gaza

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

EGYPT / GAZA BORDER (ANS) — A UK-based Christian relief agency said today the breach of the border between Gaza and Egypt demonstrates the desperation of a people held hostage to both a policy of collective punishment and an inadequate peace process.

Christian Aid, an international development agency working with people of all religions and none in around 50 countries, said it condemns in the strongest possible terms Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which did not begin last week as commonly thought, but has been going on since June 2007.

The organization says Israel’s decision to allow in limited shipments of fuel and basic humanitarian supplies will not ease the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“Since Hamas took power last June, Gaza has been subjected to severe restrictions on movement that have allowed in only a drip-feed of aid, preventing a full-scale humanitarian emergency but keeping the population in a perpetual state of economic crisis,” said Janet Symes, Christian Aid’s Head of Middle East Program.

The Near East Council of Churches, a Christian Aid partner organization in Gaza, may have to shut down some health services at its clinics due to a lack of fuel for their refrigerators.

They also only have two days of fuel for their vehicles — an essential part of getting emergency relief assistance to poor families.

I just can’t cope. I don’t know what to do. None of my sons can find work. There is no money to buy food. I have 25 mouths to feed but nothing to give them. I rely on the kindness of friends and neighbors, but I can’t continue like this. I’ve never been so desperate. Somebody has to help us,” a tearful grandmother in Gaza told Christian Aid.

Reuters said that over the past week, there has been a resurgence in violence by both sides with each claiming they are acting in self defense.

Israel states its blockade is necessary to prevent mortar attacks — a policy that is clearly not having the desired impact, the news agency said.

The European Union has criticized Israel’s ‘collective punishment’ of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, while the United Nations has warned it could be forced to stop distributing food to hundreds of thousands of people unless Israel opened the crossings to allow in supplies, the news agency reported.

In November 2007, Christian Aid and 40 other international, Israeli and Palestinian NGOs called for an end to the isolation of Gaza in the interests of ending the escalating crisis.

In addition to condemning the illegal policy of collective punishment, they said: “Isolating Gaza has not stopped Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel and the entire population of Gaza remains vulnerable to continuing Israeli military attacks. All civilians, Israeli and Palestinian, must be protected under international law.”

For more information or interviews contact Anjali Kwatra on +44 (0)7941 371357 or Judith Melby on +44 (0)7720 46769. Website: