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OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUBARAK FROM THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH

December 25, 2009

Dear President Mubarak,

We, representing 1,362 individuals from 43 countries arriving in Cairo to participate in the Gaza Freedom March, are pleading to the Egyptians and your reputation for hospitality.

We are peacemakers. We have not come to Egypt to create trouble or cause conflict. On the contrary. We have come because we believe that all people -- including the Palestinians of Gaza -- should have access to the resources they need to live in dignity. We have gathered in Egypt because we believed that you would welcome and support our noble goal and help us reach Gaza through your land.

As individuals who believe in justice and human rights, we have spent our hard-earned, and sometimes scarce, resources to buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms and secure transportation only to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza living under a crushing Israeli blockade.

A Letter to Her Excellency, Madame Suzanne Mubarak

by Jodie Evans

The Egyptian government announced Monday that the border between Gaza and Egypt will be closed, just in time for 1,346 men, women, and children from 42 countries -- the Gaza Freedom March -- to arrive in Cairo. It's too late to turn back now. We will proceed, and are asking Egypt to permit the march to go on.

This has happened with each delegation we have taken but with the right pressure we have succeeded in crossing the border each time. Our first attempt was made possible thanks to First Lady Suzanne Mubarak. For International Women's Day we were taking in thousands of pink baskets of aid for the women in Gaza. As we made our way to the border we passed truck after truck brimming with rotting material aid that the Egyptians had not allowed into Gaza. But our outreach to Madame Mubarak proved fruitful: we were met by the Egyptian Red Crescent (which she chairs) and we proceeded into Gaza with no problems.

Phoenix Hosts Discussion and Movie On Gaza This Tuesday, 12/29, 7 PM

As part of nationwide actions in solidarity with the 2009/2010 Gaza Freedom March

When: Join us this Tuesday, December 29, 2009 at 7 p.m.

Where: in the basement of Grace Lutheran Church, 1124 North 3rd Street, Phoenix AZ 85004-1893

Hear about the upcoming Gaza Freedom March where an international contingent, including Code Pink Liz and three other Arizonans, will participate in a nonviolent march to end the illegal blockade of the Gaza. It has been one year since the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Watch the film “Occupation 101,” the award winning documentary film on the root causes of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Hear the following speakers:

  • Barbara Taft, a political scientist who has visited Gaza three times and met with refugees as well as young people injured in clashes with the Israeli military. Ms. Taft will speak on “De-Development: Israel's Strangulation Policy and the Destruction of Gaza's Infrastructure."
  • Kevin Greathouse, an Orthodox Sephardic Jew who is intimately familiar with and sensitive to the religious views, historical backgrounds, and the various political positions of the major cultures in the Middle East. Mr. Greathouse endorses the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and will speak on the “Erroneous Religious and Romantic Views Which Desensitize Americans, Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians to Suffering in the Middle East.”

Discuss your views in a respectful dialogue regarding how we can help support a just resolution to the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Monitor Gaza Freedom March events here.

Gaza Freedom March Requests Egyptian Government Reconsider Its Entry Due To Secure Border Situation

Gaza Freedom March Requests Egyptian Government Reconsider Its Entry Due To Secure Border Situation | December 23, 2009

Government of Egypt changes policy to allow humanitarian group Viva Palestina to enter Gaza December 27, 2009

Gaza Freedom March congratulates the Government of Egypt on its change of policy to allow international missions into Gaza during December with the decision to allow the Viva Palestina convoy to go into Gaza on December 27, 2009.

Organizers of Gaza Freedom March were told on December 20, 2009 by Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials that no international missions would be allowed to enter Gaza during December, including the Gaza Freedom March, because of serious security conditions at the border.

Today, December 23, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Gaza Freedom March organizers said that the decision had been made to alter its policy because of the “humanitarian assistance” nature of Viva Palestina.

Since the Gaza Freedom March is also bringing in humanitarian assistance items valued at tens of thousands of dollars and the border is now considered safe, Gaza Freedom March will make a formal request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 24, that that Government of Egypt reconsider the request of the Gaza Freedom March for entry of its 1360 delegates from 42 countries into Gaza through the Rafah crossing on December 27.

Marchers and their friends have been flooding Egyptian embassies throughout the world with calls and emails. Embassies throughout Europe, the United States and Canada have told callers that they have been flooded with telephone calls from persons asking that the Gaza Freedom March be allowed into Gaza. Read more.

Postwar Gaza: Scars Frozen, Mideast At An Impasse

Postwar Gaza: Scars frozen, Mideast at an impasse
By Karin Laub, Associated Press | Washington Post

Gaza's scars have been frozen in place since Israel waged war a year ago to subdue Hamas and stop rockets from hitting its towns. Entire neighborhoods still lie in rubble, and traumatized residents can't rebuild their lives.

A man who lost two daughters and his home can't visit his surviving 4-year-old girl in a Belgian hospital because Gaza's borders remain sealed. A 15-year-old struggles to walk on her artificial limbs, while dozens of other war amputees still await prostheses.

Couples postpone marriage because not enough apartments survived three weeks of bombing and shelling. Thousands are homeless,and damaged systems mean electricity and water are sporadic. Untreated sewage pours into the Mediterranean.

A three-year-old blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt makes any large-scale rebuilding impossible, because the embargo includes steel and concrete.

The unprecedented use of Israeli firepower against the Palestinians has had repercussions far beyond the pain inflicted on Gaza's long-suffering 1.5 million people.

It emboldened Gaza's Hamas rulers by failing to topple them, and weakened their Western-backed Fatah rivals, whom Palestinians increasingly see as subordinate to Israel. It deepened the political split between Hamas-ruled Gaza and the Fatah-governed West Bank, making a unified Palestinian government - a prerequisite for any peace deal - even less likely. Read more.

Doctor Admits Israeli Pathologists Harvested Organs Without Consent

Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent
By Ian Black | Guardian.co.UK

Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country's forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called "antisemitic".

The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran's state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians.

Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP, said the report incriminated the Israeli army.

The story emerged in an interview with Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic who released it because of the row between Israel and Sweden over a report in the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet.

Channel 2 TV reported that in the 1990s, specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives. Read more.

Urgent Update on Gaza Freedom March

Gaza Freedom March URGENT UPDATE
December 21, 2009

We are determined to break the siege.
We all will continue to do whatever we can to make it happen.

Using the pretext of escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us yesterday that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege, that we do not feel threatened, and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,300 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now. We both agreed to continue our exchanges.

Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we've encountered-and overcome--before. No delegation, large or small, that entered Gaza over the past 12 months has ever received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.

Our efforts and plans will not be altered at this point. We have set out to break the siege of Gaza and march on December 31 against the Israeli blockade. We are continuing in the same direction.

Egyptian embassies and missions all over the world must hear from our supporters (by phone, fax and email)** over the coming crucial days, with a clear message: Let the international delegation enter Gaza and let the Gaza Freedom March proceed.

Contact your local consulate here:
http://www.mfa.gov.eg/MFA_Portal/en-GB/mfa_websits/

Contact the Palestine Division in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cairo
Ahmed Azzam, tel +202-25749682 Email: ahmed.azzam@mfa.gov.eg

If you are in the U.S., contact the Egyptian Embassy, 202-895-5400 and ask for Omar Youssef or email omaryoussef@hotmail.com.

You signed on to support the the Gaza Freedom March, that was the first step. Now call the Egyptian embassy and ask your elected official to call on your behalf. Then, hit the streets and join a solidarity action in your community: www.gazafreedommarch.org/solidarity

Gaza and Israel: David and Goliath - Classic Asymmetric Warfare

Gaza and Israel: David and Goliath - Classic Asymmetric Warfare
By Ann Wright

In military lingo, they call it “asymmetric warfare,” or the “enemy” using tactics that do not correspond in size, force and technology to those tactics used on them--tactics that cause powerful militaries great problems from militia or insurgent forces equipped with simple and inexpensive, but effective, weapons and techniques.

In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, asymmetric warfare centers on Iraqi and Afghan “insurgents” using powerful, but unsophisticated, roadside bombs against the tanks, armored personnel carriers and humvees of the United States military.

In the case of Gaza, it is Palestinians using homemade unguided rockets (and infrequently more sophisticated rockets from Iran), rocks and horses against U.S. supplied F-16 jet fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters, tanks, D9 Caterpiller bulldozers, naval bombardment and white phosphorus and dense inert metal explosive (DIME) bombs, drones and surveillance balloons of the Israeli military.

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To continue reading the text with pictures, click the file attachment below.

Israel Took Organs of Dead Without Permission

Israel Took Organs of Dead Without Permission
Israel Scientist Admits Organs Were Routinely Harvested Without Telling Families
By Simon McGregor-Wood | ABC News.com

A senior Israeli scientist has admitted that in the 1990s Israel routinely harvested organs from dead bodies without telling families.

The revelation came from an interview with Dr. Yehuda Hiss, former head of the country's Abu Kabir forensic institute, which was broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 this weekend. "We started to harvest corneas....Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family," Hiss said in the interview.

According to the program, pathologists at the Abu Kabir institute also took skin, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli civilians and Palestinians. They often did so without seeking the permission of relatives. Read more.

Obama Approves $30 Billion in Military Aid to Israel Over Next Decade

Obama Approves $30 Billion in Military Aid to Israel Over Next Decade
$500 Million in Aid Also to Go to Palestinian Authority
by Jason Ditz | Anti-War.com

As the single largest expense of the 2010 foreign aid budget, President Obama approved $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel, the first payment in a decade-long commitment that will reach at least $30 billion.

Last year, Israel’s military budget amounted to $13.3 billion, so the US funding is a significant portion of their overall expenditure. The US formerly provided both military and civilian aid, but it has since been folded entirely into military aid, at Israel’s request.

The money is not a blank check, however. The US requires that Israel spend at least 75% of the money given in military aid with US military contractors, effectively using the foreign aid budget to subsidize domestic weapon-makers. Read more.

Gaza Collection Released: Articles, Videos, Blogs, Plus Info About Upcoming Gaza March

Col. Ann Wright (Ret.) wrote:

Here are the new articles added to our massive 50 page list of articles, videos, blogs from our 7 trips to Gaza in 2009, plus articles and videos about the Gaza Freedom March--only 10 days away 27 December - January 2, 2010!!

Please keep everyone in Gaza in your thoughts during the next weeks, the one year anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza!!

All 50 pages of our articles are in the attachment--congratulations on what you have done to bring the story of the people of Gaza to the world!

Access the file in the file attachment below.

Philly Prepares for Free Palestine Protest This Friday, 12/18, 4-6 PM At Israeli Consulate

December 27 marks the first anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Join: Philly Against War, End Oppression Now and the Philadelphia International Action Center in a Protest on December 18 (3rd Friday).

4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Israeli Consulate, 19th Street and JFK Boulevard in Philadelphia. (1880 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19103)

Make your voices heard in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Lift the siege of Gaza now! Free Palestine!

The total number killed in this massacre is estimated at more than 1400. During the 3-week assault on Gaza (December 27, 2008 -- January 18, 2009), 313 Palestinian children were killed by Israelis. The number of Israeli children who were killed by Palestinians: 0. Approximately 500,000 Gazans were displaced at some point during conflict. Get the facts here.

The population of Gaza is approximately 1,417,000 of which 793,520 (56%) are children. Israel's attack on the people of Gaza - carried out by the world's 4th most powerful military- constitutes a crime against humanity. During the 3-week attack approximately 1 million people lost electricity and drinking water. Water treatment facilities were rendered inoperable and at least 16 schools were damaged or destroyed.

According to the media summary of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict:

Israel Confirms UK Arrest Warrant Against Livni

Israel confirms U.K. arrest warrant against Livni
By Barak Ravid | Haaretz

The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called for an end to the "absurd situation" in which arrest warrants were being issued to Israeli officials over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

"Only actions can put an end to this absurd situation, which would have seemed a comedy of errors were it not so serious," said the Foreign Ministry, a day after it emerged that opposition leader Tzipi Livni had canceled her trip to Britain after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Senior officials in Israel confirmed reports on Monday that a British court had issued an arrest warrant against opposition leader Tzipi Livni for her role in orchestrating Israel's military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip nearly a year ago. Read more.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - 10 December 2009, Observed

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 10 December 2009, Observed

Iftikhar Chaudri, President of Journalists for International Peace, wrote:

Journalists for International Peace observed the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 2009. In this context, a meeting was held in the head office of JIP, in which participants/ members of JIP presented their reports on various human rights issues the world is confronting.

The participants, members of JIP, deliberated on the objectives of Human Rights Day which was focused on non-discrimination. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. These first few famous words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established 61 years ago, are the basic premise of international human rights law. Yet today, the fight against discrimination remains a daily struggle for millions around the globe.

Iftikhar Chaudri, President JIP, expressed grave concern over the situation of human rights all over the world, in general, which is further deteriorated. “The graph of the poverty-line personifies upward trend. People are devoid of clean drinking water and basic food items. Despite efforts to promote interfaith harmony through a dialogue, the religious and sectarian intolerance increased manifold. The ban on the construction of minarets in Switzerland is a glaring example that infuriates the Muslim minority,” he added.

From Hiroshima to Gaza

From Hiroshima to Gaza
By Hisae Ogawa

The first time I met and had a chance to talk to Palestinian women was back in 1975, the United Nations International Women’s Year. I was then working for the Women’s International Democrat Federation (WIDF), one of the Non-Governmental Agencies accredited by the United Nations.

WIDF’s head office was in East Berlin, the capitol of the German Democratic Republic. It had over 100 member groups all around the world and representatives that were called “secretaries” were sent from more than ten countries from Europe, Africa, Asia and America. At the time the General Secretary of WIDF was from Argentina and the President was from Australia. It was indeed an international place. But at the same time I was so disturbed to see the East Berliners suffered lack of freedom due to the wall dividing the city.

One of my co-workers was a young girl from Iraq. She was working hard trying to cover the whole issues in the Middle East. From her I learned what was happening in the Middle East.

It was through her that I got to know the Palestinian issue and made friends with Palestinian women. One day she brought some women from Palestine to the WIDF office. They were touring Europe to publicize their plight. They said Israel was doing the same things to Palestinian people as the Nazis had done to the Jewish people during the World War II.

Israeli Occupation, Colonialism and Apartheid

Israeli Occupation, Colonialism and Apartheid
By Stephen Lendman

The Cape Town, South Africa-based Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) "conduct(s) large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific projects for public-sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies," and disseminates its findings widely.

In May 2009, it issued a damning report titled, "Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel's practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law." At the time John Dugard was the UN's Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine. At his January 2007 suggestion, the study was undertaken "to scrutinise (his) hypothesis from the perspective of international law." It stated:

"Israel is clearly in military occupation of the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories). At the same time, elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law. What are the legal consequences of a regime of prolonged occupation with features of colonialism and apartheid for the occupied people, the Occupying Power and third States?"

Given South Africa's past, the HSRC had an "obvious interest" in pursuing these issues. After 15 months of research, its report concluded that:

"....Israel, since 1967, has been the belligerent Occupying Power in the OPT, and that its occupation of these territories has become a colonial enterprise, which implements a system of apartheid."

Making an American “Impenetrable Underground Wall” the Laughing Stock of the World — Leave It to the People of Gaza

Making an American “Impenetrable Underground Wall” the Laughing Stock of the World — Leave It to the People of Gaza
By Colonel (Ret) Ann Wright

No doubt at the instigation of the Israeli government, the Obama administration has authorized the United States Army Corps of Engineers to design a vertical underground wall under the border between Egypt and Gaza.

In March, 2009 the United States provided the government of Egypt with $32 million in March, 2009 for electronic surveillance and other security devices to prevent the movement of food, merchandise and weapons into Gaza. Now details are emerging about an underground steel wall that will be 6-7 miles long and extend 55 feet straight down into the desert sand.

The steel wall will be made of super-strength steel put together in a jigsaw puzzle fashion. It will be bomb proof and can not be cut or melted. It will be “impenetrable,” and reportedly will take 18 months to construct.

The steel wall is intended to cut the tunnels that go between Gaza and Egypt.

The tunnels are the lifelines for Gaza since the international community agreed to a blockade of Gaza to collectively punish the citizens of Gaza for their having elected in Parliamentary elections in 2006 sufficient Hamas Parliamentarians that Hamas became the government of Gaza. The United States and other western countries have placed Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations.

The underground steel wall is intended to strengthen international governmental efforts to imprison and starve the people of Gaza into submission so they will throw out the Hamas government.

Targeting Civilians in Gaza

Targeting Civilians in Gaza
By Stephen Lendman

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an "independent legal body dedicated to the protection of human rights, the promotion of the rule of law, and the upholding of democratic principles in the Occupied Territories." It issues frequent press releases, statistics, fact sheets, documents, and reports like its October 22, 2009 English version of "Targeted Civilians: A PCHR Report on the Israeli Offensive against the Gaza Strip (27 December 2008 - 18 January 2009)."

Its 184 pages comprise a comprehensive, conclusive, and damning account of Israel's war crimes, along with numerous others, including:

  • PCHR's "Through Women's Eyes" on the war's effect on women;
  • B'Tselem's "investigation of fatalities in Operation Cast Lead;"
  • Amnesty International's "Operation 'Cast Lead': 22 days of death and destruction;"
  • several Human Rights Watch reports, including "White Flag Deaths" and Rain of Fire: Israel's Use of White Phosphorous in Gaza;"
  • former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, John Dugard's "Independent Fact-Finding Committee (IFFC)....investigations of Israeli conduct during the war in Gaza;" and
  • the UN Human Rights Council (HRC)'s "Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict" - the prominent Goldstone report that has Tel Aviv and Washington officials scrambling to diffuse its extensive Israeli war crimes evidence. The report's conclusion was that:

"....the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing (humiliating and terrorizing) the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population."

Mark Your Calendars for December 27th-31st! Organize Your Events for the Global Free Gaza Action To Lift the Israeli Siege

We're calling on activists around the globe to organize an action between December 27th through December 31st to send Obama, the US State Department and Congress a message to pressure the Israeli government to Lift the Siege on Gaza Now!

The timing here is crucial. On December 27, 2008, Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip called Operation Cast Lead in which over 1400 Palestinians were killed, including as many as 300 children. In remembrance of these innocent civilians and to mark the fact that it has been one year since the Israeli assault began, some 1,000 people from around the world will join with 50,000 Palestinians in a massive nonviolent Gaza Freedom March on New Year's Eve, December 31, in Gaza. The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza is calling on us to coordinate local solidarity actions to raise awareness and media attention for the big March and the need to end the illegal blockade. Will you join us?

Actions are already being planned in Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington DC and other locations. You still have time to plan something in your community. It doesn't take a lot of people. Below are a few ideas, but whatever you do, make sure you write a press release and call the local media to encourage them to attend. The best way to spread the word is to get your event covered by the local press!

The important things:

Shining Light on Roots of Terrorism

Shining Light on Roots of Terrorism
By Ray McGovern | Consortium News

But it’s a legitimate and urgent question: Would a more determined commitment by the U.S. government to secure an independent state for the Palestinians and to alleviate their suffering undercut the appeal of al-Qaeda and other extremist groups to young people in the Muslim world?

Or put differently, why should ardent supporters of Israel in the U.S. Congress behave in such a way as to make the Muslim world view the United States as disinterested in the plight of the Palestinians and thus increase the danger of future attacks against the United States, as well as against Israel?...

These so-called “friends of Israel” either don’t know or don’t care that this sort of resolution only makes matters worse regarding American attempts to defuse the explosive anger building across the Middle East. It is a gift to al-Qaeda.

Media commentary on the upcoming 9/11 trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has raised concern that state secrets may be divulged, including details about how the Bush administration used torture to extract evidence about al-Qaeda.

“I think that we’re going to shine a light on something that a lot of people don’t want to look at” is how American Civil Liberties Union attorney Denney LeBoeuf put it, according to The New York Times on Saturday.

No problem, says Attorney General Eric Holder, who claims to have “great confidence” that other evidence – apart from what may have been gleaned from the 183 times Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, for example – will suffice to convict him.

Maybe so, But what the Fawning Corporate Media (or FCM) have so far neglected is the likelihood that the testimony will be so public that they will have to break their studied silence about why Sheikh Mohammed and his associates say they orchestrated the attacks of 9/11. Read more.

A Guest Blog by Gerri Haynes: Journey to Gaza, The Beginning

A Guest Blog by Gerri Haynes: Journey to Gaza, The Beginning | Larry Johnson Online

Larry Johnson wrote: (For the next week or so, I will be running a guest blog by Gerri Haynes, a former president of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. Gerri, a nurse from Kirkland, Wash., is in Gaza with 11 other people in an effort to help the people there and also to better understand the situation.)

This journey has been months in the planning and today we were able to cross into Gaza through the Erez checkpoint from Israel. We are a thankful group! The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and associated health care providers are giving us this week in service.

There are 12 of us. Six physicians will see patients in cardiology, maxillo-facial surgery, family practice/emergency medicine, neurosurgery, urology, and psychiatry. Our nurse/grief consultant will teach classes in grief and bereavement. Five of our delegation – a pastor, an attorney and three human rights professionals will talk with families and listen to people throughout the area – all in service to this land that is trying to recover from the war of last winter.

WPSR made a first journey to Gaza in 1993. Here, we met Dr. Eyad El Sarraj, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. Dr. Sarraj has published important articles and papers on the health situation in Gaza, the mental health of the population, the effects of war and living as a refugee on children and critiques of the political situation in his country.

In 1993, entry to Gaza was accomplished through a small checkpoint. At that time, Israel physically occupied Gaza. There were Israeli guard towers visible at frequent intervals and Israeli soldiers appeared on every street. Now, there is an imposing warehouse-like checkpoint building on the Israel side of the crossing. Security is tight.

We applied for permission to enter Gaza several months in advance of today’s crossing and were assisted by an Israeli lieutenant in gaining that permission. Israel no longer physically occupies Gaza – the settlements were vacated and destroyed by Israel in 2005 – but remote occupation continues. By various means, Israel controls all movement at the borders of Gaza. There is no free movement of goods or services and complete closure of the Gaza Strip is a constant threat. Join in Gerri's day-by-day account of her Gaza experience; it's recommended reading by Ann Wright.

Minneapolis Event on 12/6 Preps for Gaza Freedom March in Late December

Minnesotans plan trip to Gaza for Gandhi-inspired march | Press Release

CODEPINK: Women for Peace and the Minnesota Gaza Freedom March Participants' Committee Present Occupation 101, a film by Sufyan Omeish and Abdallah Omeish

Date: Sunday, December 6, 2009, 4:00 pm

Location: Hennepin Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403

Cost: suggested donation $10 at the door, no one turned away

Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 6th, 2009 - A group of passionate Minnesotans are planning to participate in a bold, Gandhi-inspired peace march in Gaza, 'the world's largest open-air prison'. The group calls itself the “Minnesota Gaza Freedom March Participants' Committee” and today they are exhibiting a documentary film that highlights the injustice they hope to correct through participating in a non-violent mass action in Gaza with participants from around the world. The documentary, Occupation 101, is being shown as fundraiser. At least 3 members of the group are committed to traveling to Egypt and Palestine, with airline tickets already purchased. Others are excited to go, if only enough funds can be raised. A local march is being planned in the Twin Cities area simultaneous with the nonviolent march in Gaza, one mile to the closed Erez checkpoint on the border with Israel. Discussion and trainings on their organizing strategy follow the heart-wrenching film.

The idea came to the Twin Cities initially as a result of one of the organizers' participation in a healthcare reform lobbying effort that took him to Washington, D.C. In July. "I was in D.C. for the rally and citizen lobbying day hat marked the 44th anniversary of Medicare, on July 30th, and a little early for a fundraiser for the 'Healthcare NOT Warfare' campaign at Busboys and Poets, when an affiliated group, CODEPINK, had an event in that space the hour before our event started. I sat in on the meeting, and as soon as I heard about Gandhi being the inspiration of the Gaza Freedom March, I knew I had to participate in this," says Soren Sorensen. "Healthcare and the economy remain the issues that most Americans care about, according to polls, but it is hard to ignore the desperate plight of the Palestinians in Gaza. The have no access to healthcare, and the average Palestinian in Gaza earns $600 a year. The U.S. Governments support for this inhuman siege is, no doubt, reducing the favorability of U.S. Goods and services abroad. If the U.S. Aligns itself with international law and human rights, it could help our economic recovery. So there is some self-interest for us, but for me it is a greater issue of conscience."

Peace Activist Confronts Netanhayu on War Crimes During Plenary of United Jewish Federations

(Washington DC) At the Annual Conference of the United Jewish Federations in Washington, DC, during the plenary session by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, CODEPINK peace activist Midge Potts stood up with a banner that said “End the Siege of Gaza” and shouted “Stop the blockade of Gaza, Shame on you, Netanyahu.” She was dragged out of the meeting by security guards.

Mullen: ‘Nuclear Iran’ an Existential Threat to Israel

Admiral Open to US Attack, Concedes War Would Be Incredibly Destabilizing
By Jason Ditz, AntiWar.com

Speaking today at the National Press Club, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen declared that “it’s very clear to me that a nuclear weapon in Iran is an existential threat to Israel.

Adm. Mullen has repeatedly met with Israel’s military chief Gen. Ashkenazi, and says foiling Iran’s nuclear program is “the number one priority for Israel.” This has been underscored in recent days as Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran.

But while Admiral Mullen said he still wanted President Obama to continue with diplomacy, he was fully prepared to see the US attack Iran to prevent a nuclear Iran from “undermining the stability” of the Middle East. At the same time, Mullen admitted that attacking Iran itself “would also be incredibly destabilizing.”

Though Western officials have repeatedly issued warnings about Iran’s nuclear program, the IAEA has repeatedly certified that none of Iran’s uranium has been enriched to anywhere near weapons-grade level and that none of it is being diverted to anything but civilian use.

U.S.: Congress Out of Step with Public on International Law?

U.S.: Congress Out of Step with Public on Intl Law?
By Eli Clifton | IPS

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution Tuesday condemning the Goldstone Report on Israeli and Hamas actions taking during the Gaza War as "irredeemably biased" against Israel and calling on U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to oppose any consideration of the report in multilateral fora, such as the United Nations.

But a poll released just the day before found that a large majority of U.S. citizens believe the U.S. should abide by international laws and view the international legal system favourably.

House Resolution (HR) 867 called on the White House and State Department to oppose any future examinations of the report, which members of Congress felt focused disproportionally on alleged Israeli war crimes while paying little attention to violations committed by Hamas during the Gaza War from Dec. 27, 2008 to Jan. 18, 2009.

"The 344 supporters have apparently not read the report," wrote Human Rights Watch senior researcher Fred Abrahams. "The 575-page document records violations of the laws of war by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, and concludes that all sides committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity."

"Both Israelis and Palestinians need to carry out investigations that meet international standards or face international prosecution," he said. Read more.

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