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Jewish Voice for Peace to lead Shabbat vigil mourning 39 Palestinians killed, demand Senators break silence, urge investigation into whether Israeli military units received U.S. weapons, training.

Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago led over 50 constituents of Illinois’ 9th Congressional District in a vigil urging Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) to condemn Israeli military snipers’ deliberate targeting of unarmed Palestinian protesters participating in the Gaza #GreatReturnMarch.

Since then, on Thursday 4/26, Rep. Schakowsky and several other legislators released a statement in which they “call on the Israeli Defense Forces to immediately stop using deadly force against unarmed protestors.”

Friday April 27th, Jewish Voice for Peace led a second Shabbat vigil welcoming Rep. Schakowsky’s statement and urging her and other signatories to uphold U.S. law by launching an investigation into whether the Israeli military units responsible for these abuses have received U.S. weapons or training. Under what is commonly known as the Leahy Law, it is illegal to provide weapons or training to military units guilty of “gross violations of human rights,” including “extrajudicial killings.”

Participants will also demand that Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, who have still not commented on the killings despite the growing outcry in Congress, break their silence.

They will also honor the lives of Palestinians protesters killed by the Israeli military in Gaza by speaking the names of those who can be identified and reciting the Kaddish – a Jewish mourning ritual.

Approximately 42 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including minors and at least 35 who were shot dead by Israeli snipers while participating in the Gaza #GreatReturnMarch. Several minors are included in that number. More than 5,000 have been wounded. On Thursday, April 27th in New York City, 14 Jewish Voice for Peace members were arrested while demanding the New York Senator Chuck Schumer condemn the killings.

Led by Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, the program included:
– Scout Bratt of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago
– Gail Schechter, Chicago Area Peace Action
– Reverend Emily Heitzman

The event was held Friday, April 27, across the street East of Evanston’s Fountain Square, West of 1603 Orrington Avenue in Evanston

MORE BACKGROUND: On Friday, March 30th, an estimated 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza launched the #GreatReturnMarch. Organized by a cross section of civil society, grassroots activists, and political factions, this effort highlights the impact of Israel’s brutal military blockade and re-centers the issue of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the homes from which they, or their parents and grandparents, were expelled in 1948.

The Israeli military responded with a brutal show of force – snipers opened fire with live ammunition in acts that Human Rights Watch denounced as “unlawful” and “calculated”. Amnesty International has condemned the Israeli military’s use of “excessive force” and assigned clear responsibility to Israeli authorities.

Israel’s government has made clear that it fully supports these deliberate killings. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has stated: “There are no innocents in Gaza.” The day after the killing of the first 15 Palestinian protesters on March 30, the Israeli military posted, then promptly deleted, the following tweet: “Yesterday we saw 30,000 people; we arrived prepared and with precise reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”

As of April 27th, up to 42 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,400 have been injured, including children and clearly-identified members of the press.

JVP-Chicago is the local branch of Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jvp.org), a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 200,000 online supporters, over 60 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists

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