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April 2004 Postcard

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DEAR SENATOR:

Palestinians have requested that international peacekeepers monitor their Israeli-occupied homeland—but Israel has rejected this. Instead, therefore, thousands of volunteers from around the world, many of them Jewish, have tried to fill the need.

“The Israeli government is very suspicious of human rights activists for two reasons,” explains leading Israeli human rights lawyer Shamai Liebowitz. “They monitor human rights abuses and are able to record severe cases of humiliation and torture by soldiers and settlers, and the Israeli government doesn’t want the world to see this.”

Since Jan. 4, 2004 the Israeli military’s civil administration has required foreign nationals, including human rights activists, journalists, and NGO workers, to apply for written permission to enter the West Bank and Gaza. It is often denied. Without this permission internationals may be deported or refused re-entry into Israel or the occupied territories. As a result Israeli human rights abuses have escalated and gone largely unreported to the outside world.

On the anniversary of the brutal attacks on Hurndall, Miller, Avery, and Corrie, please protest Israel’s killing of U.S. and British civilians and contact the Israeli government to demand that U.S. citizens be granted access to the Palestinian territories. 


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Internationals hold up placards with pictures of human rights activists Rachel Corrie (l) and Thomas Hurndall on April 22, 2003, shortly after Corrie was crushed to death and Hurndall shot in the head by Israeli soldiers. Israel now restricts foreign journalists, volunteers and NGOs from entering the occupied territories to report what is happening to the outside world (AFP photo/Mohammed Abed-STR).
   

Rachel Corrie, 23, an International Solidarity Movement volunteer from Olympia, WA, was crushed to death March 16, 2003 by an Israel Defense Forces-driven bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.

Thomas Hurndall, 22, another ISM volunteer, died in a London hospital Jan. 13, 2004, nine months after an Israeli sniper shot him, also in Rafah. In Jenin, ISM volunteer Brian Avery, 24, from Albuquerque, NM, was shot in the face by Israeli soldiers on April 5, 2003. On May 2, Israeli soldiers shot and killed British cameraman James Miller, again in Rafah.

Americans, Israelis and other international human rights activists and journalists have put their lives on the line in the occupied territories, reporting and monitoring human rights abuses, acting as human shields, monitoring Israeli actions at border crossings, participating in peaceful demonstrations, helping farmers harvest their crops, and trying to prevent home demolitions.

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