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 watchers 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 fewer 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.
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 / email@example.com
(Jerusalem) Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, tel. +972 547 366 393 / firstname.lastname@example.org