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Why I Am On Gaza Freedom Flotilla 3 | By Ann Wright

I served 29 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a Colonel. I was also a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.   In my 2003 letter of resignation from the U.S. government in opposition to U.S. President Bush’s war on Iraq, I cited the “continuing unbalanced policies of the United States in Israeli-Palestinian issues” as one of my major concerns on U.S. foreign policy. I had had an assignment in the Middle East. My first experience in Palestine was in January 2009 when I travelled to Gaza and saw the brutal destruction of much of Gaza by the Israeli attack and the deaths of over 1400 persons. Afterwards, I helped organize 5 delegations to Gaza in 2009, including the Gaza Freedom March with 1300 participants from 30 countries. I returned to Gaza in 2011 as a part of an international parliamentary delegation and again in 2012 after the Israeli attack on Gaza. I was a passenger on the Challenger 1 boat in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla in which the Israeli commandos executed 9 persons on the Mavi Marmara (a 10th person has now died...

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28 June
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Palestinian and Jewish Organizations and activists in Israel welcome the Freedom Flotilla and call to end the siege on Gaza

We, Palestinian and Jewish organizations and activists in Israel, oppose the Israeli policy of ongoing human rights violations, a policy that seeks to maintain its control through the siege that is strangulating the Palestinian people. The siege undermines the development of an independent economy and keeps Gazans under occupation, dependent on Israel for their most basic humanitarian needs. We support the struggle to end the occupation in the Palestinian territories, as well as the besieged Gaza strip. We support international solidarity, including the Gaza flotilla. We are concerned with the humanitarian condition in the Gaza strip, which is under a harsh siege since 2007. In Gaza, more than 70% of the population relies on humanitarian aid; On the eve of “Protective Edge” military attack on Gaza, 57% of the population suffered from food insecurity; The unemployment rate was 42.8% in the 4th quarter of 2014 (compared to 18.7% in 2000); 27 government schools in Gaza were heavily damaged or destroyed during the bombing this summer ; Even before the military operation, the Strip was short over 200 schools, including 150 government schools; Classes are usually taught in two shifts; Israel doesn’t allow the building of a port in Gaza and places...

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28 June
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Freedom Flotilla III sets sail: #NextPortGaza

Today, June 27th 2015, four boats of the 2015 the Freedom Flotilla III set sail from their final European points of departure. Through nonviolent resistance they will challenge the illegal blockade of the Palestinian Gaza strip, which is running on its 9th year, sailing as always from international waters directly into Palestinian waters. The Flotilla is due to reach Gaza in just a few days. Participants on board include about 50 human rights activists, journalists, artists, and political figures representing 17 countries. This is the third Freedom Flotilla to sail, in addition to nine single boats that have undertaken to sail to Gaza, beginning in 2008 when several voyages reached Gaza City harbor and returned to Europe from their mission of bringing supplies and solidarity to the people of Gaza. A converted fishing trawler, the 'Marianne of Gothenburg'  left Sweden in May to join the flotilla and has made numerous stops along its journey around Europe. Marianne is carrying solar panels that would help alleviate the serious problem of electricity in Gaza, as well .as medical equipment. Three other sailing vessels (Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II) are accompanying Marianne in its mission to break the blockade of Gaza, in solidarity to the...

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27 June
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Freedom Flotilla III is Sailing to Open the Port of Gaza

More than three boats, with more than 50 crew and passengers from about twenty countries are prepared to reach the port of Gaza and call on the international community to open it This year’s mission, organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition against the blockade and the siege of Gaza, is about to sail to highlight the violation of the rights of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the world’s largest open-air prison. The Israeli government claims that there are ‘unauthorized boats trying to illegally enter Israeli territorial waters’. There are no ‘unauthorized boats’, only an illegal and inhumane blockade; the UN has recently called to end it and Freedom Flotilla III sails to challenge it, without any need or desire to enter Israeli territorial waters. This fact is highlighted by the practices of Israeli naval forces against previous sea missions, which have intercepted all boats since 2009 in international waters, headed towards Palestinian waters off Gaza, never towards Israel or Israeli waters. Freedom Flotilla III is invited by Palestinians in Gaza through various organizations that work for a relief of the thousands that were left heavily wounded, homeless, jobless, and displaced after recent Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip. We also have among our...

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26 June
women in Palermo
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Sicilian women appeal to women of Gaza

Palermo and Messina women appeal to women of Gaza [ENGLISH] Women of Palermo and Messina, aware of the need to take with determination the initiative to affirm the rights of women, mortified more than ever in the current historical phase by the barbarity of war and the misconception of the identity and role of women in contemporary societies, embrace women of Gaza and of all Palestine that bear the marks, in their body and in their mind, of the culture of death, as final product of the crisis of the world's democracies. Women of Palermo and Messina have closed their eyes and imagined to walk in the streets-not streets of Khan Younis, of the villages of Gaza Strip, between the houses, the shops, the markets destroyed, all essential everyday life services disappeared. They have imagined harrowing scenes of war, with bodies scattered on the ground as cut flowers and rubble of destroyed houses. Women of Palermo and Messina have felt the courage of Palestinian women in keeping alive for so long and in the middle of the tragedy of the facts, the sense of unity and memory inside the community, the link with the territory of their people, the strength of a tenacious and determined resistance that they pay daily, suffering the violence of...

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25 June
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More than a hundred MEPs call for end to Gaza blockade

More than a hundred MEPs from all European political groups have signed an open letter to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini to call EU countries to fully support peaceful actions of the Freedom Flotilla, to ask from Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza, and to take steps towards ensuring that Israel fulfills its responsibilities in the international community. The initiative has been announced to the press today by MEPs Martina Anderson (Sinn Fein), Josu Juaristi (EH Bildu), Miguel Urban (Podemos), Angela Vallina (IU) and Jordi Sebastia (Compromís).   "Within the last eight years Gaza has been subjected to three large military onslaughts by Israel," Martina Anderson, Member of the European Parliament for the Nordic Green Left, said. "The Gaza strip is some of the most densely populated urban areas; it is blockaded by land, air and sea by Israel," "There is little wonder as to why Gaza is described as the world’s largest open air prison." "The many thousands of people who protested in Ireland and across Europe against Israel's onslaught on Gaza, almost a year ago, illustrate clearly the solidarity of the people to Palestine and their rejection of Israel's blockade and occupation. As an...

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24 June
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Press Conference: Solidarity with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. 24/06/2015, 9.30

When: Wednesday 24-6-2015,9.30 Where: EP press room, Brussels With GUE/NGL MEPs: Martina ANDERSON (Sinn Féin), Josu JUARISTI ABAUNZ (EH Bildu), Miguel URBÁN CRESPO (PODEMOS) and Jordi SEBASTIÀ (Greens) The third Freedom Flotilla is currently on its way to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza with GUE/NGL MEP Estefania Torres on board. It is scheduled to arrive in Gaza in just a few days. The FFC have made two previous efforts to reach Gaza, but have been prevented on both occasions by the Israeli navy. In 2010, Israeli forces opened fire on the boats and killed nine activists. GUE/NGL Press Contact: Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20 European United Left / Nordic Green Left European Parliamentary Group Related MEPs Josu Juaristi Martina Anderson Miguel Urbán Crespo Related delegations EH Bildu Sinn Féin Podemos ...

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23 June
Dr Basel Ghattas
Photo by: Orling - CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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Open letter from Member of Knesset Dr. Basel Ghattas to Netanyahu

The freedom flotilla to Gaza will leave Athens shortly. I will be on it along with many other participants including members of parliament and public figures from around the world. This civil flotilla is a peaceful one whose aim is to end the siege by way of turning international attention to the situation of 1.8 million Palestinians, living in disgraceful, prison-like conditions as a result of Israel’s military siege of both sea and land — not to mention that it poses collective punishment and brutal violation of the international humanitarian law. The third freedom flotilla carries humanitarian aid for the residents of the Strip and aims to end the siege. There is no reason for trying to prevent us from reaching Gaza and forward the aid we bring with us. I request that you command the Israeli security forces to stay away and allow the flotilla to arrive at its destination. Any form of takeover to prevent this will only involve Israel in yet another difficult international scandal that you and your government will be responsible for. MK Dr. Basel Ghattas ...

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21 June