U.S. Leads Multinational Evacuation From Gaza

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
February 2, 2009

American diplomats in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Amman led a coordinated evacuation of over 250 foreign nationals and 93 U.S. citizens from the Gaza Strip January 21-22, 2009. U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv coordinated the operation with diplomatic representatives from other countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Jordan, Norway, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Turkey. In the video above and text below, U.S. diplomats reflect on the experience.Mr. Andrew Parker, Consul General, American Embassy Tel Aviv: The U.S. Embassy was asked by the Israelis to take on the role of being the coordinator for this international evacuation. We began by contacting 25 countries that have nationals here who were interested in evacuating people. We brought them together at the Embassy and started a coordination group, and we have been providing daily updates as we have negotiated with COGAT (Israeli Border Authority responsible for controlling this Erez Crossing and other crossings in and out of Gaza) and with the others to try to arrange departure for their foreign nationals. So, they have been the key interlocutor for us as we try to arrange this departure.

Mr. Van Reidhead, Political Officer, American Embassy Tel Aviv: We worked throughout the last two weeks of the conflict to put it together and then we were finally, as the ceasefire came into place, able to coordinate with the other embassies, with our consulate in Jerusalem and with the Israeli authorities to bring out – I don’t recall the numbers – but a great deal of American and other third country nationals. We are very happy it worked out.

Mr. Jonathan Crawford, Vice Consul, Consulate General, Jerusalem: I have got 90 American citizens and their families. This is part of an international evacuation and coordination effort. Today, we have about 350 foreign nationals who are leaving. We have been working really hard for the past two weeks trying to organize the names, confirm citizenship, and then work out the logistics of bringing people out of what used to be a war zone.

Well, it was definitely a lot of coordination, but it was also a big team effort. This is the first time that we worked very closely with, of course, our Embassy in Tel Aviv, with our colleagues in Amman, and with our colleagues in Cairo. So, really there were four missions here – American missions working hard to make this happen.

Mr. Ruben Harutunian, Vice Consul, American Embassy Tel Aviv: Today was my first time working with the Consular Section in an evacuation and it was really an exciting time to be here to be helping the people, especially what was most gratifying was being a welcoming face, an open face for the people as they came through the border and just helping them with their bags and really to showing them where the bathrooms were, showing them where the sandwiches were, just really hanging out with them and being relaxed and showing them a welcoming face from both the United States and on as they prepare for their onward journey.

Ms. Kristin Roberts, Vice Consul, American Embassy Tel Aviv: We got here this morning and it was quite a day. Just a few days ago there was a war going on here and bombs were flying just over the hills back here. Having the kids come through - especially the kids is what hit me – you have got these families and kids were coming through on their baggage and on the bags, sitting on top and they are leaving their life behind: They are leaving their school, they are leaving their friends, they are leaving members of their family. They were scared. Their eyes were glazed over like coming through an airport after several hours but they don’t know where they are going. They know they are going to America but that is all they know.

So, actually, the best part of it today for me was providing a friendly face and playing with the kids. They dug through a suitcase of toys that people had donated and helping them choose their toys and learning a little bit of Arabic and talking to them in a little bit of English, and just kind of providing a way for them to go out and play and relax and be happy and it is actually very tense and scary for them. So, for me that was the best part of the day. A lot of logistics are being handled. A lot less people came today than we expected so there was a lot of time available to really spend time with the families. I’d never met any Palestinians families until today and for me, personally, getting to know these families and these kids was really the best part of – really put a human face on it for me and I hope I did the same for them.

Comments

Comments

Zharkov
|
United States
February 2, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Is it true that our own allies are firing missiles at Israel?

Nice.

Are we shipping ammunition to both sides?

I'm almost curious -- which side is ours?
------------------------------------------------------------
HERZLIYA, Israel -- With Hamas signaling it is willing to enter a cease-fire with Israel, it was the U.S.-backed Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas whose so-called military wing took responsibility for a barrage of rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip today.

Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades called WND and also released an official pamphlet to take credit for firing at least five rockets and four mortars today, lightly wounding two Israeli soldiers and one civilian. Also taking responsibility was a cell claiming it was working on behalf of the Iranian-backed, Hamas-allied Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.

Cat
|
United States
February 2, 2009

Cat in U.S.A. writes:

I am not Jewish, but...if Canada were protecting a settlement of rocket firing extremists who were killing American citizens and hiding their rockets where there were peaceful Canadians living, I believe I would want our government to invade and destroy the enemies of this country. How do feel about it?

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
February 3, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

A Quote come to mind:

The true shame of humanity is that: Politics and Religion are not the true nature of people. It is the few who destroy the many. It is Peculiar that the few are generally more educated than the many is it not; given that, Knowledge is Godly.

So, again, we need to control the few from gaining oversight of the many who are not beneficial to Society. Should this not be the goal so the many can live in peace and develop?

Spirited D.
|
Tennessee, USA
February 3, 2009

S.D. in Tennessee writes:

I support Israel, but also, as an American, seeing refugees, not only have trouble with food, water, and seeing their kids and families go without, touches my heart! Those who do not believe in respect and freedom in the extremist Islamic movement, cause fear and distrust in all countries, especially the U.S. and israel, but I hope Americans, always, care for the war torn!

Zharkov
|
United States
February 3, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

As an American, I naturally want to support the "good side" in the Israeli-Palistinian conflict and this presents a huge problem for me because in the middle east, I see no such animal.

Israel employed continual terrorist attacks to force others off the land in 1948 through various groups such as the Haganah, which attacked and killed British and American citizens, including diplomats and military. Arabs are employing the same tactics now for the same purpose.

So which side do we want to be ours?
Whose victims do we wish to condemn?
Which side has "clean hands"?

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
February 3, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

The education of the children are the best solution for the future...it is a shame indeed. Egypt is putting up a longer fence, so there is no help even there. This is an International problem which may well need intervention to place the peaceful in another country until the problem is solved by either peaceful accord or war.

How the children are taught is how they will grow...somehow we need to find a way to guide the adults to lead the children properly...and I think all attempts at that were made thus far.

Hamas is still firing rockets since the peace accord and even during the Israel invasion; HAMAS was killing their Fatah competitors. This is by word of mouth from Palestine, yet the press did not cover it at all. They used the war as a disguise to maim and kill a lot of their political competition and those who openly wanted peace. They are a plague of evil to even their own.

Anyone have any ideas? How do you deal with them to change and adapt for the sake of the children? Do you honestly think they believe that the death of children is Godly in any way? Then again, people who think they have a right to stone others to death in public without any regard to the law cannot be Godly can they?

Other than elimination, what is the alternative? If elimination of this abstract is the only answer, how do you do it without hurting others?

Evelyn W.
|
California, USA
February 3, 2009

Eveyln W. in California writes:

There will not be peace until the U.S. sees that Israel stops the siege of Gaza. For too long we have been complicit in the brutality of the Israelis toward the people of Gaza. It is a shameful foreign policy that supports Israel when it uses the very powerful weapons that we have sold them against civilian targets. Open the borders so that the people of Gaza will receive the humanitarian aid that has been denied to them for years. Then the rockets will stop and Israel will not have to 'defend itself' by committing war crimes with the weapons we sell them.

Mark
|
United Kingdom
February 4, 2009

Mark R. in the United Kingdom writes:

Dear Mr President, I am a member of a writing group that from time to time becomes a debating society. Not surprisingly the subject of Israel and the Palestinians has become a hot topic. Among many suggestions I floated the idea that Jerusalem should become an independent state, rather like the Vatican with its own police force, and the Headquarters of the UN. I believe that the members would want the same representation as they now enjoy in New York and would agree that Jerusalem, as the fount of all three faiths associated with the Bible, is the natural home from which a peaceful solution for the area can be found. Mark R.

Paul O.
|
North Carolina, USA
February 6, 2009

Paul O. in North Carolina writes:

How about we just take over the middle east? Claim all the oil and gold they have, and make them all live in a democratic government forced upon them by an American Ambassador with American Military backing. Make them submit to our laws. And until they can live peacefully among themselves, let these barbarians pay taxes to the United States Government. Control of the Middle East is vital to the diplomacy of other continents.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 7, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Paul O, America has never been, nor ever will be a colonial power.

----

To whom it does very much concern @ State:

I'd like to see nations coordinate the evacuation of women and children from Gaza, regardless of status on humanitarian grounds.

Those that wish to leave should be afforded temp. safe haven in other countries listed above.

This will relieve the burden somewhat on NGO's providing relief aid inside Gaza by getting the innocent to the aid they desperately need and out of harm's way.

UN aid relief has been shut down due to Hamas stealing it for their own militias and in my opinion the ceasefire will not hold more than another week or two (at most a month) before all hell breaks loose.

And that despite the best efforts and intent of nations.

We have this coordinated effort to help foreign nationals, now is the time to use what you've created to save as many lives as possible.

Let nations not suffer a failure of imagination.

Zharkov
|
United States
February 12, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Now that is an amazing statement -- that America has never been a "colonial power."

I think the former Queen of Hawaii, the people of Puerto Rico, the Islands of Guam, and other U.S. Possessions, might remind us of the 13 colonies which we took by force from Britain and placed them and their laws subordinate to federal power. The differences between New York as a colony of Britain, and New York as a colony of Washington, D.C. amount to a different address for paying taxes, and todays taxes are far higher than colonial taxes once were.

I suppose it depends on how one redefines "a colonial power", but at the very least, we exploited Hawaii for its agricultural bounty, absorbed it into the Union, and stuck the natives with our taxes. Native Hawaiians often wish they had their queen back.

Paul makes a salient point -- why should our boys and girls die in the Middle East for land their children will never own?

Under Islam, most Americans could never practice other religions in those lands. When we fought wars with Mexico over Texas, we kept Texas. When we fought a war with Spain over Cuba, we kept Cuba until Fidel took it away from us. We kept all the lands taken from the Native Americans save only tiny fraction for Indian Reservations.

Today we fight wars and keep only the injured and the huge debt that remains long after the war is forgotten; there is nothing for the citizens who fight and die in these wars, most of which are never "won", only abandoned after terrible loss and expense. What is the point of sending our kids into battle when there is nothing in it for them?

Why cannot our government allow the so-called "oppressed people" in the Middle East fight their own wars against their oppressors?

What obligation should U.S. citizens have to liberate foreign citizens at our expense, who are not particularly interested in risking their own lives to be liberated?

John
|
Greece
February 13, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- According to your "historical logic" we all of us must return to caves. However, America in not an Empire, does not want or intend to become one and has never been a colonial power!

According to your thinking "path", if we accept that U.S.A. must return all these territories to Indians, the British, Spanish or French, then they have also to return everything they have/d to various "apes" living in caves, on the ground that there was no Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal or Indians etc. 2000 years ago, moreover 100,000 years ago. Even the Indians (natives) won't be able to make "accounting". Apaches won't agree with Cherokees on what they used to have and who has what. And then they will become "colonial"? (according to you) because there are also Navajo, Sioux, Chippewa and it goes?

I suspect, that when Eric in NM says that America has never been a colonial power, he means that all today's States (Puerto Rico, Islands of Guam inc.) are people who accepted the U.S. values and Constitution (Great Fathers' ideas) and they want to be a part of this humanitarian and ideological vision of a democratic and Free world. Otherwise, America would have tanks and military forces everywhere to keep its colonial power. I do not see any tanks. I do not see any conflicts inside U.S.A. Only Chinese and Russians use/d them? Where do you live and you do not see America? London? Paris? Moscow? (Switzerland?)

It's really "funny" to reading you write that Hawaii prefers the Queen, when for the first time in this State's history, today's President is a Hawaiian. I think that your argumentation is out of order. Even a child understands that 2009 Hawaii is absolutely logical to LOVE USA and not any Queen or other ex-Empire. Just only this makes your argumentation PROPAGANDISTIC and SUSPICIOUS.

I imagine that you believe that Canada, or Louisiana belong to France (LOL) I imagine that you like a very small, "splitting up" United States (LOL) And then your kind of governing? (LOL)

Sure! You'll never going to have it! Your "nightmare" answer to what you'll never have is the "logo": UNITED!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 13, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece -- World peace will be achieved eventually, if it be back to sticks and stones for all of us.

That is one but possibility that is not written in stone, hovever.

Just for the record.

As it relates to foreign policy, the history of "the Union" is perhaps one of the most unique undertakings in human history.

My simple statement that "America is not , and has never been a colonial power" ( while some cannot seemingly acertain the context in reply to the suggestion that the U.S. "take over" the the mideast - an act subject to interpretation in its own right), one could cite the obvious difference between America's aquisition of territory and integration into the Union, and the classical models of colonial power (Alexander-Greece, Ceasar-Rome, Cyrus-Persia, and so on...at the same time noting that history has always provided lessons.

The mindset involved in "nations within nation" leading to the recognition of the rights and sovereignity of indigenous peoples within what is now the existing territorial boundaries of the United States, is a lot more like Cyrus, than Alexander.

Democracy being "the great experiment", one generally learns from one's mistakes to form "a more perfect Union".

However, "Seward's folly" was not such. And I doubt the people of New Orleans have a problem with "the Louisiana purchase", just as the people of New Mexico regard the treaty of Guadalupe/Hildalgo as essential to having transformed the remains of the old Spanish colonial era into a working Democracy. Interestingly, the King of Spain had issued land grants to his citizens to settle New Mexico long before we became a nation, and those same land grants are still recognized today, as part of county record.

Back in the day, Cyrus took Babylon through peaceful conquest, freed all the slaves and instituted the first "federal system" of government that was based upon the first human rights document, and proceded in "the great experiment" to achieve much of what we take for granted as essential to a democratic form of governance.

The integration of Alaska, New Mexico and other "territories" was through popular referendum, not decree and that is the primary difference between "colonial power" and the power of democracy.

It can be fairly said that Americans do not recognize royalty within our borders as everyone is equal under the law, and having won independance from same. However, the decision to become part of the United States was ultimately the Hawaian people's decision.

Zharkov
|
United States
February 13, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

It is an interesting issue to think about -- is America a colonizer, and if not, why not?

Modern life in Afghanistan and Iraq is paid for with our citizen's blood and treasure, so why not colonize these lands? Shall we call them "East America"?

Or is foreign gratitude for human sacrifice supposed to be sufficient reward for families whose children will never return from foreign lands?

We did return Indian land that the federal government seized by force from them. We forced the Russians out of Northern California and forced Spain out of Southern California, and we kept their settlements and their land. We forced the Nazis out of Germany and our military bases remain in Germany today.

Do we colonize? Yes we can!

President Lincoln and his Congress started a civil war in order to block the South from independence. The Confederacy wanted to leave the Union and Lincoln decided to kill them rather than set them free.

The notion that we do not "colonize" other lands ignores reality -- we do colonize if we want to -- and if the Congress decides to keep the region, they never let go whether the natives agree or not.

No voters in Germany were allowed to decide where our military base should be located. Indians do not get to choose where their reservations would be. Southern states had no voice on the terms of surrender. Hawaiians never expected that the U.S. military, and U.S. mainland residents who relocated there, might be voting along with them.

People who take action to be free and independent of our federal government are often killed, as demonstrated during various massacres such as at Waco, Texas, where 83 people lost their lives because they rejected a federal search warrant -- a piece of paper -- and demanded to be left alone.

The people who wrote our Declaration of Independence did not want to preserve British rule over them, and the Confederate States did not want to continue Federal rule over them. In their respective times, both groups were a minority.

Today, dissolving our federal government is already under discussion in several states and a sovereignty movement exists in Hawaii and 20 other states for independence.

Naturally there are federal laws against insurrection, but ask yourselves this question:

If we are a free people, and we are governed by our consent as our government tells us, then why should our federal government care if the states vote to dissolve it, or secede from the Union?

One would think that state compliance with the provisions of our Declaration of Independence would be celebrated by federal officials. The right of the states to create or abolish a government is a natural right set forth in our Declaration of Independence and implied in our Constitution. Or are we no longer governed by our own Constitution or by consent?

John
|
Greece
February 14, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Z, I think that the recent financial environment should make you understand that: "when America just sneezes, the Globe catches a pneumonia".

If you continue this anarchic stance I will proceed with more details concerning your "Z plan"...Utopian (your plan), anyway!

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