Archive for gazafriends

FREE GAZA IRELAND TO SEND “IRISH BOAT” TO GAZA

Posted in Activism, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, International community, Non-violent resistance, Operation Cast Lead, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , on 13/10/2009 by 3071km

E-mail received: Monday 12th October 2009

Source: Free Gaza Movement

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The crisis in Gaza is unacceptable. For nearly four years, Israel has subjected the Gaza Strip to an increasingly cruel blockade, leading to severe increases in unemployment, poverty, and childhood malnutrition. Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza last December & January killed over 1400 civilians and destroyed thousands of homes, schools, mosques and hospitals. It’s been almost a year since these attacks and thousands of Gaza’s Palestinians are still living in rubble. Maintaining the Gaza siege and denying Palestinians the right to rebuild their lives is unconscionable.

Free Gaza Ireland is working closely with the international Free Gaza Movement to acquire an “Irish boat” to sail to Gaza as part of an international flotilla challenging Israel’s brutal siege.  Since August 2008, international volunteers in the Free Gaza Movement have been sailing to Gaza, suceeding 5 times to break the siege. Ours remain the only ships to reach Gaza since 1967.  More than simple charity, the Palestinian people need our solidarity and political action. They need us to challenge the policies that leave them in need of humanitarian aid.

Caoimhe Butterly, renowned Irish human rights campaigner and Gaza Project Co-coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement stated that:  “Our delegations  have been deeply shocked by the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza. Israel’s ongoing occupation and the severity of the siege on Gaza is designed to isolate people as well as devastate the infrastructure of Gaza. Free Gaza’s mission is a reminder of not only the efficacy of using non-violent direct action to confront injustice, but also of the deafening silence of the international community.”


With Ireland’s help, the Free Gaza Movement hopes to sail to Gaza before winter sets in with ships carrying badly needed humanitarian and reconstruction supplies. On board will be Irish TD’s, journalists, human rights activists & Irish musicans who will perform in Gaza with local artists as part of a series of cultural events linking up with Ireland.  We urge everyone to join us in concretely asserting the right of the Palestinian people to have access to the outside world. We will not stay silent as the Palestinian people are deliberately starved and humiliated. Like all peoples in the world – Palestinians have a right to life with dignity.

www.freegaza.org


Niamh Moloughney
Irish Free Gaza Coordinator

niamh@freegaza.org
091 472279/085 7747257

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Israel slow-motion genocide against the Palestinians of Gaza

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, International community, Israeli occupation, Non-violent resistance, Palestine, Siege, War crimes with tags , , , , , on 10/09/2009 by 3071km

Written by Greta Berlin

E-mail received: 10th September 2009

Source: GazaFriends

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As Israel continues to commit slow-motion genocide against the Palestinians of Gaza, saying they let in 150 trucks a day of food and medical aid (when they people of Gaza need 500-600 trucks a day), and B’tselem, the Israeli Human Rights group writes that more than 50% of the people of Gaza Israel killed were civilians, the world stands silent.

No building supplies are allowed into Gaza. Not one penny of the $4.5 billion to rebuild Gaza has been spent to rebuild.

Israel continues to occupy 1.5 million people, crushing them beneath their boots and their tanks. Farmers cannot farm, fishermen cannot fish.

Israel says they have ‘allowed’ some humanitarian supplies into Gaza, as though they have the right to control the destinies of the population. And now children are going back to school with no crayons, no paper, no books and no windows.

The Free Gaza movement is determined to deliver a cargo ship of building supplies and educational supplies this year. Israel can ram our boats, hijack them and kidnap our passengers and throw them into prison, but they cannot stop our determination to sail to Gaza. Palestinians do not need hand-outs from the world. They are perfectly capable of determining their own destinies. They need their civil rights.

Coming in by sea is the only possible way to begin to break Israel’s stranglehold on this small sliver of land.

And this struggle for justice is not just in Gaza, but in all of Palestine, as children begin to go back to schools, faced with either the racist regime in Israel or the draconian Israeli rule in the occupied territories and Gaza.

“Where are our governments?”

Posted in Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, International community, Israeli occupation, Non-violent resistance, Siege, Videos with tags , , on 11/07/2009 by 3071km

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire Speaks from Israeli Jail Cell After Arrest on Boat Delivering Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

Posted in Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, International community, Non-violent resistance, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Siege, USA foreign policy with tags , , , , , , , on 02/07/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 2nd july 2009

Source: Democracy Now!

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Freegazaboat-web

Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire speaks to us from her jail cell in Israel. She was taken into custody along with twenty others, including former US Congress member Cynthia McKinney, when the Israeli military boarded their ship in international waters as it tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. [includes rush transcript]

JUAN GONZALEZ: We begin today with the latest news of the ship that was seized by the Israeli military Tuesday as it tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. Israeli forces boarded the ship and towed it to the Israeli port of Ashdod. The twenty-one activists on board include former Congress member and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and the Irish peace activist and Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire. Huwaida Arraf and Lubna Masarwa were released, while the other nineteen remain in detention.

AMY GOODMAN: Huwaida Arraf is the founder of the Free Gaza movement. She joins us now on the phone from Israel.

Huwaida, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain why you took this boat trying to get to Gaza and then what happened to you on board.

HUWAIDA ARRAF: [inaudible] Hello to you all.

The purpose of our mission was to highlight to the international community that what Israel is doing to Gaza is blatantly illegal, and our government isn’t doing anything about it. Israel constantly claims that their policies are based on security, but what they’re doing—imposing collective punishment on an entire civilian population.

We were carrying on our very, very small boat some medical aid, some rebuilding supplies, because after the January—December-January assault on Gaza, thousands of homes have been destroyed, tens of hospitals and schools all demolished. And, you know, the donor community supposedly pledged [inaudible] Gaza, but no one is saying anything. Not one country is saying anything about the fact [inaudible] the entire Gaza Strip, and not one bag of cement [inaudible]—

AMY GOODMAN: Huwaida, we’re going to interrupt for a minute, because, Juan, it sounds like we have someone else from a jail cell in Israel.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, it sounds like we have Mairead Maguire, the Nobel Prize winner, on the phone from her jail cell.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Thank you very much, indeed. Thank you.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Could you tell us what is going on right now with you and the others who are being detained?

MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Yes. We have just been locked into our cells now for a couple of hours. We are currently going through their process. We are being charged with entering illegally into Israeli—near Israeli shores. We are going, it looks like, to be deported from Israel. We did not choose to come to Israel. Our little boat was boarded by the navy combat soldiers, and they came in in full riot gear onto our boat when we were just twenty-five miles off the shore of Gaza. We were under gunpoint, forcibly taken to Ashdod, held in the detention center overnight. And then I was removed from Ashdod detention center, handcuffed in a military vehicle, and brought here to the prison, where we’re currently being held. All of us, all nineteen—there were twenty-one, but Huwaida and Lubna are out—but the rest of us are being held here in detention in this prison.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your response, Mairead Maguire, to Mark Regev, the Israeli spokesperson, who said aid is free to pass into Gaza?

MAIREAD MAGUIRE: No, that is wrong. I mean, we know it is not free. I mean, Gaza is like a huge prison, but—because its borders are closed. The sea pass into Gaza, which has been closed for over forty years by the Israeli government—we are only the seventh ship to get in to the port of Gaza that tried to break the siege.

And as we do that, it’s very interesting, we pass the gas fields of Gaza. You know, Gaza has huge gas deposits, which Israel is now beginning to use. So it’s very important that there is the issue of who owns the gas in the Gazan Strip. And also farmers—fishermen, who try to go out without—in about twelve miles to fish for their families, are shot up and have been killed by the Israeli navy in that area.

So, Gaza is a huge occupied territory of one-and-a-half million people who have been subjected to collective punishment by the Israeli government. That breaks the Geneva Convention, every international law in the book. And the tragedy is that the American government, the UN and Europe, they remain silent in the face of the abuse of Palestinian human rights, like the freedom, and it’s really tragic.

And it is also tragic that out of ten million Palestinians of a population, almost seven million are currently refugees out in other countries or displaced within their own country, particularly after the horrific massacre by Israeli jet fighters after just earlier this year. Twenty-two days Israel bombarded Gaza, Gazan people, civilians. And we’re not sure what kind of weapons were dropped. We need the scientists. We need people to go in to see: is it depleted uranium in the very soil of the Gazan fields now? Unfortunately, Israel does not want human rights activists in there to see what they’ve done and what they’re doing. Even the representative of [inaudible]—

JUAN GONZALEZ: Mairead Maguire—

MAIREAD MAGUIRE: —is not allowed in.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Mairead Maguire, I’d like to ask you, to your knowledge, has your government or the government of the United States, in the case of Cynthia McKinney or some of the others, attempted to visit with the detainees or to lodge protest with the Israeli government?

MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Yes, we have had [inaudible] our consulates in the different governments come here to see us. And we are concerned about the five people who came from Bahrain, and—because they don’t have—their government doesn’t have the same links with Israel, and we are concerned for their safety. We have asked that all those who were—who were hijacked—we were hijacked on the seas of Gaza—that they be all given freedom and their goods returned, because we have got to look out for each other.

AMY GOODMAN: Mairead Maguire, what will happen now? And we understand that some people were injured.

MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Yes, indeed. I mean, when as were the combat troops in masks and fully armed came on board our small boat, some people were injured. And even during—that happened during the day. But our life was put at risk even more, because the previous night, during the night, when we were in international waters, we were—a couple of Israeli naval ships came up around us. Over the radio, they told us if we did not turn back into Cyprus, they would shoot at our boat. They cut off our communications, including our satellite communications. So we were in grave danger of actually being killed at that point.

The second thing was, when actually the navy combat forces came on board our boat, they wouldn’t allow the captain to take the boat to Ashdod; instead, they took over. And, you know, I really thought that we were all going to drown, because when we got near, when we were sailing to Ashdod, there was heavy winds, there was water coming in, and it was—really we were in a very, very dangerous position. So we were literally hijacked, taken at gunpoint by the Israeli military. And now we are here in prison, and they are threatening to deport us. We were brought here against our will. We didn’t come here by choice, and we are not here by choice.

AMY GOODMAN: Mairead Maguire, what jail cell are—what jail are you in now?

MAIREAD MAGUIRE: We’re in Giv’on Prison, and we’re—the women here are on one side, and the men are on the other side.

AMY GOODMAN: Mairead Maguire, I want to thank you for being with us, Irish peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, speaking to us from her jail cell, redefining the cell phone. Huwaida Arraf before her, founder of the Free Gaza movement. Mairead is one of nineteen people who remain in jail. Huwaida just got out.

We are NOT the “Story” – It’s Not Just Our 21 Kidnapped Passengers

Posted in Gaza, International community, Non-violent resistance, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Siege with tags , , , on 01/07/2009 by 3071km

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1 July 2009

We are NOT the “Story”
It’s Not Just Our 21 Kidnapped Passengers

On June 30th 2009 Israeli Occupation Forces forcibly boarded the Free Gaza boat, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, and kidnapped 21 human rights workers and journalists who were on their way to deliver much needed humanitarian and reconstruction supplies to besieged Gaza. Those abducted by Israel include Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Since their kidnapping, tens-of-thousands of people around the world have mobilized to demand their immediate and unconditional release. The Free Gaza Movement would like to thank everyone who has made a phone call, sent a fax or email, written a letter, or organized a demonstration on behalf of our 21 imprisoned friends.

With respect, it is not enough. We are not the story. Since its founding in 1948 the State of Israel has regularly kidnapped and tortured Palestinians, throwing them into forgotten prisons where they can languish for years. Today, over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners without benefit of due process, some never even charged – men, women, and children – endure torture and isolation in Israeli jails, outdoor prison camps, and secret black sites. They come from all walks of life: doctors, journalists, parliamentarians, workers, resistance fighters, homemakers, students and others. They are our sisters and brothers.

The 21 passengers aboard the Spirit of Humanity have been illegally incarcerated for their solidarity work with Palestine. 11,000 other members of our common human family are already imprisoned simply for being Palestinian.

The Siege of Palestine is not simply the physical blockade against Gaza. The Siege includes the hundreds of checkpoints throughout the West Bank that separate families and communities and shatter any prospect for a viable Palestinian state. The Siege includes the millions of Palestinians in Diaspora, many of them dumped in squalid refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere. The Siege is ever-present throughout all aspects of Palestinian life.

This Siege is only strengthened when we pay more attention to the injustice done to 21 international solidarity workers than we do to the much greater injustices already being committed against millions of Palestinians.

We in the Free Gaza Movement implore all the good people around the world who have working so hard to secure the release of our friends to “adopt” a Palestinian prisoner. We ask you to learn about the crisis and take on the cause of an individual prisoner as your own.

Break the Siege! Reach out to Palestine!

For more information, please visit http://www.FreeGaza.org, as well as the following prisoner information websites:

http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=7209&CategoryId=4
http://sumoud.tao.ca/?q=node/view/76
http://palestinianprisoners.blogspot.com/2009/04/palestinian-prisoners-families-protest_27.html
http://www.btselem.org/english/statistics/Detainees_and_Prisoners.asp
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For More Information, Please Contact:
Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 28 41 02 / friends@freegaza.org

Ramzi Kysia (English)
Tel: + 357 99 08 17 67 / rrkysia@yahoo.com

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):
tel: +357 99 80 96 37 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk

FGM update – Press Conference, Today, Journalist House, Nicosia, 17:00-17:30

Posted in Gaza, International community, Israeli occupation, Non-violent resistance, Palestine, Siege with tags , , , on 01/07/2009 by 3071km

Update on kidnapped passengers, impounded boat, and the right for EVERYONE to see an attorney

Journalists’ House
12 CyBC (RIK) Avenue
Aglantzia, Nicosia 2120, Cyprus

Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 28 41 02/ friends@freegaza.org

Ramzi Kysia (English)
Tel: + 357 99 08 17 67 rrkysia@yahoo.com

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):
tel: +357 99 80 96 37 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk
www.FreeGaza.org

(Larnaca, 1 July 2009) Yesterday, the Israeli Navy boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY and kidnapped the 21 human rights activists, humanitarian workers and activists on their way to Gaza. As of today, none of them have had the right to see an attorney even though they came to the detention center to see them.

The Free Gaza Movement is calling for their release and the release of our boat, seized in international waters off the coast of Gaza as our SPOT locator clearly shows.

But more importantly, twenty-one internationals can get headlines. What about the 11,000 Palestinians who languish in jail, many of them tortured. We will update you on the status of our kidnapped passengers and our impounded boat, but who will do the same for the Palestinians and their boats?

We will insist that Israel stop interfering with our voyages to Gaza, since they do not have the right; legal or moral, to enforce a siege that collectively punishes 1.5 million Palestinians.

Our demand is that our passengers re-board the boat and continue on to the port in Gaza, so we can deliver the building supplies and the humanitarian supplies that we loaded and inspected by the Cypriot authorities.

ISRAEL ATTACKS JUSTICE BOAT; KIDNAPS HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS; CONFISCATES MEDICINE, TOYS AND OLIVE TREES

Posted in International community, Non-violent resistance, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Siege with tags , , , on 30/06/2009 by 3071km

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
30 June 2009

ISRAEL ATTACKS JUSTICE BOAT; KIDNAPS HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS; CONFISCATES MEDICINE, TOYS AND OLIVE TREES

For more information contact:
Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 081 767 / friends@freegaza.org

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):
tel: +357 99 077 820 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk
www.FreeGaza.org

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] – Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip,” said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. “President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We’re asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel’s December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.

“The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of “Cast Lead”. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone” said fellow passenger Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland.

Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: “No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry  medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters.”

Arraf continued, “Israel’s deliberate and premeditated attack on our unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand our immediate and unconditional release.”
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WHAT YOU CAN DO!

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367

CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s office at:
tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CONTACT the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for their assistance in establishing the wellbeing of the kidnapped human rights workers and help in securing their immediate release!

Red Cross Israel
tel: +972 3524 5286
fax: +972 3527 0370
tel_aviv.tel@icrc.org

Red Cross Switzerland:
tel: +41 22 730 3443
fax: +41 22 734 8280

Red Cross USA:
tel: +1 212 599 6021
fax: +1 212 599 6009
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Kidnapped Passengers from the Spirit of Humanity include:

Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain
Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association of Bahrain.

Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.

Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain
Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.

Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.

Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain
Fatima is a relief worker and community activist from Bahrain.

Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain
Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.

Huwaida Arraf, US
Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.

Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain
Kaltham is a community activist.

Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.

Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.

Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.

Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.

Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Cynthia McKinney, US
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate.

Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Adam Shapiro, US
Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.

Kathy Sheetz, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.
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