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May 2010

Arafat Shoukri: “Conditions are ripe to make this flotilla the ‘tipping point’“

A coalition bringing together a number of organizations is preparing to send in May 2010 a relief flotilla of more than ten ships and cargo-boats to Gaza.
Dr. Arafat Shoukri, president of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) will participate in this spectacular convoy with his Campaign, which is an NGO. He has spared no effort for three years to lead delegations of European parliamentarians to allow them to see on the ground the untenable situation in Gaza and to encourage them to call on the Member States of the European Union to exert pressure on Israel with a view to ending its suffocation of the people of Gaza.
Dr. Arafat Shoukri responds here to the questions of Silvia Cattori.

Silvia Cattori: When was the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza created and what is its mission [1]?

Arafat Shoukri: The European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza was launched in late 2007 to mobilize the greater European community in opposition to the siege on Gaza. Even then, more than three years ago, the siege was strangling the productivity and culture of the people, and it has only gotten worse since then with the 2008/2009 Israeli attack. It is our mission to work through the 30 NGOs that make up our coalition, as well as individual supporters, to break the siege by lobbying European lawmakers, educating the media and delivering humanitarian aid.

Silvia Cattori: On April 4, 2010, people around the world who are concerned about the siege which asphyxiates Gaza learned with relief that after months of preparation your NGO, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, will sail soon as part of a new campaign to try to force the passage [3]. Why did you make your statement from Istanbul?

Arafat Shoukri: We chose Istanbul as the venue for the announcement of our latest – and largest – break-the-siege flotilla, both because it is the home of one of our major partners, IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi) – which brought one of the last convoys into Gaza (December 2009), and because Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayeb Erdogan, has so courageously spoken out against the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Despite Turkey’s close relationship with Israel – even conducting joint military exercises in the past – it has bravely and without apology called the attack on Gaza the war crime that it was. The West could learn from Turkey’s example.

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Egyptian Statement in Solidarity with the Flotilla

Dear all,

I am writing to you on the behalf of the “We are all resistance” movement (Kollona Muqawama). We salute all of you and each and everyone involved in organizing the Gaza flotilla. We also issued a statement in this occasion that a 234 Egyptian political leaders, members of parliament, labour activists, and student activists signed in support of the mission, all belonging to various types of political movements in Egypt (mostly on the left, Arab nationalists, and Islamic left). We would be very happy if you can forward this statement to our brothers and sisters on borad the ships. The least we could do is show solidarity at this moment. We are also holding a protest in front of the Egyptian parliament on June 1st to protest the extension of the emergency law. This protest has been scheduled for over two weeks now. We contacted the protest organizers and they welcomed lifting banners in solidarity with your mission in the protest, as most of the organizers have already signed this statement.

Key signatories include, Sun’ala Ibrahim, Egypt’s best novelist, and also one who rejected Egypt highest prize in literature before; Hamdeen Sabahi, an MP and popular nominee for Egyptian presidency; Ibrahim Yousri, ex-ambassador and key figure in the national movement; Magdy Hussien, leader of the labour party and currently serving two years in prison for having crossed to Gaza during the war in definace of the embargo; Abdelhalim Kandil, the general coordinator of the kefaya movement; Yahya al-Qaza, Mohamed Sharaf, Saeid El-Nashaei, all key figures in Kefya; Ahmad Fouad Nejm, one of Egypt’s top poets; Wajdi Ghoniem, and Maher Amr, key scholars of religion; known writers Ahmad El-Khamisi, Safinaz Kazim; and key syndicalists, Mohamed Abdel Qudus, and Yehia Qalash–among many other prominent signatories.

with all respect and best wishes,

Mohamed Waked,

Kollona Muqawama (we are all resistance) movement.

Gaza flotilla drives Israel into a sea of stupidity

An Israeli woman sunbathes off Tel Aviv coast as she takes part in a 16-boat protest against a Turkish ship sailing for Gaza, on May 22, 2010.

Of course the peace flotilla will not bring peace, and it won’t even manage to reach the Gaza shore. The action plan has included dragging the ships to Ashdod port, but it has again dragged us to the shores of stupidity and wrongdoing

The Israeli propaganda machine has reached new highs its hopeless frenzy. It has distributed menus from Gaza restaurants, along with false information. It embarrassed itself by entering a futile public relations battle, which it might have been better off never starting. They want to maintain the ineffective, illegal and unethical siege on Gaza and not let the “peace flotilla” dock off the Gaza coast? There is nothing to explain, certainly not to a world that will never buy the web of explanations, lies and tactics.

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Gaza : We will not go down

LATEST NEWS ON THE GAZA AID FLOTILLA – FROM VIVA PALESTINA’S CREW MEMBER KEVIN OVENDEN

At 08.50 am today we are awaiting the arrival of the European parliamentarians, who begin to shuttle from Northern Cyprus to our staging ground in international waters to the south of the island where they will board the lead ship. The decision by the Greek Cypriot government not only not to allow the flotilla to harbour there, but also to object to, and twice prevent, the departure of a
parliamentary delegation directly by sea to join the convoy is creating something of a scandal in Greece and beyond.

Cyprus recently elected its first ever Communist President, earning him the moniker the Fidel Castro of the Mediterranean. If this recent shabby episode is anything to go by, Akel, the Cypriot Communist Party, would be better served by its previous policy of supporting a left of centre figure for the highest office. The last such president allowed friends of Palestine to
muster there.

Five vessels are ready to go – three cargos and two passenger, three Turkish and two that sailed from Athens – one Greek and one Greek-Swedish. They are larger boats and the clear lesson is that for such an operation a few larger and well fitted vessels are more effective than a larger number of smaller boats.

A coalition of organisations and initiatives has come together in this flotilla, but the Turkish IHH has set the standard by raising around 20 million USD and setting about the mission with elan, peerless organisation and a collegiate approach that belies the extent to which they are responsible for the impressive force that is gathered now in the Eastern Mediterranean.

To my mind, the lessons are worth learning now, for whatever the outcome of the next 48 hours, there will be another sea mission to Gaza – and it will need to be even bigger and broader.

A small boat has pulled alongside with the parliamentary delegation. They will now join us on the Mavri Marmara and then it’s all a question of timing:when to start the 18 to 20 hour journey down to Gaza so as to avoid giving the Israeli forces the best conditions to attack us.

Kevin Ovenden
Viva Palestina

Gaza hopes to welcome blockade-busting flotilla

One of the rare reports from the Western press

By Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City

Preparations are under way in Gaza to receive a convoy of ships that is trying to break Israel’s economic blockade of the Palestinian territory.

The ships, carrying up to 10,000 tonnes of aid and human rights activists from around the world, will try to reach Gaza on Sunday.

Israel is adamant it will not allow them into Gaza.

The blockade was imposed in 2007 after the Islamist movement Hamas took power in Gaza.

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A battle for the high seas. And the high ground’ By Lauren Booth*

If you’re hoping to see news about the extraordinary events taking place in the Med sea around Cyprus on either the BBC or Sky this weekend. Forget it. For now. Despite the fact that almost three dozen Brits are amongst the 700 brave souls heading to Gaza on a fleet of ships laden with essential aid. Or the incredible military and political manoeverings surrounding Israels response to the peaceful attempt, major news channels in the West remain silent. This despite the fact their news editors have the direct numbers of spokespeopleon board and access to the live news feed.

After calls to newsrooms across the UK it is clear to me that the first ever sea bound fleet of international aid to Palestine is not of itself a big enough story for our media – until if fails. On Israel’s terms. The BBC has been taking some 200 calls in an hour from viewers wanting news of the mission – to no avail. So what’s going on?

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Nabi Saleh protest 28-05-2010.wmv

planxtysumoud — 28 mai 2010 — Todays protest was marked by the wanton use of tear gas and sound bombs against the demonstrators by Israeli Occupation Forces, the most egregious; the throwing of a sound bomb by a Border Policeman at a family who were observing the demonstration from, what they imagined the safety of the flat roof on their home but which resulted in head injuries to sixteen year old Ayam Barghouthi which necessitated her hospitalization.

Two other protestors were injured, one from a tear gas projectile fired at his back and the other a broken finger, a fourteen year old was arrested along with his father but but were released after a few hours detention.

The hilltop village of An Nabi Saleh has a population of approximately 500 residents and is located 30 kilometers northeast of Ramallah along highway 465.

The demonstrations protest the illegal seizure of valuable agricultural land and the uprooting in January 2010 of hundreds of the village residents olive trees by the Halamish (Neve Zuf) settlement located opposite An Nabi Saleh.

Conflict between the settlement and villagers reawakened in January 2010 due to the settlers attempt to re-annex An Nabi Saleh land despite an Israeli court decision in December 2009 that awarded the property rights of the land to the An Nabi Saleh residents.

The confiscated land of An Nabi Saleh is located on the Halamish side of Highway 465 and is just one of many expansions of the illegal settlement since its establishment in 1977 http://palsolidarity.org/2010/03/11907 Near the village is a natural spring named Ein Al Kus (“the Bow Spring”). In 2009 settlers from the nearby settlement of Halamish took control over the spring and it’s surroundings while preventing Palestinian access to it.

Subsequently, people of Nabi Salih and the nearby village of Dir Nizam began regular friday protests for the spring which they claim as their own, and against the Israeli occupation in general http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabi_Salih

Egypt ‘aids in breaking Gaza siege’

AlJazeeraEnglish — 29 mai 2010 — Egypt has often been accused of being a silent partner with Israel in its siege of Gaza by refusing to let goods and people through the Rafah border crossing, between Egypt and Gaza, since the Strip was taken over by Hamas.

However, it is an accusation the country rejects.

Al Jazeera has been given rare access to the Ouja commercial crossing between Egypt and Israel, which Egyptian officials say is a fast track for humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Al Jazeera’s Amr El-Kahky reports from the crossing. (29 May 2010)

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