Download the February, 2010, United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs powerpoint report about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
The Quartet reaffirms that the current situation in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population, is unsustainable, unacceptable, and not in the interests of any of those concerned.
- From a June, 2010, statement by the Middle East Quartet
"Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." - Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 13 (10 December 1948)
"No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property." - Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 17 (10 December 1948)
More than a million and a half people inhabit this narrow strip of land wedged between Greater Israel and the Mediterranean Sea. Numerous factors, including a rift in Palestinian governance with Hamas in power there, prevent Gaza's residents from having adequate access to nutrition, water and sanitation, medical care, education and employment. Despite a unilateral "disengagement" in 2005, Israel continues to block the flow of persons and goods in and out of Gaza. The blockade and continued rocket fire both contributed to a three-week war in 2008-9 that devastated Gaza's infrastructure and killed 1300 Gazans and 6 Israelis. Due to the blockade, which Israel continues based on fears that Hamas will use imported materials for weapons, most of the infrastructure and homes are still in ruins.
Israeli-Palestinian Empathy in Sderot on the Gaza BorderAt least one ELCA member participated in the July 2010 Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) and American Friends Service Committee delegation to Israel/Palestine. This 34th IFPB delegation since 2001 spent a day in the village of Sderot, a half-mile from the border with Gaza and frequent target of Hamas-fired rockets. They learned that a third of Sderot's population is on welfare. But the delegation also met with Nomika, an Israeli woman from Other Voice. This group of Sderot residents support ending the siege on Gaza and have formed relationships with some of the Palestinians suffering under the blockade of Gaza.
A delegation member concluded her report this way: "Someone like Nomika is a challenge to all Israelis. She, of all people, might seem like the most likely candidate to hate and fear Gazans. But she is one of the few Israelis I've met on this trip who seemed to feel genuine empathy for the Palestinians, to want to end the conflict not just for Israelis, but for them. At the moment of greatest danger for her, her heart was in Gaza." Read more...
A Garden in Gaza"Children from Al Zarqa in northern Gaza, together with their parents and relatives, planted trees in a new garden built by Oxfam as part of a project in one of the Gaza Strip’s poorest neighbourhoods. Asmaa and Amira, aged 11 and 8, are seen watering the tree they just planted together with other school children. “It’s great to have our own garden because we have nowhere to play,” Amira said. “As children we have a right to play in a safe area but this is often forgotten because of all the problems we face in Gaza.” Parents and relatives accompanying the children were equally enthusiastic about the garden, saying it will provide a space for them to play and forget about the hardships brought about by the blockade."Story and picture from the weekly update from Oxfam on Gaza, October 24-30, 2010, which also contains a summary of news from the area.
In Gaza innocent people are being denied basic human rights necessary for the God-given gift of life abundant. Therefore, we ask people to write their congressional representatives to advocate for:
June 1, 2010 - The Rev. Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA and President of The Lutheran World Federation, released a statement Tuesday expressing sadness and regret over the people killed and wounded in the Israeli interception of the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. He questioned the proportionality of the response, whether all non-military options had been exhausted and reiterated his call for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza in accordance with UN Resolution 1860.
Bishop Hanson noted that this incident came during the World Council of Churches' Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel. See below and our worship page for resources for your congregation to use any time to pray for a just peace in the Holy Land.
Bishop Hanson's statement | ELCA Press Release | Bishop Hanson's Letter to President Obama
Other church statements:
"Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited." - Fourth Geneva Convention, Art. 33 (12 August 1949)
"The Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives." - Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocol 1, Art. 48 (8 June 1977)
"Those who plan or decide upon an attack shall refrain from deciding to launch any attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated." - Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocol 1, Art. 57 (8 June 1977)