Gaza Q&A

Terry Greenblatt, director of Bat Shalom, Israel's prominent feminist peace organization: “We [women] put the strife and pains in front of us, look at them courageously and come up with a win-win formula. The Palestinian woman with whom I converse would be my neighbor eventually.”

Amneh Badran, Palestinian director of the Jerusalem Center for Women: “They [male Israeli and Palestinian negotiators] are used to the narrow concept of 'I win. You surrender.' … This win-lose equation might be relevant in wars, but is not productive in making peace."

Q. What's the situation in Gaza, and what are the needs of the people there?
A. Twenty-two days of Israeli bombardment by land, sea and air left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and 5,300 injured; approximately 4,000 homes destroyed and 17,000 others damaged; more than 50,000 people were displaced into temporary U.N. shelters, and entire neighborhoods were leveled. Read more and see photos...

Gaza's 1.5 million people are facing a food crisis as a result of the destruction of great areas of farmland during the Israeli invasion… “What we have seen in large areas of farmland is the destruction of all means of life.” Read more...

Gaza's sewerage system is on the brink of collapse; drinking water could be contaminated for entire area. Many wells have been destroyed, and Gaza's water agency is prohibited by Israel from importing pipes, excavators and other equipment… as of 18 January approximately 400,000 people, among them 224,000 children, were still without running water. Read more...

The situation of women in Gaza is dire. Gaza has one of the world's highest population rates, which means that many women are either pregnant, going through or just recovering from childbirth, or breastfeeding. During the 22-day assault of Gaza, the hospitals were overwhelmed, and ambulances attacked or denied access to people in need, and many women gave birth unaided in terrible conditions. Pamela Delargy, the head of the UN population fund's humanitarian response branch, pointed out that the Gaza women give birth everyday to almost 170 babies and both women and their babies are at risk because of the inability to get even the most basic health services or good nutrition.

Gaza will need years to recover from the devastating Israeli assault, says Katharina Ritz, head of mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Israel's 22-day assault left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead, and decimated much of the coastal territory's infrastructure. Read more...

Q. I feel bad for the people of Gaza, but isn't Hamas a terrorist organization?
A. Hamas, an acronym that stands for H.arakat al-Muqa-wamat al-Isla-miyyah, meaning "Islamic Resistance Movement", is the political and social organization that won the majority in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2007. Since June 2007, Hamas has been the governing party in Gaza. Israel immediately thereafter imposed an economic blockade on Gaza.

Many Palestinians voted for Hamas as a protest against Fatah, which many considered corrupt and ineffective at gaining Palestinians their rights, or protecting them from Israel's military actions. Read more...

However opposed to Hamas' positions, or skeptical of its goals, Israel does not therefore have the right to commit crimes against humanity. The 18-month siege leading up to the Israeli assault was collective punishment of the people of Gaza. The IDF's many crimes, well-documented in world media, include using white phosphorus and DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosives) bombs, shooting civilians attempting to escape, bombing civilian infrastructure, looting and more. Read more...

Q. I've always supported Israel, and I'm not going to stop, so what now?
A. The brutal ongoing occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem poses a threat to the long-term sustainability of the Israeli state. Supporting Israel means supporting a just and equitable peace. Many Israelis are opposed to the actions of their government. A brave group of high school students is refusing to serve in the Occupation; read more and see video here:

There are many Israeli and Jewish groups working against the occupation, and for peace with justice for both peoples. One of the most influential is the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Read more...
Others include Gush Shalom, B'Tselem and many more; click here for annotated list.

The cycles of revenge and hatred are damaging to Israel as a country and to Israelis as individuals. Young soldiers come home from the occupied territories with PTSD, and can fall into addiction, patterns of domestic violence, and long-term depression. After the IDF attacks on Gaza, including on UN schools and food warehouses, much of the world now looks with horror on Israel. This will have consequences on Israel's tourism, economic development and foreign policy. A peaceful and just resolution of the tragedy of occupation, now in its 42nd year, will be a relief and blessing to Israel as well as to the Palestinians.

Q. What's CODEPINK's role?
A. As a women-led peace organization we are compelled to act in the face of these horrors, to bring attention and aid to the suffering, especially women and children. Several CODEPINK local groups have already taken part in marches, rallies, peace vigils, visits to Congressional offices, and other actions.

In early February, CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin, Ret. US Army Col. Ann Wright, and LA CODEPINKer Tighe Barry went to Gaza, courageously witnessing the wanton destruction in Gaza and seeing the needs of the people. They met with Palestinian aid groups including the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees.

CODEPINK has put out a worldwide call to action for the women of Gaza on March 8, International Women's Day. The call is endorsed by the National Congress of Black Women, Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, American Muslim Voice, author Alice Walker and journalist Laura Flanders. Together across our PINK network, we aim to raise $10,000 at our house parties, and raise awareness in our communities about the plight of the women of Gaza and the crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Q. What can I do as an individual?
A. First, take to heart this quote from Rabbis for Human Rights: “When we feel that our actions will have no effect we must remember that we never know what little act will tip the scales one way or another. As we focus on this human rights disaster here and now [in Gaza] we know that we must sow seeds for the future.”

US citizens must tell their Members of Congress that they want them to pursue a balanced, constructive foreign policy that will lead to an end of the occupation and the establishment of a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

On February 2, 2009, sixty members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Reps. Barbara Lee and Lois Capps (both D-Calif.), and John Olver (D-Mass.)  called for "immediate action" to address the "humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip" and delivered a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter also requests that the State Department release emergency funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.

  •  Please Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121 and ask for support of this position, and also for the US to act for a long-term peaceful resolution of the conflict.
  • Host a House Party for the women of Gaza on or before International Women's Day, March 8. Click here for more!
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your views, and/or call in to political talk radio.
  • Bring up these issues in your faith community; read, watch videos, host discussions.
  •  For more info please check back here frequently, or send an email to info[at]