January 7th, 2009 18:06 EST
American Children Trapped in Gaza
A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to help evacuate two American children trapped under Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is seeking State Department help for the two American children, ages six and three, whose father gradated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The children were born in the District. Friends of the family contacted CAIR seeking help. (Photos of the family are available from CAIR.)
Reached by phone in Gaza, the father said Israeli bombs had fallen as close as 100 feet from the family`s house in Beit Hanoun. He said he has been in touch with the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, but that no evacuation of American citizens was offered.
An unknown number of other American citizens are similarly vulnerable to Israeli attacks in Gaza. CAIR has attempted to contact American officials in the area.
In a letter to Secretary Rice, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote: We ask that you intervene personally to ensure that these American children, and all other U.S. citizens and their accompanying family members, are safely evacuated from areas under Israeli bombardment. ?
Yesterday, CAIR condemned two reported Israeli massacres of Palestinian civilians. One incident involved the killing of more than 60 members of an extended Palestinian family. Another attack on a United Nations school in Gaza left more than 40 civilians dead.
SEE: Israel Strike Kills Up to 60 Members of One Family (Telegraph)
SEE: Israeli Shelling Kills Dozens at UN School in Gaza
More than 650 Palestinians have already been killed in recent Israeli attacks. Israeli bombs have also targeted mosques, schools, universities, medical personnel, homes, and a Baptist church.
Israel has barred journalists from entering Gaza to report on the results of its attacks or on the humanitarian crisis caused by its blockade of food, medicine and other essential supplies.
SEE: Israel Puts Media Clamp on Gaza (New York Times)
CAIR has outlined 10 positive, pro-active steps American Muslims and other people of conscience can take to help end Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, restore the cease-fire and the flow of humanitarian aid and promote a more balanced U.S. policy in the Middle East.
SEE: 10 Steps You Can Take to Help Gaza
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.