January 20th, 2009 16:10 EST
Americans to Be Evacuated from Gaza Beginning Wednesday
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced today that U.S. citizens and their family members will be among hundreds of foreign nationals from more than 10 countries to be evacuated from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday. Some 300 people are scheduled for evacuation each day. The number of American citizens to be evacuated has not been announced.
CAIR has been seeking the evacuation of two American children, ages six and three, along with all the other Americans who were trapped under Israeli bombardment in Gaza. The father of the two children told CAIR that he has been asked to bring his family to Gaza City Wednesday morning and that they will be taken from there to Amman, Jordan, and then to the United States. A sponsor in northern Virginia has offered to host the family.
SEE: CAIR Seeks Sponsors for Gaza Evacuees
"We would like to thank all the State Department personnel who, despite the Bush administration`s apparent indifference to the suffering inflicted by Israel on the civilian population of Gaza, worked to help facilitate this evacuation," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
[Note: American Muslim leaders yesterday marked the inauguration of President Barack Obama by releasing "peace doves" at a mosque in the nation`s capital. The release of 44 white doves, one for each president, symbolized the American Muslim community`s desire for a more peaceful world and the key role played by presidents in achieving peace based on justice and freedom.]
SEE: Muslim Leaders Release `Peace Doves` to Mark Inauguration, MLK Day
It is not known if any Americans are among the more than 1300 dead, including hundreds of women and children, and more than 5000 injured by Israeli attacks. A number of Palestinian-Americans have reported the death or injury of relatives in Gaza.
In its attacks on Gaza, the Israeli military targeted homes, hospitals, mosques, a church, medical personnel, United Nations compounds, schools, universities, and an international media center. A number of civilians waving white flags were reportedly shot by Israeli soldiers.
SEE: Gazans Say IDF Troops Ignored White Flags and Shot at Them (Haaretz)
SEE ALSO: Amnesty International Accuses Israel of War Crimes in Gaza
Horrific reports have surfaced of babies being found starving next to the bodies of their mothers and of dogs feeding on the bodies of dead Palestinian children.
SEE: Gaza Children Left by Mothers` Corpses for Four Days
SEE ALSO: Killed by Israel, Eaten by Dogs
In response to a CAIR alert seeking sponsors for American evacuees, the Department of State`s Visa Office set up a special e-mail address, GazaAssistance@state.gov, for those who are able to support families that have no relatives in the United States.
CAIR, America`s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 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.
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com