July 1 & 14, 2021
VIRTUAL DELEGATIONS TO RAFAH REFUGEE CAMP

Eyewitness Palestine

Join us for a Virtual Delegation to the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip with We Are Not Numbers, Palestinian youth telling the human stories behind the numbers in the news. The camp was established in 1949 and is now home to more than 125,304 refugees according to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Join us to walk around the camp and understand more of its particular challenges.

More Information Coming Soon!

Update: Fresh Food for Families in Rafah

Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)

Update for Madison Rafah Sister City Project

BACKGROUND
The economic situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating dramatically as a result of the continuation of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli blockade. The precautions taken to limit the spread of coronavirus including imposing of lockdowns and curfews have worsened the dire situation. As a result, more than 70% of the population are reported below the poverty line and food insecurity and malnutrition pose serious risks to the health of hundreds of thousands of people, particularly children.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
With donations from MRSCP, MECA and our local partner in Gaza, the Never Stop Dreaming Association, were able to provide nutritious food parcels to families in need in Rafah while also supporting local farmers and businesses.

We received additional funding from several individuals and organizations in the United States for this project and in total were able to provide 1413 families in Rafah, Khan Younis and the middle region of the Gaza Strip with food parcels. Families were nominated by community organizations in each location and then checked against official lists to ensure we are reaching people most in need. MRSCPs donations of $4655 provide food parcels to 116 families in Rafah governate in the southern Gaza Strip, the transportation, warehouse rental, and meals for volunteers were covered by other funding sources.

The contents of the food parcels were purchased from 4 farms employing 24 individuals and 3 small grocery stores. This project therefore provided critical income to 27 families in Gaza.

Each food parcel contained fresh vegetables, chickens, and other household staples designed to provide each family with the necessary items to make healthy, balanced meals for two weeks. MECA staff member Wafaa El-Derawi is a trained nutritionist and oversaw the contents of the parcels.

CHALLENGES
We faced some challenges with the COVID-19 restrictions in Gaza. We overcame this by having several distribution points, providing all staff and volunteers with masks and gloves, and by organizing pick up times well so there was not overcrowding at the warehouses.

Some families from remote areas could not reach the distribution points. With help from the local community organizations in each location, we were able to arrange transportation for these families.

The number of nominated cases was more than the food parcels. This was overcome through rapid research to identify the most difficult cases and families living in severe poverty to prioritize their coverage.

SUCCESSES
Beneficiaries had positive evaluation of the contents of the food parcels. We received many comments appreciating the fresh vegetables and chicken which are unusual in food parcels.

One family in Rafah that received the food parcel was particularly appreciated. She lives with her family – her sick husband and her 11 children – in a marginalized area. Their house doesn’t have a roof, instead corrugated iron board covers part of it, leaving them to drown in rains every winter. The family has no source of livelihood, and they live on food aid. They were very happy with the food and chicken package. She thanked and prayed for all those in charge of the project.

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Dr. Fauci, Please use your Israeli prize money to buy vaccines for Palestine

JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE HEALTH ADVISORY COUNCIL, Mondoweiss, MARCH 1, 2021

February 28, 2021

Dear Dr. Fauci,

We are writing to you as “fans” of your work. As health professionals, we so often found ourselves appreciative and relieved by your calm steady voice during the Trumpian chaos, bravely, stubbornly standing up for science and public health, truly a monumental task. Thank you. Thank you.

We understand that you stay above the fray by refusing to engage in bruising political fights. Ironically, public health, by nature, lives at that intersection between health care and politics. Just think of your involvement in HIV/AIDS research and treatment.

You have said, for this pandemic to be defeated, everyone must be vaccinated, that is the nature of conquering a highly infectious disease. Yet we are faced with massive global inequities, countries – particularly in the global south – where there is no vaccine at all, while first world countries scoop up the vaccine supply as their disadvantaged populations and people of color struggle for access. Addressing this issue is going to take incredible political and moral will.

In that vein, we want to congratulate you on winning the Israeli Dan David Prize for “Speaking Truth to Power” amid the pandemic. As you are likely aware, Israel is being lauded for an amazing vaccination program (despite a lack of attention to its Palestinian citizens and the resistance of the ultra-Orthodox). However, Israel’s refusal to take responsibility for the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation is highly problematic. That policy is illegal according to international law, immoral, and ill advised. Tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians work in Israel, in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, or are imprisoned in Israeli jails. Living amongst a largely unvaccinated population puts Israelis at risk for the current virus and developing variants.

Even U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reminded the Israeli government of its obligation to the Palestinians. Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and asked that Israel help in delivering coronavirus vaccines from abroad to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The ultimate solution to the issue of vaccine inequity for Palestinians is for Israel to uphold its responsibility under international law and provide vaccine to the Palestinians under occupation. However, we would like to suggest that you could send a powerful message and improve public health for many thousands of people if you donated some portion of your one million dollars in prize money and used that to buy vaccines for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Not only would that be a step towards resolving vaccine inequity, but it would be a powerful message about the value and dignity of every human life. It would also be a strong message saying that health care needs to be above politics, and that it is just plain wrong to allow politics to be a divider, where some lives are valued and protected and others ignored.

Thank you.

Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council

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Egypt ‘indefinitely’ opens Rafah border crossing with Gaza Strip

Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas agree to ‘respect and accept’ upcoming polls at Cairo talks


A girl looks on through the window of a vehicle while waiting at the Rafah border crossing’s departure area to travel from the Gaza Strip into Egypt [Said Khatib/AFP]

Al Jazeera, 10 Feb 2021

For the first time in years, Egypt has “indefinitely” opened its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, the only passage to the outside world for the residents of the coastal enclave that is not controlled by Israel.

The move on Tuesday came as Palestinian factions concluded a two-day meeting in Egypt’s capital in which they agreed to “respect and accept” the results of long-delayed legislative and presidential elections – set for May 22 and July 31, respectively.

The Palestinian embassy in Cairo said Egypt had decided to open the crossing as a result of “intensive and bilateral talks between the Palestinian and Egyptian leaderships to facilitate the passage of Palestinians to and from the Gaza Strip”.

Palestinian sources attending the talks said they had been told by Egyptian intelligence officials that the move was designed to create a better atmosphere at the negotiations.

Reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim said some were linking it to the Cairo summit and suspected it was “a gesture from the Egyptians”.

“Thousands have already been registering their names with the interior ministry in Gaza, hoping they can make their way into Egypt – it’s their only lifeline to the outside world,” Ibrahim said.

“Many are still concerned that … they’re not going to be treated greatly, specifically due to security concerns by the Egyptians.”

December 11, 2020
MRSCP END OF YEAR APPEAL

As 2020 comes to a close, we are writing to ask for your end-of-year contribution to two great efforts: one for Rafah and the other right here in Dane County.

RAFAH

The economic situation in the Gaza Strip was already terrible due to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Lockdowns, curfews and other measures taken to combat COVID-19, while initially slowing the spread of the virus, ultimately worsened the situation. COVID-19 is rapidly spreading and more than 70% of the population is now reported below the poverty line.

MRSCP is therefore partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide some of the poorest families in Rafah with fresh, nutritious food parcels. Each family will receive a food parcel with essentials like rice, beans, and lentils as well as fresh local produce and poultry. We are excited about this project because an estimated 20 small farmers and cooperative members will also benefit from providing the produce and locally-made packaged goods such as jam and maftool.

$40 provides one family with a 2-3 week supply of this food. Priority will be given to poor families that have disabled individuals or those with chronic diseases, and to female-headed households. More information on this project including a video and a description of the food parcel contents and selection criteria can be found at our website.

Donate directly online:


DANE COUNTY

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Update: December 3, 2020 Rep. Mark Pocan Virtual Town Hall on Palestine

Please thank Rep. Pocan for participating in the town hall and for being a champion for Palestinian rights. His DC office line is (202) 225-2906.

The town hall was an amazing event that you don’t want to miss. The situation for Palestinians is so dire in so many ways, and hearing their stories directly should spur us all to action.

It’s not easy for Members of Congress to take a principled position on Palestinian rights, but Congressman Pocan has been on the frontlines despite the risks and pushback. In his town hall speech, he lists some of the amazing initiatives he’s led or participated in on Capitol Hill related to Palestinian rights just this year, and the list is admirable. Please take a minute to call his office and show appreciation for all he’s done.

Thanks for your activism,

Raed Jarrar
Advocacy Director, American Muslims for Palestine

Rep. Mark Pocan will be holding a virtual town hall this Thursday, December 3 at 9:30 am CT on Palestine, covering the impact of COVID-19 in Gaza and demolitions in the West Bank.

Co-organized by American Muslims for Palestine and the Rebuilding Alliance, the town hall features these on-the-ground speakers:

  • Eid Abu Khamis Jahalin, a community leader for his village of Khan Al Ahmar.
  • Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, an architect and urban planner who leads Bimkom’s activities in the West Bank.
  • Dr. Yasser Abu-Jamei, Executive Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.
  • Dr. Ahmed Mhanna, General Director Of Al Awda Hospital.

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