Sunday, July 15, 2007

We’ve tried to enter Palestine by land. We’ve tried to arrive by air. Now we’re getting serious. We’re taking a ship!

BREAKING THE SIEGE IN GAZA

Dear friends and supporters,

please find below a copy of an article with information and interviews about the Break the Siege/Free Gaza campaign. The below article is an attempt to raise awareness and support for the campaign and includes a link to the campaign website.

Break the Siege needs your support - you can support the campaign in a variety of ways, including financially, but also by publicising of the campaign and organising solidarity events to coincide with the ship's departure to and arrival in Gaza.

Please feel free to distribute the article to your networks. Please consider talking to your social justice networks and the Palestine solidarity groups in your town, city or country about how they can support the campaign.

You can checkout the campaign website at www.freegaza.org

in solidarity, Kim
*******************************

Palestine: Breaking the siege in Gaza
Kim Bullimore


14 July 2007

http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/717/37247


"We've tried to enter Palestine by land. We've tried to arrive by air. Now we're getting serious. We're taking a ship".


In August 2007, up to 70 human rights activists from 13 countries will attempt to non-violently break the Israeli and international siege of the densely populated Gaza Strip by sailing a ship into Gazan territorial waters with US$25,000 worth of humanitarian aid to donate to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Israel has prevented the activists — who include teachers, students, musicians, politicians and holocaust survivors — from carrying out humanitarian work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The campaign aims to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and to pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.

Green Left Weekly spoke to three activists involved in the campaign.

Sharyn, who lives in Britain, gained the dubious distinction in 2002 of becoming the first international peace activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to be shot by the Israeli military, just four days after she arrived in the OPT. Despite this, Sharyn returned a further five times to carry out human rights work in the OPT before she was placed on the Israeli government's official blacklist of individuals prevented from entering Israel and the OPT.

Fellow Australian activist Michael, who was the ISM's media officer in 2003 when US activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death while trying to prevent an Israeli armoured bulldozer from demolishing a home in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, has also been blacklisted by Israel. When Michael tried to return to Palestine in 2004, he was detained for a week as a "security risk" and deported without ever leaving Israel's Ben Gurion airport.

According to Sharyn, "this blacklist has been [Israel's] plan B after plan A of simply shooting us drew international condemnation". Both Michael and Sharyn told GLW that the idea for the Break the Siege campaign was born in November 2006 because so many human rights and peace activists had been prevented from entering the OPT.

According to Michael, "The original idea was for these peace activists to arrive simultaneously at Ben Gurion airport and demand admittance to the OPT. However, it was soon decided that the real story was not Israel's treatment of internationals, but of the Palestinians themselves, and that we needed to focus on Israel's siege of Gaza." This led to the plan to charter a boat.

"Israel claims that since it pulled its settlers out of Gaza, the strip is a 'foreign country' that is no longer under Israeli occupation. If this is the case then its total control over Gaza's air space, territorial waters and border crossings [including those into Egypt] is a gross violation of international law", Michael said.

"The purpose of the mission is to draw attention to the fact that Israel is using its illegal choke hold on Gaza to wage economic warfare on an already desperately impoverished population by arbitrarily closing the strip's border crossings to exports, restricting the supply of food and medicines, closing offshore fisheries to Palestinian fishermen and brazenly stealing customs duties that belong to the Palestinian people."

According to Sharyn, Break the Siege is about showing "solidarity with people who are living under terrible conditions" and letting the "Palestinians know they are not forgotten", as well as placing international pressure on Israel.

Should they make it to Gaza, Sharyn expects "to be given gallons of sugary tea and have multiple families attempt to feed me their entire week's food supply in one sitting". However she doesn't expect the same welcome from the Israeli military, which is likely to "make it very evident" that it holds Gaza "in an iron grip" and "will attempt to stop our boat reaching the port. Since our Israeli colleagues will be on board with us, I hope the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] will decide a violent attack wouldn't be a good idea."

Also travelling on the ship will be 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, whose parent's perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Hedy told GLW she received "a wake up call" about Israel and Palestine in 1982 when she learned "about the massacres in the two refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon".

"I needed to find out what and why it happened; what preceded it, what had taken place since 1948. The more I learned and the more I understood, the more I began to speak out publicly against the policies and practices of the Israeli government and military."

Hedy hopes that the Break the Siege campaign will also serve as a "wake up call" for others and will contribute to a sustained global campaign to educate people about the reality of what is going on in the OPT.

Michael said the activists hoped that the campaign would assist in "mobilising people against Israeli apartheid" and that people would not only publicise and help finance the campaign, but also organise solidarity actions around the world to coincide with the ship's departure and its arrival in Gaza.

"The Israel-Palestine conflict has become the defining struggle between racism and justice in the world today. It is impossible to support justice, human rights and democracy without opposing Israeli apartheid", Michael said.

The Break the Siege campaign needs your support. Visit http://www.freegaza.org.

From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #717 18 July 2007.

4 comments:

ro said...

Oh dear.

The sooner the "palestinians" lay down their weapons and the "men" move off the street and actually start behaving like civilised peaceful people, the sooner any sane person (let alone the entire world) will take the Gaza Strip, the horrible Hamas or their poor stranded masses seriously .

If their "leadership" had just one tiny shred of peace or mercy in them they would creat an orange revolution but no, this is not what they do. This is exactly what they cant do because they dont know how.

Close off the border to Israel and let Egypt and its border deal with the violent insanity that is the "occupied" territory.

Work with these poor shattered people til their leaders can grow up and stop hating everything they do not understand. How could Hasmas be trusted to do anything but hate? It has simply no track record of anything else. Hamas hates the palestinian people - thats all that we can conclude from their ridiculous and contradictory and hideously violent acts.

Try not shooting rockets at Israel, stop building up arms against Israel,s top the MIckey mouse propaganda agaisnt a normal democracy and start educating and loving their people - that's what they ought to do. World resistance to a "palestinian state", if there is much, would crumble.

But until then, Hamas and their ugly ilk look like hypocrites who speak of "peace" and launch rockets of war.

Kim said...

dear ro,
what does "behaving like civilised peaceful people" mean?

Does it involve (see my report The Distance Between Reality and Rhetoric) killing 49 Palestinians in one month and wounding 147 others? (including deliberately wounding a journalist, who then had to have both legs amputated?)

Perhaps being "peaceful" and "civilised" entails carrying out 765 military invasions into local villages and townships and terrorising the population in 4 weeks?

Or does it involve committing more than 2000 human righs violation in just 30 days? Or abducting and holding without charge or trial more than 380 people?

Perhaps being "peaceful" and "civilised" entails carrying out an occupation for 40 years, stealing land that doesn't belong to you and dehumanising a whole population?

Like you I hate hypocrites who speak about "peace" and "civilisation" when their actions, or the actions of those they support, show otherwise.

Yaakeric said...

Kim

A simple yes or no.

Do you support suicide bombings and missile attacks on Israeli civilians as valid forms of resistance to the occupation?

Kim said...

Hmmm Yaarekic,
I believe I have answered your question before my previous posts and response (perhaps you should try and read them properly, as it would save you a lot of faux indignation)

As I said, previously the loss of any life is a terrible thing, so no I don't support suicide bombing, just as I don't support state terrorism.

You however in your posts have sought to justify or excuse Israeli state terrorism, why is that?

Perhaps you could explain why you support Israeli state terrorism, which has killed four times as many Palestinians compared to Israelis killed by individual terrorism and has killed 8 times as many Palestinian children as compared to individual terrorism killing Israeli children.

Perhaps you could explain why you support Israeli state terrorism which uses REAL missiles, rather then home made projectiles such as the Qassam rockets which the Israeli military derisively call "flying iron".

The Israeli Occupation Forces call them this because compared to the real missiles used by the Israeli state terror machine, they ability to inflict damage is actually minimal. Once again, hundreds more Palestinians have been killed by Israeli missiles as compared to Israelis killed by Qassams

The Israeli military and state, like any good repressive regime and occupier, however, understand the importance of propaganda. So they use the Qassams, which they know inflict minimal damage compared to real rockets/missiles, as propaganda to justify the use of REAL and much more DEADLY missiles against the Palestinian population.

Having said this, I would also point out that under international law, any occupied people have the right to armed resistance.

I would also point out that under international law the occupier (in this case Israel) has no right to:

*prevent the provisono of food and medical care to the population under occupation.

*Collectively or individually forcible transfers of population from and within the occupied territory

*Transfer the civilian population of the occupying power into the occupied territory [ie settlers], regardless whether forcible or voluntary

*To carry out collective punishment

*To take hostages (or to use them as humanshields)

*To confiscate or destroy property (private or public)

*To carry out extrajudicial murders (without trail)

*To arrest or detain people without charge or trail

*Not prevent humanitarian workers from accessing the occupied population

Israel, however, DOES ALL OF THE ABOVE in breach of international law.

Perhaps you can explain why you still support a rogue state like Israel who has wantonly breached and violated international law for the past 40 years (and continues to do so), resulting in the deaths of thousands and the dispossession of millions?