Return to the Statistics (home) page Learn more about us. If Americans Knew: what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine
Statistics History Current Situation US Interests Media Analysis About Us
Top Border

printer symbolPrint this Page
letter symbolEmail this Page


Resistance and Efforts for Peace

American priest and nun join Palestinian non-violent resistance in Gaza

Michigan Peace Team
International Solidarity Movement
November 23, 2006

Father Peter Dougherty and Sister Mary Ellen Gundeck sit on the rooftop of the house of Mohammad Baroud, holding Palestinian infants in their arms.
Father Peter Dougherty and Sister Mary Ellen Gundeck sit on the rooftop of the house of Mohammad Baroud, leader of the Popular Resistance Committees that Israel targeted for destruction, in Beit Layiha, northern Gaza Strip.

On November 21 and 22, Father Peter and Sister Mary Ellen of the Michigan Peace Team visited the homes in Jabalya and Beit Lahia, Gaza, that have been surrounded with Palestinian men, women, and children, in order to prevent the Israeli military from destroying them.

Peter and Mary Ellen were the first internationals to join the group of about 75 Palestinians at the family home of Mohammed Wael Baroud, a leader in the Popular Resistance Committees. Villagers have been gathered at the house since the evening of Saturday, November 18th, when the family received a phone call from the Israeli military that they had 30 minutes to evacuate. Over 200 neighbors and friends converged at the home to protect it from destruction.

While the media has been reporting that Hamas is using people as human shields – a violation of international law – Father Peter and Sister Mary Ellen have found that this was not the case. The people in Gaza have voluntarily decided to use their presence as a form of non-violent resistance against Israel’s overwhelming military power. Men and women alike are keeping a continual presence at the house, which is home to four families – 22 people, 10 of whom are children – and have stated that they will not move until the demolition is completely called off and the soldiers apologize.

It is a violation of international law for Israel to collectively punish the people of Gaza. Since June, the military has demolished 73 homes of suspected militants, causing hundreds of civilians to become homeless. Peter and Mary Ellen’s message to the media remained consistent: “We do not believe in any use of violence by any side. The occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli military is the fundamental violence. The use of collective punishment such as the destruction of homes is a violation of international law. It is never legitimate to destroy the homes of women, children, and elderly for the actions of one person.”

Palestinians expressed great gratitude to the priest and nun for their willingness to be there in solidarity and to share in their risks. They handed Peter and Mary Ellen their infant children to hold as a sign of trust. Palestinian mothers had a message for the mothers in the United States: “Come to Gaza. Visit our home. You will see we have no Apache helicopters, we have no bombs. Come to Gaza. You are welcome.”

While in Gaza, Father Peter and Sister Mary Ellen also met with a Palestinian Catholic priest and the Director General of Emergency Services for Gaza for the Palestinian Authority. Both leaders described the absolutely dire situation in Gaza.

With the recent attacks by the Israeli military in Beit Hanoun and Jabaliya, hundreds of civilians were killed and injured. There has been a lack of consistent electricity and running water since Israeli forces destroyed much of the civilian infrastructure this summer.

Much of the agricultural land has been bombarded and is now covered in white ash and no longer able to sustain crops. The priest told them that over 150,000 fruit trees have been destroyed in Beit Hanoun in the last two years alone. Malnutrition is on the rise, and children often eat little more than pepper sandwiches.

Children in Gaza have been traumatized. The priest told them that at times, the F16s fly so low children are thrown from their beds. He spoke of the increase in stunted growth, failure to thrive and signs of trauma, including an increase in bed wetting among 12-15 year-old children.

Since Israel froze tax money and the United States and European Union halted aid shortly after the election of Hamas, government employees have not been paid. Peter and Mary Ellen were told that since June 25 when the Israeli soldier was captured, there have been over 400 Palestinians killed – mostly women and children.

The priest and nun had the chance to visit the Palestinian government hospital in Beit Lahia. They saw how it used to hold 70 beds, but in the past 2-3 months has needed to add another 70. The director general of emergency services spoke of the weapons being used against Palestinian children – missiles from Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets. He has seen tiny missile fragments cut through skin, and a white phosphoric powder burn the wound. This type of injury does not seem to be responding to treatment.

The Michigan Peace Team members will return from Gaza within a few days.

Corrected November 25th.
See also article on the Gulf News website.

Back to topBack to Top

printer symbolPrint this Page

letter symbolEmail this Page

Videos & Multimedia

Nonviolent Protest in Bil'in, 4/17/09; Bassem Abu Rahme is Killed

3/20/2004 demonstration in Karbatha, Palestine – activists shot

View footage from 2/6/2004 demonstration at Georgetown University, USA

View footage from 12/26/2003 demonstration in Mas’ha, West Bank—Israeli activist, Gil Ne’amati, is shot

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Ramallah, West Bank

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

MORE footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

Related Articles

The Death of Bassem Abu Rahme

Witness for the Defenseless

American priest and nun join Palestinian non-violent resistance in Gaza

Nonviolent Palestinian Resistance

The Palestinian Resistance: Its Legitimate Right and the Moral Duty

More Articles on Resistance

Additional Resources

Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance

Charter of the United Nations


Courage to Refuse

American Muslims for Palestine

A Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)

Sabeel – Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center

Friends of Sabeel, North America

More Religious Peace Groups

Stay Informed

Sign up for our mailing list and receive an email whenever we post a new article on our news site, Israel-Palestine News.

If Americans Knew distributes and posts to our website copyrighted material, sometimes without the permission of the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of the Israel/Palestine conflict. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law since it is being distributed without profit for purely educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

This website is printer-friendly. Please Print this article and share it with your friends and family.