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02 December 2007 16:47 To:

Creating hatred in Gaza

PRESS RELEASE from SFOP for immediate release

Scottish Friends of Palestine endorses the prompt action of HMG and the Muslim peers in trying to bring an end to the ordeal of British teacher, Gillian Gibbons, in the Sudan.

We are prompted to ask, however, as to why this humanitarian concern is totally absent when it comes to the ordeal and severe humanitarian crisis now unfolding in the Gaza Strip as the Israeli imposed siege creates further hatred in that small stretch of land - home to some 1.5 million impoverished, desperate and imprisoned Palestinian people.

Where, now, are the humanitarian and, for some, the religious principles which underpin their professed actions? Scottish Friends of Palestine call upon Gordon Brown, the UK government, the opposition parties, those Zionist, Jewish or otherwise, peers to exert pressure on the government of Israel to end its totally inhumane blockade imposed on one and a half million Palestinian people.

Noting the presence and influence of groups such as Labour Friends of Israel, we also call upon such groups to recognise that the current actions of the state of Israel only serve to further undermine its legitimacy as a proclaimed democratic state, with democratic values at its heart, and pressure the Israeli state to adopt policies and practices towards the Palestinian people which reflect its ideals.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel miri@phr.org.il .

Deaths in Gaza due to denial of access of medical care:

According to the records of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza and the World Health Organisation (WHO), 44 people have died since June 2007 in connection with denial or delay of access to medical care by the Israeli authorities. Thirteen of these patients died in November alone.

The number of deaths is rising each month, as the policy of siege tightens.

Shortage of medicines:

Hospitals and medical centers in Gaza suffer a severe shortage in medicines and medical supplies that are essential to minimal functioning of the health system. According to data collected by the WHO, 85 types of medicines defined as essential are out of stock, including medicines for cancer, heart conditions, kidney disease, as well as 12 different types of medicines for psychiatric conditions. 138 other types of medicines will be out of stock within a period ranging between one and three months.

Shortage of medical equipment and supplies:

The hospitals in Gaza suffer severe shortage in medical equipment and supplies in a manner damaging to their ability to provide emergency and routine services, the need for which is rising due to the growing daily needs of the patient population. According to Palestinian MoH data, the shortage in medical equipment is felt in all the hospitals in Gaza, due to inability to maintain the equipment, which is in need of spare parts.

Malfunctioning and missing equipment includes dialysis machines, laboratory equipment, cardiology equipment and test tubes. The functioning of the hospitals is also impaired by a shortage of other essential supplies such as cleaning materials, parts for electric generators, parts for refrigerators, parts for washing machines, toilet paper, sheets, winter bedclothes, stationary, paper and more.

Although these materials are quickly running out, the State of Israel is preventing their entry, claiming that they are not considered part of the humanitarian needs which it publicly undertook to meet.

A Call From Gaza (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 29/11/07)

"Drivers can't work," "Gas is getting very expensive. I can't even pay my telephone bills, so soon customers can't call to book a taxi."

"We've run out of everything. After every Israeli attack something more is ruined. Electrical poles, wires, water pipes, and we can't replace them. Why are we being punished? What is our crime?Is it because we were born Palestinian?

"We can't fix generators or even keep them running,"

"When there is no electricity we can't distribute water. We've run out of chlorine to clean the water. It's full of bacteria. A water heater used to cost 10 shekels, but now it costs 40 or 50 shekels-if you can find one. So we don't have hot water for bathing. Our sewage system has collapsed. There's no power to pump sewage out and no chemicals to clean it. Look at the garbage in the streets. There is no fuel for the trucks to come to haul it away."

"Israel is only allowing basic food supplies into Gaza: sugar, rice, flour, and oil,"

"Every day my little girl asks me to bring home a chocolate bar. I can't find any in Gaza. I disappoint her every night. We can't even buy Arabic coffee. There are no razors, no shaving materials. We'll all have to grow beards. [Laughter] There isn't stone, not even cement, to make headstones for graves. We're using pieces of metal to write names on graves. We can't buy diapers. Gazans are starting to smoke molokhiya [a green leaf vegetable] because we can't buy cigarettes. We can't buy shoes and soon we'll have to make them from tires. There is no printing paper."

The words overlap as they tumble out-we can no longer tell who is saying what.

"You can't find jackets, wool clothes, underwear, or even socks for winter in the shops.

"Medical supplies in hospitals are exhausted. There's no oxygen; drugs aren't available. We cannot find the basic needs for life.

"For God's sake open the border."

"My son has had a visa to study in the United States since last year. He was admitted to San Francisco State. He speaks good English. He has high grades-everything. Last year he missed going because the border was closed. He's ready to travel today. He's missing a second year. If my son doesn't have a future where will he go? Hamas is begging him to join its militia, but he doesn't want to. He's volunteering for [psychiatrist and peace activist] Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj's International Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza. Help prevent our children from becoming extremists. They're so hopeless they could find al-Qaeda. We want them educated. Don't punish our children."

"History will never forget. Israel and America are creating hatred in Gaza. The whole table will collapse if Gaza is excluded from the peace talks. Who is responsible for us?The U.N.?The European Union? We are not beggars. We are hard workers, educated, intelligent. We need our international human rights. We want to live like anyone in the world.

"We hope you can get our message out. Please open the borders and end this siege."

Scottish Friends of Palestine is a firm advocate of the total boycott of all Israeli institutions, academicand cultural bodies and Israeli products - until as such times that the Israeli state ceases to boycott the rights of the Palestinian people, and international law as it pertains to the Palestinian people.

Hugh Humphries
Sec Scottish
Friends of Palestine

Scottish Friends of Palestine was formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the subsequent attacks on the Palestinian refugee communities. It is an independent organisation with no political or religious affiliations. SFoP supports the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty and the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. These rights have all been acknowledged by the United Nations.

SFoP campaigns for immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from all territories illegally occupied, including East Jerusalem. We work for educational, social and cultural links between the Scottish and Palestinian peoples.

End of Press Release

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