Day #18 – July 24, 2014 – What does Congress know?

Today marks the 18th day of Israel’s genocidal assault against the men, women and children in Gaza last summer.

No doubt, “purists” will object to this characterization, but I have no doubts that the intent and the impact was genocidal.

I visited Capitol Hill yesterday to speak with my member of Congress about Israel and Palestine.  She knows of my interest (and hopefully my expertise) because we have talked about it many times, both in DC and in Albuquerque.  I was disappointed but understand why she wasn’t in her office yesterday when I arrived. Her daughter went into labor early and delivered her first grandchild, so she was on a plane headed back to Albuquerque. Congratulations!!

I sat with her legislative assistant for foreign affairs. John and I have talked several times, and I felt the meeting was a success because we’re building bridges.  I may not agree with every vote, but I believe in my Congresswoman’s sincerity when she says she wants to do the right thing. My job is to help her (and John) understand what is the right thing.

I shared the following letter and we discussed these points for nearly an hour.  My shock and dismay came when I asked whether Congress and/or staff have received any briefings about Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. John said they were briefed last summer during Israel’s military assault, but he’s not aware of any follow-up briefings since then.

WE MUST INFORM CONGRESS ABOUT THE IMPACTS

OF THEIR DECISIONS TO FUND & SUPPORT ISRAEL’S MILITARY!

I just sent the following message to the staff of my two US Senators and Representative.
Gaza One Year Later:
The Quest for Accountability
WHERE: 121 Cannon House Office Building, 
27 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
WHEN: Wednesday, July 29, 12:00 PM
One year has passed since “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s attack on the Palestinian Gaza Strip which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and devastated its infrastructure. Today Gaza remains under Israeli blockade, unreconstructed, and teetering on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.  Join us for this discussion on Israel’s failure to hold itself accountable through domestic judicial proceedings, and the options and need for the United States and the international community to do so.
Featuring:
Nadia Ben-Youssef, USA Representative, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Eman Mohammed, Gaza photojournalist; contributor,  Gaza Unsilenced
Brad Parker, International Advocacy Officer, Defense for Children International Palestine
Moderated by:  Josh Ruebner, Policy Director, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
A light lunch will be served. Please RSVP by  email or by phone at 202-332-0994.
Sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Cosponsored by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Jewish Voice for Peace, Just World Books, Middle East Children’s Alliance, US Palestinian Community Network.
Lora in front of Library of Congress - July 2015

Lora in front of Library of Congress – July 2015

My letter to my Congresswoman:

Thank you for meeting with me on the anniversary of Operation Protective Edge (July 7th and August 26th, 2014) when Israel’s vastly disproportionate military campaign in Gaza killed over 2,250 Palestinians, including over 500 children and over 1400 civilians (73 Israelis also lost their lives, including 1 child and 6 civilians). Because the United States, and Congress specifically, directly supports Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and Israel’s military operations, I wanted to share some facts from the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry’s report.

  1. During the 51 day operation last summer, the IDF launched more than 6,000 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. (para. 111) The IDF said it was supplied with more than 5,000 tons of munitions, a 533% increase over the weapons and munitions the IDF used in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. (para. 408)
  1. 142 families had 3 or more members killed in the same incident (742 fatalities) because of destruction of residential buildings. (para. 111)
  1. 2251 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children, and 11,231 people were injured. (para. 574)
  1. A significant % of civilians killed during the conflict died inside their home as a direct result of air-strikes or artillery shelling of their neighborhoods, making attacks on houses a key-feature of the conflict. (para. 243)
  1. The IDF refused to allow Red Cross ambulances to help victims. In one example, the IDF opened the road to finally allow the ambulance in but then closed the road again and did not allow the ambulance to leave, and so the medics had to carry the injured out on their shoulders. (para. 332)
  1. The family of a 70-year old woman left her behind in her wheelchair when they evacuated the home because they couldn’t take her. When they returned to the house, they found her dead, shot in the head at close range. The IDF posted a picture on Twitter showing a soldier offering water to this same old woman, a sadistic act of propaganda. (para. 333)
  1. The IDF destroyed entire neighborhoods (Beit Hanoun, Shuja’iya, Khuza’a).
  1. Despite the fact that the International Red Cross coordinated with the IDF in its rescue efforts, the IDF clearly targeted ambulances and medical personnel, killing 23 health professionals. (para. 458 – 462)
  1. 18,000 homes were destroyed, and an estimated 80,000 homes and properties damaged. (para. 576)
  1. During the fighting, approximately 500,000 people were displaced, which is 28% of the population in Gaza. (para. 577)
  1. As of May 2015, approximately 100,000 remain displaced. (para. 579)
  1. At least 4 young children died last winter in Gaza because their families were without shelter. (para.578)
  1. 63 water facilities in Gaza were damaged, and 23 were completely destroyed. Sewage treatment plants and pumping stations were also destroyed. (para. 584)
  1. One hospital and 5 clinics were destroyed. Fifteen hospitals and 51 clinics were damaged. (para. 591)
  1. More than 1,500 children were orphaned. (para. 594)
  1. Almost 800 women were widowed last summer. (para. 596)

The full report is available online. The Commission makes very specific recommendations primarily focused on addressing the structural issues that fuel the conflict and have a negative impact on a wide range of human rights, including lifting the siege and blockade of Gaza, and stopping the settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories. (para. 681) The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to cooperate with the U.N. investigation and has rejected its report and recommendations.

REQUEST No. 1 —- Please invite former President Jimmy Carter to speak to Congress about his recent visit to Israel and Palestine. His deep knowledge and current experience would be invaluable to the Congress.  (Attached is my petition to Congress signed by 290 people who have sent 682 letters and emails to their members of Congress making this same request.)

REQUEST No. 2 —- Please call upon your constituents for advice and counsel when you are considering legislation that impacts Israel and Palestine. Many New Mexicans oppose Israel’s brutal occupation and deadly military actions. Since last summer, there’s been a growing movement of Albuquerque and Santa Fe activists, nearly half of them Jewish activists, who have joined forces and raised nearly $18,000 for humanitarian projects in Gaza, including a well and kindergarten destroyed by Israel. This alliance is called Friends of Khuza’a New Mexico, named for a village in Gaza practically obliterated by Israel last summer. They’re planning a musical event and fundraiser in September featuring Issa Maluf, a world renowned Palestinian musician, and asked me to invite you. The date is TBD.

Thank you.

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1 Comment

Filed under Gaza, IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, People

One response to “Day #18 – July 24, 2014 – What does Congress know?

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