The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Solidarity Shields Human Rights Workers from Bombs

, Grassroots International, November 20, 2018

al-Amal Hotel, destroyed by Israeli airstrikes, November 13, 2018. (Photo by PCHR Field Workers)

On Tuesday November 13, Israeli airstrikes in Gaza killed two Palestinian civilians and wounded 20 others. The airstrikes destroyed a number of buildings and followed a botched raid by Israeli special forces. Some are calling it a preview to an even greater assault.

The devastation is shocking and horrible. But it hits even closer to home for us at Grassroots International. One of the struck buildings had housed Grassroots’ partner, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), until just a few months ago.

Back in April, Grassroots received an emergency grant request for $55,000. PCHR needed to move their former headquarters in Gaza City to a new, more secure location. In their words, they needed to “lower their exposure to possible bomb attacks by Israel.”

Tuesday’s airstrikes confirmed the concern. Israel launched 57 missiles in Gaza City, obliterating residences, an office complex, a TV station and a hotel. Among the bombed-out rubble stood PCHR’s former headquarters, severely damaged.

PCHR’s former headquarters, in Gaza City, after the building was severely damaged on November 13, 2018. (Photo by PCHR Field Workers)

Since 1995, PCHR has documented abuses, provided legal aid to victims, and advocated for human rights. Since 1996, PCHR has been a Grassroots International partner.

In every section of the blockaded strip, PCHR provides reporting from the ground. Take its report from Northern Gaza last week:

Israeli warplanes carried out 15 airstrikes, launching 25 missiles to target a residential house that was completely destroyed, border control checkpoints belonging to the Palestinian armed groups and agricultural lands. As a result, a Palestinian civilian namely Khaled Ahmed al-Sultan (26), a farmer, was killed and his body turned into pieces in an agricultural land, while a Palestinian child was moderately wounded.

All the photos you see in this blog were taken by PCHR staff. These trained human rights monitors put themselves on the line to document human rights violations, even as the stench of fire and blood still hangs in the air.

As with any of our partners, Grassroots International relies on PCHR to identify its needs and strategies. That’s a unique model in the nonprofit world. And this time in Gaza, backed with the support of our donors, it made the difference. We were able to respond in May with the full amount requested. PCHR completed their move.

Of course, not everyone can call on outside help to move to safer ground. There is not enough safe ground anywhere in Gaza. We remain committed to advocating for a just peace to stop the airstrikes. But while that peace continues to seem a long way off, PCHR lives another day — to keep bringing attention to Gaza, to report in words and pictures to the world, to advocate for economic and social rights, and to prevent Israel from hiding the human cost of the attacks and the occupation.

Because of their own tenacity and strength, and with solidarity and support from Grassroots International, PCHR remains ready to carry on their work today, even reporting on the destruction of their former headquarters. It could have been much worse for them, and for all of us who rely on the unquenchable light they shine on injustice.

Israel killed two Palestinian civilians and wounded 20 others in Gaza, November 13, 2018. (Photo by PCHR Field Workers)

al-Aqsa Channel Building, Gaza City, November 13, 2018. (Photo by PCHR Field Workers)

al-Yazji Residential Building, Gaza City, November 13, 2018. (Photo by PCHR Field Workers)