“When we first learned of the opportunity to get these supplies directly to the people of Gaza via the Freedom Flotilla, we asked our partner NGOs in Gaza what we could send that would matter most to them, given the 3 year-long blockade. They asked Americans to send messages to children, along with backpacks, sports equipment, and cement to build a kindergarten.”- Donna Baranski-Walker, Executive Director of the Rebuilding Alliance.
In 2006 Father Manuel, the parish priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza informed the world:
“Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry…people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope.
“These actions are War Crimes!”
“Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles…Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desperate…Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom.
“Gaza cannot sleep…the cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, no hope, no love.
[As previously published at https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/how-and-why-i-got-on-board-with-the-freedom-flotilla-to-gaza/]:
On April 3, 2009 the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council commissioned a fact-finding mission “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”
The Council appointed the Jewish Justice Richard Goldstone, a South African Constitutional Court judge and the former chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
Justice Goldstone issued the 575-page report on September 29, 2009 and the Goldstone Report accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes perpetuated during the 22 days of assault on Gaza which began two days after Christmas day 2008, when the Israeli military launched Operation Cast Lead; a full-scale attack on Gaza that killed 13 Israelis and 1,400 Palestinians.
Over 5,000 Palestinians were injured, 400,000 were left without running water, 4,000 homes were destroyed, rendering tens of thousands who are still homeless because of Israel’s targeted attacks upon them, their schools, hospitals, streets, water wells, sewage system, farms, police stations and UN buildings.
[As previously published at http://wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1523&Itemid=227 on December 20, 2009]
Operation Cast Lead was enabled by US-supplied weapons and we the people of the US who pay taxes provide over $3 billion annually to Israel although Israel has consistently misused U.S. weapons in violation of America’s Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.
America is the worlds largest arms supplier to Israel and under a Bush negotiated deal with Israel-which Obama signed onto just before Christmas 2009, we the people will now provide another $30 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade.
During the 22 days of Israeli assault on Gaza,
“Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus and DIME. The weapons required for the Israeli assault was decided upon in June 2008, and the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39) were approved by Congress in September. The GBU 39 bombs were delivered to Israel in November (prior to any claims of Hamas cease fire violation!) for use in the initial air raids on Gaza.” [http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/9-us-arms-used-for-war-crimes-in-gaza/]
[As previously published at http://www.opednews.com/articles/An-Ode-to-Light-a-Fire-In-by-Eileen-Fleming-091105-327.html on November 7, 2009]:
In a 71-page report released March 25, 2009, by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.
“Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” provides eye witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza.
“Human Rights Watch researchers found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended in January.
“Militaries officially use white phosphorus to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It has also been used as an incendiary weapon, though such use constitutes a war crime.
“In Gaza, the Israeli military didn’t just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops,” said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. “It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren’t in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died.” [Ibid]
During the 22 days of attack on Gaza, the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, International Red Cross, and global voices of protest rose up and demanded a ceasefire, but both houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions to support a continuation of Israel’s so called “self defense.”
What Israel did under the cover of night in International waters on America’s Memorial Day 2010, to Citizens of the World who physically got on board the FREEDOM FLOTILLA, should have been the final straw to break America’s ‘special relationship’ with Israel, but last week nearly one third of the Republican Caucus in the House of Representatives introduced a resolution giving Israel a green light to attack Iran.
But the light still shines, hope emerges, love perseveres and with “FINGERS CROSSED: AMERICAN CARGO is HEADED FOR GAZA AT LAST!”
Rebuilding Alliance, Free Gaza Movement Urge Open Trade and Aid
July 27, 2010, San Mateo CA – The Rebuilding Alliance (RA), a local San Mateo non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities and making them safe, is pleased to announce that the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East (UNSCO) has promised to deliver the Freedom Flotilla’s humanitarian aid cargo intended for Gaza. The cargo was seized following the tragic events of May 31, when 9 Turkish aid workers aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of the six boats in the Flotilla, were killed by Israeli commandos.
The Rebuilding Alliance, in collaboration with the nonviolent human rights’ group Free Gaza Movement (FGM), placed much-needed materials aboard FGM’s Irish ship, the MV Rachel Corrie.
The Rebuilding Alliance is hopeful that its shipment of backpacks, sports equipment, and building materials will soon reach the Gaza non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for which they were intended.
“When we first learned of the opportunity to get these supplies directly to the people of Gaza via the Freedom Flotilla, we asked our partner NGOs in Gaza what we could send that would matter most to them, given the 3 year-long blockade,” said Donna Baranski-Walker, Executive Director of the Rebuilding Alliance.
“They asked Americans to send messages to children, along with backpacks, sports equipment, and cement to build a kindergarten.”
Funds for the cargo were raised through American donations with the help of Globalgiving.com, which provided a matching grant. In addition, an American donor in Ireland stepped forward to donate 300 bags of cement to help the Ybnah Community Charity build a new kindergarten in Rafah, Gaza.
“The MV Rachel Corrie was bringing soccer balls, footballs, sports uniforms, sports equipment, and school supplies to the Al Basma Club,” said Eid Shaqura, Executive Director of the Al Basma Club for the Disabled, a non-governmental organization in Gaza City serving disabled youth through sport. “The three exercise machines on the Flotilla will double the number of exercise machines Al Basma Club has – and dramatically increase training for our all-deaf soccer team.”
Just days after the May 31 flotilla tragedy, UNSCO began negotiations with Israel to allow UN agencies to deliver the Flotilla goods to those in Gaza suffering under the blockade. The Rebuilding Alliance sent a volunteer to Gaza to visit its NGO partners and to meet with John Ging, Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency – Gaza (UNRWA-Gaza) to discuss plans for cargo delivery. The Rebuilding Alliance continues to work toward establishing a third-party certification system to safely open Gaza’s sea port to humanitarian aid, and to enable the fair and open trade that Palestinians need for economic recovery.
“The cargo that is being processed for delivery this week includes wheelchairs, soccer balls, ambulance stretchers, prosthetic limbs, and cement, paper, and even prefab homes that the blockade has made nearly or entirely impossible to import to Gaza over the last three years,” said Niamh Moloughney, coordinator of Free Gaza Movement – Ireland, the group that owns the MV Rachel Corrie. “Everyone hopes the cargo will reach its destination at last – and we urge people throughout the world to press their governments to open Gaza not just to aid but to trade as well.”
CONTACT: Donna Baranski-Walker, Executive Director of the Rebuilding Alliance
Phone: (650) 440-9667 Email: contact@RebuildingAlliance.org
The Rebuilding Alliance is a U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities and making them safe. Their vision is a just and enduring peace in Israel and Palestine founded upon equal value, security, and opportunity for all. Founded as a nonprofit organization in 2003, the Rebuilding Alliance performs a unique role in the peace and justice community: they help Israelis and Palestinians overcome injustice and violence through rebuilding projects that are symbols of hope. The Rebuilding Alliance performs direct-contact grassroots organizing, broad-based citizen education, and mobilization to bring about American policy change based on human rights and international law. Donna Baranski-Walker, the founder and Executive Director of the Rebuilding Alliance, is an MIT engineer who believes in the importance of connecting good neighbors worldwide to build peace. For more info: http://www.RebuildingAlliance.org
Al Basma Club for the Disabled (ABCD) is a non-governmental organization in Gaza that was established in early 2005 by a group of qualified disabled and non-disabled people. ABCD’s mission is to provide a wide variety of quality sport and recreational activities in a safe and secure environment which enhance the social, cultural and physical well-being of the entire sport community for people with disabilities in the Gaza Strip. Eid Shaqura and Abeer Jaber co-founded the club in 2005 when deaf children were playing soccer in the street and tried unsuccessfully to enter a club for able-bodied persons. Eid was called and asked to solve the problem. Both Eid and Abeer previously worked for the Palestinian Sports Federation for the Disabled. Disabled by polio in her youth, Abeer has been involved in the disabled community for most of her life. Eid has worked with disabled people from childhood as well, beginning with caring for his uncle who was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. For more info: http://www.basmaclub.ps/en/index.php
The Free Gaza Movement (FGM) is a human rights group that in August 2008 sent the first international boats to land in the port of Gaza in 41 years. The FGM seeks to break the siege of Gaza and to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. The Free Gaza Movement is registered in Cyprus as a nongovernmental charitable organization. Niamh Moloughney of Free Gaza Movement – Ireland coordinated the purchase of the MV Rachel Corrie and the purchase, packing, and loading of all cargo aboard the ship. For more info: http://www.freegaza.org
Eileen Fleming, Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org
A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com
Staff Member of Salem-news.com
Featured Writer on Dandelion Salad
Author of “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”
Only in Solidarity do “we have it in our power to begin the world again.”-Tom Paine