Cook Medical Supplies
The cultivation of genocide
In the last 24 hours, dozens of Palestinians have been hospitalized from attacks by rioting Jewish settlers. Settlers throughout the West Bank slashed the tires of non-Jews, broke windows, and attacked Palestinians in the streets and in their homes. Mosques in several West Bank cities were vandalized overnight with racist slogans calling for "death to arabs!", while settlers desecrated graves in a Hebron cemetery, painting tombstones with stars of david and racist slurs. One Palestinian in Nablus was assassinated by an Israeli death squad, and two Palestinian children (aged 15 and 17) were killed and 4 others hospitalized when Israeli terror-bombers fired missiles into Rafah, a densely peopled city and adjacent refugee camp with a combined population of over 150,000. [A few hours after writing this, a group of orthodox Jews attacked and repeatedly stabbed a Palestinian man they had stopped in the street to ask for directions.]
Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, Israel continues to impose deliberate mass starvation on the 1.5 million non-Jews imprisoned in what is effectively a vast outdoor concentration camp. More than half the population of the Gaza Strip are children under the age of 15.
After years of systematically destroying all food-production and water infrastructure, and rendering about 80% of the population unemployed and totally dependent on foreign aid, international agencies reported half a decade ago that Palestinians in Gaza were suffering from malnourishment at levels worse than the worst famine zones of sub-saharan Africa. That was when Israel still permitted a trickle of relief aid to come in.
Now, for the last month, Israel has completely sealed off the Gaza Strip, and refuses to allow food or water in, or electricty, or fuel, any medical supplies, or even any reporters.
Every few months Israel adds more items to the list of goods which for "security reasons" are too dangerous to be brought into the Gaza Strip - a list which now includes such deadly items as:
-chocolate, inlcuding chocolate candy, chocolate spread or cooking chocolate
-seeds, either for eating or planting
-kitchenware (plates or any kind of silverware)
-cooking spices of any kind, including salt
-antiobiotic creams or any cream or gel hygiene products
-lentils or chickpeas
-construction and building materials & tools, such as nails, paint, trowels, tiles, or hammers
-fertilizer or gardening equipment
The list is arbitrary and changes from day to day.
After the United Nations announced it was no longer permitted by Israel to provide food to Palestinians, a shipment of emergency food aid was scramabled together and sent from Libya; although starving Palestinians lined up at the beaches hoping for the vessel to arrive, this civilian humanitarian ship was turned back yesterday by Israeli warships.
Journalists have been completely barred from entering the strip, as have representatives of international relief agencies, churches, or diplomatic missions. Israel explained that it will not allow any foreign observers into Gaza, as it does not want to permit anyone to "exaggerate" the suffering of Gazans.
Israel's outrageous collective punishment of Gazans is a violation of international law and a grave violation of human rights, and has been condemned by every human rights organization on the planet, manyof whom are now beginning to use the word "genocide."
Here in the US, none of this is mentioned. The only headlines are hundreds of banners proclaiming that Israel has anounced "yet another goodwill gesture" - it intends to release 250 Palestinian prisoners. What is not mentioned is that Israel is holding about 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, many thousands of them snagged at random and held without any charges at all, many of them children - some as young as 12 years old. What is also not mentioned here is that while Israel brags about releasing 250, human rights groups on the ground report that Israel has escalated its kidnapping campaigns - over 330 Palestinians were abducted by the Israelis in November alone. According to a Ramllah human rights group, "the Palestinian citizens kidnapped during the last month included more than 60 children and a number of women from Gaza, faction leaders, activists, journalists and students. [...] the Israeli police also kidnapped a large number of Jerusalemite Palestinians either because they protested for demolishing their houses or because they boycotted the municipal elections in occupied Jerusalem. Eight foreign activists were also locked up in Israeli jails, three of them were kidnapped along with dozens of Palestinian fishermen as they were fishing in the Gaza waters."
ORIGINAL PHOTO: Ahmad Gharabli. A Palestinian man outside a mosque near Ramallah which was vandalized by Jewish settlers, 12/2/08.
MCC’s Haiti response continues with medical teams, engineers and food aid
AKRON, Pa. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) medical teams and structural engineers are providing immediate assistance in Haiti now, and distributions of food and relief supplies are ongoing even as MCC plans the next steps in its multiyear response to the Jan. 12 earthquake.
A five-person MCC medical team from Canada is serving in Port-au-Prince March 7 to 20. A three-person medical team from the United States will be in Haiti from March 21 to April 3.
Short-term teams of structural engineers that began arriving in January have examined more than 250 buildings, and MCC is seeking additional engineers who are interested in serving in Haiti this spring.
MCC continues to provide rations of rice, beans, cooking oil, canned meat and spaghetti to nine communities, reaching at least 6,000 people who have been forced from home by the earthquake. It is likely that food is also being given to additional relatives and friends, echoing the strong emphasis on sharing in Haitian culture.
MCC is also providing materials for bamboo and cement-base showers for people living in camps of displaced people. Those living in the camps had identified the need for a private space to wash, especially for women, said Betty Kasdorf, MCC’s Food, Disaster and Material Resources program manager.
MCC relief kits, tarps for shelter, comforters and flat sheets are being distributed as soon as they arrive in Haiti, and additional shipments are on their way to Haiti. Because of expected Haitian government changes that might slow items coming through customs after April, MCC is striving to ship all its initial emergency material aid in the next three to four weeks.
An MCC assessment team visited dozens of people, including MCC partners and government officials, from Feb. 21 to March 6 – hearing from each the enormity of the tasks before them.
MCC’s response will not only address the needs of people within Port-au-Prince, said Ron Flaming, MCC’s director of international programs, but will also include significant efforts to improve the livelihoods and prospects of people who have moved to rural areas.
The assessment team recommends that MCC can meet significant needs in areas including shelter and housing, economic development, food security, education, peace-building and advocacy, health and trauma healing.
“What struck me most is the complexity of the situation,” stressed Kasdorf, who recently visited Haiti as part of the assessment team. “The whole country is affected by this.”
The assessment team found that while food was being distributed within Port-au-Prince, many rural areas had not yet received any assistance and were struggling to share limited food with new arrivals.
Kasdorf said the group heard from nonprofit organizations, from MCC partners and from government officials that what is needed now is for relief, government services, education and jobs to be made more widely available throughout the country.
The scope of this effort will be far greater than rebuilding in a single geographic location.
“It’s a massive, complex humanitarian disaster,” Flaming said. “Right now people are still focused on trying to clean up, on figuring out how to survive today, tomorrow and for the next few months.”
Even as MCC's response in Haiti continues, planning for the next five years is also well underway, says Flaming. Longer-term planning includes determining which communities to focus on and top priorities. He noted that in MCC’s response to the 2004 Asian tsunami, some projects that had the most lasting impact were not planned until a full year after the tsunami hit.
Paramount in all MCC efforts will be listening to the voices of Haitian people and partners and providing tools to help Haitians recover from the quake and build up their own communities, said Kasdorf.
Marla Pierson Lester is publications and website content editor for MCC. 3/18/10
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