On Tuesday August 5, a group of 30 mothers and families occupied NDP MP Don Davies' office in Vancouver advocating for Palestinian children who have died as a result of Israel's actions in Gaza.
The members of the Mothers and Families for Gaza action said they condemn both the current military operation and the continuous Israeli siege of Palestinian territories. "Children in Gaza have lived all or most of their lives under the Israeli siege that has blocked proper food, medicine, building supplies and other necessities of life from coming in to Gaza," the group said in a public statement.
The families are condemning Israeli attacks on Gaza that have targeted playgrounds, UN shelters, a disabled centre, hospitals and other public sites. A United Nations emergency report on August 5 noted that in Gaza over 141 schools and 24 health facilities have been damaged, 10,690 housing units have been destroyed or severely impaired and five hospitals have shut down.
The NDP is facing heavy criticism from groups across Canada for their recent statements on the conflict between Gaza and Israel. Human rights activists across the country are asking the NDP to denounce Israeli aggression, condemn Harper's support for Israel and call for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory.
The action Tuesday in Vancouver coincided with a die-in action that took place on Tuesday as well at NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's office in Montreal to protest the NDP's position on Israel.
On Sunday August 3, Mulcair asked for increased humanitarian support for Gaza. In previous statements, Mulcair expressed concern over the plight of civilians in Gaza, but also emphasised Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas.
On July 22, Mulcair wrote "Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization and Israel has the right to defend its citizens from these attacks, while doing its utmost to protect civilians… the world must redouble efforts toward de-escalation and a ceasefire now. The priority has to be to work for peace."
"We feel shocked and outraged at the silence of the NDP on the question of the Israeli occupation of Palestine as well as an urgent need to speak out against the current military terrorization of Gazans that's taking place," said Martha Roberts, spokesperson for families occupying the Davies' office.
The Mothers and Families for Gaza are calling for the "Opening of the border to Gaza, an end to the siege of Gaza, the release of Palestinian political prisoners and the dismantlement of illegal Israeli settlements," said Roberts.
As Roberts notes, the mothers and children at the action are trying to show people in Gaza that the world supports them and that the world stands in solidarity with them. "We're here to show our support and solidarity with our whole families and to educate our kids."
In a letter to Davies, the group states, "All of us are local residents and have children, and we believe that your silence is complicity. As mothers and families with children, we mourn for the children of Gaza whose precious lives have been cut short while our children are with us. In your capacity as a Member of Parliament, you must take a stand with your conscience, with or without your party."
Miriam Katawazi is a fourth-year journalism and human rights student at Carleton University and rabble's news intern. She has a strong passion for human rights and social justice in Canada and across the world. Her writing focuses on health, labour, education and human rights beats.
Photo: Courtesy of Mothers and Families for Gaza
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