Posted on July 06, 2006 in Press Releases

The Arab American Institute today condemned Israel’s indiscriminate use of helicopter and tank fire in highly populated Palestinian centers, resulting in the death of 20 Palestinians, including children.

AAI once again called on the Bush Administration to speak out against the deepening crisis in the Gaza Strip and urge both sides to stand down while diplomatic efforts continue to try and secure the release of an Israeli soldier captured several days ago. The Israeli soldier’s own parents recently called for the pursuit of a diplomatic solution.

“It’s unconscionable that the use of such heavy weapons should be tolerated in such populated Palestinian towns as Beit Lahiya and the Jabaliya Refugee Camp,” said AAI President James Zogby. “It is the silence of our government – in the face of the abyss facing the Palestinians and Israelis – that has partly resulted in the tragic deaths we have seen today.”

Twenty Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed as Israeli forces – backed by helicopter gunships and tanks – pushed further into Gaza. Israeli forces repeatedly launched aerial strikes into crowded groups of Palestinians.