American peace delegation to protest at Israeli Ministry of Defense and U.S. Embassy TODAY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 9, 2009 CONTACT
American peace delegation, refused from entering Gaza at Israeli border,
to protest at Israeli Ministry of Defense and U.S. Embassy TODAY
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL -- One day after being refused by the Israeli Ministry of Defense to enter Gaza to deliver toys and to build playgrounds for Gazan children, 40 members of an American peace delegation will visit the Ministry of Defense headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv TODAY to protest the refusal, urge Israel to allow them inside, and call for an end to the blockade.
The delegation, organized by the American women-led peace group CODEPINK, arrived in Israel June 6 at the invitation of the United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA). CODEPINK had contacted the Israeli Embassy in Washington about the trip prior to their departure from the United States and members of Congress sent letters of support to the Israeli Embassy. But at border checkpoints, the Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, a Department of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, barred the delegates from entering.
“I am saddened that the Israeli government has refused this humanitarian mission to the people of Gaza," said retired U.S. Army Colonel and U.S. diplomat Ann Wright, delegation member. "We call on the Israeli and United States governments to grant us entry and, more importantly, to end the siege on Gaza.”
This is the first CODEPINK delegation that has attempted to enter Gaza from Israel; it has led several delegations to Gaza this year through the Rafah, Egypt crossing to witness, firsthand, the devastation caused by this winter's 22-day Israeli military attack on the Gaza Strip. All of the delegations brought toys and aid to Gazan children, who make up more than half of the population: approximately 400 children were killed during the attack and an estimated 1,346 Gazan children were left without one or both of their parents.
If allowed inside Gaza, the delegates will meet with social service agencies in Gaza that care for children, deliver sports equipment and toys to schools, and build playgrounds as the previous four delegations.
For more information, please contact Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, (Israeli tel) 0543487539, Ann Wright, Gaza delegation leader, (Israeli tel) 0542642480, or Jean Stevens, CODEPINK national media coordinator, (US tel.) 508-769-2138.