CODEPINK Women Travel to Gaza TODAY to Witness Damage and Demand A Lifting of The Blockade;

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 415-235-6517 (medea@codepinkalert.org)
Col. Ann Wright, Veterans for Peace, 808-741-1141
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK national media coordinator, 508-769-2138

CODEPINK Women Travel to Gaza TODAY to Witness Damage and Demand A Lifting of The Blockade;

Plan to meet with women's groups, Hamas officials

WASHINGTON - Members of the leading women's peace group CODEPINK
will travel today to war-torn Gaza to witness the horrific damage of
the 22-day Israeli attacks, demand an opening of borders for
humanitarian aid, meet with Palestinian women's aid groups and, if
possible, Hamas officials.

WHAT: CODEPINK women to visit Gaza, examine damage, meet with women's groups and Hamas officials
WHEN
: Jan. 30 to Feb. 9
WHERE: Cairo, Gaza

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, and retired Col. Ann Wright,
former U.S. state department official, plan to enter Gaza through Egypt
and spend 10 days on the citizen diplomacy trip, organized by CODEPINK.
They hope to learn, firsthand, the needs of the Gaza people and
demonstrate what George Mitchell, the Obama administration's Special
Envoy for Middle East Peace currently visiting several Middle East
countries, should do. So far, Mitchell has refused to visit Gaza and
meet with Hamas.

"What sense does it make to send a Special Envoy to the Middle
East, but not have him visit war-torn Gaza and speak to Hamas?"
Benjamin said. "In our visit to Gaza, we will be doing precisely what
George Mitchell should be doing-getting an understanding of the
devastation that resulted from the Israeli invasion, and talking to
governmental, non-governmental and UN representatives."

Benjamin and Wright will also meet with Palestinian aid groups
including the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, the Gaza Community
Mental Health Program and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees,
to discuss plans for CODEPINK's new worldwide call to action,
"International Women's Day 2009: Dedicated to the Women of Gaza,"
designed to commemorate the women of Gaza on March 8, the United
Nations-designated 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.

Through this call to action, CODEPINK and partner groups will raise
funds for the women of Gaza. An international women's delegation will
return to Gaza from March 8 to 13 to deliver the aid to several groups,
including the aforementioned groups, the Palestinian Agricultural
Relief Committees and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. With
international pressure and the determination of the women in the
delegation, CODEPINK is confident the Egyptian government will let the
aid through.

In Gaza, 22 days of Israeli attacks earlier this year left more
than 1,000 dead, including 412 children. Women have largely taken on
the role as the primary caretakers of their families and communities
while dealing with their own heartbreak. As in all communities ravaged
by war and violence, they've become largely responsible for providing
water, food, medicine, electricity and heat in the face of shortages
for families and communities. Many women are also more at risk
medically, as maternity wards often become surgical wards.

"The Israeli attack came after 18 months of a crippling blockade
that had already left the Palestinian population hungry, sick, weak,
and suffering from a catastrophic situation," Benjamin said. "We must
not only provide massive humanitarian aid, but lift the blockade that
is keeping the people of Gaza under siege."
For more information and interviews, please call or email Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, at 415-235-6517 or medea@codepinkalert.org.

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CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects foreign policies based on domination and aggression, and instead calls for policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.

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