GUSH SHALOM STATEMENT ABOUT THE SUFFERING OF PALESTINIANS

GUSH SHALOM STATEMENT ABOUT THE SUFFERING OF PALESTINIANS STUCK AT THE CLOSED RAFAH BORDER CROSSING, July 2, 2007

Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, today sent a strong protest to Prime Minster Olmert and Defence Minister Barak, and also a letter to representatives of the European Union – warning about the extreme suffering of about 6000 Palestinians stuck on the Egyptian side of the closed Rafah Border crossing and unable to return to their homes: “This shameful and unacceptable situation must be ended forthwith”.

The Rafah Border crossing has been closed ever since the eruption of confrontations between the Palestinian militias in the Gaza strip, which culminated with the Hamas takeover. Some six thousands of residents who found themselves at the time on the Egyptian side – among them a considerable number returning from medical treatment at Egyptian hospitals – have been stranded ever since: waiting, sleeping, and living in the streets under the hot sun, unable to wash, and with no idea how long they would still have to wait. The money most of them had on them already ran out. And since last week the services of Western Union and DHL in the Gaza Strip were discontinued under Israeli and American pressure, making it impossible for families to send money to their trapped relatives.

Yesterday, July 1, Taghreed Abeaed, a 31 years old Palestinian woman, mother of five children – died while waiting in the very bad conditions at Rafah Crossing. Even her body is not allowed to be brought back into the Gaza Strip. “These stranded Gaza Strip residents have no part in the internecine conflict between Fatah and Hamas; it is not at their expense that the complicated problems of the Gaza Strip’s legal and political status should be solved. They are innocent civilians caught cruelly in an unpredictable trap, and it is your duty to provide them the elementary right of going home” wrote Gush Shalom to the Israeli PM and Defense Minister.

Also the EU representatives were approached. “We place part of the responsibility and blame on the European. Since 2005, the armed forces of Israel are not in direct control of the Rafah Border Crossing. However, its opening was made conditional upon the presence of European monitors. The EU however has given the Government of Israel a complete power of veto. It is in practice the Defense Minster of Israel who decides whether or not there will be European monitors at Rafah, and thus whether the crossing will be open or closed . Now, the absence of European monitors at Rafah serves the encirclement and siege of Gaza, shortsightedly and cruelly decreed by the Government of Israel. In this way, the EU has abdicated its own often proclaimed responsibility to promote the welfare and peaceful future of all peoples in the Middle East. Gush Shalom calls upon the Europeans to emancipate themselves, form an independent policy and exert their influence to the reopening of the Rafah Crossing.

For further details: Adam Keller, adam@gush-shalom.org.

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