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Home arrow Blog arrow August 2008 arrow August 23, 2008

August 23, 2008
WAWA Blog August 23, 2008: American-Irish/Iranian/Israeli Boat Warriors against the Israeli Siege of Gaza UPDATES: 1 PM: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! 8:30, 8:00 AM EST LEAD

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


GAZA (23 August 2008) - Two small boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty, successfully landed in Gaza early this evening, breaking the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.


The boats were crewed by a determined group of international human rights workers from the Free Gaza Movement. They had spent two years organizing the effort, raising money by giving small presentations at churches, mosques, synagogues, and in the homes of family, friends, and supporters.


They left Cyprus on Thursday morning, sailing over 350 kilometers through choppy seas. They made the journey despite threats that the Israeli government would use force to stop them. They continued sailing although they lost almost all communications and navigation systems due to outside jamming by some unknown party. They arrived in Gaza to the cheers and joyful tears of hundreds of Palestinians who came out to the beaches to welcome them.


Two small boats, 42 determined human rights workers, one simple message: "The world has not forgotten the people of this land. Today, we are all from Gaza."


Tonight, the cheering will be heard as far away as Tel Aviv and Washington D.C.


"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.

Huwaida is Palestinian-American, and also a citizen of Israel. She's a human rights activist and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. In 2007 she received her Juris Doctor from American University in Washington D.C.  Currently she teaches Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. Huwaida 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.


Paul is a cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement and a San Francisco Bay Area activist on the issue of justice in Palestine. He 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.

Jeff is an Israeli professor of anthropology and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a non-violent Israeli peace and human rights organization that resists the Israeli occupation on the ground. In 2006, the American Friends Service Committee nominated Jeff to receive the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize with Palestinian intellectual and activist Ghassan Andoni. Jeff sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Free Gaza.

Greta Berlin
Media Team
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 08 17 67

UPDATE received 8:30 AM EST:

Ashdod Marina, Saturday August 23. 15.00 p.m.


Despite all odds, with scrambled radio, jammed phones, a seasick passenger, a seasick journalist on a media boat seeking them out stubbornly, in rough waves with a storm brewing, phone calls tripling or quadrupling up (sorry to all whom I’ve cut off), I hear that 20 boats left Gaza Harbour to welcome FREE GAZA and LIBERTY, but are now doing a U-turn to go back…. As indeed the media boat, now back in harbour.


Estimated time of arrival according to Jeff Halper, with whom I finally managed to speak on a satellite phone whose number wasn’t published and is now used in emergency, is 5 pm – 7 pm.  Palestinians in Gaza said earlier there was NO ISRAELI NAVAL PRESENCE on the horizon, but the U-turn was apparently due to warning shots having indeed been fired.


I received a phone call from Gaza: it’s obvious there’s a demonstration there, with extreme excitement.  It gave one goosebumps, feeling freedom beginning to flow.


The media boat was not far from the FREE GAZA and LIBERTY, but relayed co-ordinates (they couldn’t make contact with each other) show that for the FREE GAZA and LIBERTY to have met the press, the two boats would have had to turn round:  inadvisable, if they’re to make land in daylight.


If the radio had been working.  If the satellite phones were unjammed.  These are regrets, but the fact is that the boats are now about to turn into Gazan waters, and may God speed them safe to land.


Please alert your correspondents in Gaza to cover the arrival… insha’allah it will take place.  How they then get out? -- Chapter Two of this ongoing saga.  Online talkbacks wish them to stay in Gaza and join the freedom fight, where they belong!  The online words far more explicit.. as is the hate mail.  (And so the oppressor is oppressed.)  But maybe today freedom and justice will warm a few Palestinian hearts.  The Free Gaza Movement will be in great danger of too many cups of tea. And of being swamped by the 200,000 people whom, we’re told, will be on the beach to welcome them.  And the Israeli Government must now be on warning that yes, indeed, the World cares.  That civil society has a voice.  And that voice is saying NO.  Human beings have sacred rights, and people are ready to defend them, wherever they may be.  Even in the prison that is Gaza.


Angela Godfrey-Goldstein
Media Team
Free Gaza Movement
0547-366 393


Email received 8 am, EST August, 23, 2008:

A Statement from the International Human Rights Workers Aboard the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, Sailing to Gaza
*At 10am this morning, the Cyprus team of the Free Gaza Movement was able to briefly speak with our people on board the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty. They are all fine, and they asked us to release the following statement:
"The electronic systems which guarantee our safety aboard the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty have been jammed and scrambled. Both ships are flying Greek flags, and are in international waters. We are the victims of electronic piracy. We are currently in GMS P area A2 and we are relying on our satellite communications equipment to make a distress call, if needed.
We are civilians from 17 nations and are on this project to break the siege of Gaza. We are not experienced sailors. As a result, there is concern about the health and safety of the people on board such an emergency develop.
We are currently experiencing rough sea conditions, and we call on the Greek government and the international community to meet their responsibilities and protect the civilians on board our two ships in international waters."

[ Mediterranean Sea, August 22, 2008] Morning's light of August 23, 2008 is expected to illuminate the convergence of the SS FREE GAZA, SS LIBERTY, twenty odd fishermen from Gaza and the Israeli Occupying Naval Forces, upon the Mediterranean Sea.  

On August 22, 2008, Paul Larudee, Co-Founder of the Free Gaza Movement, 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. [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, is the onboard American Israeli Professor and Founder and Coordinator of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which resists the occupation 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]

A 21st century David and Goliath will soon converge and history is freely streaming from on board the SS LIBERTY and FREE GAZA:



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