The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 415-235-6517
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK national media coordinator, 508-769-2138
Tighe Barry, CODEPINK delegation leader (in Cairo), 011-2019-4812932

US $300 Million Pledge to Gaza Leaves Inhumane Siege Intact

Historic 60-person delegation going to Gaza this week calls for end to blockade


With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement Monday of $300
million in aid for war-torn Gaza, members of the 60-person
international delegation
set to arrive in Gaza this week call on the Obama administration to
push for a lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, to work with the
democratically-elected Hamas rather than ignore it, and to initiate a
new peace process.

"It is important to give money to rebuild Gaza, but Gaza cannot be
rebuilt as long as the Israeli/Egyptian blockade continues to restrict
rebuilding supplies from entering Gaza," said delegation organizer
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. "The best thing the Obama Administration can do to rebuild is to pressure the Israelis and Egyptians to open the borders."

The delegation is the first delegation of its size and kind to
attempt to enter Gaza since July 2007 when Israel imposed a blockade of
its borders. Hundreds of aid workers, lawyers, and convoys carrying
humanitarian aid have been denied entrance by Egyptian authorities at
the Rafah border.

Ann Wright, former colonel and delegation leader, urges Clinton to re-examine the allocation of U.S. funds in the region.

$300 million the U.S. Government is giving to rebuild Gaza is small
potatoes compared to the $3 billion we're giving to Israel, most used
for military purposes," Wright said. "The U.S.-financing of Israel's
military must be stopped."

The delegation -- which includes Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist
Alice Walker, the parents of American Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old
struck and killed by a bulldozer operated by Israeli Defense Forces in
Gaza six years ago, Benjamin and Wright -- will deliver 2,000 gift
baskets to Gazan women and bear witness to the devastation from the
22-day Israeli invasion earlier this year that killed more than 1,300
Palestinians, including 400 children. Traveling at the invitation of
the Gaza Gender Initiative of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA),
they will also honor International Women's Day,
March 8, designated by the U.N. If Egyptian authorities deny the
group's entrance, the group will camp out at the border until they get

Since January, CODEPINK has collected aid to deliver to Gazan women through its website.

women feel tremendous compassion toward the women of Gaza," Benjamin
said. "We don't want to keep paying for Israel to destroy them and
their homes."

CODEPINK is a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.

(818) 275-7232