Saturday, 17 January 2009

Peace in Gaza?

I will be joining the Peace Vigil in Maidstone (in front of M&S at 11am), today. Fortunately it looks like Israel may be about to stop its attacks on Gaza shortly, however the level of damage that Israel has done is sickening and the terms with which it has agreed to ceasefire mean that peace in region has been set back many years.

I thought I would post the latest email from Jewish Voice for Peace. Please sign up to their campaigns:

Almost three weeks into "Operation Cast Lead," we call once more on Jews and others to speak out for a cease fire and against the siege of Gaza.

At Jewish Voice for Peace, we echo the report issued on January 14 by 9 Israeli human rights organizations: Israel's military operations in Gaza pose a "clear and present danger to the lives and well-being of tens of thousands of civilians." In Gaza, "the level of harm to the civilian population is unprecedented" while "military forces are making wanton use of lethal force."

We condemn Israel's assault on Gaza. As of today , more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli assault, including at least 335 children and many more civilians. Nearly 5,000 have been wounded, many paralyzed for life. Tens of thousands have fled their homes - but Gaza is entirely sealed off, so there is nowhere to hide, no safe haven for civilians, no escape corridor for civilians to flee the air, sea and land attacks. Electricity and running water are scarce, the health system has collapsed and sewage is running through the streets in some areas. Inside of Israel, rockets continue to rain down, hitting population centers like Beer Sheba and Ashkelon and causing widespread fear. We condemn these ongoing rocket attacks, which indiscriminately target civilians. 13 Israelis have been killed, 3 of them civilians, with over 82 civilians injured.

Jewish Voice for Peace:

* Calls on all Americans to support Rep. Dennis Kucinich's resolution calling for an "immediate and unconditional ceasefire" and "unrestricted humanitarian access" to Gaza.
Call your congressperson or write them today.

* Joins the call from Human Rights Watch (and others) for Israel to stop using white phosphorous, an incendiary tool permissable in the laws of war as an "obscurant" - but when used in densely populated Gaza, causes widespread, horrific burning of the skin.

* Demands an end to the vicious siege on Gaza, which brought the population to the brink of humanitarian disaster with extreme shortages of food, water, fuel and medical supplies.

* Calls for an end to the 41 years of occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, including an immediate end to the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Only when Palestinians and Israelis are both equally free to decide their own sovereignty will there be peace.

One bright spot in the midst of this terrible darkness is the explosion of dissent in all corners of the globe. We are especially moved by the Israelis who refuse to fall in line with the drumbeat of war: those like Nomika Zion in southern Gaza who, despite living terrified under rocket fire, stand up to say "Not in my name...The bloodbath in Gaza is not in my name nor for my security." or the group "Other Voice", made up of Israelis living under the threat of qassams, who call for Israel to end the attack and strike a truce with Hamas.

We are inspired by those Israeli soldiers who refuse to fight this civilian population, some of whom are already in jail for their refusal; those Israelis who gather every week to demand their country halt its assault and end the siege, or protest everyday at countless intersections throughout the country; and especially those Israelis who stand outside Sde Dov airforce base in Tel Aviv every morning to remind the pilots that every day they drop their bombs, they drop them on civilians.

In North America, we are inspired by the thousands of people who have gone into the streets for protests, in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and elsewhere, and especially the Jewish women who held a sit-in the Israeli consulate in Toronto, telling the Israeli authorities that "we'll end our occupation when you end yours."

And we are motivated by the tens of thousands who have signed petitions and sent letters calling for Congress to work for an immediate ceasefire and end the siege, and by the tens of thousands who have signed up on JVP's email list and sent thank-you letters to Jon Stewart ( We are hopeful that more journalists and op-ed page editors will tell the truth about Gaza and Israel (here are examples from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.)

And we are grateful to our friends at Jewish Peace News for bringing us insightful analysis and timely reports on dissent against the war.

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