Organizations in the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy send out action alerts monthly, focusing on different issues so that members of Congress hear consistently that their constituents support a just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.
Over the past several weeks, we have seen a wave of overt violence carried out by both Palestinians and Israelis.
On October 3, two Israelis —Lavi and Aharon Bennett—were stabbed to death in the Old City in East Jerusalem by a young Palestinian who was then killed by Israeli security forces. In the West Bank, 13 year old Abdel-Rahman Shadi Obeidallah (known as Abdo) from the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem was shot and killed by Israeli forces. According to witnesses, he stood about 70 meters away from clashes that were taking place between Israeli forces and Palestinians. In Gaza, six Palestinians were killed and dozens injured by Israeli forces during a demonstration on October 9. Numerous other incidents have occurred throughout the region.
It is essential to remember that this violence is set in the context of Israel’s nearly 50-year occupation of Palestinian land. This continues to lead to the destruction of Palestinian homes, property, and livelihoods while Israeli settlements expand throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The lack of resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian situation also means that millions of Palestinians remain as refugees, both in the occupied territories and in surrounding countries. In Gaza, where 1.2 million of the total population of 1.8 million (two-thirds) are refugees, residents face the devastating effects of the blockade on employment, health, education, restricted mobility, and access to resources, including Israeli restrictions on “dual use” materials necessary for reconstruction.
The Syrian crisis has a profound impact on Palestinian refugees from Syria, as many of them are now twice displaced. According to UNRWA reports, approximately 80,000 of Syria’s 560,000 Palestine refugees have fled the country, while an estimated 95 percent of the remaining 480,000 are in need of humanitarian assistance. Of those still in Syria, 280,000 are internally displaced. UNRWA cannot keep up with increased needs and released a 2015 emergency appeal for $415.4 to continue humanitarian efforts for PRS. To date, 49 percent of the requested funds have been pledged, including $97.5 million from the U.S.
Click here to write to your senators and representative and urge them to:
- Call for a halt to violence by all parties
- Call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and a lifting of the Gaza blockade
- Help fund UNRWA’s emergency appeal for Palestinian refugees from Syria