“Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” Matthew 2:18
Dear All – I am including some reflections from the ground in Gaza, Palestine from human rights defenders where Israel has been engaged in what their Defense Minister Ehud Barak has called an “all out war.”
This “war” is an attempt to finally disable one of the resistance groups within Palestine named Hamas. Israel has been engaged in a series of air strikes taking out what they are saying are military targets. 345 have been killed and over 1,400 have been injured from this military offense so far, a good majority of those killed and injured have been civilians including children. The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has called for an immediate cease fire because of the impact on the civilian population.
The reflections from the human rights defenders are vital as Israel has effectively blocked international press access to this region both prior to the attacks and during the air strikes. These notes from human rights defenders are one of the few ways we have to get clear information from inside of Gaza from the people who are being directly impacted.
I think of this as we have just passed the Feast for the Holy Innocents in which we remember all the children that were killed by Herod, but also all of the innocents who through the centuries have suffered from abuses of power. As Matthew quotes, Rachel cries and will not be comforted because those who are the victims have no comfort so why should she? This is a reminder to our spiritual imaginations that we can be present to and witness ethically the suffering of the many around the world when we chose to share their pain in our prayer and actions for peace with justice.
At the bottom I have included a few links of sites or people you can contact to share your concern and call for an end to the air strikes within Gaza. I have also included a brief news piece from Truthout that gives a little more detail on the situation.
I hope everyone had a beautiful holiday and I send many blessings for this New Year…Much Peace Liz
Due to Israel’s policy of denying access to international media, human rights defenders and aid agencies to the Occupied Gaza Strip, many of these Human Rights Defenders arrived in Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement’s boats. FGM boats have broken Israel’s siege of Gaza five times in the past four months.
Reports From Human Rights Defenders
“At the time of the attacks, I was on Omar Mukhtar street and witnessed a last rocket hit the street 150 meters away where crowds had already gathered to try to extract the dead bodies. Ambulances, trucks, cars — anything that can move is bringing injured to the hospitals. Hospitals have had to evacuate sick patients to make room for the injured. I have been told that there is not enough room in the morgues for the bodies and that there is a great lack of blood in the bloodbanks. I have just learned that among the civilians killed today was the mother of my good friends in Jabalya camp.” – Eva Bartlett (Canada), International Solidarity Movement
“Israeli missiles tore through a children’s playground and busy market in Diere Balah, we saw the aftermath – many were injured and some reportedly killed. Every Hospital in the Gaza strip is already overwhelmed with injured people and does not have the medicine or the capacity to treat them. Israel is committing crimes against humanity, it is violating international and human rights law, ignoring the United Nations and planning even bigger attacks. The world must act now and intensify the calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel; governments need to move beyond words of condemnation into an active and immediate restraint of Israel and a lifting of the siege of Gaza” – Ewa Jasiewicz (Polish and British), Free Gaza Movement
“The morgue at the Shifa hospital has no more room for dead bodies, so bodies and body parts are strewn all over the hospital.” – Dr. Haidar Eid, (Palestinian, South African) Professor of Social and Cultural Studies, Al Aqsa University, Gaza
“The bombs began to fall just as the children were on the streets walking back from school. I went out onto the stairs and a terrified 5 year old g irl ran sobbing into my arms.”- Sharon Lock (Australian), International Solidarity Movement
“This is incredibly sad. This massacre is not going to bring security for the State of Israel or allow it to be part of the Middle East. Now calls of revenge are everywhere.” Dr Eyad Sarraj – President of the Gaza Community Mental Health Centre
As I speak they have just hit a building 200 metres away. There is smoke everywhere. This morning I went to the building close to where I live in Rafah that had been hit. Two bulldozers were immediately attempting to clear the rubble. They thought they had found all the bodies. As we arrived one more was found.” Jenny Linnel (British), International Solidarity Movement
“The home I am staying in is across from the preventive security compound. All the glass of the house shattered. The home has been severely damaged. Due to the siege there is no glass or building materials to repair this damage. One little boy in our house fainted. An eight year-old little boy was trembling on the ground for an hour. In front of our house we found the bodies of two little girls under a car, completely burnt. They were coming home from school. This is more than just collective punishment. We are being treated like laboratory animals. I have lived through the Israeli bombardment of Beirut and Israel’s message is the same in Gaza as it was in Beirut — the killing of civilians. There was just another explosion outside!” Natalie Abu Eid (Lebanon), International Solidarity Movement
Contact the White House, the State Department, your Representative and Senators, and the Obama Transition Team to protest Israel ‘s war on Gaza and demand an immediate cease-fire.
White House: 202-456-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org
State Department: 202-647-6575
Obama Transition Team: http://change.gov/page/content/contact/