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Gaza: Stop The Sige - Stop The War

From: Peace Movement Aotearoa Date: 27 November 2006

Gaza: Stop The Sige - Stop The War

This message is primarily about the international Gaza: Stop the Siege - Stop the War! campaign that has been running through November and will culminate in demonstrations around the world on Saturday, 2 December. There are five sections below:

1) background information on the campaign; 2) the international online petition, the text and how you can add your name; 3) related events, and some other protests, in Aotearoa New Zealand before and on 2 December; 4) contact details and draft letters for NZ government and other politicians; and 5) links to more information including the new UNRWA report, Gaza: Stop the Siege - Stop the War! campaign material, and a draft letter to send to the Israeli Prime Minister, Chief of Staff, and Defense Minister, as well as contact details for them. This alert is available online at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/gaza06.htm

1) Background information on the campaign

The situation in Gaza has reached emergency levels – inadequate water, electricity, and medicine; widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment; schools and other services out of operation; and constant bombardments and attacks by the Israeli military. Since the Palestinian elections, parts of the international community and the Israeli government are holding sanctions against the Palestinian Authority. Israel has tightened its siege and military attacks on Gaza since the soldier Gilad Shalit was taken hostage. If this siege continues, we will see spreading disease, malnutrition, and anarchy. Turning Gaza into a prison is a cruel policy which endangers its residents and the residents of Israel, especially the ones in the south.

The community of peace organizations in Israel has gathered together in a coordinated, major campaign calling on the Israeli government and on the international community to end the siege on Gaza and to embark upon negotiations with the elected Palestinian leadership.

The month of action will culminate in demonstrations around the world on 2 December. Please join us in this humanitarian and political effort. The campaign was initiated by the Coalition of Women for Peace with its 9 member organizations (Bat Shalom, The Fifth Mother, Machsom Watch, Noga, NELED, Women In Black, New Profile, TANDI - Movement of Democratic Women for Israel, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom). Other active organizers are Anarchists against the Wall, Gush Shalom, Hadash, High School Seniors Letter, Rabbis for Human Rights, University Student Coalition, Yesh Gvul, Ta`ayush, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and The Students Coalition – Tel Aviv. More information about the month of action is at http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/articles/letter_1106 and in the 'links to more information' section below.

The month of action includes the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, information about the observance of the Day in previous years is at http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/palestinian/ an information note about this year's Day is at http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/47d4e277b48d9d3685256ddc00612265/e7006fc8692bd19a8525720d006a1bc5!OpenDocument and the UN Division for Palestinian Rights site is at http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/qpalnew/overview.htm

2) The international online petition

Gaza: Stop the Siege! Stop the War! To Israeli Government and World Leaders - "The situation in Gaza has reached emergency levels - inadequate water, electricity, and medicine; widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment; schools and other services rendered inoperative; constant bombardments and attacks by the Israeli military. This humanitarian catastrophe is man-made: It was brought on by the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip by Israel and the sanctions imposed by the international community on Palestine, made worse by repeated IDF attacks. If this situation continues, we will see spreading disease, malnutrition, and more violence. Under these conditions, negotiations - the only way to reach peace between both peoples - also become an impossibility. We call upon Israeli leaders to end the siege of and war on Gaza. We call upon world leaders to end the political and economic sanctions of Palestine. The siege and sanctions are sowing chaos and death in Gaza. They must come to an end." You can add your name to the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/SaveGaza/petition.html

3) Related events, and other protests, in Aotearoa New Zealand before and on 2 December

* Auckland

- Tuesday, 28 November: Protest Israeli War Criminal Moshe Ya'alon's Visit To Auckland! "The Palestine Human Rights Campaign and Students for Justice in Palestine will be protesting the visit of Lieutenant General (Ret) Moshe Ya'alon, former Chief of Staff Israeli ‘Defence’ Force 2002-2005, to Auckland. Ya’alon, otherwise known as the “Butcher of Qana”, is responsible for a number of human rights violations and war crimes, including the IDF’s deliberate shelling of the United Nations compound at Qana in southern Lebanon, on the 18th April 1996. At the time, Ya’alon was a Major General and Head of Israeli Army Intelligence. Knowing that displaced civilians were sheltering at the compound, he planned, directed and authorised the attack which killed over a hundred villagers who had taken refuge in the UN compound and injured many others. Fijian soldiers assigned to the United Nations were also injured. Ya'alon is currently facing a civil suit in US Federal Court on charges stemming from his involvement in the Qana attack. The class action lawsuit charges Ya’alon with war crimes, extrajudicial killings, and crimes against humanity. Ya’alon is touring New Zealand justifying the recent invasion and bombardment of Lebanon and Israel’s ongoing atrocities against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. In 2002, in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, he compared Palestinians with cancer and commented "There are all kinds of solutions to cancerous manifestations. Some will say it is necessary to amputate organs. But at the moment, I am applying chemotherapy". Support the protest, war criminals, like Ya'alon are not welcome in Aotearoa-New Zealand". Picket starts at 6.45pm, AA (Alexander Astor) Hall, Kadimah College, Greys Avenue, (opposite YMCA, near Pitt Street intersection), Auckland; for more information contact email wakim.fam@xtra.co.nz

- Saturday, 2 December: Rally for Justice And Peace in Palestine and commemoration of UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (November 29th). Come and support justice and peace based on: an end to Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and stopping Israel's annexation / apartheid wall in occupied Palestine. Starts 2pm, QEII Square, Customs Street and Queen Street intersection, outside Downtown Shopping Centre, Auckland. Organised by the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, for more information contact email wakim.fam@xtra.co.nz

* Wellington

- Tuesday, 28 November: Vigil and Fast in Solidarity with the Palestinian People - "Please join us for a lunchtime fast in solidarity with the people of Gaza who are being starved, isolated and bombed constantly. Gather for half an hour or longer outside the US Embassy (as Israel’s main backer) for accounts of what is happening in Gaza and the occupied territories, speakers, discussion, Palestinian poetry and music; a letter of protest will be presented to the US Ambassador. Fasting has a long tradition as part of active non-violent resistance, and is meant to indicate the commitment of the fasters, show willingness to commit for the cause and question those in power by the foregoing of something ordinary and necessary. In this case it is aimed to link us with the deprivation being suffered by the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank." From 11.30am to 1.30pm, US Embassy, Wellington; organised by the Wellington Palestine Group, for more information contact email wpgnz@hotmail.com

- Wednesday, 29 November: Wellington Palestine Group Information Stall to mark the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the United Nations adopted this day in recognition of the Palestinian's inalienable right as a people to self determination. "On the 29th November 1947 the UN adopted Resolution 181 on the Partition of Palestine, which laid out the division of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. The Partition Plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency but not by the Palestinians as they objected to the dissection, partition or segregation of their country or the giving of special or preferential rights to a minority. After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, most Palestinian people were expelled from their land to live, up until today, in refugee camps, in Palestine and around the Middle East. Since 1967 Israel has occupied all of historic Palestine and subjected the Palestinian Population to a brutal military occupation reminiscent of apartheid South Africa with the addition of expulsion and ongoing land settlement." From 12 noon onwards at the bottom end of Cuba Mall, Wellington, please feel free to come and help out at the stall during the day; organised by the Wellington Palestine Group, for more information contact email wpgnz@hotmail.com

- Saturday, 2 December: Silent vigil and presentation of letter to the Honorary Consul of Israel, 11am at the Israeli Consulate, 54 Central Terrace, Kelburn, Wellington. Organised by Kapiti Quakers, for more information contact c/o email pma@xtra.co.nz - please put 'For Kapiti Quakers' in the subject line of your message.

* Christchurch

- Saturday, 2 December: Vigil and petition signing - "the situation in Gaza has reached disaster levels with widespread hunger and unemployment and the bombing of schools, hospitals and power stations. Israeli human rights groups, including many women's groups have organised a month of protest and called for people throughout the world to join them. Come to the cathedral for even a few minutes, light a candle for peace in Gaza, make a prayer or sign a petition to Israeli leaders to stop the bombing and lift the siege of the tiny patch of land called the Gaza strip; "do not be like a disciple watching from afar", Bishop Riah, Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem." From 1pm to 3pm, Christchurch Cathedral, Square; organised by Christian World Service in conjunction with Christchurch churches, for more information contact email mary.cavanagh@cws.org.nz A poster advertising this event is available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/gaza06.pdf

* Dunedin

- Saturday, 2 December: Gathering to call for an end to the siege and the war in Gaza - "Speakers will include a spokesperson for Amnesty International; Rev Peter Matheson; Rt Rev George Connor; Father Mark Chamberlain; Christina Gibb, recently returned from the West Bank, and others. There will be letters to the NZ PM and other cabinet ministers and MPs, and a petition to the Israeli PM, and others in authority there, for people to sign; these will also be outside the Dunedin Farmers Market during the morning". Gathering from 12 noon to about 1pm, in the Queens Gardens, opposite the Settlers Museum; for further details and wet weather venue contact email cgibb@ihug.co.nz

4) Contact details and draft letters for NZ government and other politicians

a) Contact details for politicians: Helen Clark, Prime Minister, email pm@ministers.govt.nz or fax (04) 473 3579; Winston Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs, email wpeters@ministers.govt.nz or fax: (04) 471 2042; letters to any MP should be posted to [whoever], Freepost Parliament, PO Box 18-888, Wellington; contact details for all MPs are available online at http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/5858C8A5-ACDF-4B35-8D7A-3ABB7B19ACDB/46008/listofmembers21112007.pdf or by phoning Parliament tel (04) 471 9999.

b) Draft letter for individuals to send (draft letter for groups below)

Dear

I am writing to urge you to take immediate action in relation to the Israeli siege of and attacks on Gaza.

The situation in Gaza has reached emergency levels - very inadequate water, electricity, and medicine; widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment; schools and other services out of operation; and constant bombardments and attacks by the Israeli military. The problem is the siege of the Gaza Strip by Israel and the sanctions imposed by the international community, made worse by ongoing IDF attacks, continuing since 25 June. As this siege continues, we see spreading disease, malnutrition, and anarchy, together with a growing total of deaths and injuries.

The community of peace organizations in Israel has joined together in a coordinated, major campaign to end the siege of Gaza and call upon Israel to embark upon negotiations with the Palestinian legitimate representative. They invite all people of goodwill worldwide, including Governments and other bodies with international responsibilities, to act vigorously to end this desperate emergency.

In particular, I ask that the New Zealand Government:

- as a friend of Israel, urge the Israeli Government to end the current siege of and attacks on Gaza;

- renew action to bring the matter before the United Nations Security Council;

- renew relations with the democratically elected Palestinian Authority, abandoning the current financial and economic sanctions, and urge other Governments to end these measures which inflict such suffering on the civilian population, nearly half of whom are aged under 14.

International relations with the Palestinian Authority have been distorted by the labelling of Hamas as a "terrorist organisation", rather than as a nationalist resistance body which has suspended suicide bombings for the last year in favour of political involvement. Hamas has stated its willingness to enter into a long-term truce with Israel - a de facto recognition.

Please take urgent action.

Yours sincerely,

c) Draft letter for groups to send (draft letter for individuals above)

Dear

In urgent concern for the people of Israel and Palestine, we urge you to take every action within your power to relieve the current desperate situation in Gaza.

The situation in Gaza has reached emergency levels - very inadequate water, electricity, and medicine; widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment; schools and other services out of operation; and constant bombardments and attacks by the Israeli military. The problem is the siege of the Gaza Strip by Israel and the sanctions imposed by the international community, made worse by ongoing IDF attacks, continuing since 25 June. As this siege continues, we see spreading disease, malnutrition, and anarchy, together with a growing total of deaths and injuries.

The community of peace organizations in Israel has joined together in a coordinated, major campaign to end the siege of Gaza and call upon Israel to embark upon negotiations with the Palestinian legitimate representative. They invite all people of goodwill worldwide, including Governments and other bodies with international responsibilities, to act vigorously to end this desperate emergency.

In particular, we request that the New Zealand Government:

- as a friend of Israel, urge the Israeli Government to end the current siege of and attacks on Gaza;

- renew action to bring the matter before the United Nations Security Council;

- renew relations with the democratically elected Palestinian Authority, abandoning the current financial and economic sanctions, and urge other Governments to end these measures which inflict such suffering on the civilian population, nearly half of whom are aged under 14.

International relations with the Palestinian Authority have been distorted by the labelling of Hamas as a "terrorist organisation", rather than as a nationalist resistance body which has suspended suicide bombings for the last year in favour of political involvement. Hamas has stated its willingness to enter into a long-term truce with Israel - a de facto recognition.

Please give this matter your most urgent attention. We are writing similarly to the Prime Minister.

Yours sincerely,

5) Links to more information

* 'Financial boycott sends Palestinian poverty numbers soaring, finds UN report', 24 November 2006: "More than 1 million Palestinians, or one in four inhabitants of the occupied territories, are now mired in deep poverty as living standards deteriorate dramatically following the economic boycott of the Palestinian Authority this year, according to a United Nations report released today." - UN news report at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=20725&Cr=Palestin&Cr1= The full UNRWA report is at http://www.un.org/unrwa/news/SocioEconomicImpacts_Nov06.pdf

* 'Civilians in Israel, Palestine bear brunt of abuses, UN rights chief says', 23 November 2006: "Wrapping up a visit to the Middle East, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said today that Palestinian and Israeli civilians were the primary victims of the alarming deprivation of human rights in the region." - UN news report at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=20709&Cr=Palestin&Cr1=

* A Joint Statement by Israel's leading human rights organizations on the Gaza humanitarian crisis - http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/articles/letter_1106/statements/israel_human_rights_orga

* Question and answer sheet about the current situation in the Gaza Strip - http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/articles/letter_1106/questions_answers

* Statement by the European Jews for a Just Peace - http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/articles/letter_1106/statements/ejppc_gazastmt

* Sample letter addressed to Israeli decision makers - http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/articles/letter_1106/sample_petition

* Email addresses, fax numbers and other contact info for Israel's PM, Defense Minister and Chief of Staff - http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/articles/letter_1106/contact

* Coalition against the Siege on Gaza web page - http://gazasiege.net/Campaign_info_eng.htm

Ends

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