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.
Coalition of Women for Peace:
Sample letter text:
There is an emergency situation in the Gaza Strip right now. Please demand that Prime Minister Sharon halt the death and destruction wrought there by the Israeli army. The cycle of bloodshed must end.
Contact people (First try the US, European and UN officials. All the fax numbers work):
(1) President George W. Bush — Tel (202) 456-2461; Fax (202) 456-2461.
(2) Secretary of State Colin Powell — Tel (202) 261-8577; Fax (202) 261-8577.
(3) US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer — Tel in Israel: (+972-3) 519-7575
(4) Your member of Congress:
Call the Capital switchboard toll-free: 1-800-839-5276 and ask to be connected to your member of Congress.
For your information, you can send a free fax by internet (to certain places only, but definitely area code 202 in the US) at http://www.tpc.int/sendfax.html. Note that this is a service provided for free, but is not to be used for bulk fax mailings because they can only handle a relatively limited number of faxes at once. [Thanks, Mike Wolfson, for this info.]
(5) UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, email@example.com
(6) Council of the European Union, firstname.lastname@example.org
(7) European Union, email@example.com
(8) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Fax (+972 2) 670-5361
(9) Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, Fax (+972 3) 691-6940
(10) Minister of Justice Yosef Lapid, Fax: (+972 2) 628-5438
Thanks for doing this — but please don’t send me a copy of your letters, or I’ll be flooded (I hope…).