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Sebastopol activist heads to Gaza

A Sebastopol activist is bound for Egypt with a peace delegation that hopes to get into Gaza next week to build a children?s playground and tour areas devastated by the Israeli military operation in January.

Barbara Briggs-Letson, a retired nurse, is part of a 72-person delegation organized by the peace group Code Pink to ?call attention to the plight of youth and children? in Gaza, she said.

The delegation plans to meet in Cairo on May 28 in hopes of entering Gaza through the Rafah gate two days later.

If they get into Gaza, Briggs?Letson, 75, said the group will help build an International Friendship Playground and tour the war-damaged areas in Gaza?s northern region.

The group?s itinerary, organized in collaboration with a United Nations relief agency, will include two refugee camps and two hospitals. Briggs?Letson said the group also plans to visit a UN school that was bombed several times during the war.

In 2006, Briggs?Letson was among 14 Americans who traveled to Amman, Jordan for a meeting with Iraqi leaders who described their own plan for peace in their country.

Israel?s 23-day bombardment and invasion of Gaza, halted in January, reportedly included about 1,330 Palestinian deaths. The campaign was launched in response to thousands of rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas last year.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday in Washington that he is ready to resume peace talks with the Palestinians immediately. President Barack Obama had bluntly and publicly told the Israeli leader it was time to get back to the negotiating table.

Leaders of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that governs Gaza, have recently made conciliatory remarks to the West, saying they want to be part of a Mideast solution.


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