SAN FRANCISCO, September 30, 2004 - Jewish Voice for Peace, a national Jewish-American organization with 10,000 supporters, called for an immediate halt to the massive Israeli invasion of Gaza Strip. The group called for the United States and the international community to intervene to stop the Israeli military operation and prevent the rocket attacks by Hamas that have provided the pretext for it.
A rocket fired yesterday from Gaza into the Israeli town of Sderot killed two Israeli toddlers, aged two and four. Israel has responded with disproportionate force, injuring and killing many Palestinian civilians. Israel has launched a sustained ground assault, which they have dubbed “Operation Days of Penitence”. JVP predicts that such a sustained operation will cost more lives on both sides and make peace even harder to achieve. The Israeli incursion and Palestinian attacks have already caused the deaths of 30 Palestinians and five Israelis, and the wounding of over 120 Palestinians.
“It’s just common sense and basic decency,” said Cecilie Surasky, a JVP spokesperson. “As the parent of a 2-year-old, there are no words to express my horror at the killings of these toddlers. But to respond to the deaths of two Israeli children by killing and maiming 150 Palestinians living in a refugee camp, many of them civilians, is to take an eye for an eye to obscene proportions. This is the way to fuel violence, not stem it. Many more Israelis and Palestinians will die before this invasion is over.”
The group also noted its offense at Ariel Sharon’s choice of “Days of Penitence” as the name of Israel’s renewed invasion of Gaza.
“Israeli actions have already cost dozens of Palestinian lives, severely injured many more innocent civilians, and has seen the destruction of more Palestinian homes,” said Mitchell Plitnick, JVP’s Co-Director. “The planned invasion is sure to multiply these numbers greatly. To name such an operation after the holiest days in the Jewish year— days in which all Jews are meant to open their hearts and atone for the sins of the past year — is an affront to every fundamental Jewish value.
“This violence is the inevitable result of Israel’s refusal to talk with the Palestinians,” Plitnick continued. “Israel cannot stop this conflict unilaterally. It has to be done in partnership with the legitimate leaders of the Palestinian people. As the Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom said yesterday, ‘There is somebody to talk with. There is something to talk about. When people don’t talk - they kill and are killed.’”California-based Jewish Voice for Peace is the largest grassroots Jewish peace group in the United States. Jewish Voice for Peace recently launched a Caterpillar campaign website, which features news, photographs, action alerts, and background information.