CHICAGO, IL - In response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis there, and to answer calls for a solidarity presence from some of its humanitarian organizations, several delegations of international activists and grassroots journalists are now in the Gaza Strip, meeting and working with survivors of Israel’s recent bombing campaign.
Travelers include Kathy Kelly, Johnny Barber and Joshua Brollier of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, who left for Cairo on Thursday, November 22 and passed through the Rafah border crossing into Gaza on Monday, November 26. The activists aim to complete their Gaza itinerary whether or not the current ceasefire holds.
Kathy Kelly, who witnessed Israel’s “Cast Lead” campaign 4 years ago, has been interviewing survivors of the current, much briefer, campaign. “This was worse than 2009 because of the intensity of the bombing,” reported one doctor. “Bombs fell so frequently, morning, noon, and night, and it felt like there was no place safe to hide.”
The delegates spoke with EMT workers excavating a leveled 4-story building in Jamaliya, then met with farmers at a buffer zone protest at Khan Younis, whose acreage on the Gaza side of the border fence has been inaccessible due to long-standing Israeli policy of firing on those who approach the fence. Later, they met with a water specialist who reported that no desalinization plants are currently working. At one site neighbors grieved a family of 14 lost under the ruins of a three-story building thought to be a safe place to hide from the bombing.
Josh Brollier and Johnny Barber interviewed fishermen on the Gazan seashore – “Youth don’t want to leave their homeland but can’t see how they will have any future here.” They talked to teenagers whose fishing boat was boarded by by Israeli troops for working more than three miles from shore. They had refused an order to strip naked in their boat and then acted to prevent the customary destruction of their boat’s motor by gunfire. “I grabbed the motor,” reported one youth, “and said ‘you can put the bullet here [indicating his head] but I will not do what you ask me to do.”
Delegates will post on twitter (info_from_vcnv), facebook and the Voices website, vcnv.org 
Please contact Voices co-coordinators in Chicago, Buddy Bell and Gerald Paoli, for updated information and cell phone numbers for the activists in Cairo and Gaza.
Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org ) has deep, long-standing roots in active nonviolent resistance to U.S. war-making. Begun in the summer of 2005, Voices draws upon the experiences of those who challenged the brutal economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and U.N. against the Iraqi people between 1990 and 2003.