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$103,000 Pledged to Palestinian Relief in Overland Park, Kansas

posted on: Jul 9, 2009

Participants at the July 2 “Viva Palestina” fundraising event held at the Overland Park Marriott hotel pledged $103,000 for medical relief for Palestinians in Gaza. This generous sum is the largest grassroots fundraising effort for Palestinians in Kansas or Missouri – ever.

Overland Park, KS – infoZine – Mr. George Galloway, British member of parliament, gave a much-anticipated speech to a capacity crowd of 300 at the hotel. The speech focused on the devastation to Palestinian lives and property during the Israeli military campaign Operation “Cast Lead.”

Credit for the large amount raised goes to Galloway for his convincing appeal for direct relief to Palestinians in Gaza. Members of Kansas City’s Muslim and Arab-American communities, as well as many other residents responded generously.

The amount raised will ensure that six trucks representing Kansas and Missouri, will be purchased in Egypt and driven to Gaza, joining with hundreds of other relief vehicles donated by generous Americans from all across the United States.

Three Kansas City audience members will journey to Egypt to drive the vehicles in a convoy flying US flags and state and organizational banners to begin a two-week stay in Gaza. Galloway mentioned that his three-month tour of US cities raised $2 million.

One participant “found the event informative and practical, the tone was as much of a call to action as it was a personal, emotional reaction to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

Representatives of several organizations supported the appeal for funds, including American Friends Service Committee—KC, Peaceworks, Citizens for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land (Lee’s Summit, MO), Seventh Generation Indigenous Visionaries (Haskell student group traveling to Palestine on August 1), American Muslims for Palestine, Citizens for Justice in the Middle East, and MAS Freedom.

Recalling the “dark days” of the massacre of thousands of refugee women and children at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in 1982 following the devastation of Beirut by invading Israeli forces, Galloway suggested the Israeli attacks in December 2008/January 2009 cast an even darker pall over the Palestinian future.

By preventing Palestinians from departing the small Gaza Strip, he described the recent attacks as “shooting fish in a barrel.”

Galloway said tens of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed during the 22-day Israeli military campaign. A United Nations report found “52,400 families had homes that were demolished or damaged. Due to ongoing restrictions on the entry of essential construction materials, reconstruction or major repairs have yet to take place.”

If conditions were not bad enough, Galloway stressed “not a single brick, bag of cement, hammer or nails” had been allowed into Gaza to rebuild homes, hospitals, mosques, or schools. “Some people are living in the ruins of their houses,” he added.

Child malnutrition levels and unemployment have increased, leaving the protection of Palestinians to international agencies like the United Nations. Galloway underscored that it was the “UN’s responsibility to feed Palestinians but it was being denied” from providing supplies.

Galloway recalled several well-documented horrific incidents like the one where a 3-year old girl was left undiscovered for days after the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in Zatoun. Another where a ten-year old girl lost all seven family members. During Galloway’s visit to Gaza with a British convoy in March 2009 the girl asked him “where is this Arab world they tell us about in school?” referring to the lack of Arab government support after the 22 days of Israeli attacks.

Matt Quinn