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Home arrow Blog arrow August 2008 arrow August 28, 2008

August 28, 2008
WAWA Blog August 28, 2008: Jeff Halper, sailed on the FREE GAZA, awaits his release from Shikme Prison, Ashkelon...LAST UPDATE: Sept.18, 2008  leads American Israeli Jeff Halper is arraigned for breaking siege in Gaza











GAZA
This report on fishing & farming in the Gaza Strip is from Donna Wallach, an ISM and Free Gaza Movement volunteer in Gaza:

(GAZA) On Monday, 15 September 2008, international human rights volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement & Free Gaza Movement joined the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in symbolically planting trees in the buffer zone in Fukharee, north of Rafah.

The buffer zone was established by Israeli Occupation Forces in one of Gaza's prime agricultural areas. The zone is a "no-go" area roughly 300 meters wide along the entire eastern border of the Gaza Strip. In this "buffer" zone, farmers are violently prohibited from farming their land, and these areas have become very dangerous for the Palestinians to live and farm in.

The Israeli buffer zone is another form of siege that denies the Palestinians right to livelihood, feeding their families, freedom of movement and to live in Peace. This is all happening during the so-called cease fire.

ISM volunteers met at UAWC office in Khan Younis before joining with a few hundred UAWC activists. Two buses and four cars transported all the volunteers, the trees and the shovels to Fukharee, close to the border with Israel. Upon arriving some people noticed the tell-tale dust of an
Israeli tank as it appeared from behind some trees off in the distance.

All the volunteers got off the buses and started walking toward the fields holding 3 banners and chanting "Free, Free Palestine" in Arabic. Various news agencies and independent video cameras recorded the event.

We dug holes and managed to plant about 100 plant olive, guava and citrus trees. Although the ISM volunteers were there to both join Palestinians as they reclaimed their land and demand that Israel stop destroying the crops in the area, the action was a primarily symbolic. The UAWC plans to
continue doing various similar actions throughout the Gaza Strip in and near the buffer zones.


(GAZA) On Wednesday 17 September 2008, I (along with two other international volunteers) went out with three different fishing boats from the Gaza City port to trawl for fish. We left the port at about 8:30am.

I was on a boat with fishermen I already knew. We went out about seven and a half miles, put out the net and began to trawl. It wasn't long before an Israeli Naval gunboat approached, and circled around. The fishermen requested from me to speak with the Israeli Navy. I did make contact with
them, telling them that "we were Palestinian fishermen fishing in Gazan waters. Palestinians have the right to fish in Gazan waters, they have the right to a livelihood and to feed their families."

Someone on the Israeli Naval gunboat said in Hebrew that it was forbidden for the Palestinian fishermen to be out past six miles. I replied that according to International Law, the Palestinian fishermen had the right to fish beyond twelve miles in their territorial waters. His response was to
call me "bitch". Soon after that the gunboat opened fire on the fishing boat, aiming, what appeared to me to be toward the center of the boat. The fishermen quickly pulled in their net, not wanting their boat or any of the equipment to be damaged by the gunfire.

We drove back towards the Gaza coast until we reached about six miles out and began trawling again. The gunboat came by again and circled around menacingly. Off in the distance we saw the large Israeli Naval gunboat that has the water cannon stationed at the fore of the boat. We were
expecting to get drenched, but were pleasantly surprised when it continued past us without stopping or even aiming the water cannon at us. Other boats were not so lucky, and Vittorio Arrigoni (an international human rights monitor from Italy) was injured by flying glass when an Israeli water cannon was aimed at the boat he was on.

The Israeli Navy contacted our boat via VHF again reiterating that it was forbidden for them to fish out beyond six miles. This is an abomination! The large quantities of fish are out beyond the six mile limit, as are the larger fish. The fishermen need to be able to fish in their territorial waters, when and where they want.

It is an outrage that Israeli Naval gunboats patrol the Territorial Gazan Waters at will. They harass, threaten, shoot, damage and terrorize the Palestinian fishermen, their boats and fishing equipment. The Israeli Navy often limits the Palestinian fishermen from fishing beyond three or four miles, and sometimes they aren't permitted to fish at all.

This would not be tolerated any place else in the world.

Fishing is one of the few sources of Palestinian food left in Gaza. The Israeli Occupation Forces have destroyed much of the farm land and have established an illegal buffer zone on much of the agricultural farm land within Gaza, denying Palestinian farmers their livelihood and the right to
feed their families. This has made 80% of the Palestinians living in Gaza Strip totally dependent on food aid from the UN.

It is time that these collective punishments upon the entire population of Gaza Strip end. The Palestinian people have the human right to live in freedom. Parents have the human right to provide for their children.

Children have the human right to go to school and students have the human right to attend University. Farmers have the right to farm their land and fishermen have the right to fish in their own territorial waters. This siege must end.

Please, be creative - put pressure on the Apartheid State of Israel to end the siege now – tell your families, your friends, your co-workers that this situation can no longer be tolerated. Ban the Israeli Navy from Gazan Territorial Waters!

--Donna Wallach, international human rights monitor, writing from Occupied Gaza.




Sept 4, 2008
"End of an Odyssey" by Jeff Halper
Read more...




Posted Sept. 3, 2008 8 AM EST


LIKE PALESTINIANS, HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS DENIED EXIT THROUGH EREZ CHECKPOINT TO ISRAEL AND THROUGH RAFAH CROSSING TO EGYPT

For more information, please contact:
Gaza: Lauren Booth, +972598830136
Ken O’Keefe, +972599327112
Dr. Eyad el Sarraj, +972599408438
Jerusalem: Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, +972547366393

GAZA (2 Sept. 2008) - Four foreign nationals from the UK, USA, Ireland and Australia, who helped peacefully challenge the siege of Gaza by traveling through international waters with the Free Gaza Movement, have so far been refused exit to Israel via Erez Crossing or to Egypt via Rafah Crossing.

For over two years Israel has severely restricted access to Gaza, blocking aid shipments and trade. As a consequence, Gaza's economy has collapsed, forcing most industries to close and dramatically increasing malnutrition rates among children. Eighty percent of families in Gaza are now completely dependent on United Nations food aid.

Travel outside of Gaza has been likewise blocked by Israel. Over 200 people have died as result of not being able to leave Gaza for medical treatment. Hundreds of Palestinian students, accepted to universities abroad, have also been denied exit visas by Israel.

Among the internationals currently stranded in Gaza are Irish activist and former Hawaiian legislator Kenneth O’Keefe, British journalist Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Dr. William Dienst, a family and emergency room physician from the USA.

This refusal of entry by Israel and Egypt effectively confines the internationals to the 40 by 10 kilometre enclave of Gaza, along with 1.5 million Palestinians, likewise sealed off from loved ones who live abroad and denied freedom of movement for purposes of education, medical care, leisure, or work.

The four internationals attempted to peacefully exit Gaza through Israeli controlled Erez crossing on August 19th; Israel denied the exit, stating that the activists had entered Gaza illegally by sea, even though that voyage had been formally allowed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Internal Affairs Ministry, according to newspaper reports. An official statement by Israel’s Defence Ministry (August 25th) declared the Free Gaza Movement did not violate any laws, and that their action posed “no security threat” (Ha’aretz).

Diplomatic channels are trying to negotiate the exit of the human rights workers, who wish, like Palestinians, to exercise their human rights under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state and (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

 The following report was prepared by the Free Gaza Movement and International Solidarity Movement volunteers in Gaza Strip:

Yesterday, 1 September 2008, the first day of Ramadan, several volunteers with the Free Gaza Movement and the International Solidarity Movement accompanied a small fleet of seven fishing vessels from Gaza City port.

The fishermen exercised their right to fish in Gazan territorial waters, providing them with a livelihood and food for the besieged people of Gaza.  The fishing fleet reached approximately nine miles offshore and began trawling along the Gazan coast, well within international limits. Usually the Israeli Navy prevents Gazan fishing vessels from accessing beyond six miles and in many cases only three miles by attacking the boats, sometimes lethally, or by arresting the fishermen. However, this day’s fishing resulted in a highly successful catch due to the ability to access richer fishing grounds further offshore.

Two Israeli Naval gunboats approached the fleet soon after leaving port and began firing “warning shots” shortly afterwards. They were aware that internationals were on some of the boats. The Israeli Navy continued shooting multiple times at the fishing vessels, one of which was fired upon at least seven times. They also deployed explosive charges in the water and attempted to de-stabilise some of the boats by creating a strong wake. Communication was established with the Israeli Navy via VHF radio, informing them that everyone onboard were unarmed civilians and requesting that the Israeli Navy stop shooting.

The volunteers will continue to join Gazan fishing expeditions on a regular basis and will monitor Israeli aggressions towards the fishermen.

Video and written documentation will be posted publicly and made available to journalists. The Israeli Navy will not be informed as to when the volunteers will join the fishermen, nor the ports they will sail from, since this is not within their jurisdiction. Also no indication will be made as to which vessels have internationals onboard.




Background:


WAWA Blog August 27, 2008: On Home Demolitions, Zionism, Joe Biden and update on Jeff Halper
Read more...
WAWA Blog August 26, 2008: "By the way, Jeff Halper is currently being held at Sderot police station, under interrogation." 
Read more...
WAWA Blog August 25, 2008: Prophets, Persistence, and 8 Miles from Gaza Harbour  
Read more...
WAWA Blog August 24, 2008: The Siege on Gaza Has Been Broken by HOPE UPDATE 9 PM EST @ end
Read more...
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
Read more...




Posted September 2, 2008 @ 8 AM:


We in the Free Gaza Movement would like to thank everyone who took the time to contact the media, our embassies in Tel Aviv, and the Israeli government. Your voices did make some difference. All of the fishing boats that were accompanied by international human rights workers today were able to finish fishing and return safely to shore. The Jerusalem Post was
one of the few media outlets that covered the attack. You can read their article at:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1220186497462&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull


Tragically, other Palestinian fishermen were not so lucky. According to a report from the International Middle East Media Center, two fishermen several miles to the north were hit by Israeli weapons fire. Mohammad Ani Assultan, age 19, was wounded, and Hussam Assultan, age 32, was hit in the head. He is said to be in critical condition. For more information see:
http://www.imemc.org/article/56793


It is vitally important that we continue to shine a light on Israeli human rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank, and continue to pressure the international community to take action so as to prevent tragedies such as the one that occurred today.

International human rights workers from the Free Gaza Movement and the International Solidarity Movement will remain in Gaza, and we will continue to shine that light.

Below are the personal accounts of two of these brave activists.


Israeli Warships Fire on Unarmed Palestinian Fishermen
by Vittorio Arrigoni:


"When at a distance, estimated by our fishing boat’s captain, of 7 nautical miles from the coast, we dropped our fishing nets and started fishing the Israeli warships rushed to reach our position.

"One of the warships positioned at a distance less than 200 meters alongside of our fishing boat, opened fire in our direction at least 4 times during the day. It was intimidating fire directed into the water, but some bursts almost touched the hull of our boat. A cannon shot almost reached us. Making attempt of obtaining a radio contact was useless. Soldiers on the Israeli warship ordered, with the use of megaphones, the area evacuation. And after that they were shooting. Sometimes they were shooting before having ordered. Once they shooted to our fishing nets and tried to damaged it sailing directly on them.

"Unfortunately our big mistake was not having with us neither cameras nor video cameras that, together with megaphones to be used exactly like they do, I consider essential for our next fishing missions.

"Despite these intimidations the fishing was rich and profitable, we brought ashore quantity of fish ten times bigger than the usual Palestinians fishers standard."



Erez Crossing, by Donna Wallach:

"I along with others from Free Gaza Movement decided not to return with the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty to Cyprus and instead to remain in Gaza Strip for a while to continue the work of breaking the siege. Throughout the time I am staying here I will participate with the others in various
actions in Rafah, Gaza City, and other areas throughouth the Gaza Strip, including going out in fishing boats to challenge the Israeli Navy preventing the Palestinian fishermen from fishing more than 6 miles out. In addition, we are re-organizing ISM Rafah, to do Palestinian led solidarity work here.

"This past Friday a 64 year-old Palestinian woman from Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip arrived to the Erez crossing accompanied by all of the remaining members of the Free Gaza Movement. She has been suffering for seven months with a tumor on her spine. Without the necessary surgery granted her by
St. Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem, she will become paralyzed and will live in contant pain, from what I understand. We, FGM members, walked in front of her as a protection for her to not be shot by the Israeli soldiers guarding their border. She was being pushed in a wheelchair. Slowly we approached the Israeli side, holding our arms in the air and many of us clutching our passports.

"A Palestinian man was the liason between Dr. Mona El-Farra and the Israeli "authorities". Dr. Mona El-Farra was the main organizer for this action of bringing this 64 year-old woman to cross the Erez checkpoint. The Palestinian man kept on telling us that we needed to stop because the Israelis told him they were going to shoot us. We decided it was more important to challenge the Crime Against Humanity of Israel not permitting this woman to receive the urgent medical treatment she needed, so we continued to walk towards the Israeli gate with our arms up in the air. We finally reached the Israeli gate without a shot being fired, not a bullet not a tear gas cannister or a sound bomb. In the end though, the Israelis heartlessly told the woman she had to go back home, but could return an
8th time.

"On Sunday 31st August, we from FGM arrived at about 9:00am from Rafah, the southernmost area in Gaza Strip, to Erez crossing, the northernmost area in Gaza Strip. We came to continue standing in solidarity with the woman from the village of Beit Hanoun. We arrived late and she and Dr. Mona El-Farra had already left for the border. We gathered inside the crude fenced in area where all Palestinians and others wait for permission to cross the dirt pathway to arrive to the Israeli gate. We waited hours, then we heard that the woman was turned back again, with ridiculous excuse that a member of her family must accompany her into Israel to the hospital. This woman came back, yet was not defeated. Almost all the members of  her family have been wrongfully blacklisted by Israel, meaning that they cannot enter the Apartheid State of Israel. Finally the woman's 75 year-old husband was granted permission to enter Israel with her. After he arrived to Erez and the paper work for him was filled out, they went off to the Israeli side. We continued to wait in the heat to hear that she had crossed and was inside the Israeli ambulance that would take her to the hospital and to her surgery which was supposed to have started on Sunday. Dr. Mona El-Farra told us that she continued to tell the Israeli authorities that members of the Free Gaza Movement were waiting at Erez to
ensure that the woman would enter this time and that we were willing to die, we would walk again to the border even if the soldiers would shoot and kill us, we would do what it takes so that the Israelis would allow her to enter, which they finally did. The 8th time was the charm for this very brave and courageous woman sitting in a wheelchair who defied the Israelis with all of their gunpower."

31 August 2008, Donna Wallach,

Free Gaza Movement
http://www.FreeGaza.org



Press Release received 8 AM EST, Sept. 1, 2008


ISRAELI NAVAL VESSELS FIRING ON UNARMED FISHING BOATS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
WORKERS


(OFF THE COAST OF GAZA) 1 September 2008 - Israeli Naval vessels are currently firing on unamrmed Palestinian fishing boats and international human rights workers off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The fishing boats are several miles off the coast of Gaza City, in Palestinian territorial waters. As of 11am (4am EST) no one had been injured, but live ammunition is still being fired in the direction of the civilian boats.

The unarmed boats went to sea at dawn this morning, in an attempt to fish in their own water. Six international human rights workers from five different countries accompanied the fishermen in the hopes that their presence would deter the Israeli military from firing on the fishermen. In the past the Israeli military has shot and killed unarmed Palestinian
fishermen for trying to fish in their own waters.

Accompanying the fishermen are:

Vittorio Arrigoni, Italy
Georgios Karatzas, Greece
Adam Qvist, Denmark
Andrew Muncie, Scotland
Donna Wallach, USA
Darlene Wallach, USA

PLEASE INFORM THE MEDIA IMMEDIATELY, CALL YOUR EMBASSIES IN TEL AVIV, AND CALL THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT. TELL THEM TO STOP FIRING UPON UNARMED FISHERMEN AND UNARMED HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORS.

CALL:

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel. +972 2 530 3111

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv
+972 3 725 1222

The US Embassy in Tel Aviv
+972 2 625 5755

For more information, please contact:
(at sea, off Gaza coast) Vittorio Arrigoni, +972 598 826 516
(at sea, off Gaza coast) Donna Wallach, +972598 836 420
(Cyprus) Greta Berlin, +357 99 081 767 /
(Cyprus) Osama Qashoo, +357 97 793 595


Haaretz Saturday, August 30, 2008
Gaza blockade-busting boats plan a second voyage

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1016517.html


By Reuters


Foreign activists who sailed to Gaza last week to protest against an Israeli blockade of the coastal territory said on Friday they planned to do it again within a month.

Most of the "Free Gaza" activists returned to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus late on Friday, a week after they set sail. They were the first foreigners to go to Gaza by sea since Israel tightened travel restrictions after the militant Hamas movement took control more than a year ago.

"We have roughly 10 of our volunteers in Gaza, and we have to get them," said Paul Larudee, a member of the U.S.-based group, which included members from 17 countries. "We need to get the passengers together, hopefully within a month."

Israel allowed the 44 activists to reach Gaza by boat on August 23, saying it wanted to avoid a public confrontation. The group brought in a small quantity of hearing aids for children.

"This might be the beginning of a simple delivery service, if we can set up the mechanisms here in Cyprus. This can be used as a model for what can be made more permanent," said Larudee, a 62-year-old piano tuner from California.

Activist Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of former British prime minister and present U.N. envoy for the Middle East Tony Blair, was one of the activists who remained in Gaza.

Seven Palestinians sailed back to Cyprus with the activists, and included Sa'ad Mesleh, who lost a leg in an Israeli army attack on militants three years ago.

"I hope to get an artificial leg so I can have a chance at walking again," said Mesleh, speaking to Reuters through an interpreter. He said he was hit by Israeli tank fire as he was in a family orchard watering orange trees.

"I don't have a real life in Gaza, its full of death and chaos."

Looking considerably younger than his 16 years, the wheelchair-bound Mesleh was put in an ambulance and taken to a local government hospital.

Cyprus, which lies some 240 nautical miles west of Gaza, is generally viewed as sympathetic towards Palestinians. Members of a Cypriot peace group, with close ties to the present communist administration, met activists who arrived in the port of Larnaca on Friday.

Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire brokered by Egypt in June. As part of that deal Israel has eased its blockade of the territory, allowing in more humanitarian goods and medical equipment.




Email received Aug. 30, 2008:


We arrived safely last night. The trip home was much less eventful than the trip to Gaza and much less emotional. On board my boat, the FREE GAZA, was a family of Palestinians who had not been let out of the concentration camp called "Gaza" for five years. The mother had given birth to her youngest son four years ago, and the family, living in Cyprus, had not seen him. The joy on the faces of Hana's family was worth waiting the extra half day to leave. We had to make sure that the Cypriot authorities would allow them in.

On board the LIBERTY was a 10-year-old boy whose leg had been shot off by the Israeli military. He was from Khan Younis. The story (and I haven't been able to verify it it yet) is that he was standing with his friend as an Israeli tank invaded his town. A sniper shot him through one leg, then when he stood to run, the sniper shot him through the other one, causing huge damage to the leg. It was amputated at the hip. Again, we had to wait for Cypriot authorities to give permission for him to transit to another country.

On the first page of the Cyprus Mail is a photo of the boy with Osama, one of our organizers. Even though we came in at 9 pm, the media was all over the quay waiting for us. Although we didn't get seasick this time, many of us, because we are so exhausted, are feeling the land effects today, swaying as we try to walk down the streets.

It has been a week of over-riding joy, sadness at the condition of so many sick and wounded Palestinians, hope for the future, and disbelief that we not only arrived safely but left safely. As we pulled out of Gaza yesterday, seven Israeli naval vessels surrounded the Palestinian fishermen who joyfully escorted us six miles out. The last view we had of Gaza was of the seven gunboats surrounding the fishermen. We've heard from our Israeli sources that they arrested four of them.

As usual, the Palestinians will face the wrath of the Israeli military, because they had egg on their faces and will take it out on the weakest.

We meet this morning to plan the second trip.- Greta




The boats of SS Liberty and SS Free Gaza arrived safely in LarnacaCyprus last night with some of the original passengers and 9Palestinians from the Gaza Strip aboard.

About 9 of our original international passengers stayed on in Gaza to do media and other work.

Yesterday, British Journalist Lauren Booth and I attempted to exit via Eretz Crossing into Israel, accompanied by sick Palestinians needing specialty care not available in Gaza. The Israeli border guards threatened to shoot us, but we advanced slowly with our arms raised holding our passports up high;  We advanced right through the tunnel right up to the iron gate, but the Israelis would not open it.  The US and British Embassy's gave us the Royal runaround and would not help us.

So after a visit to Beit Hanoun to see the Al Athamna Family, who are still in a state of grief from the massacre of 19 members of their family by Israeli mortar shells 2 years ago, we headed back to Gaza City.  So now we are waiting for the Egyptian authorities to let us out of Gaza through Rafah.  They are under pressure from Israel to keep us trapped in here.  Now I am getting a better appreciation of what it means to be a Palestinian from Gaza.-Bill Dienst, MD


Free Gaza Movement
http://www.freegaza.org



 
Boats Depart Gaza After Aid Delivery
7 Palestinians Leave With Activists Who Flouted Blockade

By Linda Gradstein
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, August 29, 2008; A10
http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=1a09fe6a84&view=lg&msg=11c0d80bee784e21


JERUSALEM, Aug. 28 -- Two boats carrying international peace activists left the Gaza Strip on Thursday, five days after they defied an Israeli naval blockade to reach the territory. The activists took seven Palestinians with them, including a 10-year-old boy who lost a leg in an Israeli army attack on Palestinian fighters three years ago.

One of the activists, Paul Larudee, said several Israeli naval vessels shadowed the wooden boats as they left Gaza and sailed toward international waters. Larudee, 63, a piano tuner from California, said the departure of the Palestinians was a milestone: "They got exit stamps from the Palestinian government, they boarded the ships, and soon they'll be in international waters and then in Cyprus. This is the first time, ever, that Palestinians have been able to freely enter and leave their own country."

Thousands of Palestinians went to greet the 44 activists from 17 countries when they landed in Gaza on Saturday. The visitors brought 200 hearing aids for Palestinian children and thousands of balloons.

Among the seven Palestinians who left in the boats were Saad Mesleh and his father, Khaled, who said he hoped to have his son fitted with an artificial leg in Cyprus.

Nine of the activists decided to stay in the strip at least temporarily.

Israeli government spokesman Aryeh Mekel said the activists were hoping to attract widespread media coverage, which would have resulted had Israel stopped the boats.

"They entered and they left," he said. "If these were terrorists, we would care. But the fact is, we allowed it."

Mekel said Israel did not think the voyage would set a precedent. "If anyone expects a regular flow of ships going back and forth, this is not going to happen," he said.

Journalist Ahmed Abu Hamda said the visit was "a small victory for Hamas," the armed Islamist movement that won Palestinian elections in January 2006. Hamas took exclusive control of the territory in June 2007 after clashes with members of the rival Fatah movement. Israel has since severely limited the flow of goods into Gaza, allowing only food and medicine.

A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which went into effect in June, has not ended the blockade. Palestinians say there are shortages of many goods and frequent blackouts because of Israeli limits on the supply of fuel.

"Hamas sent a message to Arab countries who they feel aren't doing anything, saying, 'These Western activists managed to do what you haven't been able to do for two years,' " Abu Hamda said.

The only Jewish Israeli on the boat, Jeff Halper, was arrested Tuesday as he returned to Israel and was charged with violating an Israeli military order that prohibits Israelis from entering Gaza.

He spent a night and a day in jail and was released on bail. Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, said the two boats forced Israel to relinquish at least some control over access to Gaza by sea.

Halper, who last visited the strip in 2000, said Gazans were eager to speak Hebrew with him.

"I would do a telephone interview for the media in Hebrew and, by the end, there would be a dozen Palestinians around me who all wanted to speak to me in Hebrew and tell me about their friends in Tel Aviv," he said. "It really was very moving. They would say, 'We're the same, why is there all this conflict between us?' "

"It's the opposite of what the Israeli public thinks," Halper said. "They think that Gaza is all Hamas and they hate Israelis. But if they knew the truth, they'd have to say that there is a basis for peacemaking here."




An interview you won't see aired by USA media with Huwaida Arraf, of the FREE GAZA MOVEMENT and Ranaan Gissin, former advisor to Ariel Sharon, regarding the siege on Gaza and human rights:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2008/08/26/al-jazeera-inside-story-gaza-blockade/





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SS FREE GAZA & SS LIBERTY TO LEAVE FOR CYPRUS WITH PALESTINIANS ON-BOARD

For More Information, Please Contact:
(Gaza) Paul Larudee: +972 598 765 370
(Gaza) Huwaida Arraf: +972 599 130 426
(Cyprus) Osama Qashoo: +357 97 793 595 /
(Jerusalem) Angela Godfrey-Goldstein: +972 547 366 393 /

(GAZA CITY, 28 August 2008) - After having shattered the Israeli blockade of Gaza earlier this week, the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty will depart Gaza for Cyprus at 2pm today. Several Palestinians who have previously been denied exit visas by Israel will join international human rights workers on the journey. Among the Palestinians leaving are Saed Mosleh, age 10, of Beit Hanoon, Gaza. Saed lost his leg due to an Israeli tank shell and is leaving Gaza with his father to seek medical treatment. Also on board are the Darwish family, who will finally be reunited with their relatives in Cyprus.

"I can't believe we're finally able to leave for medical treatment," said Khaled Mosleh, Saed's father. "This is a miracle of God."

Nine international human rights workers will remain in Gaza to do longer-term monitoring and accompaniment, and one, Dr. Bill Dienst of Omak, Washington, will attempt to cross over into Israel later today via the Erez crossing.

By freely traveling to Gaza, on Saturday, August 23rd, in two, small, wooden boats, the Free Gaza Movement forced the Israeli government to issue a fundamental policy change regarding their military and economic blockade of Gaza. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs publicly announced that humanitarian and human rights missions to Gaza will no longer be stopped or threatened by Israel. With the end of the Israeli siege of Gaza, Palestinians should be free to exercise their rights without fear of being stopped or killed by the Israeli military.

Yvonne Ridley, a journalist and member for the Free Gaza Movement, summed up her experience in Gaza by saying, "I missed the start of the Berlin Wall coming down by just a few days, but now I know how people felt when they tore down those first few bricks. This has been a huge victory of people over power."

Since the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement will not be entering Israeli territorial waters, and since they will request an inspection from both the Gaza Port Authority when they depart, and the Cypriot authorities upon their return, they expect no interference on the part of the Israeli authorities when they leave Gaza. By Israel's own admission, it has no authority to inspect the boats or the passengers when they leave Gaza.

With the collapse of the Israeli blockade, the Free Gaza Movement will quickly return to Gaza with another delegation, and they would like to encourage the United Nations, Arab League and international community to organize similar human rights and humanitarian efforts. The Free Gaza Movement will continue to work to ensure that safe passage between Gaza and the outside world will remain free and open.
###

PALESTINIANS LEAVING GAZA ON THE SS FREE GAZA & SS LIBERTY
Maha M.S. Darwish, mother
Omar Darwish, age 5
Sami M.J. Darwish, age 14
Ayman M.J. Darwish, age 17
Tawfiq M.J. Darwish, age 18
Khaled Mosleh, father
Saed Mosleh, age 10

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS LEAVING GAZA
Greta Berlin, Los Angeles, USA
Nikolaos Bolos, Athens, Greece
Lauren Booth, London, UK
Maria del Mar, Vilanova i La Geltru, Spain
Musheir El Farra, Sheffield, UK
Eliza Ernshire, London, UK
Petros Giotis, Athens, Greece
Christos Giouanopoulos, Athens, Greece
Derek Graham, Ballina, Ireland
Mary Thompson-Hughes, Los Angeles & London
Fathi Jaoudi, Jendouba, Tunisia & London
Yiannis Karipidis, Komothnh, Greece
Giorgios Klontzas, St. Nicolaos, Greece
John Klusmire, Monterey, CA, USA
The Hon. Anastasios Kourakis, MP (representing Thessaloniki, Greece)
Dr. Paul Larudee, El Cerrito, CA, USA
Dr. Edith Lutz, Cologne, Germany
Theresa McDermott, Edinburgh, Scotland
Sr. Anne Montgomery, New York, USA
Aki Nawaz, Bradford, UK
Thomas Nelson, Welches, OR, USA
Peter Philips, New York, USA
Dr. Vaggelis Pissias, Athens, Greece
Panagiotis Politis, Volos, Greece
Yvonne Ridley, London, UK
David Schermerhorn, Deer Harbor, WA, USA
Huwaida Arraf Shapiro, Ramallah, Palestine
Courtney Sheetz, New York, USA
Kathy Sheetz, Woods Hole, MA, USA
Ren Tawil, Minneapolis, MN
Kathleen Wang, Diamond Bar, CA, USA

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS REMAINING IN GAZA
Vittorio Arrigoni, Bulciago, Italy
Georgios Karatzas, Pireas, Greece
Jenny Linnell, Totnes, UK
Andrew Muncie, Spean Bridge, Scotland
Ken O'Keefe, London, UK
Adam Qvist, Copenhagen, Denmark
Darlene Wallach, San Jose, CA, USA
Donna Wallach, San Jose, CA, USA


--
Greta Berlin
Media Team
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 08 17 67
http://www.freegaza.org
http://www.anis-online.de/office/events/FreeGazaSong.htm
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/


   
 
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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

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“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



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Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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