(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/13/2009)- A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today decried the Bush administration’s “apparent indifference” to the dangers faced by the more than 150 American citizens and their family members trapped under Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) questioned why the U.S. government has not demanded that Israel halt its attacks to allow an evacuation of American citizens.
“It is shocking that our own government refuses to ask a nation that receives billions of American tax dollars each year to pause its killing machine long enough to bring U.S. citizens to safety,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “It is imperative that a long-term cease-fire be established to protect all of Gaza’s civilian population.”
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. “Our nation’s apparent indifference to the lives of its citizens is a matter of great concern,” said Hooper.
CAIR has been seeking State Department assistance in evacuating two American children, ages six and three, along with all the other Americans in Gaza. The father of the two children said bullets fired from an Israeli tank hit the family home in Beit Hanoun on Saturday. He said his brother’s nearby two-story home was destroyed yesterday by the Israelis.
The State Department tells CAIR that an evacuation is being planned but that no date has been set.
SEE: U.S. Preparing Evacuation of 150 Americans
SEE ALSO: ‘Nowhere is Safe’ for Trapped Gaza Civilians – UNRWA
CAIR is also seeking American sponsors 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.
SEE: Can You Sponsor U.S. Citizens Who Will be Evacuated from Gaza?
The death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza, which includes many women and children, is approaching 1000. Thousands of civilians have been injured.
SEE: Over 400 Palestinian Women, Children Killed in Gaza
In its attacks, Israel has denied access to wounded civilians and has targeted homes, schools, mosques, universities, medical and United Nations personnel, a hospital, and a church. A leading human rights group has accused Israel of using white-phosphorus munitions in its attacks on civilian areas.
Video: Israel Uses White Phosphorous Against Palestinian Civilians (CNN)
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.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org