Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the General Convention directs the Office of Government Relations, using the powers at its disposal, to press Congress and the State Department to reinstate the full funding commitment of the US government to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for the 1.5 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the additional 3.5 million trapped for 70 years in refugee camps in the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan; and be it further
Resolved, That the Convention condemns the calculated use of live fire by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on civilians in Gaza, during full-scale Israeli military assaults as well as lethal sniper and drone attacks on Palestinians engaging in nonviolent demonstrations. In light of Israel's escalating indifference to international law and the rights of civilians under the Geneva Convention and other treaties, the Convention calls on the Congress and President of the United States to cooperate with calls by the United Nations for independent, transparent investigations into IDF shoot-to-kill policies against unarmed civilians. If information of human rights violations by Israeli military units is corroborated, the Convention stresses the obligation of the US government to enforce the Leahy Amendment, a statute which prohibits the U.S. from providing funds to foreign military units where human rights violations have been credibly identified.
The Episcopal Church has a strong history of advocacy on behalf of a just and lasting peace in Palestine and Israel. The Church has also urged relief of the dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. A 2006 action of the Executive Council called for Church policy to include support for the return of sovereign control of Gaza’s airspace and coastline and borders to the Palestinian people and mutual respect for borders. Further, a 2010 action of the Executive Council called upon the President of the United States and the Congress to press the State of Israel to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip, thereby permitting free and uninhibited access for all humanitarian assistance, a return to normalized trade, and the lifting of the ban on building and educational materials.
The Israeli military blockade of Gaza, which controls all land, sea and air access to the Gaza Strip and its nearly 2 million people, has now passed its tenth year. This blockade, although ostensibly directed against the group Hamas, denies health care, shelter, fuel, food, freedom of movement, water, building materials and clothing to all people of Gaza so that in fact, those primarily suffering from the blockade are innocent non-combatants, especially women and children. The blockade and its effects constitute collective punishment, a practice forbidden by international law and the Geneva Convention. Added to the blockade have been three overwhelming military assaults during the same period that have killed and injured thousands of people, mostly women and children; destroyed most of Gaza’s infrastructure, including schools, mosques, and hospitals; left tens of thousands homeless; blocked access to health care; and caused pervasive unemployment and poverty. Gaza is now the scene of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises; assessments predict that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020.
The US government recently stated its intention to reduce support of UNRWA by $65 million. Two-thirds of the people of Gaza are classified as refugees and receive most of their health care, food, and education from UNRWA. Such a cruel and drastic reduction in funding basic human services will extend the suffering of the people of Gaza even more.
Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, is one of the few Christian institutions in Gaza and receives much of its funding from caring for UNRWA patients; the reduced financial support will threaten its
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