(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/12/2009) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported today that Israeli bullets hit the house of two American children trapped under bombardment by Israel in the Gaza Strip.
CAIR has been seeking State Department assistance in evacuating the two children, ages six and three, along with all the other Americans in Gaza. Friends of the family contacted CAIR seeking help. (Photos of the family are available from CAIR.)
Reached by phone in Gaza, the father of the American children said bullets fired from an Israeli tank hit the family home in Beit Hanoun on Saturday. He said a nearby two-story home owned by his brother was destroyed today by the Israelis. The father, who graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said he has recently been contacted by American officials about a possible evacuation.
In a response to a letter CAIR sent January 7 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the State Department said that an evacuation is being planned this week for almost 150 American citizens and their family members trapped in Gaza. Officials say 16 American citizens were evacuated on January 2. American sponsors are also being sought for those evacuees who may be brought to the United States. A number of potential evacuees are non-citizen parents of young American-born children.
“We call for the immediate intervention of the Bush administration to demand that Israel stop its attacks on civilian areas so that all the American citizens facing death in Gaza can be safely evacuated,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “Each day the evacuation is delayed means another day in which U.S. citizens might be injured or killed by American taxpayer-funded weapons in a brutal campaign supported by our own government.”
He said citizens of many other nations, including Canada, Russia, the Philippines, Ukraine, Denmark, Austria, Norway, Romania, and Sweden have already been evacuated from Gaza.
Hooper noted that the death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza has topped 900, including many women and children. In its attacks, Israel has denied access to wounded civilians and has targeted homes, schools, mosques, universities, medical and United Nations personnel, and a church. A leading human rights group yesterday accused Israel of using white-phosphorus munitions in its attacks on civilian areas.
The United Nations’ top human rights official said Friday that the Israeli military may have committed war crimes in Gaza.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.