Women, children to new US President Obama:

Stop wars of aggression!



January 19, 2009



Women and children of GABRIELA and Salinlahi lit candles in solidarity with the Palestinian people who seek peace and justice in the face of Israel's attack against their sovereign nation.


Gabriela and SALINLAHI representatives call on Obama to stop the US-supported war of aggression in Gaza


19 January 2009

Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-3221203


"Stand for women and children. Stand against wars of aggression. End
US support of Israel." This was the message of women and children
under GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines and
Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns the day before US
President-elect Barrack Obama takes office.

"US President George Bush leaves the White House with his presidency tainted with the blood of countless women and children killed in US-instigated wars of aggression. Women and children all over the world challenge incoming US President Barrack Obama to put and end to all these needless bloodshed," said Emmi de Jesus, secretary general of GABRIELA.

"President Bush used his power as to instigate numerous wars of
aggression. The challenge to President Obama is to use his power to
end unjust wars starting with the current invasion of Israel in Gaza.
Ceasefire is not enough to end the death and devastation that plagues
women and children in Palestine. Israel must pull out of Gaza
immediately and to this President Obama must commit to this, as
expected by women and children of the world," said de Jesus.

Women and children of GABRIELA and Salinlahi lit candles in solidarity with the Palestinian people who seek peace and justice in the face of Israel's attack against their sovereign nation. ###




NEWS RELEASE: 19 January 2009
Reference: Alphonse Rivera, Spokesperson, 439-3104


The SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns joined Gabriela in leading about a hundred women and children light candles at the Boy Scouts Circle at Tomas Morato corner Timog in Quezon City today. This gathering was initiated to express solidarity and demand justice for the Palestinian women and children who comprise a big number of those killed and wounded by Israeli attacks. Children from urban poor communities and day care centers in Quezon City laid to rest ragdolls wrapped in white gauze and lit candles to express their sympathies for the hundreds of Palestinian children killed.

“Lama (4 years old), Haia (12 years old) and Esmail (9 years old), all from the Hamdan family, are three innocent children whose lives were wantonly destroyed and whose bodies were irreverently shattered and found in three different locations as a result of hits from two missiles launched from an F16 plane last December 30, 2008 as the kids were taking out their family’s garbage to the public garbage bin. They are among the more than 370 children victimized by Israeli military attacks in less than a month,” explained Alphonse Rivera, Salinlahi spokesperson.

“The Filipino women and children bore witness to the long struggle of Palestinian people against Zionism, racism and human rights violations committed by Israel’s army with support from the United States. Once again, with the Israeli invasion and attacks on Gaza since December 27, 2008, hundreds of children were deprived of their rights to life, protection and development,” Rivera further explained.

“Salinlahi and its allied child rights advocates are fully aware that geopolitics and US imperialism’s blind greed pushed Israel to attack the Palestinians and target the Hamas-controlled government in Palestine to take control over Palestine’s sovereign rights on offshore gas resources. The cessation of attacks by Israeli military troops and partial withdrawal out of Palestinian territory does not exculpate Israeli accountability over the Palestinian women and children killed in these recent weeks. Moreover, the just solution to the situation in Gaza should be an urgent priority action for Barrack Obama when he resumes the US Presidency tomorrow. Salinlahi and its allies will continue to be vigilant and call for a just solution to this situation in Gaza for as long as US and Israeli imperialism continue to violate children’s rights,” Rivera concluded. ###





Weekend Edition
January 16-18, 2009

A Report From Gaza
Terribly Bloodied, Still Breathing


The morgues of Gaza's hospitals are over-flowing. The bodies in their blood-soaked white shrouds cover the entire floor space of the Shifa hospital morgue. Some are intact, most horribly deformed, limbs twisted into unnatural positions, chest cavities exposed, heads blown off, skulls crushed in. Family members wait outside to identify and claim a brother, husband, father, mother, wife, child. Many of those who wait their turn have lost numerous family members and loved ones.

Blood is everywhere. Hospital orderlies hose down the floors of operating rooms, bloodied bandages lie discarded in corners, and the injured continue to pour in: bodies lacerated by shrapnel, burns, bullet wounds. Medical workers, exhausted and under siege, work day and night and each life saved is seen as a victory over the predominance of death.
The streets of Gaza are eerily silent- the pulsing life and rhythm of markets, children, fishermen walking down to the sea at dawn brutally stilled and replaced by an atmosphere of uncertainty, isolation and fear. The ever-present sounds of surveillance drones, F16s, tanks and Apaches are listened to acutely as residents try to guess where the next deadly strike will be- which house, school, clinic, mosque, governmental building or community centre will be hit next and how to move before it does. That there are no safe places- no refuge for vulnerable human bodies- is felt acutely. It is a devastating awareness for parents- that there is no way to keep their children safe.

As we continue to accompany the ambulances, joining Palestinian paramedics as they risk their lives, daily, to respond to calls from those with no other life-line, our existence becomes temporarily narrowed down and focused on the few precious minutes that make the difference between life and death. With each new call received as we ride in ambulances that careen down broken, silent roads, sirens and lights blaring, there exists a battle of life over death. We have learned the language of the war that the Israelis are waging on the collective captive population of Gaza- to distinguish between the sounds of the weaponry used, the timing between the first missile strikes and the inevitable second- targeting those that rush to tend to and evacuate the wounded, to recognize the signs of the different chemical weapons being used in this onslaught, to overcome the initial vulnerability of recognizing our own mortality.

Though many of the calls received are to pick up bodies, not the wounded, the necessity of affording the dead a dignified burial drives the paramedics to face the deliberate targeting of their colleagues and comrades- thirteen killed while evacuating the wounded, fourteen ambulances destroyed- and to continue to search for the shattered bodies of the dead to bring home to their families.

Last night, while sitting with paramedics in Jabaliya refugee camp, drinking tea and listening to their stories, we received a call to respond to the aftermath of a missile strike. When we arrived at the outskirts of the camp where the attack had taken place the area was filled with clouds of dust, torn electricity lines, slabs of concrete and open water pipes gushing water into the street. Amongst the carnage of severed limbs and blood we pulled out the body of a young man, his chest and face lacerated by shrapnel wounds, but alive- conscious and moaning.
As the ambulance sped him through the cold night we applied pressure to his wounds, the warmth of his blood seeping through the bandages reminder of the life still in him. He opened his eyes in answer to my questions and closed them again as Muhammud, a volunteer paramedic, murmured "ayeesh, nufuss"- live, breathe- over and over to him. He lost consciousness as we arrived at the hospital, received into the arms of friends who carried him into the emergency room. He, Majid, lived and is recovering.

A few minutes later there was another missile strike, this time on a residential house. As we arrived a crowd had rushed to the ruins of the four story home in an attempt to drag survivors out from under the rubble. The family the house belonged to had evacuated the area the day before and the only person in it at the time of the strike was 17 year old Muhammud who had gone back to collect clothes for his family. He was dragged out from under the rubble still breathing- his legs twisted in unnatural directions and with a head wound, but alive. There was no choice but to move him, with the imminence of a possible second strike,





and he lay in the ambulance moaning with pain and calling for his mother. We thought he would live, he was conscious though in intense pain and with the rest of the night consumed with call after call to pick up the wounded and the dead, I forgot to check on him. This morning we were called to pick up a body from Shifa hospital to take back to Jabaliya. We carried a body wrapped in a blood-soaked white shroud into the ambulance, and it wasn't until we were on the road that we realized that it was Muhammud's body. His brother rode with us, opening the shroud to tenderly kiss Muhammud's forehead.

This morning we received news that Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City was under siege. We tried unsuccessfully for hours to gain access to the hospital, trying to organize co-ordination to get the ambulances past Israeli tanks and snipers to evacuate the wounded and dead. Hours of unsuccessful attempts later we received a call from the Shujahiya neighborhood, describing a house where there were both dead and wounded patients to pick up. The area was deserted, many families having fled as Israeli tanks and snipers took up position amongst their homes, other silent in the dark, cold confines of their homes, crawling from room to room to avoid sniper fire through their windows.

As we drove slowly around the area, we heard women’s cries for help. We approached their house on foot, followed by the ambulances and as we came to the threshold of their home, they rushed towards us with their children, shaking and crying with shock. At the door of the house the ambulance lights exposed the bodies of four men, lacerated by shrapnel wounds- the skull and brains of one exposed, others whose limbs had been severed off. The four were the husbands and brothers of the women, who had ventured out to search for bread and food for their families. Their bodies were still warm as we struggled to carry them on stretchers over the uneven ground, their blood staining the earth and our clothes. As we prepared to leave the area our torches illuminated the slumped figure of another man, his abdomen and chest shredded by shrapnel. With no space in the other ambulances, and the imminent possibility of sniper fire, we were forced to take his body in the back of the ambulance carrying the women and children. One of the little girls stared at me before coming into my arms and telling me her name- Fidaa', which means to sacrifice. She stared at the body bag, asking when he would wake up.

Once back at the hospital we received word that the Israeli army had shelled Al Quds hospital, that the ensuing fire risked spreading and that there had been a 20-minute time-frame negotiated to evacuate patients, doctors and residents in the surrounding houses. By the time we got up there in a convoy of ambulances, hundreds of people had gathered. With the shelling of the UNRWA compound and the hospital there was a deep awareness that nowhere in Gaza is safe, or sacred.

We helped evacuate those assembled to near-by hospitals and schools that have been opened to receive the displaced. The scenes were deeply saddening- families, desperate and carrying their children, blankets and bags of their possessions venturing out in the cold night to try to find a corner of a school or hospital to shelter in. The paramedic we were with referred to the displacement of the over 46,000 Gazan Palestinians now on the move as a continuation of the ongoing Nakba of dispossession and exile seen through generation after generation enduring massacre after massacre.

Today's death toll was over 75, one of the bloodiest days since the start of this carnage. Over 1,110 Palestinians have been killed in the past 21 days. 367 of those have been children. The humanitarian infrastructure of Gaza is on its knees- already devastated by years of comprehensive siege. There has been a deliberate, systematic destruction of all places of refuge. There are no safe places here, for anyone.

And yet, in the face of so much desecration, this community has remained intact. The social solidarity and support between people is inspiring, and the steadfastness of Gaza continues to humble and inspire all those who witness it. Their level of sacrifice demands our collective response- and recognition that demonstrations are not enough. Gaza, Palestine and its people continue to live, breathe, resist and remain intact and this refusal to be broken is a call and challenge to us all.
Caoimhe Butterly is an Irish human rights activist working in Jabaliya and Gaza City as a volunteer with ambulance services and as co-coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement, She can be contacted at sahara78@hotmail.co.uk


University of the Phiippines-PUSHING FOR PEACE IN PALESTINE


Since the last week of December 2008, the Israeli Defense Forces have conducted daily air strikes and bombings against the Gaza Strip, one of the two territories within Israel that are designated "Palestinian Territories" , and governed by the Palestinian National Authority, a governing organization of Palestinians. Israel's three-week blitzkrieg tagged as Operation Cast Lead has brutally killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and thousands more have been maimed and wounded.

Despite the truce announced last week, Israeli troops continue to occupy strategic points in Gaza Strip. Worse, borders are kept closed by the Israeli military so that relief supplies and other forms of humanitarian aid are barred from the embattled people of Gaza. Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian group, decried the killings of health workers and the bombing of hospitals and ambulances. The Israeli military, as the Red Cross protests, has “failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded.”

Powerful leaders from the European Union have expressed their support for the ceasefire and have pledged to help in preventing Hamas from smuggling missiles and guns and in halting Palestinian strikes against Israel. As if to support this US-backed Israeli war against Gaza all the way, none of these leaders have condemned the Israeli state for perpetuating the Gaza carnage.

We at UP-3P call on our fellow citizens to defend Palestine from Israeli colonial occupation and murder and imperialist intervention by the United States. We condemn U.S. military aid that has largely influenced Israel's policies towards Palestine. It is no secret that U.S. funding pays for ammunitions, F-16 bombers and other war apparatus used to carry out Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories for 37 years now.

We urge everyone to be ever more militant in pushing for peace in Palestine even when the Israeli state and its imperialist allies have announced ceasefire. As one of its closest allies, the United States requires Israel to use 75% of its military aid to purchase war weapons from more than 1,000 U.S. arms suppliers. In 2003, the total package of aid from the U.S. is $15billion, with $3.1 billion allotted for military financing, $600 million for economic security and $11 billion in commercial loan guarantees. All of which can be used, one way or another, to fund the Israeli war on Palestine. In 2007, the United States increased its military aid to Israel by over 25% which is equivalent to $3 billion per year for the following ten year period. This should alert us to the fact that the Israeli war on Palestine is part and parcel of U.S. policy on its client states like Israel. During his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama pledged to continue to abide by the Israel-U.S. alliance since 1948.

We observe a damning evidence of imperialist grip as U.S. arms industry is imposed upon violently on different peoples of the world through the U.S. war policy. Not only has this caused the lives of millions but it has also diverted the taxes of citizens to dollars. As a result, funding for education and social programs is reduced and public policy of client states like Israel and the U.S.-backed Macapagal-Arroyo regime is militarized. In our own country, the Balikatan Exercises that effectively revives the U.S. military bases will hold a comprehensive exercise in the Bicol region in April. All sorts of barbaric and colonial military activities have been plaguing the country through the Visiting Forces Agreement and the horrible US- backed war against the Moro people in Mindanao.

UP-3P! is an alliance of students, faculty, workers, and other sectors of the UP Community, united by the call for a stop to the U.S-backed Israeli War on Gaza.



Scale of Gaza destruction emerges

The full scale of devastation in Gaza following Israel's three-week offensive is becoming clear, after both Israel and Hamas declared ceasefires.

UN official John Ging said half a million people had been without water since the conflict began, and huge numbers of people were without power.

Four thousand homes are ruined and tens of thousands of people are homeless.

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said he expected border crossings to open for aid later on Monday.

"We are going to see a massive volume of aid entering the Gaza Strip," he told the BBC.

"Medicines, foodstuffs, energy, all will be reaching the Gaza Strip in the volume that is required and in an expeditious manner."

Meanwhile the Arab League, meeting in Kuwait, is expected to discuss a proposal for a $2bn fund for reconstruction in Gaza. Saudi King Abdullah said his country would donate $1bn.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he wanted troops to leave as quickly as possible, and some have already left.

The BBC's Christian Fraser, on the road from Rafah in the south to Gaza City in the north, says the troops are pulling out fast.

Traffic jams are building up, as people try to get to Gaza City to reunite with friends and relatives, he says, while Hamas fighters stride confidently down the road with rifles slung across their shoulders.

Big questions

Israel called a ceasefire on Saturday, saying it had met its war aims.

Hamas later declared its own truce with one of its leaders claiming a "great victory" over Israel and saying its ability to fire rockets had not been affected by the Israeli strikes.

The BBC's Bethany Bell in Jerusalem says many people face shortages of food, medicine and fuel.

Mr Ging, director of operations for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa), said most important was how to get basic supplies into Gaza.

"We have a big recovery operation ahead of us, reconstruction - none of it will be possible of course, on any scale, until we get crossing points open," he told the BBC.

Unrwa was keen to reopen its schools, Mr Ging said, where 50,000 people were sheltering. Tens of thousands have been made homeless by the bombardment.

Big questions remain, our correspondent says, such as who will police Gaza's southern border and how much power Hamas still has.

At least 1,300 Palestinians, according to Palestinian sources, and 13 Israelis have been killed since Israel launched its offensive on 27 December. Palestinian medical sources say at least 95 bodies have been pulled from the rubble since Israel halted its offensive.

Correspondents say the ceasefire in Gaza remains fragile, although no air strikes, rocket attacks or major clashes were reported overnight.

Palestinian militants fired about 20 rockets over the border after the Israeli ceasefire announcement, and Israel responded with an air attack.

'Israeli failure'

Surrounded by an array of European political leaders, some of whom were highly critical of Israel's tactics in the conflict with Hamas, the Israeli prime minister said his country was not interested in staying in the Gaza Strip.

"We didn't set out to control Gaza, we don't want to remain in Gaza and we intend on leaving Gaza as quickly as possible," he said.

Anonymous Israeli officials, quoted by AP news agency, said the withdrawal would be completed before US President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday.

Correspondents say Israeli leaders want to get off to a smooth start with the new administration in Washington.

The European leaders had travelled to Israel to lend their support to the ceasefires.

The top Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said Israel had "failed to achieve its goals".

In a speech broadcast on Hamas TV station, he said: "God has granted us a great victory, not for one faction, or party, or area, but for our entire people."

Hamas said it would hold fire for a week to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.

A spokesman for Hamas' military wing, Abu Ubaida, said its rocket capabilities had not been affected by the conflict.

"We hereby stress that our rockets are being developed and are piling up, and that the enemy will receive more rockets and God willing, our rockets will hit more targets," he said in a news conference broadcast live on Hamas' al-Aqsa TV.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/01/19 12:08:53 GMT



Exclusive: PFLP in Gaza on peace, resistance and unity


Gaza/Bethlehem - The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and their military wing the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades in Gaza are currently embroiled in battles against Israeli ground troops in the Strip, and continue to launch projectiles across the Green Line into Israel.

Ma'an asked an official spokesperson of the leftist secular movement in Gaza to answer questions about the current fight with Israel and the state of Palestinian politics vis-Ă -vis both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

The following interview was conducted over email:

1. What is the Popular Front's opinion on why Israel launched its attacks on Gaza? Does it really have anything to do with Hamas, and/or projectiles? Was it about Israeli elections, or something different?

Israel launched its massacres and war crimes against our people in line with a historic objective - an attempt to eliminate the Palestinian resistance, particularly in Gaza. Much as it sought to do in Lebanon in 2006, it aimed to separate the resistance from the people and secure an elimination of the resistance and undermining our Palestinian cause and the rights of our people. Israel's schemes against our people and our rights can only be enacted - despite the complicity of the U.S., Arab regimes and part of the Palestinian "leadership" - by the elimination of the Palestinian resistance.

Israel is learning now, despite its brutality and its utter criminality, and its practices of genocide, that much akin to Lebanon in 2006, our people are the core, the cradle and the steadfastness of our resistance, and their assaults will never defeat our people nor our determination to uphold our rights, to return, to self-determination and to sovereignty.

The rockets are both a practical and a symbolic representation of our resistance to the occupier. They are a constant reminder that the occupier is in fact an occupier, and that no matter how they may engage in sieges, massacres, fence us in, deny us the basic human needs of life, we will continue to resist and we will continue to hold fast to our fundamental rights, and we will not allow them to be destroyed. So long as one rocket is launched at the occupier, our people, our resistance and our cause is alive. This is why they targeted the rockets - the rockets do make the occupier insecure, because everyone is a symbol and a physical act of our rejection to their occupation, to their massacres, to their crimes, and to their continuing assaults on our people. Each rocket says that we will not allow their so-called "solutions" that are based on the abrogation and denial of our rights.

In addition, this was certainly related to the Israeli elections - to bolster the reputation of Kadima and particularly of Livni and Barak, on the backs and with the blood of over 1,000 Palestinian dead. That this is a distinguishing and positive factor in these elections says a great deal about the nature of Israel and Zionism.

2. How many PFLP/Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades fighters have been killed or injured during the Israeli invasion and/or airstrikes? Have Brigades members been active in resistance against the invading army?

We do not release such statistics or information at this time as it is only helpful to the enemy military assault on our people. However, AAMB [Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades] members have been heavily active in all forms of resistance against the invaders and occupiers. AAMB has consistently launched multiple rockets on a daily basis, and has distinguished itself particularly in the use of roadside bombs, car bombs and other explosive devices that have seriously damaged and destroyed occupation tanks and other military vehicles, and AAMB fighters are participating in all battles at all levels.

AAMB is also working intimately and in coordination with all other resistance forces in a united struggle to confront the enemy and unify our resistance to its crimes and massacres, and is involved at all levels of coordination and resistance.

3. Under what circumstances would the PFLP back a ceasefire with Israel?

We were opposed to the so-called "calm" or "ceasefire" [from June 19 2008 to December 19] because we saw it as dangerous to our people and we believe, in the end, our analysis was proven to be correct. Israel forced an end to the "ceasefire" through its attacks and assassinations - and then used it [the response to their attacks, for example on 4 November where airstrikes killed five activists and a civilian] as an excuse to attack the Palestinian people, a goal it had all along, and using a plan of attack developed before and during the so-called "Ceasefire."

The resistance, in a unified manner, may always decide what tactics to use at any given time. We demand an end to the massacres, an end to the occupation forces on our land, and the full, immediate and unconditional opening of all crossings - particularly Rafah crossing - and an end to the siege against our people. But we will never concede our fundamental rights - our right to resist, our right to defend our people, our right to return, our right to self-determination and sovereignty - in the name of a so-called "ceasefire," which is what Israel wants.

4. What is the relationship between Hamas and the PFLP like today?

The relationship between Hamas and the PFLP is defined by resistance now.

Both Hamas and the PFLP are in the camp of resistance, the camp of defending our people, our cause and our fundamental rights. Both the PFLP and Hamas reject so-called "negotiations," reject cooperation with the occupier, and reject any so-called political solutions based on the denial and abrogation of the rights of our people. The parties both stand united in resistance to the massacres and genocide being committed against the Palestinian people. This is the unity, and the relationship, that matters now: unity, in struggle, for our people, our cause, and our rights.

5. What is the PFLP's position on the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas, whose term officially ended on 9 January? Does the PFLP believe that, given the circumstances, Palestinians should focus on the Gaza Strip and less on domestic politics or are domestic politics more important than ever?

The only Palestinian legitimacy that matters now is the legitimacy of resistance. This is the definition of our national unity - confronting the occupier and its crimes against our people and upholding and defending our people and our rights. The legitimacy now is not that of the "Palestinian Authority" - legitimacy is formed by standing with the resistance, with our steadfast people, against the crimes of the occupier. This is a defining moment for the Palestinian national movement and the Palestinian cause, facing an enemy bent on its destruction, and the question is for all: to be with the resistance or to stand aside and thus allow the assault to continue.

Every bit of Palestinian political legitimacy at the present time derives from the answer to that question [of adhering to resistance].

6. What is the state of the PFLP and other resistance organizations in the West Bank? Do you expect Palestinians will rise up against the occupation in light of the atrocities in Gaza?

The West Bank is also under a state of siege of a different type - the siege of occupation, of 11,000 political prisoners, of constant land confiscation, the settlement building, the erection of the annexation wall, and the other ongoing crimes against our people.

In fact, Israel is counting on the eyes of the world to be turned away from the West Bank due to its massacres in Gaza, in order to carry out yet more land confiscation and attacks in the West Bank.

We will not allow our people in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in Palestine '48 [Palestinians living in Israel] and in exile, to be divided. We are one nation, one people and one cause, and all of the enemy's plans to undermine that unity will fail, and that dedication to resist and uphold our national rights to return, to self-determination, to freedom and liberation, to sovereignty, will ensure our victory and our unity of our people, our land and our cause.