RAFAH DAILY UPDATE (Volume 5) during Operation Rainbow

May 20, 2004

Attached is the Rafah Update Volume 5. The situation is worsenning so fast in Rafah. IOF invaded new areas in the southeast of the town — Tel Al Sultan is in the west of Rafah — and there are many devastating anecdotes.

The humanitarian situation in Tel Al Sultan, however, is so bad, since this area was invaded first.

Best wishes.

al mezan rafah update

Some of the bodies were put two to a box

Amira Hass, Haaretz, 5/20/04
RAFAH — Suddenly there was a shout from outside: “Leave everything. The Jews have fired missiles at the demonstration. Lots of casualties. Send ambulances.” The man shouting ran into the small hut in the hospital’s yard from where the ambulance drivers leave.

It was around two in the afternoon. A few bleary-eyed ambulance drivers and male nurses dashed out of the hut to their ambulances. As they were leaving, other ambulances that had been in the town, their sirens blaring, tore into the yard where crowds had formed. Everyone was pushing everyone else away, trying to clear a path.

The first ambulance parked and six people ran to take out a little boy on a stretcher, his clothes covered in blood. Others ran to another ambulance forced to park outside because there was no room in the compound.

For some 20 minutes, ambulances with loud sirens were either reversing out the yard or trying to enter and off-load the wounded – many of them children, some unconscious, one conscious and crying, and all the youths helping to carry them also had blood-spattered clothes.

Back and forth the ambulances came, spewing out the wounded. Soon they were joined by private vehicles and taxis, from which the crowd pull out the casualties, some on stretchers, others on their shoulders.

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Rafah and Gaza emergency

May 18, 2004


We need your help.

There is an emergency situation right now in the Gaza Strip and the town of Rafah, in particular, with scenes that bring to mind Israel’s invasion of Jenin and Nablus in the spring of 2002.  So far today, 18 Palestinians were killed, but the action continues.  Last weekend, 116 homes were destroyed, making over a thousand people homeless (www.btselem.org).  Hundreds more are slated for destruction.  Amira Hass, filing dramatic daily reports from inside Rafah, describes the scenes of people grabbing their children and whatever comes to hand and fleeing their homes, anticipating the entry of the bulldozer-tanks (www.haaretzdaily.com).  Even Yossi Sarid from the Yahad Party (formerly called Meretz), normally a staunch defender of the IDF, described actions in Rafah as “war crimes”.  My friend In’am called me from Gaza trembling with fear, and reported that the Palestinian news broadcaster broke down in tears as he spoke.

Many — Israelis, internationals and Palestinians — are desperately trying to halt the bloodshed.  The Israeli women’s peace movement just placed an ad in Ha’aretz calling for an immediate halt to the violence and renewal of negotiations for a peace agreement that will extract us from all the occupied territories (“True and enduring solutions,” we wrote, “are attained by negotiation, not destruction, revenge or humiliation”).  This morning, forty women drove to Gaza to see if they could intervene physically, but they are being prevented from entering Gaza by the army.  The women have set up an encampment at the Sufa checkpoint and say they will not leave until the army stops its actions there.  Other peace and human rights organizations have placed newspaper ads, and many are organizing a larger delegation to join the women on Friday.

International figures have begun to speak out, but we need more, and quickly.  Can you please take a moment to write a letter (email or fax) or make a phone call to any or all of the list below?  A sample letter is appended.

Please take a minute to try to save someone’s life or home.  Imagine that you had to walk out the door of your home at this very moment, with nothing but what your arms can carry, and you would never see your home or its contents ever again.  Please make a couple of calls.

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Appeal for Rafah City

18 May 2004

Dear Madam/Sir,

I write to you today with the high hopes that your consistent support to the Palestinian People and commitment to the peace process as the only way out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would translate into immediate and decisive actions to alleviate the suffering of the devastated Rafah families. As you are certainly aware, the Israeli aggression against Rafah and its refugee camps has been unabated for the past three years and a half, resulting in the dispossession as well as economic and psychological ruination of hundreds of Palestinian families. This ethnic cleansing campaign has literally altered the demographic and population concentrations in Rafah.

Given the latest escalation of the Israeli violence and aggression against the Palestinian People every where and in particular what is happening to Rafah city and Rafah People, we take this opportunity to appeal to you for immediate action.

In the past week, Israeli Tanks, Buldozers, have gone deep into the city killing 25 People, 15 of them were killed this morning in Tal Sultan area in Rafah and the other 10 were killed three days ago when the Israeli tanks and buldozers destroyed and demolished houses in Rafah, and injuring more than one Hundred , some of which are very seious. More that 160 families were left without shelter following the destruction of 120 houses sheltering 1170 persons, now living in tents, playgrounds, squares. The total Number of Houses demolished completely in Rafah since the start of the current Intifadah is about 1750 houses. Agricultural land and green houses were also buldozed. Roads, Water and waste water networks were destroyed. There is also a humanitarian crisis , where food, water, milk and medical supplies are not available in the city as it is isolated from the rest of the Gaza Strip for more than a week.

With these latest and dangerous developments in mind, we appeal to you to save and protect what is left of Rafah City and its infrastructure. We view the current situation with grave concern and we are certain that you share the same view. We appeal to help the alleviate the suffering of Rafah People, and help restore the destroyed infrastructure as soon as you can.

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Rules Prevent Scholar From Researching

Gil Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio
Monday May 10, 2004

(EAU CLAIRE) New Homeland Security rules may prevent a Palestinian Fulbright Scholar from completing his research at UW-Eau Claire.

Mohammed Riffi, a mathematician from the Islamic University of Gaza, was deported last month when he tried to return to Eau Claire after visiting family in the Middle East. He says when he told immigration officials at the Atlanta airport he was a Fulbright Scholar headed for Wisconsin, they ridiculed him and threatened to detain him for a month.

Riffi apparently broke a new Homeland Security rule by leaving the country from the wrong airport. His visa required him to leave from Minneapolis/St. Paul but a connecting flight took him through Cincinnati.

Carl Markgraf is the director of the UW-Eau Claire Center for International Education. He says Riffi fell into a mandatory deportation status and was deported. He says Riffi was detained for many hours in Atlanta and interrogated there, and then was deported back to Paris and then Gaza. He says Riffi felt he was treated inhumanely and unjustly.

In an e-mail to colleagues in Eau Claire, Riffi said at one point he feared he would be sent to the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Markgraf says UW-Eau Claire is working to convince federal officials to allow Riffi to return to finish his research on a math teaching technique, but he says even if the Fulbright program issues him a new visa, he may not be allowed return.

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Wake up, world! Hear O Israel, wake up!

Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2004 19:30:43 +0200
From: “Gila Svirsky” (gsvirsky@netvision.net.il)
Subject: Anarchy in our souls
To: “Gila Svirsky” (gsvirsky@netvision.net.il)


I just spoke to Molly Malekar on her way to the hospital from a demonstration in Bidu, and here is what she reported:

“We were about 60 women, only women: roughly 1/3 Israeli, 1/3 Palestinian and 1/3 internationals. We gathered at Bidu to protest the construction of the wall in this village. It was a quiet march, with women carrying signs and walking toward the area where soldiers were guarding the construction of the fence. At a distance of about 10 meters (30 feet) from them, we stopped walking because the soldiers turned to point their rifles directly at us. I called out to them in Hebrew, “Don’t shoot, we’re not armed, this is a nonviolent demonstration.” Suddenly there was an onslaught of tear gas and stun grenades, falling all around us, completely out of proportion to the quiet, nonprovocative nature of our action. The grenades fell right there at our feet and we were choking, unable to breathe. Most dispersed and ran back. Soldiers charged toward us and fell upon the women, grabbing some whom they arrested. By then, there was no demonstration at all, nothing to disperse. Most of the women had run back, trying to recover from the tear gas, but I stayed as I wanted to talk to the soldiers to prevent the arrest of the four women. Suddenly out of nowhere four horses charged, with border police mounted on them. I started to run away, but one of them ridden by a young woman in uniform caught up with me and she struck me on my head with her billy club. I fell, and then a second horse charged toward me and I felt more blows on my head and back. There was no provocation whatsoever at any point while this was happening.”

Molly is the director of Bat Shalom, which is the women’s peace organization that forms the Israeli side of The Jerusalem Link (the Palestinian side is called the Jerusalem Center for Women). Molly is the most wonderfully serious and thoughtful woman you would ever want to have at the head of your organization. Anyone who has ever met Molly knows that she has never engaged in provocation, but has only been cautious and respectful. I asked her by cell phone, on her way to the hospital, how she feels and she said, “A horrible headache, my ears hurt, and I’m aching from the blows. But let’s think about how to wake people up to what is happening out there. We have to wake people up.”

Wake up, world! Hear O Israel, wake up!! Israeli soldiers have made brutality a way of life against Palestinians, then they turned their weapons and death upon international peace activists, and now they are brutalizing Israelis who express disapproval of their ways. Who will be the first one killed?

Writes US woman activist Starhawk, who participated in some of these actions, “The Israelis who are involved in the day to day resistance … said to me that they know it is only a matter of time before there is an Israeli קָדוֹשׁ מְעוּנֶה, a martyr of the occupation. Being Israeli is no longer a protection against the violence of the military.”

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Yes, Alice, it does do some good

Gila Svirsky, www.coalitionofwomen4peace.org4/21/2004

Dear Alice,

You were signature number 2,750 on the petition “Open the Gates to Allow Food into Gaza”, and you added after your name, “This won’t do any good, but here goes.”

Thankfully, Alice, you were mistaken:  The gates to Gaza have now been re-opened to regular UNRWA emergency food shipments, following three harrowing weeks of sporadic delivery.  Celebration, or at least great relief, is in order.

I asked a senior UNRWA official what he thought made a difference, and he replied, “Everything — the people who signed the petition, the Israelis and Palestinians who spoke out against it, the internationals who expressed their indignation, the letters to the officials — everything together made the difference.”

So thank you, Alice, wherever you are, and thank you to the 6,685 others who signed the petition and sent letters or made phone calls.  It’s a drop in the ocean of what remains to be done, but for 600,000 men, women, and children in Gaza, it means that tomorrow they won’t go hungry.

Gila Svirsky

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near
East-Headquarters Gaza
website: www.unrwa.orgPress Release No. HQ/G/07/2004
21 April, 2004

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April 23, 2004
International Day of Action Against Caterpillar in Peoria


stopcat.org, April 20, 2004

The “Stop CAT” Coalition invites you to join us in standing up for Palestinian human rights and to demand that Caterpillar cease all sales to Israel. This demonstration is part of the April 23 “International Day of Action Against Caterpillar.”

Say NO to illegal home demolitions in Palestine!

WHAT: Rally and March to CAT headquarters
WHEN: Friday, April 23rd, 2004, @ Noon
WHERE: Peoria Civic Center parking lot, on the corner of SW Monroe St. and Fulton St, Peoria, Illinois. The southern half of the lot will be used for car and bus parking, which will be free and available for everyone attending.

At 2:00 we will march to CAT headquarters, and demand that CEO James Ownes meet with a delegation, which will included Rachel Corrie’s parents (a year ago, Rachel was trying to stop a Palestinian home from being demolished, when she was crushed and killed by an Israeli soldier using a Caterpillar bulldozer), at 3:00.

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April 19, 2004
Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam: Jews and Palestinians Can Live Together

Grainger Hall
Morgridge Auditorium
7:00 pm

Situated midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is a village established jointly by Jews and Palestinians, all of Israeli citizenship, who are committed to work for peace, equality, and understanding. Aside from the bilingual bicultural primary school of 300 students, the village is home to a School for Peace that conducts dialogues to educate participants from outside the village. Over 50 families reside in the village and 300 more are on a waiting list to join them.

The talk will feature Oasis of Peace residents Adi Frish, 21, and Laila Najjar, 20, who grew up together as neighbors and as classmates in the community’s integrated primary school. Their parents helped found the community in 1978 as a place for Jews and Palestinians to live, work and raise their children together.

Adi and Laila were among the first children born in the village. Their parents helped found the community in 1978 as a place for Jews and Palestinians to live, work and raise their children together. Laila and Adi still live in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam and remain close friends. They provide a unique perspective on events in the Middle East.

Adi is a manager for a national health club chain. She studied at the Rubin Music and Dance Academy in Jerusalem. Laila studies jewelry design at Jerusalem’s Academy for Art and Design. She studied sociology and social sciences at Greek Orthodox High School in Ramla and has worked as a counselor at the NSWAS Summer Camp.

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