A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Palestine Free Gaza Movement’

“Shalom is the flower that blooms…”

“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
 Egypt’s inactions.

 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.”

“Rachel bewailing her children…”

“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 comments@whitehouse.gov
State Department: 202-647-6575
Congress: 202-224-3121
Obama Transition Team: http://change.gov/page/content/contact/


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