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The Siege on Gaza: BROKEN Wide Open by HOPE

GAZA (24 August 2008) - Early yesterday evening, against all odds, 42 global citizens on two small boats: the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty, broke the siege on Gaza and opened the eyes of the world.

Two years in the planning and sailing over 350 kilometers through choppy seas, despite threats from the Israeli government that they would use force to stop them, the fearless crew sailed the last hours of their journey without communications and navigation systems which had been jammed.


"We recognize that we're two, humble boats, but what we've accomplished is to show that average people from around the world can mobilize to create change. We do not have to stay silent in the face of injustice. Reaching Gaza today, there is such a sense of hope, and hope is what mobilizes people everywhere."--Huwaida Arraf, Palestinian-American sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Liberty.



"We're the first ones in 41 years to enter Gaza freely - but we won't be the last. We welcome the world to join us and see what we're seeing."--Paul Larudee, Ph.D. and Cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement, sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Liberty.



"What we've done shows that people can do what governments should have done. If people stand up against injustice, we can truly be the conscience of the world."
--Jeff Halper, Ph.D., American-Israeli professor of anthropology and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Free Gaza.




On August 22, 2008, Paul Larudee, son of an Iranian Presbyterian minister and his American missionary spouse, wrote from aboard the SS Liberty, the second boat of the Free Gaza Movement:

The signature of Israeli Navy Commander in Chief Admiral Eliezer Marom appears on a very odd document…dated August 11th, 2008…it includes the sketch of a map and a series of coordinates …to define the zone, which includes all of Gaza coastal waters, and a major slice of international waters as well. It advises all foreign vessels to remain clear of this zone because of a “security situation” that is apparently so obvious that it requires no definition or explanation. The only hint about the “security situation” is a reference to the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, which, according to the document, should be done only at the land crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip (i.e. by Israeli permission only)…an explanation for such a strange document, disseminated (as nearly as can be determined) to a narrow circle of maritime authorities. It is that the document itself is an embarrassment to Israel, which nevertheless feels compelled to issue it in some form, as a disclaimer for any forceful action that they might take against an unnamed threat.

The embarrassment is that the unnamed threat consists of the two converted fishing boats of the Free Gaza Movement, bought and refurbished in Greece, and flying the Greek flag. On board is a contingent of forty-three crew and human rights advocates, sworn to nonviolence, as well as a modest cargo of hearing aids for Palestinian children in Gaza. Among their ranks are a Greek member of parliament, an 81-year-old Catholic nun and the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. No wonder Israel is embarrassed.-Paul Larudee [1]




Paul is a soft spoken gentle person, who came of age in the Midwest and is a leader in the San Francisco Bay Area on the issue of justice in the land of Israel Palestine, which includes the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and occupied east Jerusalem.

In the summer of 2006, Paul, a former Fulbright-Hayes lecturer had scheduled twenty piano tuning appointments throughout the West Bank; but instead, spent two weeks in a Ben Gurion jail cell before being deported because of his NON-VIOLENT activism against the route of The Wall and perhaps-his vocal dissent from how American Tax Dollars Support the Israeli Military Occupation of Palestine, now in its 41st year.



Greta Berlin, the other Co-Founder of the Free Gaza Movement, is an Irish American dissident, and pleased to be listed as a member on the Jewish S.H.I.I.T.E. List, of 7,000 Jews who have been labeled as "self-hating and Israel-threatening Ediots" by judgmental Zionist Jews.

Greta is the mother of two Palestinian/American children who began in the '60's to advocate for human rights for Palestinians. Greta has been to the West Bank three times since 2003 and was wounded by Israeli gunfire in July 2003 while engaging in active creative and nonviolent resistance.




Jeff Halper, the American-Israeli and Founder and Coordinator of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, has been resisting the occupation for decades by standing up to Caterpillar Bulldozers and rebuilding Palestinian homes after they have been demolished by Israel who pays the owner no compensation, claims 'security' as their reason, but in reality are practicing another form of ethnically cleansing the land of the indigenous people.


Jeff was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 and is credited with the defining explanation of Israeli democracy, "Israel is not a democracy, but is an Ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control."

Jeff also said, "Missing from Israel's security framing is the very fact of occupation, which Israel both denies exists...and that 'security' requires Israel control over the entire country...rendering impossible a just peace based on human rights, international law, reconciliation…

"We need to expose Israel as the regional superpower and [necessary component in the American Empire] that it really is. Its economy is three times larger than Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon put together. Israel is not the little David of the area, but actually the Goliath." [2]



LEARN MORE:
http://www.freegaza.org/

1. http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1003&Itemid=203
2. http://www.fromoccupiedpalestine.org/node/776


Report by Eileen Fleming, Reporter and Editor WAWA:
http://www.wearewideawake.org/
Author "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"
Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"

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Comment by eileen fleming on August 25, 2008 at 3:24pm
Dear Neri Bar-On,

What are you talking about "active threats on this page"?


This mornings news is that the FREE GAZA MOVEMENT has broken the 6 mile limit:

FREE GAZA MOVEMENT IS AT SEA AGAIN:

on the 8 mile limit off Gaza Harbour –





SS Free Gaza, with six Palestinian fishermen’s boats, is 8-miles off the coast of Gaza, being circled by three Israeli Dabur naval vessels. No shots have been fired. The fishing boats are continuing to exercise their right to fish and have not turned round, but the Free Gaza has just now turned round (10.15 a.m.). The Oslo Accords allow Palestinian Gazans a 20-mile limit off the coast of the Gaza Strip. Currently the Navy is enforcing a 6 mile limit, so the Free Gaza Movement has broken that naval blockade, too.



Updates from Prof. Jeff Halper on a fishing boat (not on the Free Gaza): 0542 002 642 or Huwaida Arraf also on a fishing boat: 0599 130 426

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein

Media Team

Free Gaza Movement
0547-366 393

www.freegaza.org

www.anis-online.de/office/events/FreeGazaSong.htm
www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

More about Jeff and Angela:
WAWA Blog August 25, 2008: Prophets, Persistence, and 8 Miles from Gaza Harbour

http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1008&Itemid=203
Comment by Neri Bar-On on August 25, 2008 at 8:07am
http://www.wearewideawake.org/


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Comment by davinca on August 25, 2008 at 7:56am
Comment by eileen fleming on August 25, 2008 at 5:45am
ops!

WAWA:

http://www.wearewideawake.org/



Eileen Fleming, Reporter and Editor WAWA:
http://www.wearewideawake.org/
Author "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"
Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"
Comment by eileen fleming on August 25, 2008 at 5:44am
ops!

WAWA:

http://www.wearewideawake.org/



Eileen Fleming, Reporter and Editor WAWA:
http://www.wearewideawake.org/
Author "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"
Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"
Comment by eileen fleming on August 25, 2008 at 5:44am
ops!

WAWA:

http://www.wearewideawake.org/



Eileen Fleming, Reporter and Editor WAWA:
http://www.wearewideawake.org/
Author "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"
Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"
Comment by eileen fleming on August 25, 2008 at 5:42am
Oh, you have contacts in the Mossad!

Ask them to please let me know what they think of my Vanunu videos from 2005, 2006 and 2008 that are FREELY STREAMING on WAWA under Vanunu Archives -as is the report of his 2 1/2 year long freedom of speech trial which concludes in September.

The only way Vanunu can harm Israel is with Bad PR- kind've like what the FREE GAZA Movement supplied along with HOPE and hearing aids for little kids rendered deaf by the IOF's sonic booms over their wee heads!
Comment by eileen fleming on August 25, 2008 at 3:22am
Where do you get your facts from? Prove to me the people do not receive the little trickles that Israel allows in.

Israel is the occupying force and under international law is responsible for the well being of those under occupation.

1.5 million people have been enduring under siege conditions in the worlds largest concentration camp because they democratically elected Hamas.



The times they have a changed and what happened yesterday, is just the beginning of more:

Email from Greta:

To all of you who have followed this two-year journey.

Fifty thousand Palestinians lined the walls of the Port of Gaza yesterday as our two wooden boats came into view across the horizon. We've seen the video of our boats flying the flags of 17 nations as well as dozens of Palestinian flags, come over the top of the water and approach. Those of us crowded at the front of the two boats could see everyone lined up waiting for us.

A few hundred meters before we navigated through the small opening into the port, we were met by dozens of fishing boats loaded with people. Little boys jumped in the water to swim around us. We had blown up balloons (yes, they are biodegradable) and dropped them in the water as the young boys swam around catching their trophies. On each red, white, black and green balloon, it said FREE PALESTINE with a dove on it. Those of us who were parents on board held our breath as the swimmers multiplied. I don't know how our two captains managed to lightly pull into the dock amid all of the other boats and people, but they did.

Today, I looked out the window of this beautiful hotel we're staying in, and there were the boats, and we had really arrived. A sour-faced Israeli official announced last night that "We have decided to let the boats through this time, but we will look at other trips on a case by case basis."

In short, our little group of 40+ human rights workers not only won the right to enter Gaza, but we won the PR battle as well.

There wasn't an Israeli warship in sight. They withdrew everything. In the 30 hours we traveled from Cyprus to Gaza, most of us seasick, the electronic systems jammed, barely able to communicate from boat to boat, we knew we had broken Israel's siege of this small seashore community, perhaps not permanently, but that small hole in the wall is now too large to put a PR finger in to stop the flow of outrage against Israel's policies.

The quay was packed with people.... packed. The video doesn't begin to do it justice. Many literally fell into the boats in an attempt to interview us, grabbing us by the hand, pulling us in front of cameras. Tony Blair's sister-in-law was brilliant, the face of the internationals here. Jeff Halper, the Israeli professor was passionate, all of us were crying. We could barely catch our breath in the crowd of well-wishers. Mushier Al Fara had tears streaming down his face, "I can finally go visit the grave of my mother." he said.

Palestinian flags were everywhere as was security. Today, if we wanted to go to the boats, we had to be accompanied by several guards in big cars as they drove us down to what they consider a symbol of support. We clearly know that, if anything happens to any of us or to the boats, it will be because Israel has ordered it, one way or the other.

Most of us leave on Tuesday to take one boat back to Cyprus and go home. Nothing that any of us will ever do again in our lives will live up to what we saw yesterday.

Greta Berlin
Media Team
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 08 17 67
www.freegaza.org
www.anis-online.de/office/events/FreeGazaSong.htm
www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/
Comment by eileen fleming on August 25, 2008 at 12:52am
ON MONDAY MORNING, HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS GO TO SEA TO FISH

For More Information, please contact:

(Gaza) Huwaida Arraf, tel. +972 599 130 426

(Gaza) Jeff Halper, tel. +972 542 002 642

(Cyprus) Osama Qashoo, tel. +357 99 793 595 / osamaqashoo@gmail.com

(Jerusalem) Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, tel. +972 547 366 393 / angela@icahd.org

GAZA CITY, GAZA (24 August 2008) –

Two days after the SS FREE GAZA and the SS LIBERTY arrived to a jubilant welcome in Gaza, 20 to 25 of the human rights workers will go to sea with the fishermen in a show of support for their struggle to keep their industry productive.

According to a recent article in The Guardian, "in the 1990s, the Gazan fishing industry produced an annual income of around £5m. That had halved by 2007 and is still shrinking fast. Under the Oslo accords, which in 1993 were supposed to herald the coming of an independent Palestinian state, Gazan fishermen were to be allowed 20 nautical miles out to sea, where they could catch sardine as they migrated from the Nile delta up towards Turkey during the spring. But Israeli naval ships in recent years have imposed their own, much-reduced limits, sometimes less than 6 miles out."

The group will leave in the very early morning and go to sea at least 7 to 8 miles off the Gaza coast. They will be on board two to three of the small fishing boats lining the shores of the Gaza port, making sure they and their international flags are prominent. They intend to stay at sea for several hours, providing protection for the men as they search for and catch the fish.

"What gives Israel the right to take away the livelihood of these fishermen, and why does the world allow them to destroy an industry that used to provide for thousands of Palestinians?" Said Greta Berlin, one of the five organizers of The Free Gaza Movement: "We intend to challenge that right, backed up by warships and machine guns, just as we challenged Israel's right to prevent us from coming here on Saturday."

The organizers feel that, since they sailed to Gaza with no interference from the Israeli military, they have established a precedent to press for the human rights of Palestinians, who want nothing more than to be free to make a living, go to school, and receive medical treatment.
Comment by eileen fleming on August 24, 2008 at 10:33pm
They have ONLY just begun! There is much more to come and what they have already proved is that NONVIOLENT action against empire, oppression and military occupation works; 42 committed, thoughtful, global citizens said NO to the human rights abuses and injustices done unto innocent ones because of the violence of particular men.

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