Call on Congress on to oppose Jerusalem recognition and UNRWA cuts

UWNRWA aid in Gaza

Last month, President Trump announced his administration’s reckless, one-sided decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and eventually move the U.S. embassy there. Now the administration is threatening to cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinians — a move that would have disastrous consequences for the Palestinian refugees who depend on it.

Take action today by signing the AFSC petition urging Congress
  • to reject any cuts to vital aid for Palestinians and
  • to oppose the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

We must oppose the administration’s actions, which undermine prospects for peace, threaten to harm security for both Israelis and Palestinians, and could make daily life harder for the most vulnerable Palestinians.

The Trump administration’s threat to cut assistance to UNRWA came after the Palestinian Authority understandably rejected the U.S. decision on Jerusalem and announced that it would no longer accept the U.S. as a mediator for peace talks.

U.S. aid to the Palestinians includes bilateral assistance for programs in the West Bank and Gaza and annual contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Although it was unclear which aid will be targeted for cuts, the administration has already announced that only $60 million of a $125 million dollar funding installment will be released to UNRWA, with conditions placed on any future U.S. funding to UNRWA.

U.S. support for UNRWA amounts to approximately one-third of the agency’s annual budget. The agency reaches roughly five million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, providing services including education, health care, and emergency assistance.

If UNRWA cannot deliver services, half a million Palestinian children will suffer, according to spokesman Chris Gunness.

While we urge Congress to protect aid for Palestinians, we must also continue to press them to address the core issue of Palestinian refugees continually denied their fundamental rights, specifically the right to return to their lands and homes.

Contact your members of Congress today and ask them to:

  • Support constructive political action to achieve a just and lasting peace that will include a fair resolution to all outstanding Israeli and Palestinian concerns, including the status of Jerusalem and the rights of Palestinian refugees.

  • Advocate for the U.S. administration to reverse its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to begin the process of moving the embassy there.

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Don’t let Trump turn his back on Palestine refugees in need

Petition Background

On January 16, 2018, the US Administration made the decision to freeze millions of dollars to UNRWA in 2018. As the single largest contributor to UNRWA globally, this is an unprecedented and extremely dangerous decision that will cause untold additional trauma and harm to Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, who rely on UNRWA’s services.

Since UNRWA began its operations in May 1950, every administration, from Truman onwards, has stood with and provided strong, generous, and committed support to the agency. This administration is the only to make the destructive decision to cut such funding.

Through UNRWA’s humanitarian and development work, it is unique in providing vital services that are akin to those normally provided through governments and does so directly through over 33,000 staff, most of whom are Palestine refugees themselves.

As a neutral and impartial UN agency, it:

    • Educates 525,000 girls and boys in 700 UNRWA schools, including education on human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance.
    • Operates more than 140 health centers and delivers comprehensive primary health-care services, handling more than 9 million patient visits per year.
    • Provides cash assistance and shelter rehabilitation to help refugees meet their basic human needs of food, shelter, and environmental health to achieve a decent standard of living and improve infrastructure and living conditions in the 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps.
    • Provides emergency humanitarian assistance through life-saving cash, food, and shelter support in Gaza and Syria.

I implore the White House to reconsider this decision, as it is against our American principles, global security and safety, and common human interest. In line with the democratic and humanitarian values this country was founded on and stands for, the US government’s investment in UNRWA’s work must be sustained, as it affects not only the lives of the over 5 million Palestine refugees the organization serves but the future and stability of the Middle East and beyond.

Six Miles Out: A Day in the Life of Gaza Fishers

On the windy evening of January 4, 2017, 33-year-old Muhammad al-Hissi of Gaza set out with 13 of his brothers, cousins and uncles to make a living the only way they know how: fishing. But he never came home.

The family was spread out in three different boats, with the waves choppy and stiff, when the Israeli Navy appeared on the scene. The 60-ton ship rammed into Muhammad’s wooden boat and crushed it like a rock on an egg. Palestinian fishermen and the Israeli navy searched for Muhammad for three days, but his body was never found. The boat’s electric generator may have dismembered his body.

Muhammad was one of two Palestinian fishermen killed by the Israeli navy in 2017. Four others were injured, 14 were detained and five boats were seized. However, shootings at Gaza fishermen by the Israeli navy are daily occurrences, terrorizing and forcing many to abandon the sea. This pattern is set to continue into the new year, with the recent decision by Israeli officials to restrict Gaza fishermen to 6 nautical miles instead of the recently allowed 9 (only in the southern coast).

Help us shine a light on this violation of the right to earn a living. A new, short documentary “Six Miles Out” – produced by the We Are Not Numbers team in Gaza, with funds from the Solidarity with Gaza Fishers project of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition — features al-Hissi’s brother and cousin, who take us with them for a night of fishing. You will see for yourself just what it’s like when Israeli “hornets” suddenly appear on the scene.

Please share this 11-minute film on social media with a personalized observation. Send a link to your followers via email (this is actually the most effective). The film is subtitled in French, Spanish and Greek (use the the Youtube “gear” icon near the bottom left to turn on different languages). What can viewers do to help? They can donate to We Are Not Numbers, a Gaza-based youth storytelling project, to keep its work going. They also can visit the Freedom Flotilla website to find out how to support the 2018 sailing to challenge the blockade of Gaza’s seaport.

In solidarity,
David Heap, on behalf of Canadian Boat to Gaza
Pam Bailey, Founder and Director, We Are Not Numbers

Read more: Freedom Flotilla to Sail Again, for Freedom of Movement and a Decent Future for all Palestinians

Gaza’s health system close to collapse as electricity crisis threatens total blackout

World Health Organization warns hospitals could be plunged into darkness by end of February without fresh funding to keep emergency generators running

Babies born prematurely are crammed into an incubator at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, where experts say ‘dangerous overcrowding’ has become commonplaceBabies born prematurely are crammed into an incubator at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, where experts say ‘dangerous overcrowding’ has become commonplace. (Sarah Helm for the Observer)

Rebecca Ratcliffe, The Guardian, 3 Jan 2018

Hospitals in Gaza will face an almost total power blackout by the end of February unless funding is secured to keep emergency generators running, the World Health Organization has warned.

An ongoing electricity crisis in Gaza has left hospitals reliant on emergency generators for up to 20 hours a day, while medical staff have been forced to cut back on basic services such as equipment sterilisation and diagnostics. About 500,000 litres of fuel are required each month to sustain critical care in Gaza, but funding will only cover hospitals’ needs until the end of February.

Dr Mahmoud Daher, head of the WHO’s Gaza sub-office, said the health system is on “the edge of collapse”. Without urgent fundraising, hospitals will face a disastrous situation, he said. “There are at least 200 babies and people in intensive care units. It would be a really fatal situation for them. There are dozens of people who are going to surgical operations that would be affected.”

Fears over the humanitarian situation intensified following a series of tweets by Donald Trump on Tuesday, in which he threatened to cut funding for the Palestinian Authority unless it recommences peace talks. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, earlier said the US would cut funds to UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, unless the authority went back to the negotiating table.

Dr Andy Ferguson, director of programmes for Medical Aid for Palestinians (Map), an organisation that works with hospitals and other healthcare providers across Gaza and the West Bank, said electricity outages in Gaza, combined with medical shortages and severe restrictions on freedom of movement, were creating a medical emergency.

Difficulties with sterilising equipment have caused a rise in hospital infections, he added, while power fluctuations have damaged sensitive medical equipment.

“Worsening maternal malnutrition and increasing rates of premature and low-birthweight babies have led to instances of dangerous overcrowding in the neonatal intensive care unit in al-Shifa hosptial,” said Ferguson.

Palestinian children do their homework during a power cut in Gaza CityPalestinian children do their homework by candlelight during a power cut in Gaza City. (Mahmud Hams, AFP Getty Images)

As a result, explained Ferguson, incubators designed to accommodate one baby were often occupied by several. “Medical staff are having to look after as many as seven critically ill babies each at a time, compared to the UK standard of 1:1 or 1:2 care. Overcrowding of this type makes adequate monitoring and infection control impossible.”

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Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Shared Injustice, Shared Struggle
on International Day of Solidarity

Claire Gilbert, Grassroots International, November 28, 2017

November 29th is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. These days, the global Palestinian solidarity movement has deepened and grown with powerful expressions of joint struggle with other movements around the world.

A few weeks ago in over 30 countries worldwide people participated in a series of global actions for a #WorldwithoutWalls. Analysis from Grassroots International’s partner Stop the Wall Campaign reveals shocking statistics about the grim proliferation of walls globally:

“Who would have thought in 2002 when Israel started building its apartheid Wall that today we would have nearly 70 walls around the world built to militarise borders or to annex occupied lands? Who would have thought it possible that exactly one year ago Donald Trump won the presidential elections by promising a Wall?

Walls are key elements in today’s racist policies aimed against migrants, including refugees, to criminalise and keep them out or kill them. Walls are ever more pervasive in cities and societies to segregate, control and repress. Ideologies of hatred and supremacy are growing together with these walls and the profits of an entire industry of walls, fear and exclusion are rising exponentially. By 2022, the border security market is expected to rise to $52.95 billion globally.”

Stop the Wall Campaign is a Grassroots International partner in Palestine focused on stopping and dismantling the Wall in the West Bank, resisting Israeli occupation, and defending Palestinian communities’ rights to land and water.

The #WorldwithoutWalls actions included new chances for shared struggle as a delegation from the US, Mexico and Palestine traveled from Oaxaca to Nogales at the US/Mexico border as part of an International Caravan, while a delegation of activists from Mexico and the US traveled to the West Bank.

Our allies at the Border Agricultural Project and our partner La Via Campesina shared this statement:

“Sunday, November 5th, 2017 – From the border of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, United States, La Vía Campesina, its members participating in the V International Meeting on Migration and Wage Labour, its guests and allies, the academic and public institutions that accompanied the encounter as well as the border community, we send you a fraternal message of solidarity to all migrants and people suffering walls of apartheid; and we tell you that you are not alone, that from November 2 to 5 we have met on this border to make a commitment to fight with all our conviction for the full human rights of all migrants and border people and against the current anti-migrant attacks by bad governments, against the walls of exclusion, violence and criminalization for the mere fact of being migrants or border people.”

And they shared a photo (at the top of this blog) of Juslene Tyresias, a leader of Grassroots International’s partner the Peasant Movement of Papaye in Haiti, speaking out against the US/Mexico wall. Several other partners of Grassroots International are shown including the Association of Rural Workers in Nicaragua.

Jamal Juma, Coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign shared:

“The rising number of physical walls around the globe, many of them inspired or built by Israeli technology, are the symbolic centerpiece in a world full of visible and invisible walls of injustice.

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Palestinian double amputee killed by Israeli sniper

Palestinian double amputee killed by Israeli sniperAbu Thurayyah was demonstrating against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when he was killed [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

AL JAZEERA NEWS, 16 Dec 2017

Two days before he was killed, Ibrahim Abu Thurayyah filmed a message to the Israeli army.

“I am passing a message to the Zionist occupation army,” the 29-year-old double amputee, who lost both of his legs and a kidney in a 2008 Israeli air raid, said.

“This land is our land. We are not going to give up. America has to withdraw the declaration it made.”

Before his death, the wheelchair-bound Abu Thurayyah had become a staple figure at protests along the Gaza Strip‘s border with Israel.

Since December 6, he and his fellow demonstrators decried US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In photos, Abu Thurayyah can be seen climbing an electricity pole and sticking a Palestinian flag on it.

On December 15, Abu Thurayyah was fatally shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.

WATCH: Funeral of Palestinian amputee killed by Israeli fire

Another Palestinian, Yaser Sukkar, was killed the same day while protesting at Gaza’s border. Two others were killed by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, bringing the death toll since Trump’s decision in the first week of December to eight Palestinians.

On Saturday, funerals were held for Abu Thurayyah and the three other Palestinians killed a day earlier.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Abu Thurayyah’s funeral procession in Gaza, said thousands of people had taken to the streets to pay their respects for “unlikely figure of Palestinian resistance and defiance”.

“He would often leave his wheelchair at home and attend rallies in protests around Gaza City just carrying his Palestinian flag,” said Fisher.

“He was carrying that flag when he was shot by the Israelis.”

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New Crime of Excessive Use of Force

Israeli Forces Kill 4 Palestinians, including Lower-Limb Amputee, and Wound 252 Civilians, including Children, Journalists and Paramedics

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Gaza City, Ref: 90/2017, December 16, 2017


On Friday Afternoon, 15 December 2017,Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinian civilians; one of whom is a lower-limb amputee, and wounded 252 civilians, including 19 children, 2 paramedics and 2 journalists; one is Indonesian, in the Gaza Strip and West Bank as Israeli forces excessively used force against participants in protests. Meanwhile, shown in a video widely published, Israeli forces liquidated a forth Palestinian after he carried out a stab attack at the northern entrance to al-Bireh in the West Bank during clashes in the area. These incidents came in light of the ongoing tense atmosphere following the U.S. President’s Donald Trump Decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy to it, constituting a dangerous precedent that violates the international law.


This high number of casualties, particularly targeting a disabled and lower-limp amputee by directly shooting him in the head, prove that Israeli forces continue their systematic crimes and indiscriminate use of excessive and disproportionate force against Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives.

PCHR’s follow up showed that it is clear that the Israeli forces heavily and upon a decision use live ammunition; some of which is explosive, to confront the unarmed civilians. Thus, comparing with the last year, the number of Palestinians wounded with live bullets east of the Gaza Strip increased in addition to directly hitting them with tear gas canisters.

The Israeli forces also fired dozens of tear gas canisters through special vehciles at the protests. As a result, dozens of civilians suffered fatigue, cramps, vomiting, coughing and high heart rate. Some of them were transered to the hospital while others were treated on the spot.


In the Gaza Strip, the eastern and northern areas witnessed protests against the U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision, and the Israeli forces used force against the protestors. As a result, two Palestinian civilians were killed, including a lower-limb amputee, and wounded 192 civilians, including 18 children, 2 paramedics and 2 journalists; one is Indonesian. 117 of the Wounded civilians were hit with live bullets, 55 were hit with tear gas canisters, and dozens suffered tear gas inhalation.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 13:30 on Friday, 15 December 2017, dozens of young men and youngsters gathered tens of meters away from the border fence with Israel near former Nahal Oz Crossing, east of al-Shuja’iyah neighborhood, east of Gaza City. They set fire to tires, threw stones at the Israeli forces stationed along the border fence in protest against the U.S. President’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. During the 6-hour clashes, the Israeli soldiers sporadically fired tear gas canisters and live and rubber-coated metal bullets at the protestors. As a result, 2 civilians, from al-Shuja’iyah neighborhood in Gaza, were killed with live bullets; one of them is disabled with no legs. The killed civilians were identified as Yasser Naji Sukar (23) hit with a bullet to the head and Ibrahim Nayeh Ibrahim Abu Thurayah (29) hit with a bullet to the forehead, noting that he lost his legs in an Israeli airstrike in 2008.

According to PCHR’s investigations, wheelchair-bound Abu Thurayah was directly shot to the head when he was 30 meters away from the border fence, where Israeli forces can clearly see him, and did not pose any threat to the soldiers. Moreover, shooting him in the forehead prove that he was deliberately sniped by the Israeli soldiers, without posing any threat to the soldiers’ lives, during a protest that was only about chanting slogans, throwing stones and setting fire to tires. This also emphasizes that the Israeli forces used lethal and disproportionate force against armed civilians.

The Injuries were as follows throughout the Gaza Strip:

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