BREAK THE SIEGE ON GAZA COALITION
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Lamis Deek 1 718 439 3939
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MASS RALLY PLANNED IN TIMES SQ. DEC. 27 TO MARK ANNIVERSARY OF ASSAULT ON GAZA

New York, N.Y (December 22, 2009) - On December 27, 2009, while holiday crowds fill the streets, New Yorkers will hold a massive demonstration in Times Square to commemorate the anniversary of the deadly Israeli assault against the Palestinians of Gaza.

The marchers plan to gather at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue at 1 pm, march through Rockefeller Center and end at the Israeli mission to the United Nations at 42nd Street and Second Avenue. They aim to remind holiday crowds that one year after the bombing and invasion, the people of Gaza are still living under siege, denied food, medicine and the right to travel by a blockade made possible by U.S. military and economic support to the Israeli regime.

The US Palestinian Community Network of NY (USPCN); Al-Awda New York, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition; the Arab Muslim American Federation; American Muslims for Palestine; the International Action Center; the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and New York City Labor Against the War, among many other protest sponsors, expect to bring large crowds of New Yorkers to the streets to protest the ongoing siege and occupation. They are calling for an end to the siege of Gaza, the prosecution of Israeli officers as war criminals based on the United Nations’ Goldstone report, the freeing of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons, Palestinian refugees' right to return home, and an end to all U.S. aid to the Israeli apartheid state.

"Last winter, Israel massacred approximately 1,500 Palestinians, 2/3 of them women and children, maimed tens of thousands and destroyed the entire infrastructure of Palestinian society in Gaza," said Lamis Deek, co-chair of Al-Awda New York, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition. "This Christmas the massacre continues. Palestinians in Gaza are still dying because the Israelis will not allow them to access medicine, infants are dying because the Israelis do not allow them access to health care and continue to restrict food entering Gaza. This is a continuing crime which must be stopped immediately."

Dima Abi Saab, a student and rally organizer, says, "During this recession, while many in the U.S. cannot afford medical insurance let alone Christmas gifts, our government is sending our tax dollars to fund Israeli war crimes. This is outrageous. We simply want our money to stay here - where we need it, for schools, health care and jobs."

The protest is one of many planned around the country and the world commemorating the invasion. In Gaza itself the third Viva Palestina convoy led by British MP George Galloway will try to enter that day with medical supplies to make a dent in the blockade, while the Gaza Freedom March will begin its journey.

Launched two days after Christmas 2008, Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" lasted for over three weeks. Israeli forces rained thousands of tons of U.S.-made bombs and missiles on Palestinians trapped behind the Israeli-built segregation wall. Israeli forces rounded up and killed Palestinians seeking refuge from the barrage of missiles and shot countless medics attempting to rescue the injured.

In one of many atrocities, Israeli soldiers rounded up over 70 members of the Samouni family into one building for three days, without food or water, only to launch a full attack on the same building, murdering over two-thirds of the family in a matter of hours. Palestinian police buildings, women's university dormitories, elementary schools, refugee camp shelters, and mosques were destroyed by U.S.-made Israeli bombs, leaving over 1,500 dead and thousands more wounded.

Israeli officials now face the possibility of international prosecution and arrest. A British court has issued an arrest warrant for Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The UN Security Council awaits investigative reports ordered pursuant to recommendations made by head UN Investigator Richard Goldstone, who detailed countless Israeli war crimes not just in the attacks on Gaza in 2008, but throughout the Israeli Siege which began in 2006. Meanwhile, a new border wall is being built between Gaza and Egypt, installed and funded by the U.S., in order to block the tunnels that have served as the only lifeline for needed food, household and consumer goods in Gaza and supply 60% of Gaza's economy.

Deek linked the war and blockade on Gaza to the 61 years of exile and occupation faced by Palestinians since 1948. "A civilized society cannot accept a colonial settler state and we cannot accept the precedent that it is setting. If we allow Israelis to round up, imprison, starve, and violently murder or exile the Palestinian people, then we must accept that our children may also be so violently treated. We must prosecute all Israeli war crimes, not just the massacres of 2008 but the massacres of Deir Yasin in 1948 to Jenin in 2003. We must prosecute Israeli exile of the Palestinians of Jerusalem, of Jaffa and Haifa. This is the only way reestablish the precedent of human rights and to ensure a safer world for our own families," she said.