Palestinian-American, Chinese-American and Egyptian activists are together in Cairo for an international humanitarian mission and to fight against the Zionist war machine paid for by the U.S. Lee Siu Hin, National Coordinator of the China-U.S. Solidarity Network and the National Immigrant Solidarity Network, participated. 

As of March 25, over 32,000 Gazans have been killed, at least 74,000 injured and at least another 8,000 are still missing, believed to be buried under the destroyed buildings. At least 360,000 houses have been destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), or as we peace activists call them the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), in the brutal invasion of Gaza since Hamas began “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” on Oct. 7, 2023.

Lee Siu Hin and Susan Abulhawa in Cairo, Egypt, March 2024.

Israel’s ultimate goal is the total blockade, destruction, genocide and ethnic cleansing of every Palestinian in Gaza. The IOF are systematically and deliberately targeting humanitarian convoys carrying desperately needed food and medicine. At least a dozen trucks carrying food have been attacked and destroyed and nearly 200 humanitarian workers killed as of early March. Several hundred Gazans were killed by the IOF while waiting for food, including in the notorious Flour Massacre on Feb. 29 in northern Gaza. That is, without a doubt, a crime against humanity! Yet the United States, Israel’s most important ally and military backer, has intentionally vetoed the past three United Nations draft resolutions (Oct. 8 and Dec. 8, 2023, and Feb. 20, 2024) calling for a ceasefire and full access to humanitarian aid.

Instead, the U.S. insists that Israel has the “right to defend itself” and has continued to send multibillion dollars worth of military aid to Israel, including an additional $14 billion requested by the Biden administration. It has quietly approved more than 100 arms sales since Oct. 7.

By contrast, during the same period the U.S. has sent $180 million, a relatively small token, for the people of Gaza. That’s approximately $1,460 for each Israeli just for weapons vs. $85 in “aid” for each Gazan. While helping Israel block aid convoys by road, the U.S. responded by launching ineffective and expensive air drops parachuting 38,000 pallets of Meals Ready-to-Eat five months after the assault on Gaza began — tasteless, totally useless military rations sent to Gazans who desperately need real food, water and medicine. The air drop operation also caused chaos and accidents on the ground, killing at least five people and injuring 10 others with these U.S. aid packages dropped from the air, according to the media.

Egypt, bordering with Gaza, is the most important host country to receive the international aid, shipping it by truck into Gaza via the famous Rafah crossing. Because the Egyptian government historically has very close relationships with the U.S. and Israel, its leaders don’t want to upset either of them by completely opening the border for international humanitarian operations. Instead, Egypt blocks and even detains international activists who want to challenge the Israeli blockade at the Rafah crossing.

A call from international communities

Facing this critical situation, the international community drafted a letter to the Egyptian government supporting the international grassroots initiative to send an aid convoy to Gaza through Rafah. The letter was initiated by the Arab International Centre for Communications and Solidarity and signed by more than 12,500 people from Egypt, other Arab countries and international supporters (including this author). It petitioned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Egypt to issue “a permit to send an aid convoy to Gaza through Rafah, whereby petitioners and other volunteers will steer and accompany the convoy at their own risk.” AICCS called upon all free people and all Arab and international entities and individuals “to support this initiative by either volunteering to partake in the convoy and/or to express support for this initiative through statements and letters.”

A meeting scheduled to be held on March 12 to discuss this with the Ministry was  canceled at the last moment by the Ministry without rescheduling. Obviously, the big imperialist power (the U.S.) doesn’t want to allow international efforts to break the U.S.-backed Israeli blockade that prevents humanitarian assistance from reaching the people of Gaza fighting for justice. Also, those in Egypt who profit from continuing the blockade, including some international Non-Governmental Organizations, would lose out.

However, international activists aren’t giving up. There have been many international medical activists from different grassroots NGOs and humanitarian organizations who have entered Gaza to help people and who have filed factual reports to the world.

Interview with Susan Abulhawa

One of them is Susan Abulhawa, who I interviewed in Cairo, Egypt.

Susan Abulhawa is a U.S.-based Palestinian novelist, poet and activist, the executive director of the Palestine Writes Literature Festival and the founder and co-director of Playgrounds for Palestine, an organization to support

children. She’s been entering Gaza from Cairo, Egypt, with her Egyptian activist friends who have formed a committee to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza since early this year.

Lee Siu Hin: We represent China and Chinese-Americans who want to join their humanitarian efforts, so we made a special trip to Cairo in mid-March to meet with her.

Items for Gaza, in Cairo, Egypt, March 2024.

Susan Abulhawa explained that what she saw in Gaza was much worse than what we have seen on the U.S. news: “Israel is not just targeting humanitarian organizations and activists. They are targeting all the infrastructure of life. They are making sure that not only are they destroying everything, but they are destroying the possibility of rebuilding.”

Lee: What do you mean by “the centers of life?”

SA: It is the schools, the hospitals, the community centers. These are generally in every society. All of that stuff has been targeted. All of our cultural centers, the museums and the libraries, the people they have targeted have been the scientists, the doctors, the writers.

When you commit a holocaust, when you want to destroy a people, you destroy the brightest among them, you destroy the people who can rebuild the society and who can create a society anew. And those are the people they have targeted.

Lee: What have the grassroots organizations in Egypt locally and internationally been doing for Gaza?

SA: There are a lot of organizations who want to go into Gaza to help. Unfortunately, Israel has blocked everyone. There are no [international] journalists in Gaza, because Israel is blocking every international media outlet from actually going in and reporting the truth.

There are aid organizations who want to go in who cannot. Some medical aid has been going in via delegations of doctors. They go in for a week or two weeks, and then they leave. Everything is difficult. They come in with their expertise, but they don’t have the right equipment to work when 30 out of 36 hospitals are destroyed, and the operating rooms are down to the bare minimum; most of what’s left don’t have reliable electricity. They don’t have enough medication. They don’t have anesthesia. Israel is banning scissors, so you cannot have medical scissors go into Gaza. So, a lot of things are banned. And even though some medical experts are going in, what they can do is limited, and also it depends on what part of Gaza. So, in the north of Gaza, nothing really is getting in.

At the end of the interview, Abulhawa had a special message to China, and how China can support Palestine: “China is a really important geopolitical player in the world. And so far, it has been mostly quiet. They vote the right way at the U.N., and some of the statements they make are great, but we need China not just to be working towards becoming an economic powerhouse. China has a chance to become, not just an economic and political force, but a moral force. And this is the time to do that, for China to become these things.”

After the interview, we went to the wholesale district at Cairo’s city center to purchase the lists of humanitarian items to take into Gaza for the group’s upcoming trip. Mostly basic, everyday items, such as: running shoes, shibshibs (sandals), batteries, books, notepads, over-the-counter medicines and coffee. The most expensive item was a video projector with a portable solar power generator, so people can show videos to the kids.

What are we going to do next?

The U.S. imperialist policy in the Middle East will not change. It will continue to back the Zionist state, continue to destroy Palestine and continue to destabilize the region. Regardless who wins the U.S. election in November, Biden or Trump, the IOF invasion and occupation of Gaza and other Palestinian lands won’t end — the injustice has already continued for the past 75 years.

We’re actively working with international and local organizations, representing peace-loving Chinese people and Chinese-Americans, collecting medical donations to enter Gaza for our humanitarian mission soon. We want to see an end to the suffering of the people in Gaza and to bring much-needed food and medical assistance. We’re going to continue to fight for peace and justice.

We are going to continue to fight for our better future. We’re calling for a Free Palestine!

U.S. – Hands Off Gaza! Egypt – Open the Rafah Crossing NOW!

About Lee Siu Hin 李小轩

Lee Siu Hin, a Chinese-American immigrant activist from Los Angeles, California, is the founder and national coordinator of the China-U.S. Solidarity Network

and the National Immigrant Solidarity Network. NISN is a grassroots-based national immigrant activist network, and CUSN is a network of academic and community activists in both countries committed to building a China-U.S. grassroots activist dialogue.

Lee is a long-time community, labor, antiwar and immigrant rights activist for grassroots struggle. He’s also a long-time Pacifica Radio KPFK Los Angeles unpaid reporter and producer and war correspondent who has worked in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Lee holds a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) and a Masters of Engineering (Aerospace) from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, located in Pomona, California. He is currently working on medical IT technology for the inner-city community and for the Global South. He travels frequently between China and the U.S. for activism work.

His latest book “Capitalism on a Ventilator,” was co-published with Sara Flounders in September 2020.  The Chinese edition was released in January. He contributed to “Sanctions: a wrecking ball in a global economy,” published in December 2022 and produced the documentary “Vaccine and Sanctions,” released in February, 2023. His second documentary, “Voice of Xinjiang,” is still under production; a short version was released in December 2023.

Lee Siu Hin

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