The Israeli blockade of Gaza and war with Hamas hit crisis point this morning, as 350,000 desperate Palestinians poured into Egypt in search of essential supplies.1 The crisis is spinning out of control — the world must step in to stop the blockade, oversee the opening of borders and help broker the ceasefire which civilians on all sides desperately need. Please click below to sign the emergency petition to the UN, European Union and the Arab League. We’ll deliver it when we reach 150,000 signatures — sign now and forward this email to your friends and family:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/gaza_end_the_siege/9.php?cl=52542229

This isn’t about taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: it’s about 1.5 million human beings locked up in Gaza – the biggest prison on earth. The unsustainable blockade must be lifted and the border opened properly, with external monitoring to prevent weapons smuggling.

Israel cites missile attacks on its territory as the reason for the blockade, and they’re a serious concern — but far from stopping the rockets, this siege has punished innocent civilians and fuelled the rage and desperation that drives this conflict. Only a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas can stop the missiles of both sides, a deal that has been floated by Hamas and is already supported by some Israeli cabinet ministers.2

Israel and the US remain committed to the failing policy of blockade, but the UN, European Union and Arab League have yet to take real action on this. A public outcry could push them to step in to end the siege, oversee an open border between Gaza and Egypt, and help broker a ceasefire to save lives on all sides — sign the petition and we will arrange for high-level advocacy meetings with officials to deliver the petition and lobby for action:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/gaza_end_the_siege/9.php?cl=52542229

The humanitarian crisis of Gaza is only getting worse, as patients die in hospitals for lack of care, and clean drinking water runs low.3 Palestinian militants are still launching missiles at the Israeli town of Sderot, and Israeli missiles claimed at least 36 Palestinian lives last week — many of them civilian.4

No genuine peace talks will be possible while this crisis continues. In the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006, we saw how global pressure and assistance can stop such a crisis and protect civilians from harm — we cannot stay silent about the crisis in Gaza. Please add your name now at the link above, and forward this message widely.

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Galit, Esra’a, Pascal, Ben and the whole Avaaz team

PS In a global interactive poll on the Middle East, tens of thousands of Avaaz members helped to set our direction for this campaign — addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and achieving a reciprocal ceasefire were each supported by over 90% of respondents:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/annapolis_results_2

Sources:

1. Border breakout, 350,000 Palestinians cross into Egypt (Yediot Ahranot, Israel):
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3497673,00.html

2. Former Clinton official calls for ceasefire, ending siege (International Herald Tribune):
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/21/opinion/edmalley.php

Several Israeli cabinet ministers also want to negotiate ceasefire:
Jerusalem Post article

3. Article by UN agency chief: “There has never been a more urgent need for the international community to act to restore normality in Gaza” (The Guardian)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2245299,00.html

UN reports on the humanitarian crisis, including background to the blackouts:
http://www.ochaopt.org/?module=displaysection§ion_id=11&static=0&format=html

Deepening medical crisis in Gaza (UN):
http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=75693

4. Missiles and civilian casualties in Gaza and Israel (Associated Press)

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