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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 from his injuries) and wounded over 50 and beat up passengers on each of the six boats in the flotilla. I was an organizer for the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, in the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla and an initial organizer for Gaza’s Ark.

I am horrified by the brutal 55 day Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014 that left over 2,200 dead and 10,000 wounded and much of the country in ruins. I am equally horrified by the lack of international assistance for the people of Gaza during this past year and by the impunity that Israel has in the international community for the criminal acts it has committed on the people of Gaza and the West Ban.

I am participating again in another Gaza Freedom Flotilla because I am totally and completely opposed to the continuous Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and the U.S. complicity in the frequent massive Israeli attacks on the people of Gaza. Without the approval of the United States and the military weaponry from the United States, Israel would be unable to continue its military destruction of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank. As a concerned citizen of this planet, the least I can do is challenge Israel and my country, the United States, by this flotilla.

 

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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 severe restrictions on Palestinian fishing boats.

More than 100,000 housing units were damaged during the recent hostilities, including 17,000 housing units which were severely damaged or destroyed; Some 562 factories and workshops were damaged or destroyed during the hostilities.

More than 2000 people lost their lives during the last military attack on Gaza in summer of 2014

We call upon the Israeli government not to prevent the ships from reaching the shore and demand that you refrain from any assault on the ships. We have witnessed an increasingly belligerent tone among Israeli officials, against the flotilla mission and the people on board, amongst them Europeans parliament members as well as the Israeli MK Bassel Ghattas.

We call upon the Israeli media to stop serving as a mouthpiece for the government and Israeli army and start revealing the reality of the flotilla to the public.

The activists on board have declared that they are coming to the region on a peaceful mission to uphold the human rights of the people in Gaza. The organizers of the freedom flotilla have already declared they are conducting trainings for Non-violent actions in case of violent attack on the ship. Nonetheless, Israel brags of its preparations to take over the ship.

It’s time that the international community will demand an end to the siege
The freedom flotillas to Gaza, as well as other solidarity actions, will continue as long as the siege is in place and Palestinian rights to liberty and life in dignity are denied!

The letter is signed by 75 people and seven organizations:
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Coalition of Women for Peace
Women Against Violence
Gush Shalom
Alternative Information Center
Taayush
Tarabut-hithabrut

 

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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 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. With different strategies and different itineraries, we will continue to sail until the blockade is lifted and Gaza’s port is open.

Dr. Basel Ghattas, a member of the Israeli Knesset, is on board the ships, as well as Dr. Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia, the first president after the 2011 popular uprising. Members of parliament from Spain, Jordan, Greece and Algeria are also on board together with members of European Parliament. [local campaigns can insert one or more delegate names here] Ten participants and crew have been on previous missions. Media outlets on board the flotilla are Al Jazeera, Euronews, Maori TV (New Zealand), Al-Quds TV, Channel 2 TV (Israel) and Russia Today TV, as well as several independent print journalists.

Over 100 European Parliamentarians have signed a letter to the EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, in support of the Freedom Flotilla and calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza. It’s time to say enough is enough, and that the international community stands in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza.

A full list of participants will be available soon at https://ff3.freedomflotilla.org/

Marianne depature in Messina the port before Gaza PHOTO Pablo Miranzo

Marianne’s departure from Messina / Photo: Pablo Miranzo

003-departurePassengers transferred to boats on Friday afternoon / Photo: D. Lampropoulos

004-departure-Rachel
Passengers boarding Rachel / Photo: Dimitris Lampropoulos

005-departure-Vittorio

Passengers boarding Vittorio / Photo: Dimitris Lampropoulos

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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 passengers Dr. Basel Ghattas, Member of the Israeli Knesset, who called in an open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu to allow our mission to reach the port of Gaza.

Israel’s right-wing is now moving to penalize MK Ghattas for his participation in a legitimate political action of people from all around the world, while Deputy MFA Hotovely has announced international diplomatic action against the Freedom Flotilla III. Lawyers around the world are making legal moves against the mission, just as they did in 2011. We regret that “the only democracy in Middle-East” thinks this is the best course of action, instead of addressing the real problems of occupation, blockade and division of Palestine, as well as the openly legal discriminations against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

We remain undeterred, because our purpose is not to act against Israel, but against occupation. Our actions would not be needed, if governments worldwide and international bodies like the EU and the UN would take steps to ensure accountability of Israeli governments for war crimes and collective punishment against the 1.8 million Palestinian population in Gaza Strip. We welcome voices from Israel who publicly state that the State of Israel is not threatened by the action against the blockade.

The international community should stop turning a blind eye on the blockade and occupation and take steps urgently towards the direction of ensuring the opening of the port in Gaza, the only port of Palestine to the rest of the world.:

Freedom Flotilla III media team

Phone: +30 2110115937
E-mail: [email protected]
http://ff3.freedomflotilla.org

More press contacts:
https://ff3.freedomflotilla.org/press-room/

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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 the Israeli army, that affects the family status.

Women of Palermo and Messina have understood that, despite the diversity, their lives are afflicted and locked by the same global system which supports wars and is deaf to the demands of peace and justice. Women of Palermo and Messina have joined their hand and stretched their arms, with open hands, over the sea, to meet the sisters of Khan Younis and all Palestine in order to make a pact of active solidarity that can go far, over time, to meet the hands of women in other countries.

[ITALIAN]

“Le donne di Palermo e Messina, consapevoli della necessità di riprendere con determinazione l’iniziativa per l’affermazione dei diritti delle donne, mortificati più che mai nell’attuale fase storica dalla barbarie della guerra e dal misconoscimento della identità e del ruolo delle donne nelle società contemporanee, abbracciano le donne di Gaza e della Palestina tutta che portano i segni, nel loro corpo e nella loro mente, della cultura di morte, prodotto finale della crisi delle democrazie del mondo.

Le donne di Palermo e Messina hanno chiuso gli occhi e immaginato di camminare per le strade non strade di Khan Younis, dei villaggi della Striscia di Gaza, tra le case, i negozi, i mercati distrutti, i servizi essenziali alla vita quotidiana scomparsi.

Hanno immaginato scenari strazianti di guerra, con i corpi sparsi sul terreno come fiori recisi e macerie di case distrutte.

Hanno «sentito» il coraggio delle donne palestinesi nel tenere vivi, per così tanto tempo e in mezzo alla tragedia dei fatti, il senso dell’unità e della memoria all’interno della comunità, il legame della propria gente con il territorio, la forza di una resistenza tenace e determinata che pagano ogni giorno subendo la violenza dell’esercito israeliano che influisce sulla condizione familiare.

Hanno compreso che, pur nella diversità, le loro esistenze sono afflitte e bloccate dallo stesso sistema mondiale che sostiene le guerre ed è sordo alle istanze di pace e di giustizia.

Le donne di Palermo e Messina si sono date la mano e hanno allungato le braccia, a mani aperte, oltre il mare, per incontrare le sorelle di Khan Younis e della Palestina tutta e stringere un patto di solidarietà attiva che possa andare lontano, nel tempo, ad incontrare le mani delle donne di altri Paesi.”

[ARAB]

في حقبة تاريخية يتجسد فيها اضطهاد النساء عبر بربرية الحروب وعدم الاعتراف بدور وبهوية المرأة في
المجتمع المحاضر, ايمانا منا بضرورة اخذ زمام المبادرة الحازمة, فاننا نعانق نساء غزة وفلسطين اللواتي
يعانون اثار ثقافة الموت كناتج نهائي لأزمة الديمقراطية العالمية على اجسادهن وعقولهن
ان النساء الصقليات أذ يغلقن عيونهن, ليطلقوا سراح الخيال, ليجدن انفسهن في شوارع خان يونس وفي قراها,
بين بيوتها,محلاتها ,اسواقها المهدمه والخدمات الاساسية للحياة اليوميه المختفيه. لقد تخيلنا صورة مؤلمة
للحرب, واجسادا متباثرة كزهرات مجتذرة بين عوالم البيوت المهدمة.

منذ امد طويل ورغم قسوة الاحداث, لقد شعرنا بشجاعة المرأة الفلسطينية التي تمثل شريان الحياة الذي يمد
كامل الافراد باحساس التكامل واستمرار الذاكرة بين المجتمع والبيئة, شعرنا بعزم المقا ومة الراسخة رغم

العنف الذي يعانوه من قبل الجيش الاسرائيلي والذي ينعكس على الوضع العائلي.

لقد استوعبوا, ان النظام العالمي الاصم لمناشدات السلام والعداله والذي يدعم الحرب , ورغم الاختلاف,يحمل

.على عاتقه مسؤولية العزلة و المعاناة المتعرضين لهن.

لقد تكاتفت أيادي النساء الصقليات من باليرمو وميسينا وامتدت بأيدي مفتوحة، عبر البحر، لتلبية الأخوات من

خان يونس وفلسطين كلها لكي ينصبوا ميثاق التضامن الفعال ليذهب بعيدا، للقاء أيدي النساء في بلدان أخرى.

At the press conference in MessinaDelivery of statement to Ana and GerdThe italian women in Messina has delivered the statement to Ana and Gerd

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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 Irish MEP I share this solidarity to Palestine and the outrage at the actions of Israel. The blockade has to stop. The Freedom Flotilla must be allowed into Gaza to begin to alleviate the suffering of the people there.”

Spanish MEP Estefania Torres, who joined the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) as it set sail from its final European port in Greece, said: “I decided to participate in this third Flotilla because we, as European representatives, cannot be silent while Gaza suffers the dramatic consequences of the eight-year long blockade”.

Spanish MEP Ángela Vallina: “The most outrageous thing is not only the existence of a racist-led Government in Israel, but also that it is backed by inaction from the USA as well as from the EU. The latter bears a strong responsibility on this issue: keep in mind that EU is Israel’s main economic partner along with certain member states (up to €30 billion per year of commercial exchanges); Israel has been obtaining economic privileges since 1994. It is our responsibility to cut them off; the sooner the better.

For Basque MEP Iosu Juaristi Abaunz: “It is time for the continuous solidarity of the European citizens towards the rights of the Palestinian people, to be reflected properly in European politics. Basque and European society require this. The Freedom Flotilla is a peaceful and humanitarian mission, and it should be able to reach Gaza. The blockade and the occupation must end.”

MEPs held a rally in support of the Freedom Flotilla.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) is composed of campaigns and initiatives from all over the world working together to end the siege of Gaza. The actions taken against the blockade are always governed by the principles of non-violence and non-violent resistance.

MP_EUROPARLAMENT europarlaments_3 jose_couso

PICTURES

 

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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
www.guengl.eu

Related MEPs

Related delegations

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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