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Easter Joy Amidst Gaza's Despair: Contrasting Realities

6 April 2024

By Isra Nadeem 

The White House's Easter Egg Roll kickstarted the week with a heart-wrenching reminder of the dire humanitarian crisis that Palestinian children are facing due to food scarcity and disease outbreaks in Gaza. This was further highlighted when the DC City Council's reluctance to address the conflict was brought to attention, emphasizing the need for prompt action amidst continued violence. Reports of Israeli forces deliberately attacking aid workers underscored the urgency of the situation, prompting advocacy efforts targeting political figures to halt arms sales to Israel. CODEPINKs activities culminated in a call to action against an $18 billion arms proposal, urging policymakers to prioritize humanitarian concerns over military support.

Monday, April 1st

The White House holds an Egg Roll event annually on Easter Monday to honor the holiday. This tradition dates back to the 1870s when children began participating in the classic American custom of rolling hard-boiled eggs, which are brightly colored, across the South Lawn of the White House using wooden spoons. While the event is meant to bring joy to children and Biden attempts to cover up the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip, we decided to remind the community of the immense suffering that the Palestinian children are under. As the conflict enters its 6th month, food and safe water have become incredibly scarce, and diseases are spreading, particularly among women and children, compromising their nutrition and immunity. This has led to a surge in acute malnutrition, and more than 25 children have reportedly died due to complications linked to malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization. 

The situation is dire, with 90 percent of children under the age of 2 and 95 percent of pregnant and breastfeeding women facing severe food poverty. According to the latest IPC report that was released on 15th March, it has been inferred that half of the population in Gaza, comprising 1.1 million people, will face phase five famine by mid-July unless the situation in the strip changes. The condition in North Gaza is already alarming, as 210,000 people are currently living under the worst possible conditions and meet the famine criteria. 

Tuesday, April 2nd

The DC City Council, better known as the Genocide Council, has been silently calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. As public pressure has built up over the past months, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson did host a briefing organized by a group that called for a permanent ceasefire—during a recent interview with DCist/WAMU, Mendelson's office expressed their reluctance to work on a resolution concerning an international issue. Mendelson explained that he believed it was not within the Council's jurisdiction to involve themselves in global matters. He further emphasized the importance of considering different viewpoints and perspectives but ultimately maintained that the Council should refrain from involvement in such issues. Despite the potential impact of such a resolution, Mendelson and his office remain firm in their stance on the matter. Going into the 7th month of the genocide, Mendelson has stayed firm on no resolution being passed, and we decided during this council meeting we should remind that people are resilient. We will continue to push them to pick a side, either ceasefire or genocide. 

Wednesday, April 3rd

On Tuesday, it was reported that the Israeli air strikes that caused the deaths of 7 aid workers from World Central Kitchen in Gaza were not accidental. The World Central Kitchen had been operating in Gaza with approval from the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The IOF works closely with aid organizations such as WCK and receives information from them, including GPS coordinates. Therefore, blaming bad intelligence is not a valid excuse. The aid workers were traveling in a marked WCK vehicle, which was bombed by the Israeli forces. When the workers fled, the rescue vehicle that had come to their aid was also bombed, as well as the car after that. The aid workers were of various nationalities, including Australian, Canadian-American, Polish, British, and Palestinian. Even though their citizens were killed alongside Palestinians in Gaza, Western governments continue to supply arms to Israel. As a result of the attacks and intimidation by the Israeli forces, aid shipments to Gaza have been turned around, and WCK and other organizations have had to pause their operations in the area. On Wednesday, we focused on the Foreign Affairs Committee, both Republican and Democrat, to express our concern about this current escalation of events. Israel has recently bombed the Al Shifa Hospital and the Iranian Embassy in Syria, and targeted humanitarian workers which is unforgivable and incredibly dangerous. We need to conclude that we must not send any more weapons to a state that does not respect any person and is willing to kill humanitarian workers on purpose. Van Hollen is a prime example we used when we traveled office to office, explaining how he condemned this violence, and with each escalation, there is a new reason to send military aid no longer.

Thursday, April 4th 

On Thursday, we visited the Senate to express our deep concern regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We visited more progressive offices than the ultra-conservative ones, including Cardin, Van Hollen, Merkeley, Walsh, and Graham. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), along with Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and five other Democratic colleagues in the Senate, sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to enforce federal law by requiring Netanyahu's government to stop restricting humanitarian aid access to Gaza or forfeit U.S. military aid to Israel. We thanked those who signed onto this letter, and those who continue to support the Israeli government were educated about the atrocities they have been inadvertently supporting with a teach-in. We also visited offices that have been urging Biden directly, such as Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware who endorses the military restrictions on military aid to Israel and supports humanitarian assistance.

Friday, April 5th

The Biden administration is urging Congress to approve a proposal to sell $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Israel, while President Biden resists demands to limit U.S. arms sales to Israel over its military operations in Gaza. Biden is facing pressure from foreign allies, human rights organizations, and some Democrats in Congress to impose restrictions on arms transfers to curb Israel's offensive in Hamas-controlled Gaza. More than 32,000 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed, according to health officials. We went to the office of Ben Cardin, who is the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a friend of Biden, and a government official who is not running for re-election as senator, to urge him to take action against this bill. We also visited a few more offices with the same message. STOP THE WEAPONS SALE