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March 3, 2008
WAWA Blog March 3, 2008: My FAX, Some Questions and Answers About the Current Israeli Escalation in Gaza and an email from the Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory UPDATED 11:45AM EST: Prayer Request from Bethlehem -IOF in the streets!   



Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 3:22 AM in Bethlehem
Subject: urgent prayer request

 
Friends and family,

Please take time now to pray for Bethlehem. Right now both the Bible college and House of Hope are in lock down and no one can leave and the Bible college has all the students locked in rooms. The streets are filled with tanks, tear gas and Israeli soldiers. It is a complete war zone going on right on my street. They are currently invading my friends homes and I can't stop it at all, I just have to pray, and that is what I am asking of you guys. There is lots of shooting and I am really scared right now.
 
Melody

READ  MORE:

http://www.yesbethlehem.blogspot.com/

 
 [WAWA update, 3:30PM EST: Via a phone to friends in Bethlehem I learned the Israeli attack was prompted after frustrated people took to the streets to demonstrate the horror's happening in Gaza. All is quiet right at this time.]



March 2, 2008


Dear President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Rice, Senator Martinez and Senator Nelson,


ONLY A BILATERAL CEASEFIRE, DIALOGUE WITH THE 'ENEMY' AND AN END TO THE BLOCKADE OF GAZA CAN PROVIDE SECURITY FOR ISRAEL.


119 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 982 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.

1,031 Israelis and at least 4,528 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.

6,845 Israelis and 31,815 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000.

During Fiscal Year 2007, the U.S. gave more than $6.8 million per day to Israel and
$0.3 million per day to the Palestinians.

Israel has been targeted by at least 65 UN resolutions and the Palestinians have been targeted by none.

1 Israeli is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 10,756 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel.

0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and 18,147 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967

The Israeli unemployment rate is 9%, while the Palestinian unemployment is estimated at 40%.

Israel currently has 223 Jewish-only settlements and ‘outposts’ built on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians do not have any settlements on Israeli land.
http://www.ifamericansknew.org/



ONLY A BILATERAL CEASEFIRE, DIALOGUE WITH THE 'ENEMY' AND AN END TO THE BLOCKADE OF GAZA CAN PROVIDE SECURITY FOR ISRAEL. PLEASE DO SOMETHING NOW!


With hope and sincerity,
Eileen Fleming, Reporter and Editor WAWA
http://www.wearewideawake.org/
Author "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"
Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" freely streaming on WAWA:
http://www.wearewideawake.org/

FAX Senator Martinez: 202-228-5171
FAX Senator Nelson: 202-228-4600
FAX Pres. Bush: 202-256-2461
FAX Condi Rice: 202-647-2283


White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111
E-mail:
E-mail Vice President Dick Cheney: vice.



Thanks to Dr. Reverend Sizer for disseminating Some Questions and Answers About the Current Israeli Escalation in Gaza

Prepared by Dr. Steve Niva; Member of the Faculty, Middle East Studies, The Evergreen State College; sent by Cindy Corrie via the Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace.

1.  There seems to be a massive upsurge in violence in Gaza these past few days; what is happening?

The violence is completely one-sided.  On the one side, Israel is conducting an extraordinarily violent military operation into the Northern Gaza Strip that includes ground forces, bombings and missile-strikes in crowded residential neighborhoods.  It has also fired upon ambulances and destroyed many civilian homes.  On Saturday (March 1), Israeli operations killed over 60 Palestinians, some of them were reported to be Hamas fighters and at least half of them were civilians, including 10 children and three women.  Since Wednesday (February 27) the Israeli assault has killed around 80 people and injured over 150.  Israel claims this is only the first phase of the operation; the next phase will involve more ground troops.

On the other side, Palestinian rocket fire on Israel from Gaza killed one Israeli and injured scores of others and two Israeli soldiers have been killed in this operation.

2.  Israel claims that its actions are defensive and necessary to end Palestinian rocket fire into Israel that kills Israeli civilians.  Doesn’t Israel have the right to defend itself?

Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza killed one Israeli citizen last week in addition to scores of longer range missiles fired on a major city (Ashkelon) and have killed over 15 Israelis and wounded hundreds more since 2001. Palestinian rocket attacks contravene international law and should stop immediately.

However, there are many ways a country can defend itself and Israel’s current military operation is completely unjustified for two main reasons.

First, Israel’s actions themselves are war-crimes.  Attacks on residential areas (Gaza is one of the most crowded areas in the world) and the targeting of civilians, including homes and medical teams, represent war crimes according to the provisions of international humanitarian law. The use of disproportionate and lethal force against a civilian population even in response to the unlawful rocket attacks carried out by Palestinian armed groups is a blatant violation of the laws of war, enshrined in customary international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Second, if Israel’s goal is to end rocket attacks from Gaza, the most logical and beneficial step it could take would be to respond positively to Hamas’ repeated cease-fire proposals for a complete end to rocket fire on Israel, most recently, on February 23rd, when Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Hamas will consider any initiative that will bring about a ceasefire. Hamas claims it has secured the agreement of all factions to halt rocket fire and promised to impose the cease-fire provided that Israel reciprocates.  Israel’s Prime Miniser Ehud Olmert immediately rejected the cease-fire offer, even though a growing number of Israeli politicians and security officials are calling for Israel to accept a cease-fire.  Israel’s current operations are clearly about much more than securing Israeli civilians lives.  Israel could easily end the rocket fire by accepting a cease-fire.

3. What would a cease-fire include?

Hamas has proposed a cease-fire many times and has been clear that it would have to include a cessation of all hostilities:  Hamas would cease and impose a halt to all rockets and mortar shells from Gaza provided Israel would end its "targeted liquidations", military incursions and its siege of Gaza.  The negotiations should be conducted by Egypt, particularly since it would have to open the border between the Gaza Strip and Sinai to end the siege of Gaza and give it back its freedom of communication with the world by land, sea and air.

4. But how can one reach a cease-fire settlement with a violent organization that declares that it will never recognize Israel?

Israel’s demand that it cannot negotiate a cease-fire because Hamas does not "recognize Israel’s right to exist" is nothing more than a pretext for avoiding an end to violence on anything other than Israel’s terms.  Even though Hamas has been responsible for many reprehensible and violent attacks on Israel, it is the main power in Gaza and has a track record of living up to its agreements.  The claim about recognition is faulty for the following reasons:

·         First, the lack of recognition has never stopped states from negotiating with its adversaries; history is replete with negotiations between sworn enemies.

·         Second, such recognition is traditionally reciprocal; in order for Israel to receive recognition it would have to simultaneously recognize the state of Palestine, which it refuses to do.

·         Third, Israel has refused to declare its own borders and is currently in military occupation of another people and has planted massive settlement colonies on their land, both in violation of international law, so which state and which borders are supposed to be recognized?

·         Fourth, and most importantly, in practical terms, if one state or group makes an agreement with another state, then it has recognized that state.  So if Hamas were to agree to a cease-fire, it is meaningless whether or not it has formally recognized Israel because in fact, it has.

5.  What then are the political reasons why the Israeli government rejects a cease-fire and chooses massive military invasions and violence in Gaza as its preferred policy?

The immediate reason is that the current Israeli government is under severe domestic pressure to take major actions against rocket attacks, and since it will not accept a cease-fire and knows it cannot reoccupy the Gaza strip without major casualties, it is choosing to unleash intense violence upon Palestinians-both fighters and civilians--in order to pressure Hamas to halt rocket attacks.  This is a form of collective punishment; it has never worked in the past and contravenes international law.

The deeper reason Israel chooses violence over a cease-fire is that Israel wants to avoid negotiations with a united Palestinian government that holds firm to basic Palestinian rights to a full and sovereign Palestinian state in the lands occupied by Israel in 1967.  It wants to impose an agreement upon a weakened and divided Palestinian people who could be pushed to accept a deal that allows for Palestinian rule in truncated territorial enclaves under complete Israeli control, with most of the Israeli settlements remaining on Palestinian land.  Dividing Hamas-ruled Gaza from the West Bank and refusing to negotiate any deal with Hamas helps it do this.

6.  But do all Israelis oppose a Cease-Fire?

No.  According to a recent poll, a majority of the Israeli public (64%) support direct talks with Hamas to achieve a mutual ceasefire.  Moreover, Knesset Member Yossi Beilin called for an agreed ceasefire with Hamas; Israel's public security minister, Avi Dichter, has criticized Israel's military escalation, saying, "Whoever talks about entering and occupying the Gaza Strip, these are populist ideas which I don't connect to, and in my opinion, no intelligent person does either."; and the former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, Efraim Halevy, calls for Israel and the US to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas.

7. What should American policy be regarding the situation in Gaza?

The U.S. Government should demand that all attacks in either direction between Gaza and Israel cease now, permanently.  It should support a resolution to that effect in the UN Security Council.  It should pressure Israel to accept a cease-fire

A cease-fire should be welcomed by all who truly want to see the violence stop, the siege of Gaza end, Israeli civilians secure and see a new basis for negotiations that will lead to full political rights for Palestinians according to international law and peace for Israel.  Call for an immediate cease-fire now.



Thanks to Gloria for forwarding the following:

Monday, 3 March 2008

Dear Friends,

I write to you from Bethlehem. The city is in a state of mourning, as is the rest of the West Bank, for the many people, most of whom were innocent civilians and children, killed in Gaza over the weekend. There have been demonstrations in the streets, students marching in protest on their way to and from school protesting the number of Gazan children who have been senselessly killed, loud-speakers blaring out messages of resistance, churches calling for non-violence. It is a very sad situation. Yesterday (Sunday) I came into Bethlehem to meet with a group. I had to pull off the side of the road as a demonstration passed. A small stone was thrown at my car since I have blond hair and drive a car with an Israeli license plate. Israelis are not allowed by their government to enter the Palestinian areas so everyone would have known i was not an Israeli. It is understood (in error) that I am a foreigner, supporting the Israeli government with my tax money. In fact I have not paid taxes to the US since 1994. It seems counterproductive to my work here.

 

I have many Palestinian friends who are always careful to call me and warn me if there may be a situation that would put me in danger. This was the case yesterday. I received a call after I had returned to my home in Beit Safafa on the other side of the checkpoint. My friend advised me not to come into Bethlehem since there was a strike on (I had noticed that the shops were all closed) and demonstrations in the streets. I told him that I had already been into Bethlehem and had worn black as a symbol of mourning. I also told him about the stone that was thrown at my car by one of the students and that this concerned me, not so much for any damage it may have caused to the car (it did not) but because it demonstrates that it only takes one volatile 14-year-old with a stone to turn a non-violent demonstration into a serious situation. I did not see many Palestinian police on the streets other than the usual traffic cops at the intersections where the traffic lights have still not been fixed since the Israeli tanks tore them out almost 8 years ago. Another aspect of demonstrations that was blatantly missing was the media. I did not see any TV cameras, any cars with TV taped onto the windshields. I did not even see any reporters with cameras. Palestinians protesting non-violently to the horrendous state terrorism being perpetrated by the Israeli missiles in Gaza does not make headline news and is therefore deemed a waste of time and effort.

 

It seemed a bit futile to me that the Palestinians had closed their shops and were marching in the streets when the only people who would be affected by those actions would be themselves; like preaching to the choir. It was merely a release of the frustration and anger that is felt here every day. They can not get out of the prison that is now Bethlehem. They can not demonstrate in front of the people who are causing their misery. They can not have any economic effect by closing their shops since the only people who can patronize them now are other Palestinians. It is not like the first Intifada when there was a strike day every week. Palestinian shops were closed on Thursdays in protest causing a minor inconvenience for Israeli customers but having greater visibility in sending the message of resistance. The possibility of an economic effect on Israel can only come from the outside now. This is why it is so critical that our churches take action by means of divestment, by speaking truth to power, by holding the wayward child that is Israel accountable for its actions.

 
The people of Palestine are bleeding.  Their children are being killed. They protest by marching in the streets.  I am amazed at their restraint.  How much longer can they be so patient, waiting for “peace negotiators” to decide their future while they continue to bury their children?

Janet Lahr Lewis

United Methodist Liaison in Israel and Palestine

 
 
   
 
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