An Ongoing Terror

Michele Bahl, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, November 14, 2012

Yesterday we visited the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. Since the siege, which started in 2006 when Hamas won the election, there has been a medication shortage. Israel controls everything that comes into Gaza, and we were told that cancer medications are not allowed in. There are so many things that are not allowed into Gaza, such as materials to rebuild from the Israeli bombings, and utility vehicles to collect garbage. People are dying in Gaza not because there are a shortage of hospitals, but because there are a lack of supplies due to the severe restrictions that Israel imposes on the people of Gaza by this siege.

I haven’t seen one Israeli soldier here, but the population of 1.7 Gazans feel Israel’s presence here all of the time. It is a terrifying presence.

During Operation Cast Lead, which took place in Dec. ’08/ Jan. 09, Israel killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Over half of the population of Gaza is under 18 years old. There is no place that people feel safe in Gaza due to the reality that Israel can attack Gaza and cause widespread destruction at any time.

There is ongoing terror that people face every day, but Americans never hear about it. I believe if my fellow Americans were aware of the ongoing systematic violence that Israel carries out, they would be outraged and want to do something to stop it. If I didn’t believe this, I would have no hope.

Raji Sourani, the head of the Palestine Center of Human Rights, shared the following: “Never ever tell a free person what to do; a free person should know what to do.”

Through all of this disaster and trauma, the people of Palestine are incredibly resilient and will never give up their hope of having justice and being free. The many people we spoke with made it clear that the cause of the suffering of the Palestinian people is political, not humanitarian.

“We have the right to plan for our future, if even for one minute. It is a dream for us.”

“Everyone in the world wants to trust tomorrow, but you cannot trust tomorrow in Gaza.”

Gaza is an open air prison and I will work as hard as I can when I return to the United States to expose this truth and do whatever I can to work toward change. This is what the people in Gaza have been imploring our delegation to do.

2012 Gaza Delegation Photos

 


Michele Bahl and Tsela (Carol) Barr of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project entered Gaza through the Rafah Crossing on November 5, 2012 as part of a 21-member delegation from Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB). This was the first IFPB delegation to enter the Gaza Strip since 2003. From the Interfaith Peace-Builders report:

    “Like other Interfaith Peace-Builder delegations, its purpose is to educate North Americans about the region and deepen their understanding of its conflicts.

    On the eve of the Presidential Election in the United States, the US-brokered peace process continues to show few results and US military aid to the region continues to flow unabated.

    This delegation focuses on the realities of Palestinian life in the Gaza Strip. Participants have the unique opportunity to hear directly from Palestinians throughout the territory regarding their hopes for peace and the role of the United States, the US government, and other international actors in promoting a resolution to the conflict.

    The Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation to the Gaza Strip is led by Michael Brown and Cindy Corrie.

    Michael Brown worked off and on in the Gaza Strip between 1993 and 2000 for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. A former IFPB board member, Michael continues to work today on the media and Palestine. Michael led an IFPB delegation in 2008.

    Cindy Corrie is the mother of human rights activist and observer Rachel Corrie who on March 16, 2003 was killed by an Israeli military Caterpillar bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. Motivated by her daughter’s work and sacrifice, Cindy Corrie has dedicated herself to the pursuit of justice and peace in the Middle East and has visited Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza on numerous occasions. She is also president of the board of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, inspired by her daughter.”

The delegation visited the Palestinian Legislative Council, a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school and food warehouse, the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, and the Society of Women Graduates NGO. They also met with Khalil Abu Shammala, human rights advocate and Director of the Al Dameer Association for Human Rights. On November 14, 2012, the day that the delegation left, Israel attacked Gaza with the eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense.


Related posts:

  • VOICES OF CONSCIENCE: DELEGATION to THE GAZA STRIP
  • An Ongoing Terror
  • Israel Attacks the Gaza Strip
  • Stories of Peacebuilding in Gaza and the West Bank
  • Tsela Barr and Michele Bahl: Recent visit to Gaza heartbreaking
  • Tsela Barr and Veena Brekke at East High School

  • VOICES OF CONSCIENCE: DELEGATION to THE GAZA STRIP

    Interfaith Peace-Builders, November 5, 2012

    November 5, 2012 – Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) is pleased to announce that our 21 member delegation to the Gaza Strip passed safely through the Rafah Crossing Monday morning and is now safely in the Gaza Strip.

    Interfaith Peace-Builders has sent more than 44 delegations to Palestine/Israel since 2001. This is the first IFPB delegation to enter the Gaza Strip since 2003. Like other IFPB delegations, its purpose is to educate North Americans about the region and deepen their understanding of its conflicts.

    On the eve of the Presidential Election in the United States, the US-brokered peace process continues to show few results and US military aid to the region continues to flow unabated.

    This delegation focuses on the realities of Palestinian life in the Gaza Strip. Participants have the unique opportunity to hear directly from Palestinians throughout the territory regarding their hopes for peace and the role of the United States, the US government, and other international actors, in promoting a resolution to the conflict.

    The Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation to the Gaza Strip is led by Michael Brown and Cindy Corrie. Michael Brown worked off and on in the Gaza Strip between 1993 and 2000 for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. A former IFPB board member, Michael continues to work today on the media and Palestine. Michael led an IFPB delegation in 2008. Cindy Corrie is the mother of human rights activist and observer Rachel Corrie who on March 16, 2003, was killed by an Israeli military Caterpillar bulldozer in the Gaza Strip.  Motivated by her daughter’s work and sacrifice, Cindy Corrie has dedicated herself to the pursuit of justice and peace in the Middle East and has visited Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza on numerous occasions. She is also president of the board of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, inspired by her daughter.

    del44gaza
    a photo of the delegation in Gaza City

    The delegation includes the following people:

    Diane Adkin – Camas, Washington
    Michele Bahl – Madison, Wisconsin
    Carol Barr – Madison, Wisconsin

    Michael Brown – Asheville, North Carolina
    Marsha Carlton – Davis, California
    Craig and Cindy Corrie – Olympia, Washington
    Gary Doupe – Bainbridge, New York
    Rich Forer – Yardley, Pennsylvania
    Joyce Guinn – Germantown, Wisconsin
    Maya Harris – Olympia, Washington
    Wendy Hartley – Nevada City, California
    Darlene Jones-Owens – Carrollton, Georgia
    Declan Keogh – Decatur, Georgia
    Ralph and Emily McCoy – Boone, North Carolina
    Donna Nassor – Moonachie, New Jersey
    Karen Peterson – Horseheads, New York
    Cathy Sultan – Eau Claire, Wisconsin
    Colleen Toomey – North Andover, Massachusetts
    Sonja Wentz – Olympia, Washington

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    Loving the Land and It’s People: Palestinian Hospitality

    Veena Brekke, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, October 31, 2012

    On October 28th we departed the beautiful city of Nazareth to visit Palestinian towns, villages, farms and spend two nights in Palestinian homes. I would like to share my experience of visiting the small farming village of Nusf Jubayl, West Bank (Area A – occupied territory) and a home of an Israeli Palestinian family in Akka, Israel.

    Nusf Jubayl farmers are part of a small farmer’s co-operative (1200 farmers around the town of Jenin) who harvest olives and sell its products through Canaan Fair Trade. The village is located in a mountainous, rocky area. We were welcomed by Khader and Ransees’s family.

    A group of us walked along the beautiful mountain side, peaceful, barren and rocky land, to reach the olive trees that needed harvesting. We worked alongside children and adults from the village until sunset and watched the full moon come up as we walked the mile and half back to the village.

    Several families had planned a meal for us in a common court yard. We were offered a delicious dish, Maqlouba, of chicken and cauliflower in rice, tomatoes and cucumber salad, and yogurt. I was impressed by the caring actions of Palestinian teenage boys who rushed to help older travelers with their luggage and offered chairs for their comfort.

    After dinner four of us travelers were guided along the dark uphill narrow streets of the village by Noor, age 12, and his older brother to their home. Niveen and Asaad, their parents, are farmers and have seven children. They vacated their kitchen, large first floor living area and bathroom for our overnight stay. It is clear that they have little material wealth but offered so much in their generosity.

    The next morning, following coffee and breakfast, Khader showed us a restoration project of an old building to create a child care and community center. Everyone in this small village lives with extended family, cares for their children, values elders and works towards improving their community. It was refreshing to note that there were no Israeli settlements and military towers threatening their existence. My hope is that their farming co-op will be prosperous and they will be left alone by Israeli settlements.

    My second overnight home stay was with Sirri and Hindiah Idilbi’s family in Akka, a city near Haifa. They are Palestinians that live inside Israel. It was the last night of the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha and a feast awaited me and Alexandra, a traveling companion: three salads, stuffed grape leaves, chicken pastry, kibbeh, and other delicious items that I can’t identify by name.

    Hindiah is a school principal of the local elementary school and Sirri speaks excellent English because of attending college in Houston, TX for several years. They talked about the importance of education for their two daughters, Sirri – 11 and Aseel – 14, and the high cost of private high school. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn of their experience as Palestinians and their hope for equality and justice in Israel.

    We woke up to a variety of delicious breakfast items and that great strong Arabic coffee. When it was time for us to depart, Hindiah gave us bags with apples and pastries for our bus ride to Tel Aviv.

    Palestinian hospitality is expressed by the offering of food and insisting that you eat a little more!

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    2012 West Bank Olive Harvest Delegation

    Interfaith Peace-Builders Delegation Arrives in Israel/Palestine

    Interfaith Peace-Builders, October 23, 2012

    October 23, 2012 – Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) is pleased to announce that our 32 member delegation to Israel/Palestine arrived at Ben-Gurion airport Tuesday morning and is now safely in Jerusalem.

    The purpose of this delegation, the 42nd to make the trip since 2001, is to educate North Americans about the region and deepen their understanding of its conflicts.

    The delegation focuses on the Palestinian olive harvest which takes place each autumn. The olive harvest is an occasion of particular cultural and economic importance for Palestinian communities and a time when tensions between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents of the West Bank run high.

    As the Presidential Election heats up in the United States, the US-brokered peace process continues to show few results and US military aid to the region continues to flow unabated. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict played a significant part in the US Presidential Foreign Policy Debate which took place on October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida.

    Participants on this Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation have the unique opportunity to hear directly from Palestinians and Israelis regarding their hopes for peace and the role of the United States, the US government, and other international actors, in promoting a resolution to the conflict.

    D42 group
    A photo of the delegates at orientation in Washington, DC

    The delegation includes the following people:

    Austin Branion – Arlington, Virginia
    Veena Brekke – Madison, Wisconsin
    Marsha Carlton – Davis, California
    Jan Cebula – Clinton, Iowa
    Andy Clarno – Chicago, Illinois (not pictured)
    Laura Common – Toronto, Ontario (not pictured)
    Cindy Corrie – Olympia, Washington
    Craig Corrie – Olympia, Washington

    Mike Daly – Boston, Massachusetts(not pictured)
    Gary Doupe – Bainbridge, New York
    Brian Fry – Grass Valley, California
    Kathy Garbarino – Detroit, Michigan
    Krystal Garvin – Washington, DC
    Elissa Goss – Olympia, Washington
    Maya Harris – Olympia, Washington
    Wendy Hartley – Nevada City, California
    Hanan Idilbi – Alexandria, Virginia
    Darlene Jones-Owens – Carrollton, Georgia (not pictured)
    Declan Keogh – Decatur, Georgia
    Laila Liddy – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    Alexandra Lusak – Troy, New York
    Sean McManus – Washington DC
    George Meek – Arlington, Virginia
    Elizabeth Moore – Olympia, Washington
    Brad Ogilvie – Washington, DC
    Arthur Pazia – Toronto, Ontario (not pictured)
    Karen Peterson – Horseheads, New York
    Jeanne Randorf – Otis, Massachusetts
    Arlene Tolopko – Otis, Massachusetts
    Ann Valtsakis – Hyannis, Massachusetts
    Sonja Wentz – Olympia, Washington

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