Dignity to Gaza: “We’re Back!”
The Newsletter of the Free Gaza Movement 2/2008, Dec. 15
On Tuesday 9 December the Free Gaza Movement ship “Dignity” successfully broke through the Israeli blockade for the fourth time since August, showing solidarity with the people under the illegal and inhumane siege and bringing medical aid and baby nutrition. Two days later the Dignity returned with eleven Palestinian students who had been denied exit by Israel to attend their universities abroad. The vessel arrived safe and sound in Cyprus in the afternoon of December 12. Over seven hundred students are currently trapped in Gaza, unable to obtain permission from Israel to continue their education. The fourth Free Gaza voyage coincides with the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Free Gaza Movement takes a stand for the Human Rights and for international justice. - Also in this issue: why Rosenhead and Cushman sailed to Gaza, what Huwaida says about occupied Gaza, what happened to Audrey at Ben Gurion airport, the Gaza Concert '08 and the quote of the week. You can find the current free press photo "The Dignity in Larnaca" (Copyright: Angela Godfrey-Goldstein) at http://www.freegaza.org/uploads/media/dignity.jpg
Fourth Successful Voyage Breaks Through Siege of Gaza
The Free Gaza Movement ship “Dignity” successfully broke through the Israeli blockade for the fourth time since August, arriving in Gaza Port at 2:45 pm, Tuesday 9 December. The ship carried one ton of medical supplies and high-protein baby formula, in addition to a delegation of international academics, humanitarian and human rights workers. For over two years, Israel has imposed an increasingly severe blockade on Gaza, dramatically increasing poverty and malnutrition rates among the 1.5 million human people who live in this tiny, costal region. Lubna Masarwa, one of the Free Gaza organizers and leader of the delegation, stated: “We will come again and again and again until the world breaks its silence and we shatter this siege once and for all." Two days after its arrival, the "Dignity" returned to Cyprus, on board eleven Palestinian students who had been denied exit by Israel to attend their universities abroad. Osama Qashoo, another Free Gaza spokesperson, explained their success by saying that, “the sea passage to Gaza is open. Our fourth mission was a quick response to Israel denying earlier attempts by Libya, Qatar and by Palestinians from 1948 to also break through the siege. We hope that other nations, civil society organizations, and activists around the world will learn from our experience, be strategic in their planning, and not let Israeli threats and aggression stop them from coming to Gaza. Freedom of movement and of education, and to live in peace is everyone’s right.” - See press releases from Dec. 9 and 11 on http://www.freegaza.org
British Academics Sail to Gaza
Two Jewish academics from the UK, Emeritus Professor Jonathan Rosenhead and Research Fellow Mike Cushman, both from the Department of Management at the London School of Economics, have joined the latest Free Gaza boat. There are currently some 700 students in Gaza who have been granted places at universities abroad - often with prestigious scholarships such as the Fulbright or Ford Foundation awards - but whom the Israeli authorities have prevented from leaving Gaza. Higher education opportunities are extremely limited in Gaza. Study abroad is the only alternative for Palestinian students. Rosenhead and Cushman are members of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), which advocates boycotting Israeli academic institutions as long as they are complicit in Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territory. BRICUP recently held a packed meeting at SOAS where Israeli Professor Ilan Pappe described the Israeli siege of Gaza as "slow genocide". - Read the whole press release at http://www.freegaza.org/index.php?module=latest_news&id=935be1a33e1f998f662711e2fc476336&offset=
Does Israel Occupy the Gaza Strip?
Israel claims to have ended the occupation in Gaza, but is this really true? "Israel is asserting control over Gaza's territorial waters. This is one of the factors of it continuing to be an Occupying Power in Gaza", says Huwaida Arraf who was on each of the first three Free Gaza voyages. She received her Juris Doctor from the American University in Washington D.C. and until recently was teaching Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. "Despite its high profile pullout of illegal settlements and military presence from Gaza in August-September 2005, Israel maintains 'effective control' over the Gaza Strip and therefore remains an occupying force with certain obligations," says Arraf. An occupying force has a duty to ensure the food and medical supplies of the population, as well as maintain hospitals and other medical services, "to the fullest extent of the means available to it" (Gevena Convention IV, arts. 55, 56). This includes protecting civilian hospitals, medical personnel, and the wounded and sick. "In addition, a fundamental principle of International Humanitarian Law, as well as of the domestic laws of civilized nations, is that collective punishment against a civilian population is forbidden (Geneva Convention IV, art. 33). Israel is trying to convince the world that its siege of Gaza is a legitimate military tactic used by one state against a hostile/enemy entity. However, this is not the case. As an occupying power, Israel is responsible for the well-being of the occupied population and therefore its siege is not legitimate. It is a collective punishment, strictly prohibited by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and quite possibly, a war crime."
Israel Punishes Attorney for Insisting on Her Legal Rights
By Audrey Bomse. On December 4th, I was detained at Ben Gurion airport and told I was being denied entry into Israel and would be deported immediately. I was totally taken by surprise, as only weeks before I had returned to Israel from Cyprus when I had sailed to Gaza on the Free Gaza Movement boat, the Dignity, and had absolutely no problem upon my reentry then. (...) They finally returned me to the airport, gave me my passport and I was told to leave. I returned to Jerusalem, took a hot shower, had a drink and felt almost human again. Everyone detained by immigration authorities should be informed of their right to consular access immediately upon detention, or at least after it becomes clear that the detention will last more than a short while. Israel has violated this basic right, as well as so many others of detained foreign nationals, but particularly of Palestinians, with impunity for far too long. - Read the whole article at http://www.freegaza.org/index.php?module=latest_news&id=88cf664fcebe9f31aa7a557d745422b7&offset=
Musical Resistance Against the Siege
By Sameh A. Habeeb, Gaza. On 27 October, a group of young Palestinians, none of them over the age of 25, organized the first music concert of its kind in the Gaza Strip, called Gaza Concert '08. Regardless of the awful conditions in the Gaza Strip brought on by the 19-month Israeli siege, the youth sang for freedom, peace and ending the unjust siege. Thousands of people came from all over Gaza while several international and local media outlets covered the event that was sponsored by Action for Peace Italia. A mixture of traditional Palestinian debka dance, rap, and nationalist anthems were performed calling for lifting the siege and ending Israeli occupation. - Read the whole article at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10014.shtml
Quote of the Week
"Since the Palestinian semi-civil war, the Israelis have been doing all that they can to further isolate and destroy Hamas in particular and Gaza in general. Thus, their blockade of Gaza is nothing short of 'collective punishment', a war crime according to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. In other words, the civilian population of Gaza is being punished by the Israelis as a means of forcing Hamas to submit. One can ask the legitimate question, how is such a course of action different from terrorism?" - Dec. 11, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Executive Editor of BlackCommentator.com: http://www.blackcommentator.com/303/303_aw_israel_end_gaza_blockade.html
The Newsletter of the Free Gaza Movement and the website http://www.freegaza.org present news and background info on the nonviolent Free Gaza Movement and the attempts of breaking the siege of Gaza and Palestine. This issue was edited by Anis Hamadeh in Mainz, anis at anis-online.de - Subscription over the "Friends of Gaza" Newslist at https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/gazafriends, contact to Free Gaza: friendsofgaza at gmail.com. Updated Free Gaza media clippings at http://www.freegaza.org/uploads/media/free_gaza_in_the_media.pdf. For general Palestine daily news visit http://www.theheadlines.org