“Shalom is the flower that blooms only on the tree of justice, planted near the waters of abundance, warmed by the light of truth and faithfulness.” Anthony Prete
Dear All – I will be short as I think the article shared below by Bill Quigley says a lot. Bill is a human rights lawyer who has flown over to Egypt to try and enter into Gaza to be a human rights presence as the war against the Palestinian people rages onward. Bill writes about doctors being blocked form entering into Gaza to help the estimated 3,000 wounded.
We have heard that Israel has the “right” to protect herself, this may be true, but how does protection necessitate blocking food, water, and medical care to injured civilians?
As the world audience seeing these brief news clip everyday we are called to be ethical witnesses, to move toward a space of creative action that upholds the right of all people to be protected, calls on state structures to engage diplomacy, and international structures like the U.N. to mediate. I encourage each of us to consider one small action we might take toward being in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Prayer, vigils, calling our Representatives, a peace sign in the window all of these small acts build toward creating the “bloom of Shalom” that Anthony Prete invokes…Much Peace Liz
January 10, 2009
Report from Rafah: Doctors Stopped At Borders
by Bill Quigley
Dr. Nicolas Doussis-Rassias and many other volunteer doctors have been
waiting in Rafah, Egypt for days. Nicolas and the other physicians
came to Rafah to go through the border into Gaza to help the 3000
people wounded by Israeli bombs and heavy weapons.
Rafah is a heavily armed Egyptian border crossing into Gaza, a four
hour drive away from Cairo. Sonic booms of high flying jets cut
through the stark blue sky. Military drones hover over the border as
the air smells of burning.
“Three thousand victims of bombs and gunfire would overwhelm the
medical system of New York city,” Nicolas said. “Gaza now has no
functioning medical system at all. Most of it has no electricity nor
running water. These people are in crisis – they need medical help,
so we are here to help them.”
But today, instead of helping the thousands of wounded, Nicolas and
other doctors are holding up a hand lettered red and blue banner
outside the Egyptian border station saying – Let the Doctors Through!
Why? Doctors of Peace and numerous other doctors from around the
world have been prevented from entering Gaza for seven days. They
cannot get in to help through Israel nor Egypt.
Nicolas is not an anti-Israeli radical. He is a jolly 49 year old
Athens doctor. Father of two children, he is the president of a
organization of volunteer Greek physicians called Doctors of Peace.
These doctors pay their own way and volunteer to help the victims of
war and natural disasters. They have helped out in Latin America with
victims of Hurricane Mitch, in Sri Lanka with tsunami victims, and the
victims of wars in Lebanon, Serbia, Turkey, and Pakistan.
But the borders of Gaza are sealed off preventing basic humanitarian
and medical assistance from entering.
Richard Falk, the UN Special Reporter on Human Rights in the Occupied
Territories, pointed out the human rights violations of the sealed
border: “Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of
entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe
shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the
inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of
hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for
the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other
medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.”
The people of Gaza have been cutoff from basic medical and
humanitarian resources for a long time by an ongoing blockade by
Israel, but everything is much worse in the last few weeks.
Falk, like many others, also condemned the rocket attacks launched
from Gaza against Israel. More than a dozen Israelis have died since
the war began, as have more than 800 Gazans. But Falk’s harshest
words were reserved for the catastrophic human toll from the Israeli
air strikes and “those counties that have been and remain complicit,
either directly or indirectly, in Israel’s violations of international
Frida Berrigan pointed out that “During the Bush administration Israel
has received over $21 billion in U.S. security assistance, including
$19 billion in direct military aid. The bulk of Israel’s current
arsenal is composed of equipment supplied under U.S. assistance
programs. For example, Israel has 226 U.S.-supplied F-16 fighter and
attack jets, over 700 M-60 tanks, 6,000 armored personnel carriers,
and scores of transport planes, attack helicopters, utility and
training aircraft, bombs, and tactical missiles of all kinds.”
Palestinian medical officials say more than half of the 800 dead and
3000 wounded are civilians. Denial of humanitarian and medical
assistance to civilian casualties is a clear violation of basic human
The people of Egypt are challenging the denial of medical help for
Gaza. Halfway through our drive from Cairo to Rafah, we saw a hundred
young Egyptians sitting in the middle of the highway protesting
After seven days, the border is starting to open a little. The
Egyptian Red Crescent was allowed to deliver supplies to the border
today and some of the waiting doctors were allowed in. With great
show, two dozen Egyptian ambulances were allowed to enter the border
area – only to be parked inside to wait for the injured to make it to
the border. Two ambulances left Rafah with patients inside.
Doctors of Peace were still not allowed in today. Some physicians,
tired from the seven day blockade, have started to return home.
Nicolas is going back to the Rafah border crossing tomorrow to try
again. Why? “Because there are 3000 injured people who need help. I
am going to keep trying.”