Friday, 1 May 2009

Canadian delegation taking medical aid to Gaza

Canadians Going to Gaza: May 22 – May 28, 2009 In March, a 60-person CODEPINK delegation traveled to Gaza to pay tribute on International Women’s Day to the sorely neglected mothers, daughters, sisters and wives who are struggling to hold their families together. They witnessed the terrible destruction from the 22-day Israeli invasion; met with inspiring human rights, health and women’s organizations; and delivered 1,000 gift baskets to women who told stories of profound personal loss. The people of Gaza greeted them with love and appreciation, and asked them to return with more delegations. CODEPINK listened, there has been a Canadian delegation established.

We will travel, via Egypt, at the invitation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and our focus will be on the lack of medicinal supplies reaching Gaza. The sporadic opening and closing of the Egyptian border has disallowed international aid from reaching those who are in desperate need. Of course, there is always the possibility that the Egyptian government won’t let the delegations cross the border—in fact, many individuals and delegations have been denied entry. In that case, we plan to set up an encampment near the border to call attention to the need to open the borders and end the siege of Gaza.

Please see more details below.

Delegation from May 22-May 28 Itinerary:

Meet in Cairo, Egypt, on May 21
Travel to Gaza on May 22
Meetings and programs in Gaza May 23-May 27
Return to Cairo on June May 28
International delegates return home on May 28/29

Cost: $750 CAD from Cairo, including transportation, lodging in Gaza, translation, program, some meals and contributions to local groups. Not included: hotel in Cairo, visas, border fees.

Program: Meetings humanitarian and development agencies, teachers, students, health workers and political analysts. Visits to areas devastated by Israeli attacks. Bringing medical supplies originating from both Canada and Egypt into Gaza and ensuring their distribution.

Purpose of the trip: Provide support to medical organizations in Gaza; exert pressure on United States, Egyptian and Israeli governments to lift the blockade and promote peace, reconstruction and human rights in the region.

Organizers: The trip is organized by Sandra Ruch and sponsored by Independent Jewish Voices and Codepink Toronto. The Canadian delegation's trip is based on the international callout for support from the U.S.-based peace group CODEPINK.

For further information contact Sandra Ruch at

Pulitzer award-winning novelist Alice Walker was part of the Code Pink delegation to Gaza in early March and described the disaster there as a catastrophe and hoped through her visit - CodePink's mission started on International Women's Day - will have some influence over Obama and the indoctrinated mindset of some US citizens.

UN demands end to Israel's ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem

The UN has published a report today on the ethnic cleansing in east Jerusalem by Israel. This year Israel stepped up its plans by announcing its intention of making 1,500 Palestinians homeless through demolitions.
The United Nations has called on Israel to end its programme of demolishing homes in east Jerusalem and tackle a mounting housing crisis for Palestinians in the city...

...The UN said that of the 70.5 sq km of east Jerusalem and the West Bank annexed by Israel, only 13% was zoned for Palestinian construction and this was mostly already built up. At the same time 35% had been expropriated for Israeli settlements, even though all settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law...

..."Throughout its occupation, Israel has significantly restricted Palestinian development in east Jerusalem," the UN report said. It said 673 Palestinian structures had been demolished in the east between 2000 and 2008. Last year alone 90 structures were demolished, leaving 400 Palestinians displaced, the highest number of demolitions for four years. Similar demolitions are carried out regularly by the Israeli military across the West Bank.

More at the Guardian

May Day greeting from Mubarak to Egyptian workers - stop striking and buckle down

Mubarak is worried by the persistent and rising level of strikes around the country and the growing credibility of the Iranian regime in the Arab world because of its backing for Arab resistance movements Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

The two worries are of course connected: Hezbollah and Hamas represent a challenge to the collaborationist regime in Cairo on the Palestinian liberation front, undermining its legitimacy at home and feeding into the general social unrest in Egypt that pre-dates the world economic downturn and has been dramatically sharpened by it.
By Abdel-Rahman Hussein

President Hosni Mubarak sounded a warning to workers over “unlawful” strikes in a speech Wednesday to commemorate Labor Day, stating that it could hurt the economy during the current global crisis.

While admitting that the government had also to do its part, Mubarak said that Egyptian workers had a responsibility to buckle down during this crisis, in an allusion to a recent plethora of workers’ strikes.

“I call to the workers who are not aware of the repercussions of this crisis, to a code of conduct that seeks to meet demands through constructive dialogue, and not through strikes that do not adhere to the statutes of the law and hinder productivity,” he said.

“This crisis will recede eventually, and we will come out of it still able to attract investment … but these circumstances entail that we face it [together],” he added...

...Mubarak also talked about the many conflicts in the region, stating that regional powers “we all know of” constituted a threat to the Middle East.

“It is sad that these powers raise the banner of Islam and say conflicting things and seek to deepen the differences between the Arab states … to achieve their objectives. It is also sad that these powers find supporters in the Arab world.”

more at Daily News Egypt

Jewish group sponsors Montreal showing for Churchill's Gaza play

Photograph: Tristram Kenton
On Sunday, May 3, Independent Jewish Voices Montreal (IJVM) is organizing the Canadian premiere of the play. It will be read in both English and French and followed by a discussion that organizers hope will help to initiate dialogue between the communities affected in Montreal.

“This play is likely to spark conversation,” says director Rose Plotek, on the phone from Toronto. The piece provoked a flurry of response when it was staged at the Royal Court in London less than three weeks after Israel pulled out of Gaza. Comments ranged from predictable charges of anti-Semitism in the New Atlantic to ardent praise from figures like American playwright Tony Kushner.

But Plotek insists the play is kosher. “It’s about the human struggle of parents struggling with how to communicate violence to children, how communication passes from generation to generation,” she says.

103) ON SUNDAY, MAY 3, 3 P.M. AND 6

more at the Montreal Mirror

Caryl Churchill's play is anti-war not anti-semitic

UN envoy Serry alarmed as Israel-Egypt blockade prevents reconstruction

JERUSALEM (AFP) — UN envoy Robert Serry on Thursday described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as "alarming" and warned of the possibility of renewed violence unless underlying political issues were addressed.

"The situation is really alarming," said the special envoy to the Middle East. He spoke after two Palestinians were killed when a smuggling tunnel linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt collapsed earlier Thursday.

"Fulfilling the humanitarian needs and beginning early recovery is impossible without the adequate entry of fuel, cash, and materials needed for the repairs of damaged or destroyed homes, schools, clinics, and other urgent infrastructure repairs," he said.

Serry said that there had been no real progress in recent months and that tens of thousands of Gazans whose homes were hit during Israel's 22-day war against Hamas in December-January now faced a "sweltering summer in unacceptable circumstances without proper shelter."

He added: "In the absence of real progress on issues like Palestinian reconciliation, open crossings, secure borders, and a prisoners exchange, the potential for renewed violence is ever present."

The Palestinians have been using hundreds of tunnels to ferry food supplies and other necessities into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since June 2007, when the Islamists pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state violently assumed power in the territory.

Israel says the tunnels are also used by the Islamists to smuggle weapons including rockets into the Gaza Strip for use against the Jewish state.

The network of tunnels was extensively bombed by Israel during its offensive but many were quickly rebuilt.

Scottish Medical Aid's second shipment due in Gaza

A second consignment of medical aid from Scotland is due in Gaza as Pauline McNeill MSP returns to Scotland to tell of her shock at what she witnessed of the continuing humanitarian emergency.

From The Glaswegian
A GLASGOW MSP told of the utter devastation in Gaza as she helped deliver vital medical aid from Scotland to the sick and injured.

Pauline McNeill had just returned from a mercy mission to Gaza when she spoke of the victims' "sheer gratitude to Scotland" and the heart-rending scenes of women and children living in tents.

Hundreds of men, women and children in Gaza were killed during Israel's military onslaught in response to terrorist rockets fired from the Hamas-run country into Israel.

Pauline returned to Glasgow with her delegation having delivered the first tranche of medical aid to the Gaza Strip by truck.

Some of the £50,000 collected in Scotland was used to buy medical supplies in Cairo.

A large contribution was made by Glasgow Central Mosque, and three of its members, Sid Khan, Shalim Mohammed and Shamim Ahmed, who were part of Pauline's team.

A second aid consignment led by Denis Rutovitz, chair of Edinburgh Direct Aid (EDA), is expected to enter Gaza this week with the assistance of the Egyptian Red Crescent...

...Nearly three tons of medical aid purchased or donated by hospitals, pharmacies and individuals in Scotland has been packed up and waiting to go for some time in EDA's Granton warehouse.

As soon as the green light was given by Mr. Osman, EDA volunteers John Home Robertson and Jim Harkins loaded up the nine pallets of aid and drove it down to Heathrow overnight. It is expected to arrive in Cairo on a British Airways flight.

Mr Rutovitz and Scotland to Gaza Medical Aid volunteer, Dr. Colin Cooper, are in Cairo arranging with the help of the Red Crescent to clear the shipment through customs and truck it on through the Rafa Crossing and in to Gaza.
more at The Glaswegian