We are here to show our support and solidarity with the people of Gaza. Gaza is a small strip of land along the Mediterranean. It is 140 square miles in area, only ¼ the size of Kalamazoo County. In this small plot of land live 2 million inhabitants, the vast majority from families who were forced to leave their homes during the creation of the state of Israel.
Gaza has been under a state of siege for almost 11 years. What this means is that Gaza is an open-air prison. Their border is patrolled by Israel on land, sea, and air. The airport has long since been destroyed. Fishermen in the sea, or farmers along the borders are routinely shot at by border guards. It is difficult to obtain a pass to leave or enter Gaza for any reason.
The conditions of life in Gaza have become impossible. Damage to homes and infrastructure from the last Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014 have not been repaired due to materials not being allowed through the border. Besides thousands of dwellings still in ruins, electricity and sewage and water treatment plants are barely operating. The water is Gaza is becoming undrinkable, and electricity is on for just a few hours a day. So conditions are dire for all inhabitants, but this is having especially serious consequences for the hospitals, which attempt to remain functioning there.
Against this backdrop, a grassroots-organized peaceful protest march to the borders was organized. The main demand was the right of return, which is UN resolution 194, which has never been implemented. This march was a nonviolent effort to remind the world of the conditions of Gaza.
This unarmed protest was met by the Israeli army shooting and gassing resulting in horrific casualty figures. Dozens have been killed, and thousands wounded. The hospitals have been overwhelmed. It appears that journalists and aid workers have been targeted.
We have a responsibility as taxpayers to speak out against this carnage. We send 3.8 billion dollars a year in military aid to Israel, already a regional superpower. This amount dwarfs what we send to any other country. If you break it down, Michigan sends $95 million dollars to the Israeli military every year. This could hire over a thousand teachers in our state.
We are calling for Rep. Fred Upton to join us in condemning the attacks on demonstrators, and an independent and transparent investigation. The siege on Gaza must be lifted. We call for and end to the US military aid to Israel and put those funds to use for human needs here at home.
Daniel Smith, KNOW Communications