Updates from Gaza 

12/19/2023 Update

Update: Gaza Emergency Response

As the Israeli military intensifies its bombing and ground invasion of southern Gaza, more Palestinians have been forced to flee farther south. But shelters are already overcrowded and can’t accommodate more people. Many people have no choice but to sleep in the open air, even as winter begins to take hold. Food, water, and other necessities are in short supply.     

Thanks to supporters like you, AFSC is providing food and other aid to thousands of displaced people in southern Gaza. Donations from the AFSC community have been critical in supporting Palestinians facing hunger as Israel continues its total blockade on Gaza.  

Earlier this week, AFSC and partners distributed parcels of vegetables to displaced families living in tents outside of shelters in southern Gaza. Ten or more people are sharing each tent. We were the first organization to assist these individuals, providing 250 parcels of food to feed more than 2,500 people.   

We are also sending additional aid through Egypt into Gaza when Israeli authorities allow. So far, we have procured two trucks of food and one truck of medicine. The first truck contained 2,000 ready-to-eat food kits for families in Rafah. Now we’re procuring another truck with blankets and other winter items to help displaced families prepare for even colder temperatures. 

These efforts are in addition to other humanitarian efforts undertaken together with partners over the last several weeks. Together we have distributed 502 food parcels, 770 meals, and 500 hygiene kits to families in southern Gaza. We were also able to offer an open day of activities for 52 displaced children during the temporary cease-fire in November.  

We are so grateful to everyone who has donated to make our relief efforts possible. Your support is vital as we work to meet urgent needs, advocate for a cease-fire, and engage in long-term efforts to end violence and oppression.   

Please continue to hold our staff, partners, and all who are suffering in the Light. And please continue to join us in urging Congress to demand a cease-fire and humanitarian access.  

12/17/2023 Update

Ramallah Friends School Choir

The Ramallah Friends School Choir is a choir based in Ramallah, a city in the central West Bank. The school itself is a Quaker institution that has been providing education in the region for over 150 years. The choir, composed of talented students, has gained recognition for its musical performances that often carry messages of peace, unity, and social awareness.

12/4/2023 Update

The temporary cease-fire stopped the bombing, but many other challenges remained for those in Gaza. Many people who had fled to the south, including one of our staff, tried to return to their homes to get winter clothes and observe the state of their properties, but were shot at by Israeli soldiers. Our staff told us of long lines for water, and one staff member reported that last week was the first time she had been able to drink filtered water since Oct. 7. 

Getting humanitarian aid into Gaza has been a logistical nightmare, given the restrictions imposed by Israel. Rafah crossing is the only open entrance to Gaza, and the process of transferring goods for Israeli inspection into U.N. trucks for distribution has caused massive delays and decreased the amount of aid, especially perishable food, able to reach people. AFSC was able to send one truck of “ready to eat food family kits sufficient for a week for 2000 families.” Our staff member Firas has distributed hygiene kits and food parcels to nearly 6,000 families. Last weekend, he organized an open house play day for 52 children in the shelter where he is located. 

On Dec. 1, Israeli bombing resumed in Gaza, this time in the south, where our staff are now living. Our colleague sent a message that he was trying to shield his daughters from the sounds of the bombing, but “the bombs are very strong and near us.” Reports suggest the past few days of bombing have been among the most brutal. 

Hunger Strike in D.C. 

Madinah Wilson-Anton, a Delaware state representative on her fifth and final day of hunger strike, joined our Action Hour from outside the White House. She shared what it was like for her to hunger strike, knowing that the discomfort she felt was not comparable to the lives of those in Gaza. Rep. Wilson-Anton and several other elected officials and national leaders were on a hunger strike to demand a permanent cease-fire and to illustrate the impact of President Biden’s policies on Palestinian lives. On Friday, 541 people nationwide joined the strikers in a one-day fast. Over the course of the week, more than 16,000 emails were sent to members of Congress. On Friday alone, folks made more than 3,000 calls to members demanding a cease-fire. 

Contact your members of Congress Everyday 

On Oct. 16, Rep. Cori Bush introduced H.Res. 786, which calls for de-escalation and an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. Unfortunately, there is no similar bill in the Senate. Urge your representative to sponsor H.Res. 786 or thank them if they are one of the 60 members who have already called for a cease-fire.  

Take a few minutes today to call and email your Members of Congress. Here is a sample script you can use

Here are some tips when communicating with your elected officials: 

  • Keep it short. 
  • Indicate that you are either a constituent or a supporter. 
  • Give your top ask—an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Gaza. 
  • Explain why you are passionate about a cease-fire. 
  • Explain how you represent others who feel the same way. 
  • Be respectful and polite. 
  • Stay informed about the situation in Gaza to ensure your messages are relevant. 
  • Change the email subject line to avoid spam filters when using a mass email form. 

Call your senator to vote “NO” on aid to Israel 

We expect the Senate to vote on a $14.3 billion military funding package to Israel this week. We need to call key senators, including members of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs and ask them to vote NO on any military funding to Israel. Tell these senators that they must at least support placing conditions on the funding so that it is used in compliance with existing international and U.S. laws.  

Visit our Action Hour Agenda, and look under Action 2 for phone numbers and a script to follow. You do not have to be a constituent of one of the listed senators to make these calls! 

More resources 

We opened our call last Friday with this poem, ‘Not Just Passing.’ The author, Hiba Abu Nada, a Palestinian poet from Gaza, was killed by an Israeli airstrike on Oct 20. She was 32. 

Our meeting agenda is full of information you may find helpful in your activism and advocacy. 

Visit our Action Hour landing page for more resources on staying engaged in the work to call for a cease-fire. 

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Scroll down to find some tips here

Donate today to support AFSC’s Gaza emergency response.