Honoring Our Fallen Member Vittorio Arrigoni

21 July 2018 —  FreeGaza Movement

It’s appropriate to post this beautifully-written tribute to Vik on the day the current flotilla leaves for Gaza. In his memory, Free Gaza wishes them a safe journey. As he always said, ‘Stay Human.”

Vittorio

Vik and Captain John on the day we landed in Gaza, August 23, 2008

By Bella, Co-founder, the Free Gaza movement

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Members of Swedish Parliament demand security for Ship to Gaza

20 May, 2010 — Free Gaza Movement

On Wednesday, Helén Pettersson, Social Democratic member of the Swedish Parliament, submitted a written inquiry to Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, asking what measures the government intends to take in order to protect Ship to Gaza’s peaceful, lawful, humanitarian initiative. The reason for the inquiry is that Ship to Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla—the coalition in which the Swedish initiative will be included— has been threatened with military resistance from Israeli authorities and private individuals. The following is Petterson’s inquiry in its entirety:

“One and a half million Palestinians are living in isolation on the Gaza Strip, in pure misery. There is a shortage of food, medicine and other necessities, such as building materials to repair homes, schools and other buildings which were destroyed by the bombings during the war around Christmas in 2008. In order to address the situation, Ship to Gaza is planning to take the sea route to Gaza, bringing medicine, desalination plants, cement, etc. in order to help the people in need. Ship to Gaza is a politically and religiously independent, non-profit organization that is working to promote increased respect for human rights and general international law. Israel’s government has now threatened to stop Ship to Gaza and to use force if necessary. Does the Foreign Minister intend to protect this humanitarian initiative?”

As early as last week, Mehmet Kaplan of the Green Party of Sweden requested a meeting with the Foreign Minister, along with Ship to Gaza spokespersons Dror Feiler and Mattias Gardell, in order to discuss which security measures the Swedish government plans to take. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has still not responded to any of the questions. As the convoy is setting sail this weekend, Ship to Gaza-Sweden wishes to emphasize how important a response from the government is regarding this matter. Especially since the Israeli media is reporting that the Swedish Ambassador to Israel has informed the Israeli government that she and the Swedish government intend to discourage Swedish citizens from participating in the Freedom Flotilla’s peaceful, lawful, humanitarian convoy. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and several other human rights organizations have all condemned the blockade. Furthermore, the director of U.N. relief operations in Gaza, John Ging, welcomes initiatives such as Ship to Gaza, in order to break the blockade.

Ship to Gaza-Sweden
Contact:
Mattias Gardell: +46 703036666
Dror Feiler: +46 702855777

Free Gaza Movement
Contact:
Greta Berlin: +33 607374512
www.freegaza.org

GazaFriends: Israel bans the basics of life

12 May, 2010 — Free Gaza Movement

As we get ready to launch our cargo ship and Israel rattles its sabers threatening to violently stop our 8-boat flotilla, the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza cannot be forgotten. It is they who pay the price for the inaction of governments, particularly in the EU and the US.

According to the BCC and Amira Hass in columns last week, Israel allows only 81 items into Gaza for basic and bare necessity life. These items, many of them that have nothing to do with rebuilding a shattered infrastructure after Israel’s brutal Operation Cast Lead at the beginning of 2009, are mostly ‘added to the list’ of imports because of pressure from Israeli merchants who make a great deal of money if their item gets on the approved list.

Watch the video and look at the absurdity of banned items… chocolate, jam, sheets, pillows, and all rebuilding supplies. Taking these supplies into Gaza is exactly what the Freedom Flotilla intends to do.

Then watch the flotilla on our website, pressure your government officials to advocate for our safe passage, and continue to donate what you can for our fuel, captain and crew.

We want to thank everyone of you who have donated, advocated, written and called your representatives. This initiative has grown from a few supporters to thousands around the world. http://www.flickr.com/photos/freegaza

In the words Alice Walker, poet and author:

Goddess Speed your boat. You are doing the work of The Collective as it attempts to bring Comfort, Support and Abiding Love and Solidarity to Itself. What you demonstrate is what we all, deep in our hearts, can know: We are One People, existing in one Love. The Gazans are us, living in a beleaguered place too small for us, dangerous for us, deadly for us.  Just as the air connects us, so does this knowing wisdom of being one expression – human – of an infinitely creative Universe.

I send you my blessings, my prayers for your safety, and my love,


Greta Berlin
Free Gaza Movement

Threats against flotilla show weakness, activist says

9 May, 2010 — Maan News Agency

gaza-corrie.jpg

Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli threats to open fire at a host of solidarity boats carrying aid to Gaza later this month reveal Israel’s weakness, said Jamal Al-Khudari, head of Gaza’s Popular Committee Against the Siege on Sunday.

‘Such threats reflect the occupation’s failure and embody state terrorism against peaceful individuals who come to support a people under siege and aggression,’ a statement issued by Al-Khudari said.

Under international law, the activists attempting to dock in Gaza have the right to participate in breaking the siege, Al-Khudari added, saying the threats will not deter participants from arriving in Gaza.

The popular committee organizer said the group was coming well-equipped, and would be ready should the Israeli navy surround them for a long period of time.

The Freedom Flotilla announced plans in late April, saying a group of ships would depart from several corners of the Mediterranean and gather in international waters with the intent to deliver some 5,000 tons of building and medical supplies to the population under siege.

According to flotilla organizers, 600 activists will sail three cargo ships and five passenger boats for Gaza in what a statement called the ‘biggest internationally coordinated effort to directly challenge Israeli’s ongoing occupation, aggression, and violence against the Palestinian people.'”

Free Gaza Movement: We’re almost ready By Greta Berlin

7 May, 2010 — Free Gaza Movement

We’re almost ready. Our vessels are being loaded with construction materials, specialized medical equipment, generators, pre-fab homes, water filtration units, and school supplies for the children. Israel allows only 81 items into Gaza, forcing the people to use tunnels to bring in supplies, barely keeping their economy at subsistence level.

When asked why they refuse to allow supplies into Gaza, Israeli authorities stated, “If we disclose what is allowed in and why… it would damage our national security and harm foreign relations.” BBC, May 3, 2010

Therefore, we intend to open a sea route that will belong to the Palestinians. Gaza is the only territory on the Mediterranean that has no right to its sea, no right to fish more than a mile off its coast, no right to send out its flowers, vegetables and fruit for trade to other nations. Israel’s cruel blockade has shut 1.5 million Palestinians into an open-air prison, allowing only a trickle of aid through.

We cannot stand by and watch the people slowly starve and lose hope. Since our governments appear to be impotent, we civilians from around the world are stepping up instead.

We carry the hopes and dreams and prayers of thousands who have supported us over these past ten months, and we take those well wishes with us to the people of Gaza.

So for the next few weeks as we finish loading supplies and passengers, we will upload messages and well wishes like this one. Watch for them and send your own wish to us. Become a part of this citizen’s initiative by joining our Newslist, TWITTER account, Facebook page and YouTube list, all on the front page of our website.

Write to your representatives demanding they put Israel on notice for our safety and the safety of our cargo.

Then watch our journey from the live feed on our website at http://www.freegaza.org beginning soon.

GazaFriends: The Freedom Flotilla Sails to Gaza in May

28 April, 2010 — Free Gaza Movement

London, UK – On May 24, 2010, the Freedom Flotilla sets sail for Gaza determined to, once again, challenge Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in an open-air prison. Under the coordination of the Free Gaza Movement, numerous human rights organizations, including the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH), the Perdana Global Peace Organization from Malaysia, the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, and the Swedish and Greek Boat to Gaza initiatives will send three cargo ships loaded with reconstruction, medical and educational supplies. At least five passenger boats with over 600 people on board will accompany the cargo ships.

These passengers include members of Parliament from around the world, U.N., human rights and trade union activists, as well as journalists who will document the largest coordinated effort to directly confront Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and take in basic supplies.

Said Mary Hughes Thompson, one of Free Gaza’s co-founders, “Although we were happy with the first trips, it was bitter-sweet, knowing that our small boats and symbolic amounts of relief paled in comparison to what was really needed in Gaza. Now, we finally feel we are helping to organize a powerful action, one with the potential to translate into a sustained campaign of much more effective challenges to Israel’s brutal siege.”

In the past three months, Israel has limited fuel to run the power station. Much of Gaza is often in darkness. There are just enough trucks coming in to barely prevent total starvation, and Egypt, complicit with the Israeli-US policy of blockading Palestinians, is building an underground steel wall to prevent people in Gaza from bringing in vitally needed supplies through tunnels.

A cargo ship sponsored by the people of Malaysia and loaded with cargo donated from citizens of Ireland, Scotland, and Britain as well as thousands around the world, will depart from Ireland the second week of May. When it reaches the Mediterranean, she will be joined by the other boats and begin the journey to Gaza.

Dr. Mona El-Farra, Deputy Director of the Union of Health Work Committees in Gaza was pleased to hear we are coming back. “When the two boats from Free Gaza entered the harbor in 2008, it was like a dream, it was historic. And all great things start with some dreamers who made it true. For us in Gaza, the dream of freedom will not be lost, and we welcome this next voyage with open hearts.”

The Free Gaza Movement along with the partners listed above, are the organizers of this flotilla. However, dozens of organizations and tens of thousands of people around the world are taking part to make this voyage a success.


Greta Berlin
www.freegaza.org

Contact: Greta Berlin, +33 63 142 7577, Iristulip@gmail.com
Huwaida Arraf, +970-598-336-215, +972-542-635-936, huwaida.arraf@gmail.com
Caoimhe Butterly, +353 876 114 553, sahara78@hotmail.co.uk

GazaFriends: Introducting the MV Rachel Corrie

20 April, 2010 — Free Gaza Movement

MV-Rachel-Corrie.jpgThe 1200-ton cargo ship had been abandoned in July 2009, off the coast of Ireland. She was then impounded after an inspection by the International Transport Federation (ITF) discovered her owners had exploited their Lithuanian crew-members – not paying their wages and subjecting them to humiliating treatment, and they had been left with just one day of food. The 42-year-old MV Linda languished for nine months, waiting in the port of Dundalk for just the right buyer to rescue her.

On March 31, 2010, the Free Gaza Movement bought her at auction for €70,000 and will send her to the imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza loaded with cement, paper, and medical equipment, all banned by Israel from this battered and bruised slice of the Mediterranean.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/ (for photos of her and the people working on her).

ITF Inspector and Union organizer Ken Fleming was ecstatic: “We are pleased to announce that this vessel which was used to subject workers to modern day slavery, will now be used to promote human rights for the people of Palestine”.

Added Derek Graham the bidder for Free Gaza and one of the organizers of the flotilla, “We are doing this to show the people of Gaza that they are not alone. There’s nothing going into Gaza, no aid. We are prepared to run the blockade to try and get aid in. We have done it before. Out of eight previous attempts, five were successful.”

The Free Gaza Movement along with the Turkish humanitarian organization, IHH, the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza and the Greek and Swedish Boat to Gaza organizations will sail 8 boats loaded with building supplies as well as taking 600 passengers and journalists at the end of May.

As the people from the town of Dundalk work on her every day, painting her, guarding her and collecting cargo, they have a vested interest in what was once a lonely and abandoned vessel, now slowly coming to life under their care. The ship has been renamed the MV Rachel Corrie, in memory of the 23-year-old solidarity activist crushed to death in 2003 by an Israeli military bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza.

On May Day weekend, a mini convoy of vans loaded with medical supplies from eight different cities in Ireland and England will be delivering and loading these badly-needed supplies on the ship. The people of Norway have donated more than 6 tons of paper and school supplies with a goal of 25 tons to be loaded as cargo. Israel refuses to allow paper and supplies in for the children.

One of Free Gaza’s organizers, Caoimhe Butterly, stated, ” The public response to the cargo ship has been immense, and we hope that in the remaining three weeks before we set sail, communities across Ireland will continue to mobilize and gather supplies. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a symptom of Israel’s siege and Occupation, and this flotilla will spot-light the devastating collective punishment that is being imposed on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

With everyone’s help, the MV Rachel Corrie will be painted, outfitted, then filled with cargo and ready to leave shortly after May Day, a testimony to civil society doing what governments have refused to do…alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza. Your donations for supplies are still vitally needed. You can earmark your donation for cement or school books and send through our donate page at http://www.freegaza.org/en/donate.

Contact: Caoimhe Butterly, Ireland +353 876 114 553, sahara78@hotmail.co.uk

Niamh Moloughney, Ireland, 00353 85 774 7257, freegazaireland@gmail.com

Greta Berlin, France, 0033 63 142 7577, Iristulip@gmail.com

Gaza Friends: Cementing our Solidarity with the People of Gaza

13 April, 2010 — Free Gaza Movement

First, we’d like to thank those of you who have stepped up to send us euros, dollars and pounds for our next mission. That appeal went out on April 9, and, in four days,  you have already sent us over a quarter of the money we need. So we are adding this plea to our first one. We have a cement company in Ireland who will match the bags of cement that we buy…bag for bag. Here is another way that you can help.

Normally we don’t ask for donations for specific items, since all donations to our tax-exempt accounts in Cyprus or the U.S. are used to buy the boats or for operating costs  However, we are sending out this special appeal to the hundreds of you who have said, “But can’t I contribute to something specific, something that I can be proud to buy and know will help the people of Gaza?” Therefore, our PayPal account at http://www.freegaza.org/en/donate can accept donations for cement and book bags. In the message section on PayPal, tell us you want the money used to purchase cement or book bags. Or you can wire money into the Irish account designated below this announcement. We will use your donation for cement for reconstruction or book bags for the children if you designate it’s for them.

cement.jpgThe Free Gaza Movement calls on communities, schools, hospitals, trade unions and families across Ireland and the world to sponsor bags of cement and school supplies to send to Gaza. They will be loaded onto our Irish cargo ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, as part of an international flotilla of ships sailing to Gaza in May.

Just €5 will pay for a bag of cement to help the people of Gaza rebuild, supporting the Palestinian people and their refusal to be broken despite a devastating siege and Occupation. €5 for a bag of cement (or €10 for two bags, €20 for four bags, €100 for 20 bags) or €10 for a school/sports bag.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is in its third year, and virtually no reconstruction materials have been allowed into the Gaza Strip, which is still in ruins after Israel’s massive onslaught in Dec/Jan 2009 which killed over 1,400 Palestinians, almost 400 of them children.

At least 11,000 houses, 105 factories, 20 hospitals and clinics, 159 schools, universities, playschools and technical institutions were either damaged or destroyed and are still in ruins. Over 20,000 people were driven from their homes – many still living in tents.

school-bag.jpgIsrael has also banned books, paper, pens and school supplies, and we plan to deliver them along with messages of solidarity to the children of Gaza. For €10, you can sponsor  a school bag filled with school supplies to support children struggling to study under siege.

John Ging, the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency told reporters in March 2010:    ‘I have no cement or steel or iron.  We can’t get in one bag of cement, one pane of glass… to actually begin that reconstruction.’

This May, The Free Gaza Movement is answering the call for help by sending a flotilla of boats carrying building supplies, humanitarian relief, and human rights defenders from across the world to Gaza.

The flotilla is made up of a coalition of organisations- from Turkey, Greece, Malaysia, Belgium, Sweden, Indonesia and Ireland, and will set sail in mid May to challenge the illegality of the siege of Gaza and devastating occupation of Palestine. Help us support the Palestinians’ right to rebuild their lives.

You can wire your donations to the Bank of Ireland, 32 south Mall, Cork, Republic of Ireland, Acct #41818255, Sort Code 902768, IBAN #, IE58BOFI90276841818255. BIC# BOFIIE2D

If you have questions, please email:  sahara78@hotmail.uk or freegazaireland@gmail.com

GazaFriends: Coalition to Break the Blockade on Gaza Announced

3 April, 2010 — Free Gaza

Istanbul, Turkey – Following months of preparation, a coalition bringing together a number of organizations and movements working to break Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza was announced yesterday in Istanbul.  The coalition, comprised of the Turkey-based IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi) organization, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), the Greek Ship to Gaza campaign, the Swedish Ship to Gaza campaign and the Free Gaza Movement, will launch a flotilla of ships laden with cargo, media, parliamentarians, celebrities and activists to Gaza next month.

The flotilla will be composed of at least eight vessels, including three cargo ships, and will set sail from European ports starting on May 3, reaching the port of Gaza later in the month.  Over 500 passengers from more than 20 countries will take part, and over 5,000 tons of cargo, including cement, prefabricated housing, other building materials, medical equipment, and educational supplies will be delivered to Palestinians in Gaza.

The Free Gaza Movement has been launching ships to Gaza since August 2008, partnering with organizations and activists around the world on these missions.  In December 2009, IHH led a land convoy to Gaza that brought tons of humanitarian aid and other supplies.  In January 2010 the European Campaign brought 50 parliamentarians to Gaza in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to witness the devastation wrought by Israel’s illegal policies.  Ship to Gaza/Greece and Ship to Gaza/Sweden meanwhile have had ongoing campaigns in their countries to raise awareness and funds for this effort and for materials to be brought to Gaza.

“Through this coalition, these organizations will be able to maximize resources, experience and commitment to ending the illegal siege on Gaza.  Even as Israel continues its daily persecution of Palestinians, we will use this action to wake the world’s consciousness about the crimes committed against Palestinians,” said IHH President Bulent Yildirim.

The coalition invites organizations and individuals from around the world to join the effort by providing supplies for Gaza and contributing financial support for the mission.
Contact:

Free Gaza Movement – Greta Berlin – +33607374512; www.freegaza.org
ECESG – Mazen Kahel – +33 1 46 81 12 92; www.savegaza.eu
IHH – Ahmet Emin Dag – +90 530 341 1934; www.ihh.org.tr
Ship to Gaza / Greece – Vangelis Pissias – +30 697 200 9339; www.shiptogaza.gr
Ship to Gaza / Sweden – Dror Feiler – +46702855777; www.shiptogaza.se

Free Gaza Movement to Launch Cargo Ship from Ireland

31 March, 2010 – www.freegaza.org

Yesterday the Free Gaza Movement bought a 1200 tonne cargo ship at an auction in Dundalk, Ireland.

The vessel had been impounded a year ago following an inspection by the International Transport Federation (ITF) which found that its owners had exploited its Lithuanian crew members- not paying their wages and subjecting them to humiliating treatment.

ITF Inspector and SIPTU organiser Ken Fleming said, We are pleased to announce that this vessel which was used to subject workers to modern day slavery, will now be used to promote human rights for the people of Palestine.

The Free Gaza Movement now owns four ships including three passenger vessels.

Free Gaza’s ships will take part in an international flotilla taking humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza strip this May. Passenger and cargo ships are also being organised by the Turkish humanitarian organisation I.H.H., and by groups in Greece, Sweden, Malaysia and Belgium.

Free Gaza has launched eight missions to Gaza over the past two years. Five were successful. The last two were violently stopped by the Israeli Navy.

The Irish ship will be taking 500 tons of cement, as well as medicines, medical equipment and educational materials to the people of Gaza.

Derek Graham of the Free Gaza Movement said, We have international law and the conscience of the people of the world on our side. We know the Irish people will not stand by and let the people of Gaza be starved and punished by Israel any longer.

In preparation for the launch of the Irish ship, hospitals, trade unions, churches, mosques, families and community groups are being invited to sponsor bags of cement to help the people of Gaza to rebuild.

Caoimhe Butterly of the Free Gaza Movement said We call upon the Irish people and government to support the safe passage of our mission. The siege is a form of collective, sustained and devastating punishment. Supporting the flotilla is a way for the people of Ireland to show direct solidarity with the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza as they attempt to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives.

The vessel, the MV Linda, will be re-named the MV Rachel Corrie, in memory of the 23 year old solidarity activist crushed to death in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement pays tribute to Rachel and the thousands of Palestinian men, women and children killed, wounded or imprisoned under Israeli Occupation.

END

Free Gaza Movement: ‘We’re Sailing Again – Join Us!’

11 January, 2010

This spring, the Free Gaza Movement is sending at least six boats to Gaza to break Israel’s illegal blockade on 1.5 million Palestinians. This blockade constitutes an act of collective punishment, a crime prohibited under international humanitarian law. Gaza’s man-made and internationally perpetuated crisis is set to deepen as Egypt builds an Iron wall 30 meters deep and 20 meters high on the southern Rafah border, closing off the final route for Palestinians to get basic supplies.

The urgency of breaking the blockade grows by the day, as Palestinians living in this prison are denied their most basic rights.

Our mission will include two boats committed by a Turkish NGO plus a cargo ship purchased with donations from the Malaysian people. This ship will be loaded with cement, water filtration systems and paper – all essential reconstruction materials denied entry to Gaza by Israel.

Free Gaza’s missions were the first to challenge Israel’s hermetic closing of Gaza when we sailed two small boats into Gaza in August 2008. We did not ask permission of Israel or Egypt to travel to Gaza and sailed directly from international waters into the waters of Gaza. Since then, we have been the catalyst for a growing international movement of civilian advocates, including the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina.

Of course we will face Israel’s illegal naval blockade. But we have broken through it before and we will do it again. We are writing to ask you to make sure the mission is funded and publicized.

We sailed four more successful missions to Gaza since August 2008, and we intend to come back this year with a small flotilla, so you still have time to get boats and come with us. We are calling on all NGOs, human rights organizations and communities around the world to join us. If you already have funding for boats, we can provide the logistical and technical advice on how get them ready to join the flotilla. If you want to help in other ways, we have listed five below.

Fundraise for this trip. Consider organizing a big or small fundraiser in your community. We already have people available to speak at your events. http://www.freegaza.org/en/join-in/speaker-bureau. Friends returning from the Gaza Freedom March, or the Viva Palestina convoy can be especially helpful by turning report backs into fundraisers.

Get your community involved and turn this flotilla into a global effort. Our boats will carry building supplies and school supplies, both banned by Israeli authorities. Contribute by donating paper, ink or books for our Right to Read campaign: http://www.freegaza.org/right-to-read. If you can donate reconstruction supplies, please contact us. Get your children and their schools involved by having them write letters to children in Gaza that we will carry on our boats and deliver.

Publicize the trip. Once we have announced the date, help us get the message out to the media and to your elected officials to assure the passengers and boats will sail safely.

Ask your Member of Parliament/Congress to come with us. We already have MPs from South America, South Africa, Malaysia, Turkey and Europe who are going. If you have contacts with other high profile people, please let us know.
Volunteer as land crew, media or support crew in your countries.

To help, organize a fundraiser, suggest passengers and offer support, please email us at friends@freegaza.org, and we will follow up immediately. We have only two to three months to finish organizing, raise the additional funds, and to set sail.

Join us as we sail together to Gaza this spring!

Gaza Friends: Together we can make this next voyage happen

24 November, 2009 — Free Gaza Movement

Together we can make this next voyage happen, not only for the people in Gaza, not only for Palestine, but for the principle that the power of the people can defeat even the most powerful militaries in the world.

Huwaida Arraf, Chair, Free Gaza Movement

Dear Supporters

On November 7 and 8, The Free Gaza interim board of directors met in London to plan our strategy for 2010 as well as to schedule the next mission to Gaza.

The situation in Gaza is as bad today as it was the day the bombs stopped falling in January. The Gaza Strip is still sealed; homes, businesses, hospitals, schools and mosques still lie in rubble; and fundamental supplies are in severe shortage, as Israel continues to restrict the entry of basic goods such as fuel, medical equipment, oxygen, baby formula, paper, books, and construction material.

We are determined not to let Israel’s violence halt our efforts to break the siege on Gaza, and even more determined to open a sea route so the people of Gaza can import the supplies they need to rebuild their lives.

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