Wednesday, November 15

MCC Palestine Update #129

MCC Palestine Update #129

15 November 2006

In this update, we want to share with you a few things. As the siege of Gaza continues, the people there continue to suffer. One U.N. observer noted that the collective punishment perpetrated against the people of Gaza since Israel embarked on a military operation it called “Operation Summer Rains” began in late June, has resulted “in over 300 deaths, including many civilians; over 1,000 injuries; large-scale devastation of public facilities and private homes; the destruction of agricultural lands; the disruption of hospitals, clinics and schools; the denial of access to adequate electricity, water and food; and the occupation and imprisonment of the people of Gaza” (“U.N. officials voice ‘shock and dismay’ at deadly Israeli shelling of Gaza civilians,” In the past two week alone, up to 80 Palestinians have been killed as Israel has stepped up its daily shelling, especially in the northern Gaza Strip. The most heart-breaking and obscene display was the Israeli shelling of Beit Hanoun last week that left at least 18 Palestinians dead and over 50 injured (“Israeli tank shells ‘kill 18 Palestinians in sleep,’”
article1962534.ece). Unfortunately, though the United Nations Security Council entertained a resolution condemning this atrocious act, in the end the resolution was vetoed by the United States (“U.S. vetoes U.N. condemnation of Beit Hanun deaths,” And so, the slaughter in Gaza continues.

We want to lift up the voices of two of MCC’s partners in particular, who have recently released statements regarding the current situation in Gaza. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD; circulated a letter that was sent by several respected and concerned Israeli citizens to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz, protesting the current Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and demanding they cease their provocative and devastating actions there.

Another of our partners the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA; based in the southern Gaza Strip, in the city of Khan Younis, also recently circulated an appeal, this one to the international community at large, pleading for some sort of intervention, asking: “Where is the world’s conscience?”

These letters, as well as some additional reflections, are attached below. To learn more about these events, please visit,,

As we approach Advent, we join Lutheran Bishop Younan who, in his letter included below, implores:

“As we soon enter the Advent season, I ask our Christian sisters and brothers, and all people of good conscience and faiths, to be with us in prayer and fasting. Many are losing hope, and the relentless killing and calls for retaliation make us afraid that we are on the brink of an even bloodier season. Please, be our voices in your countries to call for an end to the violence and the beginning of dialogue. Thank you for your prayers and support, and may God bless us and bring healing peace to our land.”

Peace to you all,

Timothy Seidel

Timothy and Christi Seidel
Peace Development Workers
Mennonite Central Committee – Palestine

Attachments and Links:

· “Petition in protest of the unbearable situation in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, 30 October 2006
· “Beit Hanoun appealing and screaming: Where is the world's conscience?” The Culture and Free Thought Association
· Patrick Seale, “Israel’s scandalous siege of Gaza,” International Herald Tribune, 28 October 2006
· Bishop Munib A. Younan, “I have come to give them life, and life abundantly,” Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), 9 November 2006
· Philip Rizk, “This is Beit Hanoun,” 9 November 2006
· Jameela al-Shanti, “We overcame our fear,” The Guardian, 9 November 2006


Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Petition in protest of the unbearable situation in the Gaza Strip

October 30, 2006

To: Prime Minister Mr. Ehud Olmert, Jerusalem
Minister of Defense Mr. Amir Peretz, Tel Aviv
Re: Petition in protest of the unbearable situation in the Gaza Strip

Dear Sir,

Enclosed please find a petition signed by 1,348 women and men in Israel and abroad protesting the unbearable situation ongoing in Gaza Strip.

We demand that the Government of Israel and its army put a stop to the bloodshed and destruction in Gaza Strip and immediately lift the siege that is suffocating the area.

Enclosed are the first signees: Shulamit Aloni, Naomi Chazan, Ruhama Marton, Adi Ophir, Oren Yiftachel, Uri Avnery, Rachel Avnery, Ronit Matalon, Yossi Algazy, Yitzhak Laor, Anat Biletzky , Rachel Giora, Mossi Raz, Anat matar, Yehuda Shenhav, Gerardo Leibner, Nitza Yanay, Gulie Ne'eman Arad.


In behalf of the petition initiators

Dr. Joseph Algazy Haia Noach
Tel: 03-5516194 08-6469029, 0524-26901
7 Mohaliver st. Bat-Yam 9 Erez st. Omer


We know: In recent months the IDF has killed in the Gaza strip alone 245 human beings, 62 of whom were children, and another 25 were women;

We know: Palestinian physicians complain of "Flachette" arrow wounds and other effects of banned ammunition;

We know: That the Gaza Strip is under strict siege;

We know: The sick and wounded are dying in hospitals due to lack of medicines and expert physicians, caused by the closing of the passages to Israel, Egypt and Jordan;

We know: The entire population, children, women, men, elderly and infants, suffer from malnutrition;

We know: Day by day, bombs and bulldozers destroy houses whose dwellers are rendered roofless;

We know: The Gaza Strip is in throes of a humanitarian crisis;

We know: War Crimes are perpetrated at this moment in the Gaza Strip;

We know: The IDF actions in the Gaza-strip risk the life of Gilad Shalit;

We Know!

We protest and demand from the Israeli government and the IDF:

Stop the carnage!
Stop the destruction!
Stop the siege on the Gaza strip!

We call upon all of you who honor human life and dignity - to join our protest.

Telephone and fax list:
The chief of staff bureau: Fax 03-6976218
IDF Spokesman: Fax 03-6080312, email
The prime-minister bureau: Tel. 03-6109898, 02-6705555, Fax: 02-6705475, email


Culture and Free Thought Association
Beit Hanoun appealing and screaming: Where is the world's conscience?

For all of the world
For all of honorable people all over the world
For all of human consciences

Residents of Beit Hanoun awoke to the sound of explosions and screams, where the bodies were torn apart, where houses were demolished, where unarmed civilians were trapped under debris, where cries of distress resound everywhere. Ambulances were unable to handle the number of killed and injured; before Israeli forces stormed Beit Hanoun, dozens of tanks and military vehicles invaded with several bulldozers. Under air cover Israeli forces opened machine gun fire at homes and property, while bulldozers destroyed large tracts of land. Beit Hanoun has been targeted by a systematic destruction of the infrastructure and mass punishments by incursions.

No one can believe what has happened in Beit Hanoun; the massacre is above imagination. It, once again, demonstrates the brutality of the Israeli aggression. These crimes reveal the brutality of the Israeli occupation against children and defenseless civilians. These people were targeted in their homes, at night, only because they are Palestinians and want to live a life of dignity.

We appeal to you. We appeal to your conscience, on behalf of all the concepts of humanity to stop this barbaric aggression against our people and our children; to stop the killing of unarmed civilians; to stop these war crimes; to stop the flagrant violations of all international laws and conventions.

Our people are appealing to you to stand up for their rights, in order to stop Israeli massacres and crimes against women, children, and unarmed civilians in Beit Hanoun, and all of Palestine.

Are you ready to pay attention to our appeals? We hope that you are…

On behalf of the human conscientiousness.

For universal human rights.

For a just peace in all parts of the world.

For the innocent children deprived of a dignified life in Palestine.

We are calling upon you to intervene immediately to save our lives.


International Herald Tribune
Israel’s scandalous siege of Gaza
Patrick Seale

28 October 2006

Israel has killed 2,300 Gazans over the past six years, including 300 in the four months since an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, was captured in a cross-border raid by Palestinian fighters on June 25. The wounded can be counted in the tens of thousands. Most of the casualties are civilians, many of them children.

The killing continues on a daily basis - by tank and sniper fire, by air and sea bombardment, and by undercover teams in civilian clothes sent into Arab territory to ambush and murder, an Israeli specialty perfected over the past several decades.

How long will the "international community" allow the slaughter to continue? The cruel repression of the occupied territories, and of Gaza in particular, is one of the most scandalous in the world today. It is the blackest stain on Israel's patchy record as a would-be democratic state.

Some form of intervention is urgently required, perhaps in the form of an international force on the border between Israel and Gaza, to protect each side from the other, to allow some air into the moribund Gaza economy, and to bring relief to a humanitarian catastrophe.

Please


Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL)
I have come to give them life, and life abundantly
Bishop Munib A. Younan

9 November 2006

As a church, we believe that all human life is sacred. We believe that God's intent for humanity is revealed in the words of Jesus: "I have come to give them life, and life abundantly."

Accordingly, we are appalled and outraged by the indiscriminate disregard for human life exhibited by the Israeli Army in the past week in Beit Hanoun, especially the violent bombardment killing a whole family, young and old, men, women and children, as they slept in their beds. Yet this incident is only part of a week-long military campaign that killed 80 Palestinians and kept a city of 30,000 under siege and in terror. In fact, this month is just part of the recent bloodletting of almost 500 Palestinian lives in 5 months, and a siege on Gaza that included the deliberate destruction of its only power plant. This blatant disregard for innocent human life and extensive destruction of property constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention as stated in Article 147. Also, the Israeli Army has failed to fulfill its obligation to respect the special protection awarded to medical personnel and places of worship, as respectively provided in Article 15(1) of the First Additional Protocol of 1977 and Article 56 of The Hague Regulations, both reflective of customary international law.

In light of all that has occurred, we call on Israelis to immediately stop all military actions. These attacks only create more hatred, desire for revenge and growth in extremism.

Please


This is Beit Hanoun
Philip Rizk

9 November 2006

From the main road the town of Beit Hanoun looks like any other part of Gaza. Cars are driving in and out, although most of them are leaving, going far, far away, but where, I don’t know. There are only 365 km2 to this place called the Gaza Strip and over the past week 80 human beings have been killed in Beit Hanoun.

I entered the town from a back road since the main road was torn up by bulldozers and is inaccessible. At first things seems rather normal, just another bumpy road, one of many in Gaza, but then through the darkness you see, something else. Many homes remain only skeletons with gaping holes staring through walls, streets turned into mud piles, lamp posts are broken like match sticks, the whole place is covered in a semi darkness, there is no electricity in Beit Hanoun. In the midst of all the chaos an electrician is up one of the electricity poles trying to fix something. The stench of sewage fills the air, the Israeli tanks and bulldozers also broke many sewage pipes.

I got to the two homes that had been shelled that morning after the Israeli troops had pulled out of Beit Hanoun. There was an eerie silence in the area. It was dark and quiet. The first home I entered was lit up by a candle, sitting on a counter. Behind it you could see what was once a well kept kitchen, the windows looked expensive, but the huge hole in the wall and the rubble covering the floor let any visitor know something was not right here. I met Ali there. He lost relatives and neighbors. 17 people in total, 13 of them from one family. Ali’s eyes were swollen, I could see the grief in his face, his spirit was broken. A tank shell had gone through the roof of the building he lived in. He escaped unscathed, others were not so fortunate. “Life and death are the same”, Ali exclaimed. He explained to me how just days before the Israeli soldiers had occupied the very home which had been shelled that morning. They had been tired and had slept in the beds of the Palestinians who that day were killed in the very same beds. One couple was found dead, lying in their bed, with their young child sleeping in between them. The attack happened at 5:30am. Ali was among the people that fled the scene and fire followed them, to the next building where they tried to take refuge. “What religion allows this?” Why? Was the question he kept asking, and the question that goes through my mind still.

Why are we silent?


The Guardian
We overcame our fear
Jameela al-Shanti

9 November 2006

The unarmed women of the Gaza Strip have taken the lead in resisting Israel's latest bloody assault

Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care. In the same raid Israel's artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds. One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children. The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week.

This is Israel's tenth incursion into Beit Hanoun since it announced its withdrawal from Gaza. It has turned the town into a closed military zone, collectively punishing its 28,000 residents. For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled. All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in. Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved. We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday. They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away.

It is not easy as a mother, sister or wife to watch those you love disappear before your eyes. Perhaps that was what helped me, and 1,500 other women, to overcome our fear and defy the Israeli curfew last Friday - and set about freeing some of our young men who were besieged in a mosque while defending us and our city against the Israeli military machine.

Please read more at,,1942826,00.html


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