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International Witnesses Speak Out from Gaza
December 27, 2008(Besieged Gaza, Palestine - 27th December 2008) - Human Rights Defenders from Lebanon, the UK, Poland, Canada, Spain, Italy and Australia are present in Gaza and are witnessing and documenting the current Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Due to Israel's policy of denying access to international media, human rights defenders and aid agencies to the Occupied Gaza Strip, many of these Human Rights Defenders arrived in Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement's boats. FREE GAZA boats have broken Israel's siege of Gaza five times in the past four months.
"At the time of the attacks I was on Omar Mukhtar street and witnessed a last rocket hit the street 150 meters away where crowds had already gathered to try to extract the dead bodies. Ambulances, trucks, cars - anything that can move is bringing injured to the hospitals. Hospitals have had to evacuate sick patients to make room for the injured. I have been told that there is not enough room in the morgues for the bodies and that there is a great lack of blood in the blood banks. I have just learned that among the civilians killed today was the mother of my good friends in Jabalya camp."
- Eva Bartlett (Canada) International Solidarity Movement
"Israeli missles tore through a children's playground and busy market in Diere Balah, we saw the aftermath - many were injured and some reportedly killed. Every Hospital in the Gaza strip is already overwhelmed with injured people and does not have the medicine or the capacity to treat them. Israel is committing crimes against humanity, it is violating international and human rights law, ignoring the United Nations and planning even bigger attacks. The world must act now and intensify the calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel; governments need to move beyond words of condemnation into an active and immediate restraint of Israel and a lifting of the siege of Gaza"
- Ewa Jasiewicz (Polish and British) Free Gaza Movement
"The morgue at the Shifa hospital has no more room for dead bodies, so bodies and body parts are strewn all over the hospital."
- Dr. Haidar Eid, (Palestinian, South African) Professor of Social and Cultural Studies, Al Aqsa University Gaza
"The bombs began to fall just as the children were on the streets walking back from school. I went out onto the stairs and a terrified 5 year old girl ran sobbing into my arms."
- Sharon Lock (Australian) International Solidarity Movement
"This is incredibly sad. This massacre is not going to bring security for the State of Israel or allow it to be part of the Middle East. Now calls of revenge are everywhere."
- Dr. Eyad Sarraj - President of the Gaza Community Mental Health Centre
"As I speak they have just hit a building 200 metres away. There is smoke everywhere. This morning I went to the building close to where I live in Rafah that had been hit. Two bulldozers were immediately attempting to clear the rubble. They thought they had found all the bodies. As we arrived one more was found."
- Jenny Linnel (British) International Solidarity Movement
"The home I am staying in is across from the preventive security compound. All the glass of the house shattered. The home has been severely damaged. Due to the siege there is no glass or building materials to repair this damage. One little boy in our house fainted. An eight year little boy was trembling on the ground for an hour. In front of our house we found the bodies of two little girls under a car, completely burnt. They were coming home from school. This is more than just collective punishment. We are being treated like laboratory animals. I have lived through the Israeli bombardment of Beirut and the Israel's message is the same in Gaza as it was in Beirut- The killing of civilians. There was just another explosion outside!"
- Natalie Abu Eid (Lebanon) International Solidarity Movement
Human Rights Defenders in Gaza (available for interviews):
Dr. Eyad Sarraj (Arabic and English) +972 599400424
Ewa Jasiewicz, Free Gaza Co-Coordinator in Gaza (Polish, Arabic, and
English) - +972 59 8700497
Dr. Haider Eid (English and Arabic) + 972 59 9441766
Sharon Lock (English) +972 59 8826513
Vittorio Arrigoni (Italian) +972 59 8378945
Fida Qishta (English and Arabic) +972 599681669
Jenny Linnel (English) +972 59 87653777
Natalie Abu Shakra (Arabic and English) 0598336 328
For more information on the Free Gaza Movement (FREE GAZA) or the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) contact in the West Bank:
Adam Taylor (ISM) - 972 59 8503948
Lubna Masarwa (FREE GAZA) - 972 50 5633044
The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since August, four more voyages were successful, taking Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel's draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza.
For more information contact:
Dr. Eyad Sarraj (Arabic and English)
Phone: +972 599400424
Ewa Jasiewicz (Polish, Arabic, and English)
Free Gaza Co-Coordinator in Gaza
Phone: +972 59 8700497
Sharon Lock (English)
Phone: +972 59 8826513