ACTION ALERT: Hardship Intensifies in Palestine

July 2nd, 2006 - by admin

LIFE & War Times & Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi & The Daily Star – 2006-07-02 23:45:33

ACTION ALERT: Hardship Intensifies in the Palestinian TerritoriesLIFE for Relief and Development

(June 30, 2006) — We are all aware of the humanitarian crisis that the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza have been experiencing for decades. This crisis has been exacerbated as a result of recent election outcomes. It appears that these steadily declining living conditions are unlikely to be resolved any time soon.

According to the World Bank’s report on the Palestinian Fiscal Crisis issued May, 2006: “The Palestinian economy will experience a dramatic decline over the next eight months”. To put it simply, the quality of life for the average Palestinian family is terrible. Children there have less food, patients have less medicine, families have less income and the outlook is no better.

LIFE, through its office in Nazareth, is distributing food packages to 4,000 families in the West Bank and will be distributing the same packages to 2,000 families in Gaza. The food distribution will be executed throughout 2006 over the course of four consecutive months, including the month of Ramadan.

One package will be enough to feed a family of 6 in the West Bank, or a family of 7 in Gaza, for one month. The cost per package per month is $100.

Here’s How You Can Help:
• $500: Will feed 5 families for 1 month of distribution.
• $400: Will feed 1 family for all 4 months of distribution.
• $200: Will feed 1 family for 2 months of distribution.

Your immediate donation will make this humanitarian project possible. To donate, visit our secure online donation page or call us at 1-800-827-3543.

Legal Note: LIFE recognizes the immensity of the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Territories and continues to provide humanitarian relief to the poor and needy in that region. We assure our donors that we are aware of the US government rules and regulations that were enacted in the aftermath of the Palestinian elections that regulate humanitarian relief operations in the Palestinian Territories. We fully abide by these rules and regulations and are absolutely committed to continuing our humanitarian efforts within this legal framework.

Protest Israeli Assault on Gaza
War Times

Besides the action items recommended in the alert below, demonstrations and vigils are planned for a number of cities, check your local progressive media for full information.
— War Times/Tiempo de Guerras

(June 30, 2006) — United for Peace and Justice Condemns Israeli Attacks on Gaza, Calls for an End to US Support of the Israeli Occupation. Ten months ago Israeli military forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip, part of the Palestinian lands long occupied by Israel. On Tuesday, June 27th, the Israeli military launched an all-out assault on the people of Gaza, and there seems to be no end in sight.

The destruction of vital bridges and power stations, which led to the cut off of electricity and water for well over 1 million people, is nothing short of collective punishment imposed on a civilian population. Israel has also taken nearly 100 elected officials and leaders of the Hamas party as prisoners in the last few days.

Israel’s massive military assault on Gaza is clear evidence that Israel remains the occupying power of the Gaza Strip, despite its unilateral withdrawal of settlements last year. Israel has been seeking to bring down the Palestinian government by bringing pressure to bear on the civilian Palestinian population, and is using the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier as a pretext to do that. (More background information below.)

United for Peace and Justice condemns this brutal attack and calls for an end to US support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip.

• 1) An immediate end to the assault on Gaza by the Israeli military forces.
• 2) Cut off of US financial and military aid to Israel that makes it possible for such assaults to be carried out, as well as US support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
• 3) Immediate shipments by the US government of humanitarian aid (especially food and medicines) for the people of Gaza.

• 1) Call the White House (202-456-1111) and the US State Department, (202-647-4000) to demand that the US take immediate action.
• 2) Send a letter to your local paper and speak out against the latest assaults by the Israeli government on the people of Gaza.
• 3) You can help get much-needed medical supplies to Gaza — click here for more information and to make a donation >.

During the month of June the Israeli military forces carried out several deadly attacks in Gaza. On June 9th, 8 Palestinians were killed and 32 injured when a beach was shelled (see report from Human Rights Watch for more information on this incident
< >); on June 13th a missile attack on a highway in Gaza killed 11 people and wounded another 30; and on June 20th another missile attack from Israeli forces killed 3 children and wounded 15 more people.

In retaliation, Palestinian militants raided Israeli military positions near Gaza on June 25th, during which 2 soldiers were killed and Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured. Israel then threatened an attack if he was not freed and began deploying tanks along the border.

Their attack began after Israel rejected Shalit’s captors’ demand for the release of all Palestinian women and Palestinians younger than eighteen in Israeli prisons. (There are some 9,800 Palestinians being held: 335 of them are children and several dozen are women.)

Just before midnight on June 27th a large scale military assault on Gaza was launched by Israel. Fighter planes hit three bridges along the main north-south highway in Gaza. Another strike hit Gaza’s main power plant and knocked out the electricity in densely populated Gaza City. This power plant provided 42% of the power to Gaza’s 1.3 million residents, and now Gaza is completely dependent on Israel for power. It could take as long as a year to get the plant operational again.

Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure is a violation of its obligations under the Geneva Conventions and a war crime. Israel’s use of US taxpayer-supplied weapons to target civilian infrastructure is also a violation of the US Arms Export Control Act; UFPJ calls upon the White House and Congress to investigate these violations of US law and take appropriate action to shut off future weapons transfers to Israel as a result.

At about 2:30 in the morning the Israeli military forces started to move into Gaza and take control of areas east of the city of Rafah. A little after 5am fighter plans flew low over Gaza, causing intentional sonic booms which reportedly shattered windows. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said their goal was “not to mete out punishment but rather to apply pressure so that the abducted soldier will be freed.

We want to create a new equation — freeing the abducted soldier in return for lessening the pressure on the Palestinians.” Such deliberate collective punishment of a civilian population is also a violation of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime.

According to the June 29th edition of the NY Times, the Israeli forces have expanded their assault: “In the West Bank city of Ramallah this morning, Israeli forces detained 20 lawmakers and 8 ministers in the 24-member cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer and Labor Minister Mohammed Barghouti, security officials said.

Today, an Israeli warplane fired a missile in Gaza City that an Israeli spokeswoman said hit a soccer field near the pro-Hamas Islamic University. Reuters reported that the missile hit inside the university …. The Israelis also detained about 20 Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament as they made arrests in Ramallah, Jenin, East Jerusalem and elsewhere.” And the shelling and sonic booming has continued over these past few days.

The Times went on to say, “On Wednesday, the crisis seemed to be tipping toward escalation as Israeli tanks hunkered down inside southern Gaza at the airport after warplanes had knocked out half of Gaza’s electricity and pounded sonic booms over houses.

Also on Wednesday, Israel battered northern Gazan towns with artillery and sent warplanes over the house of the Syrian president [in northwest Syria], who is influential with the Palestinian leader believed to have ordered the kidnapping.”

According to reports in the Syrian press, the 4 Israeli fighter planes were forced out of the airspace by Syria’s military. As bad as the situation is, things could get even worse if Israel does not stop its assaults. But the Israeli government is taking an extremely hard line: Prime Minister Olmert, as quoted in the NY Times, said, “We won’t hesitate to carry out extreme action to bring Gilad back to his family.”

All of this comes in the midst of a severe economic, humanitarian crisis throughout Gaza and the West Bank. In January of this year international aid to the Palestinians was cut off after the Hamas party won the elections, leading to extreme shortages of food and medicine, as well as other supplies and necessities.

Last week, the Senate passed its version of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, which proposes additional economic and diplomatic sanctions against the Palestinian people for exercising their right to vote. The Senate bill, which was approved by unanimous consent, comes on the heels of the House passing its version of the bill last month.

UFPJ has signed a statement to Congress, organized by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, calling on it not to impose sanctions on the Palestinian people for voting.


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Message from Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi

GAZA CITY (June 30, 2006) — Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, medical doctor, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and head of the Palestinian National Initiative, today warned of the public health and humanitarian disaster facing the Gaza Strip following an Israeli military bombardment that began on Wednesday night.

He was speaking from Gaza City, where he has been stranded for 12 days since Israel sealed off Gaza’s borders.

Dr. Barghouthi reported that Israel?s destruction of Gaza’s only electrical power station has left 80 percent of Strip without electricity. A water plant was also bombed by Israel today in the southern city of Rafah.

As a result, water supplies and the sewage system have been critically affected in that they depend entirely on electricity to power water and sewage pumps.

The electricity, water and sewage systems in the Gaza Strip are now currently depending on insufficient local generators to remain partially functional, yet Israel?s closure of Gaza’s borders has meant that there is only enough fuel to last a further 4 days.

Once this fuel runs out, the population of Gaza faces a severe humanitarian disaster, exacerbated by high summer temperatures and overcrowded living conditions. Gaza will find itself without potable water and literally sinking in sewage, which would lead to a severe public health disaster.

In addition, 300,000 of Gaza’s 1.4 million inhabitants live in high-rise apartment buildings which do not have the necessary generators to pump water up, and are therefore completely without water supplies.

The dependence on generators also has negative environmental implications as they produce high levels of pollution.

Dr. Barghouthi appealed to the international community to urgently call on Israel to end its bombardment, to stop the targeting of civilian infrastructure, and to allow for immediate repairs to begin on Gaza?s electricity plant.

He also urged the international community to intervene in order to ensure the immediate supply of fuel, food, and other essential items to the Gaza Strip in order to avert an imminent humanitarian and public health catastrophe.

Contact: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi. Tel: 0599-201528 or 0599-527514

Egypt Warns Israel Not to Take Peace Treaty for Granted
Compiled by The Daily Star Staff

(June 30, 2006) — An Israeli “war on all fronts” drew a rare warning from Egypt on Thursday that the military escalation jeopardizes a peace treaty with Israel as the Arab League held an emergency session to discuss the crisis. The threat of a regional conflagration rose Wednesday after Israeli warplanes overflew a palace of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose country is host to several Palestinian militant groups. A defiant Syria on Thursday vowed to defend itself against Israeli attacks.

While Cairo has remained mum since the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier in Gaza, the head of the Egyptian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee said Israel should not think the “peace reached with an Arab country can be guaranteed while it continues to perpetrate its crimes and aggressions.”

Mustafa al-Fekki, a senior member of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party, was referring to the peace treaty Egypt signed with Israel in 1979.

Fekki also voiced fears the flare-up could spill over into Egypt and threaten the country’s security.

“The Egyptian Parliament has expressed its concern for Egypt’s borders and its peace deal. We respect it but the threats are coming from Israel,” said Fekki.

Mufid Shehab, secretary of state for parliamentary affairs, openly accused Israel on Wednesday of having threatened Egypt’s stability.
Following an emergency meeting, Arab League ambassadors roundly condemned the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip as “state terrorism,” but failed to come up with an immediate diplomatic solution for the conflict.

Hoping to prevent the crisis from spinning out of control, Egyptian officials have been talking directly with Hamas’ political leader, Khaled Meshaal, who is based in Damascus, to push him to facilitate the soldier’s release.

An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said both Abbas and Egyptian officials called Assad to ask him to persuade Meshaal to release the soldier, with no results so far. Mubarak also spoke with Abbas and Assad on Thursday, the Egyptian state news agency said.

In talks with Arab leaders Thursday, Meshaal asked them to help put a stop to Israel’s “massacres,” a statement from his office said, according the Al-Jazeera news network.

“This situation demands Arab officials and the international community take a tough stance,” Meshaal’s top aide, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told Al-Jazeera. “They should pressure Israel to withdraw from the middle of cities and stop shelling civilians.”
Israel has threatened to assassinate the exiled officials, including Meshaal, unless the abducted soldier is freed.

Syrian Premier Mohammad Naji Otri warned that “Syria is capable of defending itself against any aggression.”

He also voiced “surprise at the silence of the international community toward all these Israeli acts and daily aggressions … This is the result of the weakness of the Arabs.”

He added that the Damascus-based Hamas leadership could not have had a hand in an abduction that took place in Gaza. Meshaal also denied any role.

“This aggression [the over-flight] represents Israeli piracy that aims at covering up the savage crimes the Israeli occupation forces are committing in the Gaza Strip and occupied Palestinian lands,” Otri said.

Russia also criticized the overflight. “Violations of the borders and airspace of other states, in this case Syria, are completely unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement.

Israel maintained its pressure on Syria Thursday, with Defense Minister Amir Peretz saying: “Regimes that support terrorism are the ones playing with the Palestinian people’s destiny.”

Copyright (c) 2006 The Daily Star

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