30 May, 2010 — Free Gaza Movement – Witness Gaza
If allowed in, this will be my third humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza. Each convoy has had its difficulties and its joys. The difficulty of this current convoy is that nearly 800 volunteers aboard 6 ships are attempting to enter the besieged strip through International waters – a completely legal activity – despite constant threats by the Israeli government to block, arrest and deport the entire convoy. These threats have two effects in my opinion: 1) they highlight the severity and depth of the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza for nearly four years, showing Israel to be the vicious occupier and instigator of hostility in the region that we know them to be and 2) they strengthen the resolve of volunteers around the world, on this convoy and beyond, who are aware of the plight of the Palestinians and who actively seek a resolution to the unjust occupation and continued colonization of Palestine. Of course, the joy of this convoy is the real potential it has to finally end the siege on Gaza if it gains enough international support and attention in the upcoming hours.
Currently, we are anchored in the Mediterranean Sea about a 6 hour sail from Cyprus, where we have been awaiting two final ships. A Greek ship carrying members of Parliament from half a dozen European countries has just arrived, and the Irish boat, the MV Rachel Corrie follows shortly. We will soon set sail towards Gaza, straight towards the threats of Israel to stop us at all costs, including by use of force. Rest assured, however, regardless of their tactics to stop us – force or delay – we will not turn back nor will we allow Israel to board our ships. (The ships are now on their way.)
It is imperative to reiterate that this is an unarmed humanitarian aid convoy carrying the better part of one thousand volunteers from 1? years of age to 88 years of age, from more than 30 countries. We have the official support of the governments of France, Mexico, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Italy and the European Union. Unfortunately, my own country is not on that list…the United States. As they are a stall-worth supporter of Israel, that is hardly surprising.
What is surprising, however, is that although I was the only American on board as an IHH participant, I have been joined by a few US citizens from the Free Gaza movement and discovered that we are 11 in all – including ex-military and government personnel, dual citizens, activists and medical volunteers. Most have been to Gaza at least once and are “used to” dealing with the threats of oppressive regimes and direct conflict with their police and military forces. And most of us still hope and expect the United States to take an openly supportive role of this convoy and to pressure Israel to allow our convoy into Gaza to deliver aid.
In sum, we, the Americans on board the ships, and the collective “we,” volunteers and people of conscious from around the world, are relying upon the support of our fellow citizens and our respective governments to pressure Israel to 1) allow this humanitarian aid convoy into Gaza and 2) once and for all end this crippling and unjust siege of Gaza.
Contact: Free Gaza movement: Greta Berlin, Co-Founder – +357 99 18 72 75, firstname.lastname@example.org Audrey Bomse, Board member +357 96 48 98 05 Audreybomse@hotmail.com Local Free Gaza movement contacts: Darlene Wallach – 408-294-5781, email@example.com Donna Wallach – 408-569-6608, firstname.lastname@example.org
— Greta Berlin, Co-Founder +357 99 18 72 75 witnessgaza.com www.freegaza.org http://www.flickr.com/photos/freegaza