Monday, January 21, 2008

Coalition Calls for Emergency Protests Jan.26 in Anaheim, Wash., San Francisco

End the Criminal Israeli Siege of Gaza NOW!
Stop the Collective Punishment of the Palestinian People!

Coalition Calls for Emergency Protests Jan. 25-26 in 
Washington, San Francisco, Anaheim and other cities

The A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, joins with the National Council of Arab Americans (NCA), Free Palestine Alliance(FPA), Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, Palestinian American Women’s Association(PAWA), Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition and other anti-war and progressive organizations in calling for emergency protests demanding an immediate end to the Israeli blockade and siege of Gaza. Protests will take place on January 25-26 at Israeli embassies, consulates, U.S. federal buildings and other locations.

More than 1.5 million Palestinian people living are suffering from life-threatening shortages of food, medicines, fuel and other vital necessities, caused by the Israeli military’s sealing-off of one of the most densely populated areas of the world. Gaza City is blacked-out at night, including hospitals. Doctors must examine patients by candlelight. 

The crisis is growing more severe by the day. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme, which together supply food to more than two-thirds of the population, have stated that unless the blockade is lifted they will be forced to stop operations by this weekend. A cut-off in aid would threaten an already food-deprived population with mass starvation. The great majority of Gaza residents are from refugee families, driven out of other parts of Palestine when the state of Israel was created in 1948.

The Israeli government imposed a blockade on Gaza after the Hamas party was democratically elected in January 2006. The Bush administration backed Israel’s action. Last week, Israel tightened the blockade, sealing off Gaza, supposedly because of Palestinian attacks by the military wing of Hamas. Yet, on December 23, 2007, Israel rejected Hamas call for ceasefire negotiations. Since then, Israeli air and ground attacks have killed dozens of Palestinians and wounded hundreds more in Gaza, most of them civilians. In 2007, 373 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and the West Bank, compared to just 13 Israeli deaths.  

The Israeli blockade is in clear violation of international law, which strictly forbids collective punishment and labels it a war crime. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) states in part: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.” 

Collective punishment is a war crime. Imposing a blockade on the population in Gaza is undeniably a form of collective punishment. The U.S. government, which gives billions of dollars in military and economic aid to Israel every year, shares the guilt for this war crime.

Among the cities where emergency protests will take place are:

Washington DC: Friday, Jan. 25 (time tba), at the Israeli Embassy, 3514 International Dr. N.W.

San Francisco, CA: Friday, Jan. 25, 4 6 p.m., Israeli Consulate, 456 Montgomery St. (near California)

Anaheim, CA: Saturday, Jan. 26, 1 p.m. 512 S. Brookhurst St. (Bet. Orange Ave. & Broadway)

New York, NY: Saturday, Jan. 26, 1 p.m., at the Israeli Embassy, 43rd St. and 2nd Ave.

Chicago, IL: Tues., Jan. 29, 5pm at the Lakeshore Theater, 3175 North Broadway (at benefit for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Force). Initiated by ISM, endorsed by ANSWER and others. Call 773-463-0311 for more information.

Seattle Demo: Friday, January 25, 4 p.m., Westlake Park, 4th & Pine Sts.

If you are planning your own protest, please let us know so we can post information about your event on the ANSWER website.


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