January 21st, 2008 11:57 EST
CAIR Calls on the Bush Administration to Prevent Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
(WASHINGTON DC, 01/21/08) – The Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR) today called on the Bush adminstration to immediately
intervene to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The crisis triggered by an Israeli-imposed blockade forced the
closure, Sunday evening, of the only electric plant that serves the
Gaza city's 400,000 residents and one third of the Gaza Strip's 1.5
millions residents. The blockade prevents the entry of fuel that is
essential to the operation of the plant.
SEE: Gaza dark amid Israeli blockade (LA times)
Gaza is already suffering from economic hardship, which according to
the World Bank, is primarily a result of being cut off from the rest
of the world by Israel. Without power, hospitals, water facilities and
other crucial lifelines may completely shut off and homes may be left
without heat, plunging Gaza into disarray.
On Monday, the U.N. said it would suspend food distribution to
860,000 Palestinians unless Israel eased the blockade imposed on
Friday in response to rocket fire from Gaza. The World Food Program,
which distributes food to another 270,000 Gaza residents warned that
it too would have to suspend operations by Thursday due to lack of
A European Union (EU) official termed Israel’s blockade
“collective punishment,” a practice banned by
international law. "I have made clear that I am against this
collective punishment of the people of Gaza," said EU External
Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. (Article 33 of the
Fourth Geneva Convention states: “No protected person may be
punished for an offence he or she has not personally
SEE: U.N. Agency Says May Have to Halt Gaza Food Handout (Reuters)
In a statement CAIR said:
“Because American taxpayers provide Israel with billions of
dollars of economic support each year, we have the right and the
responsibility to demand that Israel abide by American and universal
human rights standards and end its practice of collective punishment
against the Palestinian populations. Such practice amounts to war
“Silence from American officials will only serve to increase the
sentiment worldwide that our nation cares little for the suffering of
the Palestinian people.
"The perception that the US abets cruel and inhumane treatment of
civilian populations provides fodder for anti-Americanism that may
threaten the security of the United States.
According the Human Rights Watch World Report 2007, "Israel
[retains] effective day-to-day control over most key aspects of life
in Gaza, including ingress and egress and thus the economy."
Seventy-nine percent of Gaza households live under the poverty line,
40 percent suffer from unemployment and almost half the population in
the Gaza Strip is made up of children.
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 33 offices
and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the
understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties,
empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice
and mutual understanding.