Sunday, May 30, 2010

IMPORTANT UPDATE FROM THE GAZA FREEDOM FLOATILLA

by : sevtapin

the International Freedom Flotilla is on its way to Gaza to break the four year old siege. This is monumental, really. The boats will travel solely through international waters and reach Gaza directly without ever getting into waters or territory under Israeli jurisdiction. In addition, all the cargo and passengers have been thoroughly checked at several ports before setting off to ensure that they only carry humanitarian aid. Nonetheless, Israel has repeatedly threatend that it will attack the boats, force the activists to go on land in an Israeli city (Ashdod), has even prepared prison facilities (which Israel proudly displays in its boasting) and will then deport the activists.

Several EU countries, EU delegations, the new EU foreign affairs minister, the Turkish governments and many more have demanded an unconditional lifting of the siege and an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Meanwhile, the right-wing (and fascist, let's be honest) foreign minister of Israel Avigdor Liebermann denies that there even is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza to start with.


It looks like tomorrow, there might be a big show-down in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea in front of Gaza. Please, pay attention and be ready to pressure your governments to pressure Israel to let the humanitarian convoy pass. This is a historic moment, and we can all be part of it.

Also, please sign the petition to demand the free passage of the flotilla or look at http://www.freegaza.org/ for campaigns in your country:

German: http://www.freegaza.de/petition/unterzeichnen.php

Here is a small video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxA-Z8yb-mQ&playnext_from=TL&videos=ih5guLzQ8s4&feature=sub

For more videos and updates, check: www.witnessgaza.com
or www.freegaza.org

and a report from one of the boats:

NEWS UPDATE FROM THE FREEDOM FLOATILLA - by fatima mohammadi

Anchored in the Mediterranean Sea for the past 24 hours, the Turkish
IHH ship, the Mavi Marmara, has been awaiting the recent arrival of
one final boat carrying members of parliament from various European
countries. This convoy of five ships and one Irish ship, the MV Rachel
Corrie, will carry humanitarian aid and nearly 800 volunteers towards
the Gaza Strip, despite Israel's threats to block, arrest and/or
deport the entire convoy.

The glassy azure sea must be deceptively harsh given three Free Gaza
boats became victims of mechanical complications and breakdown
yesterday during their short trip to join the Mavi Marmara, the
largest passenger boat. In addition, political tension between the
Turkish controlled North and Greece controlled South in the small
island of Cyprus delayed the joining of the European MP's, who were
denied passage from South Cyprus and who have arrived only minutes
ago.

On board the Mavi Marmara, over 560 volunteers from more than 32
countries continue to lift each others spirits through song and
ceremony, study and prayer, as they await other participants and
organize the delivery of thousands of tons of aid around the impending
conflict with Israel. Volunteers from South Africa, Algeria, Turkey,
Macedonia, Pakistan, Yemin, Kosovo, the UK and US, Kuwait, and many
more – including an exiled past Archbishop of Jerusalem living in the
Vatican - have joined together across cultural and religious
differences, age and occupation, to challenge the illegal siege of
Gaza.

The cargo includes prefabricated homes and playgrounds, cement and
other home-building supplies, medical devices and medications,
textiles and food. The Israeli siege on Gaza, which restricts the
entry of all materials, including food and medicine, into Gaza has
been in place for nearly four years despite its glaring illegality.
Currently, Gaza receives only about 5% of the basic supplies it needs
to function and none of the materials necessary to rebuild following
the 2008-2009 massacre by Israel which killed more than 1,400 and
destroyed hundreds of thousands of structures.

Israel's open threats to the safety and mission of the convoy have
been supplemented by vague and unreliable promise. If denied entry,
the aid and volunteers are prepared to wait in International waters
for as long as necessary to draw global attention to the siege and to
encourage international intervention from the more than 32 countries
represented on the humanitarian convoy. Israel has promised the use of
force against this unarmed convoy of volunteers, who range in age from
1 ½ to 88, if it does not turn back. To do so would be a crippling
move in terms of Israel's already-shaky public relations campaign,
which works diligently to paint Israel in a positive light amidst
growing global awareness of its unjust treatment of Palestinians in
both the West Bank and Gaza.

The best move Israel could make from all perspectives is to allow this
convoy of aid into Gaza without hesitation and to quickly end the
siege of Gaza before even greater public opinion and, possibly,
foreign governmental support of Israel turns starkly against it.
Whether this happens, however, is up to both the Israeli citizenship
and government, and the citizenship and governments of all the
countries represented on this convoy. As the hours unfold, it will
become clear who supports this just humanitarian mission and who
chooses to turn their backs on it, an outcome that will surely be to
the detriment of all.


ANCHORED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN:
THE US PRESENCE ON THE FREEDOM FLOATILLA TO GAZA - by fatima mohammadi

If allowed in, this will be my third humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza.
Each convoy has had its difficulties and its joys. The difficulty of
this current convoy is that nearly 800 volunteers aboard 6 ships are
attempting to enter the besieged strip through International waters –
a completely legal activity – despite constant threats by the Israeli
government to block, arrest and deport the entire convoy. These
threats have two effects in my opinion: 1) they highlight the severity
and depth of the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza for nearly four
years, showing Israel to be the vicious occupier and instigator of
hostility in the region that we know them to be and 2) they strengthen
the resolve of volunteers around the world, on this convoy and beyond,
who are aware of the plight of the Palestinians and who actively seek
a resolution to the unjust occupation and continued colonization of
Palestine. Of course, the joy of this convoy is the real potential it
has to finally end the siege on Gaza if it gains enough international
support and attention in the upcoming hours.

Currently, we are anchored in the Mediterranean Sea about a 6 hour
sail from Cyprus, where we have been awaiting two final ships. A Greek
ship carrying members of Parliament from half a dozen European
countries has just arrived, and the Irish boat, the MV Rachel Corrie
follows shortly. We will soon set sail towards Gaza, straight towards
the threats of Israel to stop us at all costs, including by use of
force. Rest assured, however, regardless of their tactics to stop us –
force or delay – we will not turn back nor will we allow Israel to
board our ships.

It is imperative to reiterate that this is an unarmed humanitarian aid
convoy carrying the better part of one thousand volunteers from 1½
years of age to 88 years of age, from more than 30 countries. We have
the official support of the governments of France, Mexico, Belgium,
Brazil, Chile, Italy and the European Union. Unfortunately, my own
country is not on that list...the United States. As they are a
stall-worth supporter of Israel, that is hardly surprising. What is
surprising, however, is that although I was the only American on board
as an IHH participant, I have been joined by a few US citizens from
the Free Gaza movement and discovered that we are 11 in all -
including ex-military and government personnel, dual citizens,
activists and medical volunteers. Most have been to Gaza at least once
and are “used to” dealing with the threats of oppressive regimes and
direct conflict with their police and military forces. And most of us
still hope and expect the United States to take an openly supportive
role of this convoy and to pressure Israel to allow our convoy into
Gaza to deliver aid.

In sum, we, the Americans on board the ships, and the collective “we,”
volunteers and people of conscious from around the world, are relying
upon the support of our fellow citizens and our respective governments
to pressure Israel to 1) allow this humanitarian aid convoy into Gaza
and 2) once and for all end this crippling and unjust siege of Gaza.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION! WE NEED YOU TO SPREAD THE WORD!!! Join the Freedom
Floatilla: Midwest Emergency Response Network on Facebook and stay
updated through the dozens of media sources on board the Mavi Marmara,
our IHH ship of volunteers, including Al-Jazeera English, Arabic, and
Indonesia, Press TV-UK, Venezuela-Telesur TV, and El Quds and El Aqsa
TV.

Send a letter demanding that the Israeli government allow free passage
to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Every time someone sends a letter from
the following link, it will email AND fax 150 Israeli Embassies and
Consulates worldwide:
http://salsa.wiredforchang


Israel has commandeered Free Gaza Movement vessels in the past. The Israeli military is threatening to take action against unarmed peace and civil resistance volunteers. Furthermore, a fleet of so-called Israeli citizens is en route to intercept and harass the flotilla. AMP and the Free Gaza Movement are extremely concerned about the safety of the humanitarian activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla.

--
http://witnessgaza.com/

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