Home / Get on the Boat! –The Free Gaza Movement

Get on the Boat! –The Free Gaza Movement

1) Free Gaza Movement
2) Palestinian Farmer killed in Tulkarem
3) 16 Palestinian children made homeless today
4) Palestinians exit Friday prayers and enter mass detentions
5) Protesters take Rubber Bullets to Head and Stomach
6) Muslim graveyard vandalized by followers of biblical war criminal
7) Amnesty: Enduring Occupation
8) CounterPunch: Sailing to Gaza
9) Tel Aviv fountains painted red to protest killing of Palestinians
10) The World Said No to Israeli Occupation
11) South Africa speaks out on 40 years of Occupation.
12) Freedom Summer 2007: Confronting Apartheid
13) A letter from Hisham

1. The Free Gaza Movement,

Project Description
This movement is an international nonviolent resistance project to challenge Israel’s siege of Gaza. Israel claims that Gaza is no longer occupied, yet Israeli forces control Gaza by land, sea and air. We’ll enter Gaza from international waters at the invitation of Palestinian NGOs but without Israeli authorization, thereby recognizing Palestinian control over their own borders.

The Mission

1. To open Gaza to unrestricted international access, i.e. Palestinian sovereignty
2. To demonstrate that Israel still occupies Gaza, despite its claims to the contrary
3. To show international solidarity with the people of Gaza and the rest of Palestine
4. To demonstrate the potential of nonviolent resistance methods

The Plan
Up to 100 international volunteers will sail from Cyprus to Gaza in 2 to 6 seagoing vessels of 12 to 60 passengers each. The prospective date is August 15, but will depend upon funding, logistics, weather and other factors. The journey will take approximately 24 hours.

If Israel respects Palestinian sovereignty, we’ll arrive without incident. Some of us will fish at sea with Palestinian fishermen, while others will travel back and forth to test the passage for as long as permitted. If stopped, we’ll nonviolently resist. We are prepared to stay at sea if necessary, and/or resist arrest and confiscation of our vessels. We doubt that Israel will attack, but we will be equipped with medical personnel and equipment, life rafts and flotation vests. More likely, Israel will prefer sabotage. We’re prepared with alternate vessels and plans.

The Passengers
Aboard will be Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, Europeans, Africans and Asians. There will be rabbis, imams, Christian and Buddhist clerics, British MPs, entertainment celebrities, and internationally known journalists. Nakba and Holocaust survivors are also joining the project. All will undergo a training program and be selected according to the interests of the mission, such as the mix of persons and expertise; no one is assured of a place on board. Others will form the Cyprus support team and may board later vessels.

The Organizers
We are experienced human rights volunteers and organizers, including Huwaida Arraf, Greta Berlin, Sylvia Cattori, Uri Davis, Hedy Epstein, Kathy Kelly, Paul Larudee, Alison Weir, and more than 30 others from 13 countries. We have consulted with other organizations such as Greenpeace, who have experience with such projects, especially with encounters at sea.

The Vessels
Commercial fishing boats and cruise vessels powered by diesel and sail will be used. Volunteer vessels are also welcome. All will have standard GPS, plus radio and communications equipment for international navigation. They’ll also have refrigeration and cooking facilities for their size and passenger load. The larger vessels will carry fuel for both the voyage and an extended period at sea.

If Israel wishes to harm our mission, we expect them to try to plant arms on board. Therefore, before boarding, all participants, vessels and supplies will undergo a security check by qualified personnel from an internationally recognized NGO to verify that no dangerous items are brought aboard. Since we will not be entering Israeli territory, we will not allow Israeli authorities to perform such inspections.

Supplies and equipment
Passengers will take basic necessities and electronic devices. Journalists, technicians and crew may also bring tools and equipment. Larger vessels will have at least one satellite phone with high-speed data transfer. Provisions, including food, water and medical supplies, will be laid aboard for an extended period at sea. We will also carry relief supplies to the people of Gaza, but this isn’t a primary part of our mission.

Captains and crew
Although we prefer competent volunteers who take principled risks, we are unlikely to recruit the personnel we need by such means. We will therefore hire captains and crew, to whom we will fully disclose the risks involved, so they understand and consent to the mission. Engineers will also be required to inspect and prepare the vessels.

We have considered vessel donation, lease and purchase. However, we prefer purchase, to have complete control and avoid cancellation by others. Terms are a down payment plus installments to be made either by reselling the vessels after the mission or by using them for nonprofit revenue. Other costs will be crew, equipment, supplies, fuel, docking and agent fees. The estimated cost is $300K, half from donations and half from loans. We can succeed on a smaller scale for as little as $150K, but it entails fewer backups and greater risk.

For further information, click HERE

2. Palestinian Farmer killed in Tulkarem
14 June 2007

The Israeli army is currently invading the village of Saida, in the Tulkarem district of the West Bank.

According to local sources, Israeli special forces were occupying an old, abandoned Palestinian house in the center of the village last night. At least two Israeli checkpoints were setup in the morning between Saida and the neighboring areas. Military jeeps along with bulldozers invaded the village later in the afternoon.

A 32 year old Palestinian farmer was killed (Mohammad Ali Ittwair) and two boys were injured (Mahdi Sahir, 14 years old, injured in the head and Saddam Hassan, 17 years, injured in the stomach). No information has been provided about the boy’s condition yet.

Since the beginning of the current Intifada, 23 Palestinians from the village of Saida have been killed and three homes were demolished.

3. 16 Palestinian children made homeless today
by Yeela Raanan, Regional Council for Unrecognized Negev Arab Villages

report with photos HERE

Today, Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at 8:00am hundreds of police people, accompanied by a chopper and two bulldozers, came the village of Tarabin al-Sanaa, located by the affluent Jewish town of Omer in the Israeli Negev. They demolished two homes. 16 children are homeless today, one two months old, another nine months. When I asked their father where they will stay tonight, he said – “I will build a tent, what can I do?”

When they entered the home, the 17-year-old son was still asleep. Thirty policemen pounced on him. He responded with fright and fought back. So they arrested him. Three other youngsters were arrested today.

Tarabin al-Sana is not new to these police invasions. Omer, their neighbor, has wanted them relocated so that they would not have to deal with poor neighbors, and because the real estate value of the land, if cleaned of Bedouins and added to Omer would be very high. Badash, the mayor of the town has been trying to make this happen for many years now. He has managed to enlarge the municipality’s area to include the village, of course with no intention of giving them the municipal services of trash removal, school, and the use of Omer’s medical facility. Then he convinced the authorities to allocate a new area for the village. The government did this, but still continued with their warped way of dealing with the Bedouin community. They choose a leader of sorts, “bought” him, and he had to convince the rest of the community to relocate. It worked only so far. Half he managed to convince to sign and relocate. The other half requested to see the contract he signed with the government. Until today the government is refusing to allow the people of the village to see this contract. The government is also refusing to negotiate with the elected leader of the village (in open democratic elections the village people initiated, and requested human rights lawyers to oversee).

Now the government is doing what the government seems to do all to often when they find themselves in a bind: demolish Bedouin homes.

4. Palestinians exit Friday prayers and enter mass detentions
by TRP Hebron, 16 June 2007

At 1:00pm near the Ibrahimi Mosque three international human rights workers were waiting, with members of Christain Peacemaker Teams, for Palestinains to leave the Mosque following Friday prayers.

Soldiers had been randomly taking Palestinian IDs (huwwiyas) of the young men as they entered the Mosque, and had large stacks of them. Palestinians were only allowed to worship inside the Mosque after giving their identity cards to the soldiers.

At 1:00-1:15pm, the prayers ended and the Palestinians began to leave the Mosque. About 160-180 young to middle age Palestinian men then began to wait for their huwwiyas to be returned next to the Mosque.

At first the soldiers gave back about 40 huwwiyas, at the checkpoint on Shuhada St., and then the soldiers just stopped. About 25-30 young men then had to wait for about another 45 minutes before a soldier commander came and gave back the rest of the IDs.

Another group of Palestinian men were detained for 1 hour, after worshipping peacefully in the Mosque, and were released at about 2:15.

The Palestinians next to the Mosque were still being detained after the young men around the corner had been released. The police present gave back the huwwiyas of about 40 Palestinian men, and then made the rest wait. There were about 60 Palestinian men forced to wait, and were sitting in the shade, or next to the guard rails at the metal detectors.

A human rights defender intervened in this incident and asked the soldier present why he did not check the huwwiyas while the men were praying so they would not have to wait. The soldier said they like to wait until afterwards.

The human rights defender also asked why the men were being detained and how long they would have to wait. The soldiers said that these were their orders, and they would have to wait because the computer at the station, meant to check the numbers and names on the IDs, was broken.

These 60 Palestinians were forced to wait for 2 full hours, 3:00-3:15, before the Red Cross, whom internationals had called, managed to get all the Palestinians released except for one 21 year old boy.

Afterward, the police detained more men who were passing randomly, and members of CPT stayed in order to monitor the area.

5. Protesters take Rubber Bullets to Head and Stomach
by Eva, 15 June 2007

video and photos HERE

Three demonstrators were injured by rubber bullets in another of the weekly non-violent demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall and land grab in Bil’in village. A 29 year old American journalist was hit in the stomach, while two Palestinians from Bil’in took rubber bullets to the head and stomach respectively.

The Wall at Bil’in village, along with illegal Israeli settlements, has stolen nearly 60% of Bil’in residents’ vital agricultural land. As has happened for the last over 2 years, demonstrators amassed and left from the town centre, winding their way down the road towards the Wall. As with the previous Friday march, demonstrators were neither able to walk on their own land all the way to the wall nor free of showers of tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber bullets.

The Bil’in villagers’ weekly protest was again supported by international and Israeli solidarity activists, young and old, non-violent protesters, and the demonstration was again disrupted by tear gas canister-incited brush fires among the olive trees. Before the assault broke out from the waiting soldiers, protesters attempted to negotiate crossing the barbed barrier obstructing the road to the Wall. Having pushed aside the razor wire and crossed the line, soldiers soon after began their fire of gas, sound bombs, and later “rubber” bullets.

The American wounded by a rubber bullet to the stomach was here in solidarity and to document first-hand the weekly incidences of violence against a non-violent protest, taking this valuable information back to young audiences in the U.S. “I want to tell the youths of America what is going on here. I present real material to them in a young voice, in a way they can understand. I want them to care, to be concerned about what is happening to our Palestinian friends,” he explained.

In a community meeting centre, Abdullah, from the Bil’in Popular Committee, emptied sacks of sound bombs, empty tear gas canisters, and a mixture of rubber and live bullets into 2 large oil-barrel sized containers. “These are just from the last 2 demonstrations. And they are only a portion of what was shot at the demonstrators at these protests,” recounted Abdullah. The rest have been either confiscated by the Israeli occupation forces or collected and sold for their aluminum value by Palestinian youths.

6. Muslim graveyard vandalized by followers of biblical war criminal
by Efrat Weiss, from Kibush40, 10 June

Dozens of Jewish worshippers desecrated a Muslim cemetery in a Palestinian village near [the settlement] Ariel on Friday.

The worshippers broke some tombstones, and wrote “Death to Arabs” on others. Noaf, a resident of a nearby village, said that the worshippers arrived at the cemetery escorted by soldiers.

“Several of them entered a nearby Muslim cemetery, broke tombstones, and wrote things on them such as “Death to Arabs”. I don’t know exactly how many tombstones were desecrated. We were under curfew during their worship time, and they came and did this,” he said.

Rabbi Arik Asherman, head of Rabbis for Human Rights, denounced the incident. “As rabbis, we protest this desecration and are reminded of our pain when such acts are committed against us.”

According to an official IDF response, the entry of Jewish worshippers into the cemetery was authorized in order to allow them to visit the Yeshua Ben Nun tomb nearby.

“On the whole, about 1,300 people entered the place, most acting wonderfully, as is appropriate upon entering a sacred place. Unfortunately, a handful of worshippers chose to create a provocation and vandalize Palestinian graves,” the IDF statement said.

The IDF also said that an official complaint was sent to the worshippers’ leaders. “The IDF has agreed with leaders of the worshippers that they would be responsible for repairing the damages as early as next week.”

[Ed: Yeshua Ben Nun is remembered as the perpetrator of genocide on the Canaanites in early Biblical times…]

7. Amnesty: Enduring Occupation–
Amnesty International releases report on 40th Anniversary of Israel’s Occupation of the Palestinian Territories

Marking the 40th year of Occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, human rights group Amnesty International released a 45 page report citing gross human rights violations, breaches of International law, and breaches of UN resolutions with respect to the rights of Palestinians.

In addition to highlighting the various repercussions of Israel’s 700 km Apartheid Wall, built on Palestinian land well-within 1967 borders, and the over 500 Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks which hinder Palestinian movement within the West Bank and impact on every aspect of Palestinians’ lives, the Amnesty report documents the expansionist settlement policies within Palestinian territories, the severe food and economic crises resulting from economic and movement restrictions, the continued policy of illegal Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes, and the systematic enforcement of Apartheid policies against Palestinians in their own Territories. Amnesty calls on Israel to immediately end its Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, and highlights the urgent need for international monitoring mechanisms.

Khaled Daud Faqih was just six months old when he died on 8 March 2007 at an Israeli army checkpoint. His father Daud, a teacher, told Amnesty International:

“My son Khaled was having difficulty breathing. I called a neighbour who has a car and with my wife and the baby we set off immediately for the hospital in Ramallah. Khaled had previously had attacks like this and we took him to hospital and there he was put under the oxygen tent and he always got better.

“We arrived at the Atara checkpoint at 12.45am. From there it was another 10 minutes to the hospital. The soldiers stopped us. I told them that my baby was sick and urgently needed to get to the hospital in Ramallah. I spoke to them in Hebrew. They asked for our IDs. The driver and I gave ours but my wife had left hers at home in the hurry. I told the soldiers and they said we could not pass without her ID. I begged them to let us pass. They looked in the car and saw that there was nothing and that the baby had problems breathing and his limbs were trembling. I told the soldiers that every minute, every second mattered; that the baby needed oxygen urgently. They told us to wait and I kept pleading with them. Then the baby died. It was 1.05am.”

The hundreds of checkpoints and blockades which every day force long detours and delays on Palestinians trying to get to work, school or hospital, have for years limited their access to essential health services and caused medical complications, births at checkpoints and even death.

The Israeli authorities contend that this regime of closures and restrictions is necessary to prevent Palestinians from entering Israel to carry out suicide bombings and other attacks.
However, virtually all the checkpoints, gates, blocked roads and most of the fence/wall are located inside the West Bank – not between Israel and the West Bank. They curtail or prevent movement between Palestinian towns and villages, splitting and isolating Palestinian communities, separating Palestinians from their agricultural land, hampering access to work, schools, health facilities and relatives, and destroying the Palestinian economy.

The UN Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) records the number of checkpoints and blockades in the West Bank. In March 2007 there were 549. Of these, 84 were manned checkpoints and 465 were unmanned blockades, such as locked gates, earth mounds or ditches that make roads impassable, cement blocks and other obstacles that block access to roads.

In addition, thousands of temporary checkpoints, known as “flying checkpoints”, are set up every year by Israeli army patrols on roads throughout the West Bank for a limited duration – ranging from half an hour to several hours. OCHA recorded 624 flying checkpoints in February 2007 and 455 the previous month. In 2006 a total of 7,090 was recorded.


More than half of the length of the (700 km) fence/wall has been completed and work is proceeding on the rest. Already, tens of thousands of olive and other trees and areas of fertile agricultural land have been uprooted and destroyed, dozens of homes have been demolished, and tens of thousands of Palestinians have been cut off from their land and means of earning a living.

According to the Israeli authorities, the fence/wall is “a defensive measure, designed to block the passage of terrorists, weapons and explosives into the State of Israel…” Its sole purpose, they say, is “to provide security”.

Some 80 per cent of (the Wall) is located on Palestinian land inside the West Bank, separating Palestinian towns, villages, communities and families from each other; cutting off Palestinian farmers from their land; hindering access to education and health care facilities and other essential services; and separating Palestinian communities from reservoirs and sources of clean water.

It is a complex structure, 50 to 100 metres in width and including barbed wire, ditches, trace paths and tank patrol lanes on each side as well as additional buffer zones and no-go areas of varying depths.


On 19 December 2006, 14-year-old Dua’a Nasser Abdelkader was shot dead by Israeli soldiers as she was playing near the fence/wall with her 12- year-old friend in Far’un village, south of Tulkarem. There is nothing to indicate that the two schoolgirls could have posed a threat to the Israeli soldiers, who shot at them from a nearby fortified watchtower. Israeli media reports of the Israeli army investigation into the incident stated that a soldier had admitted to shooting at the schoolgirls as they were running away from the fence.

In the areas where the fence/wall has been completed, it has devastated Palestinian farming, the main source of livelihood for the Palestinian communities there, and has had a disastrous impact on the lives of Palestinians.

Farmers are only allowed access on foot and only through the specific gate [open two or three times a day] for which they have a permit. They then have to walk from the gate to their land. Tractors are only allowed in exceptional cases, conditional on farmers obtaining a special and additional permit. These restrictions and conditions make it extremely difficult for farmers. Moreover, the Israeli army has tended to grant permits for passage through the agricultural gates only to older farmers. As a result, most families cannot farm their land efficiently or at all as the working conditions are too difficult and elderly family members cannot manage the workload.

Further Excerpts from the report with photos HERE

To View Full Report, click HERE:

8. CounterPunch: Sailing to Gaza, and Interview with Greta Berlin
By SILVIA CATTORI, 7 June 2007

FreeGaza.Org Break the Siege!

Greta Berlin, 66 years old, is a businesswoman from Los Angeles, CA. She is the mother of two Palestinian-American children and has been to the occupied territories twice in the past four years with the International Solidarity Movement. She is also a member of Women in Black Los Angeles.

She is one of many other people, who have organized an unusual project, sailing a boat to Gaza. They intend to challenge Israel’s claim that they no longer occupy Gaza. Talking to her, she explains why she and the other courageous people are going.

Silvia: Your mission states,” We tried to enter Palestine by ground. We tried to enter by air. Now we are going to go by sea.”1 This is an exceptional attempt. Why Gaza in particular? And why go by boat in one of the most patrolled places in the world?

Greta Berlin: Israel says that Gaza is no longer occupied. Well, if that’s true, then we have every right to visit. The truth is that Israel controls every entrance into Gaza, and the population is completely isolated from the rest of the world. Internationals can no longer go through the border with Egypt, and, of course, the Eretz border with Israel is closed to almost everyone.

So, 50 to 80 of us, men and women, will begin our journey in Cyprus toward the end of this summer. Many of us are over 50, and we come from all over the world Palestinians, Israelis, Australians, Greeks, Americans, English, Spanish, Italians, just to name a few we will embark on a boat called FREE GAZA. One of the passengers, Hedy Epstein, is a holocaust survivor, and two or three Palestinians are Nakba survivors.

Many of us have also been stopped from entering the occupied territories, because we have gone before to non-violently bear witness to what Israel does to the Palestinians.

Silvia Cattori: This departure coincides with the time The Exodus left Marseille for Palestine sixty years ago on July 27, 1947. It had 4500 Jewish refugees on board. Is your trip meant to coincide with that departure in l947?

Greta Berlin: It’s merely a coincidence. The reason we’re leaving in the summer of 2007 is because it’s the second anniversary of Israel’s ‘alleged withdrawal’ from Gaza. Since then, Gaza is ever more besieged, and the people are living in much worse conditions. We intend to draw the attention of the world to the terrible lack of human and civil rights for the Palestinians.

Silvia Cattori: To enter the waters of Gaza is not going to be so simple. Do you really believe the Israeli navy will let you in?

Greta Berlin: Israel has no right to prevent us from going. So we’re going. International law says that we have the right to visit Gaza. Remember, in July 2005, when Israel told the entire world that Gaza was no longer occupied? If it’s no longer occupied, why shouldn’t we go?

Let the Israeli authorities prove that it’s no longer occupied by allowing us to enter. This voyage is an attempt to challenge Israel’s own words. We’ve been invited by many NGO’s to come and visit their facilities and clinics. Why should Israel have the right to deny us those visits?

Let me repeat. We must do everything we can to bring to the world’s attention to the fact that Israel’s military blockade is causing the death of the people of Gaza. We clearly know this trip will be difficult, but we’re determined. We can either complain about the inertia of the international community, or we can do something to make them sit up and pay attention. If those of us who have already seen the gravity of the situation do nothing about it, then what kind of credibility will we have with the occupied Palestinians?

We’ve planned this trip for a long time, carefully thinking out the best way to show our support. We discussed the possibility of going to support of the right of return for the Palestinians of 1948. Should our journey be a statement about the 60 years of occupation? But we decided it’s of utmost importance that we challenge Israel’s claim that Gaza is no longer occupied, that its people are free.

According to international law, the waters of Gaza for all 40 kilometers of its coast belong to the Palestinians, and Israel has no right to control those waters. Even the Oslo agreements state that the coast of Gaza belongs to the people who live there.

Silvia Cattori: What do you want to prove?

Greta Berlin: We want to prove that Israel and the United States are starving the people of Gaza for democratically electing Hamas. We’re hoping to call on the conscience of the world, “Wake up. You can’t turn away from the crimes of Israel. You can’t close your eyes any longer to the slow-motion genocide of the Palestinians

It’s important to show that Israel has lied; Gaza has never been free. Israeli warships still fire on the fishermen, killing many of them over the past two years. What did these men ever do except fish for their families? What kind of evil would make Israel fire on men who had the right to fish in their own waters?

Silvia Cattori: Do you seriously believe that you can face the military might of Israel?

Greta Berlin: We’re going to try. Our mission is to go to Gaza. Of course, we assume that we’ll be stopped. However, we’re going to insist that we have the legal and moral right to go. And, we have enough media on board to tell the story of what will happen; so let them try to stop us. They’ll report that Israel’s ‘freedom for Gaza’ is a complete hoax, The territory is still occupied and its people terrorized every day.

Silvia Cattori: Is your mission more for political reasons then?

Greta Berlin: Yes. Gaza has the right to be free. Our objective is not to take food or medicine, although we are going to have both on board. Like any people, the people of Gaza want to be able to travel, to trade, to work in peace, and to have the right to control their own destinies. They should have the right to fly out of their airport that Israel destroyed five years ago, and they should have the right to fish in their sea.

Of course, the humanitarian catastrophe is important, but it’s vitally important for the people to be free. The international community must step up and help them reestablish the internal structures to build their society. But out mission is to put Israel, the United States, the EU on notice that they bear responsibility for the welfare of 1.4 million people.

Silvia Cattori: This is a great project that you are all launching.

Greta Berlin: The Palestinians have never received anything with all these ’so-called’ peace plans. Every international effort has failed. Part of our desire is to counter the misinformation that has been out there for almost 60 years in favor of Israel instead of the true story of the Palestinian’s dispossession.

The world can’t wait any longer for Israel to decide when to come to the peace table.

Even the NGO’s aren’t able to tell the true story for fear of losing international support. More than 65 UN resolutions have tried to bring Israel to account; yet the US has vetoed these resolutions every time. For 60 years the Palestinians have waited for justice. How much longer must they pay the price for what Europe did to the Jews? How much longer will the international community turn away and say, “We didn’t see, we didn’t know.”

Silvia Cattori: Do you hope that other boats and other captains will join you?

Greta Berlin: Any person who has a boat, anyone who wants to join our breaking the siege is welcome. The more boats that join us, the better our chances are that we will be heard.

Silvia Cattori: Don’t you all need a certain amount of courage to launch such a project?

Greta Berlin: I think that if Hedy Epstein at 82 and Mary Hughes at 73 and so many others in their 70s and 80s can make this trip, so can I. I don’t think any of us think we are brave; I think we are determined to have the voices of the Palestinians heard, and if we can help, we have to. We can’t turn away as Israel bombs women and children every day.

Silvia Cattori: Why do you care so much for the plight of the Palestinians?

Greta Berlin: When I lived in Chicago, Illinois I married a Palestinian refugee from l948. That’s when I began to learn the truth about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in order to establish a Jewish state. As I became more involved in the 60s and 70s, a group called the Jewish Defence League threatened by two small children, saying they would kill them if we continued to work for justice for the Palestinians

For almost 20 years I left the struggle, raising the children and working on my career. I wasn’t going to jeopardize their safety for a cause I supported.

In 1997, with my children grown and gone, I started to write letters and advocate again. I couldn’t believe that almost 20 years had passed, and the situation for the Palestinians was worse by the day. On September 29, 2000, Mohammed Al Dura, a little 12-year-old boy in Gaza was murdered by an Israeli sniper. Someone just happened to catch the killing on video. I was appalled and returned.

When Rachel Corrie was crushed to death in March, 2003 and Tom Hurndall was shot through the head several days later; both human rights workers with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza, I made a commitment to go to the occupied territories to see for myself what Israel was doing to a people it occupies.

Silvia Cattori: Isn’t the ISM considered to be a terrorist organization by Israel?

Greta Berlin: Actually, no. Those of us who have volunteered for the ISM are peaceful and believe in nonviolently demonstrating against the occupation. The only terrorism that I witnessed in the five months I was there in 2003 and 2005 was the Israeli military violence against us and the illegal settler violence against the Palestinians and those of us who were trying to protect them. I was shot in the leg by a rubber-coated steel bullet while protesting against that dreadful wall Israel is building. And I, like hundreds of peace activists, have had tear gas and sound bombs thrown at me in Bil’in. While escorting Palestinian children to school in Hebron, settler children threw rocks at us, wounding me in the hand and the thigh.

Almost everyone on board this boat has been beaten, shot, or tear-gassed by the Israeli military. Many of us have been arrested for protecting women and children. Israeli authorities know that we aren’t connected in any way to any terrorist organization.

But Israel is terrified that we come back to our countries and tell the truth of what happens to an occupied people. That’s what they really fearthe truth.

We are all committed to going to Gaza. And we are eagerly awaiting the support of all progressive people to join with us2. Even if we don’t land, we will have tried, and we will have told the world the situation. I believe that all of the people on the boat feel the same way. We know what the obstacles are. And this is not the only voyage. We will continue to return as part of a strategy of bringing the truth of Israel’s occupation to the world.

Silvia Cattori: What do you hope to do once you reach Gaza?

Greta Berlin: We’re going fishing. Come, join us, bring your fishing poles.

9. YNet: Tel Aviv fountains painted red to protest killing of Palestinians
by Moran Rada, June 11th, 2007

report with photos HERE

Anarchists add red paint to water in two central fountains, say paint represents blood of Palestinians killed and injured by IDF in territories

Anarchist activists sprayed red paint on walls across Tel Aviv Sunday night and added red paint to the water in several fountains, as an act of protest against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

IDF offices in Tel Aviv were “bombarded” during the night with red paint bombs, and the water in the fountains in Masaryk Square and Dizzengof Square were painted red.

According to the anarchists, the paint represents “the blood of the thousands who were killed and the tens of thousands who were injured throughout the long years of occupation, and was meant to illustrate the scope of the killing that is being carried out by the occupation army only several dozen miles away from Tel Aviv.”

In a pamphlet distributed by the activists, they wrote, “We believe that after 40 years of murderous occupation, the Tel Aviv public no longer has the right to enjoy decorative displays while ignoring the crimes that are being committed in its name in the occupied territories on a daily basis.”

They invited the residents of Tel Aviv to dip their hands in the reddened water and “realize that these hands, which appear clean, are also stained with the blood of the occupied and the oppressed.”

The Tel Aviv municipality said in response, “We don’t know who is behind these acts, but the responsibility and authority to handle vandals lies in the hands of the police.

“Regarding the fountains that were painted red, the filters should filter out the paint within 24 hours.’

10. The World Said No to Israeli Occupation
by Larry Snider, OpEd News

The two-day mobilization was covered by Democracy Now! To view video or listen to show, click HERE

photos and video HERE

Sunday began with an early morning drive into Philadelphia to catch the bus from 4722 Baltimore Avenue to DC and take part in a rally and march to end the 40 year occupation of Palestine. The program was developed by a coalition of organizations under the banner US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in coordination with a second coalition coming together with the heading United for Peace and Justice. If you think that’s a mouthful you’re right. One of the difficulties of building national support is in trying to connect hundreds of groups interested in freedom to one singular message.

The bus was full of activist from a broad group of backgrounds, Jewish, Muslim and Christian alike. I asked Jerry Taylor from Yardley, PA why he got on the bus? “Because people are suffering. I hope there is something I can do. The Palestinians are just being slaughtered. This is government-sanctioned ethnocide. Our government supports this,” he said.

I asked Marilyn Looseman, from Haverford PA, why she was taking the trip? “Because I believe in what we’re doing. Israel will be far more secure when it allows the Palestinians to be secure.” I asked what she wanted the outcome of the day to be? “More Americans understanding what the situation really is by spreading the word.”

I asked Sonia Khalil of Philadelphia why she was on the bus? “Israel and Palestine will be secure if they see the occupation is the source of the violence. Once the occupation is ended violence will be ended. There will be prosperity for both. I do believe in a two-state solution.” I asked what she wanted to be the result of the rally? “It’s good for us to go out there and share that there are Jews as well as Palestinians and Christians out there that don’t agree with the occupation.”

After a brisk walk from the bus-deck of Union Station the group made its way in front of the US Capital. There was a fenced-in quadrangle with a stage festooned with a sign; “The World Says No to Israeli Occupation.” There were some tables set up with literature and a cross-section of books, mostly by socialist authors. Around the perimeter were a few more tables including one from ICAHD-USA, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, Project Hope, a Palestinian children’s educational program and Trees for Life, an organization to support Palestinian farmers. Just about the time I was considering making a purchase a member of the Rally staff came around to inform all the sellers that they were not permitted to make any sales or take any money on the site because the permit didn’t provide for that. One better, he stopped a man from anchoring a banner on posts in the ground, stating that; “You can’t do that. If you do they’ll shut down the Rally.”

People were flowing in and I heard that there was a significant counter rally being staged by Israeli activists. I didn’t see them in any numbers so I figured the police had that rally taking place a distant site. I ambled up to the right side of the stage, filled out some paperwork and received my press pass and a folder containing information on the day’s events.

Reading from the Call to Action: “We know that occupation is wrong. We see US troops occupying Iraq, and we say no. We see Israeli troops and civilians occupying Palestinian land, and we say no again. Wrong in Iraq, wrong in Palestine.” It goes on to state that; “We in the United States have a special obligation to protest Israel’s illegal military occupation because it is our government that provides Israel with the uncritical military, economic, diplomatic, and corporate support that it needs to sustain and expand its control of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. If we do not protest, then we are complicit in the human rights abuses inflicted daily on Palestinians who are forced to live under Israel’s brutal military occupation.”

I watched as two groups were handing out signs. A red and black one said; “Justice for Palestine.” A yellow and black one from a group called answercoalition.org wanted more; “Free Palestine. Support the Right of Return.”

I met Rana Abdelquder, an eighteen year old from Poughkeepsie, NY. She told me; “My family was pushed out of Palestine in 1948. They had lived in the village of Jimzu. I went back in 1997 to see it with my own eyes. I started an organization, “Palestine: Voices of the Next Generation,” and put it on myspace.com. People around here aren’t educated enough. It’s up to us. We’re the next generation.” I asked what she wanted to happen? “At least equality today. These kids don’t have a future. To give them a chance for a future.”

I spoke with Gwen Dubois a member of the Tikkun Community from Baltimore. “As a Jew raised with the idea life comes first. That Jews are justice loving people. That the occupation is unjust. I care about Israel, but oppose the policy of its government.” I asked what she though was necessary? “Most helpful would be more of a dialog in the Jewish community in the United States.”

I met Desiree Farooz, a member of Code Pink from Arlington TX. “We are women for peace. End the occupation. Give the indigenous people of Palestine their country back. We bring some color and creativity to the movement. We are willing to sacrifice. We have women here who have sacrificed jobs on behalf of peace. Women who can’t stay at home. Can’t tolerate this bloodshed anymore.” I asked what she wanted to happen? “Arab American’s need to unite. More Palestinian American’s saying no to the occupation. More activism. A coalition of everyone to stand up to the injustice.”

I spoke with Ashley Wilkerson a young missionary from the United Methodist Church who was posted in Bethlehem for sixteen months and was now interning for the US Campaign, and serving as an Event Press Coordinator. She was listening to one of the speeches and a tear was rolling down her cheek. I asked what image she held from Bethlehem? “The Wall in Bethlehem is massive and it feels like it’s all around you. Someone in one of the refugee camps told me it’s around his heart. Every night the Israeli military came into Bethlehem and takes somebody. They broke into my room when I wasn’t there. There is no system of accountability.” I switched subjects and asked her if they had a count on the crowd? She got on her cell phone and a couple minutes later a number came back; “About 5000.” I had just guessed that number.

I have been to larger events on the mall. But speaker after speaker including Ambassador Ed Peck, Tony Bing, Judith LeBlank, Husam El-Nounou, Rabbi Jerry Milgom and Cindy and Craig Corrie and many more gave testimony to the climate of injustice that pervades the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and robs Palestinians of their right to move freely, to earn a decent living, to support their families and to look forward to the future. I believe the facts of terror, suicide bombers targeting civilians and rockets hitting S’derot on a daily basis do not bring the people of Palestine closer to achieving their goals of justice, freedom and peace. But this was a day for recognizing the injustices of the occupation and the human rights of the Palestinian people. After a group of rappers charged up the audience, the march began from the Capital to the base of the Washington Monument facing the White House. Drums beat, the crowd chanted and people carried signs along Independence Ave. as they advanced. The police were out in numbers assisted by a large contingent of orange vested volunteers.

And then it happened. The counter demonstration was waiting for the marchers along the parade route. Hundreds of Israeli activists carried signs that went from a simple plea for peace to repudiate Hamas to the announcement that it’s all Israel’s land. Some of the people were contained and some were screaming epithets with one young man waving his middle finger. Some of the chants by the anti-occupation marchers were positive while others made me uneasy.

I noticed a couple of young people, I’d say around twenty years of age holding an Israeli flag. I stopped to talk to them. Benjamin Franblum was from Bethesda, MD. I asked what brought him here today? “I came to make sure I wasn’t one of the one’s who didn’t. I want to fight now while its words. Their leadership is inciting violence. I want all Palestinians and all Israelis to be able to raise their families in human peace and dignity.”

I suggested that that was a most laudable goal. His friend Rachel noted that the marchers are “a lot of confused people. People who need to take self-responsibility to better their lives.” I didn’t answer her by saying that that was exactly what they were doing. I thanked them both and moved back into the crowded streets before I drew a crowd of my own. We marched on toward the White House and then quickly dispersed for the long march back to the buses at Union Station. Others stayed on for Monday’s lobbying effort.

There was no violence. However, my friend from the bus, Marilyn, happened to take a pretty nasty header hurrying back to Union Station. People believed that they stood up for Palestinian rights as rights due every human being and hoped that the world takes notice.

Larry Snider is the founder of New Hope for Peace, a dialogue and educational forum. He is a member of the Greater Bucks County Peace Circle and author of numerous articles on the Israeli/Palestinian war of attrition and the peace process. Larry has traveled extensively in Israel and the West Bank and continues to interview Palestinian and Israeli activists, victims, not-so-ordinary citizens and government officials.

11. South Africa speaks out on 40 years of Occupation.
By Sayed

photos HERE

SOUTH AFRICA–On Saturday 9th June 2007 a crowd of approximately 2,500 people braved the winter weather in Cape Town, South Africa to protest the 40-year old illegal Israeli military occupation of Palestine. The protest march came amidst a global wave of solidarity action marking the 40th anniversary of the Occupation, and was the culmination of a week long country-wide programme which included pickets, candle vigils and other activities aimed at raising awareness and displaying solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for national liberation.

The march was attended by members of various Palestinian solidarity groups, Trade Unions, faith-based organisations as well as the general public. The crowd walked peacefully through the Cape Town CBD with raised Palestinian flags and banners, chanting in unison for an end to the Occupation and freedom for all Palestinians. A strong emotional bond exists between South Africans and Palestinians due to the many commonalities experienced by both peoples under the previous Apartheid regime, and the current system of Occupation.

The event lasted roughly 2 hours and concluded outside the gates of the South African Parliament where a memorandum was handed over to the South African Ministry of Foreign affairs. The memorandum called for, amongst other things, the immediate withdrawal of the South African ambassador to Israel and the severing of diplomatic relations with the Zionist State. It also called for boycotts, divestment and sanctions on all Israeli goods as well as laws prohibiting South African Jewish youth from serving in Israel ’s armed forces.

The crowd dispersed peacefully but vowed to continue in their efforts, citing former president Nelson Mandela’s famous words that ” South Africa is not free until Palestine is free”.

12. Freedom Summer 2007: Confronting Apartheid

Why Palestine?

For over 40 years the people of Palestine have endured a brutal military occupation.

Apartheid and military occupation make every day life almost impossible, whether it’s tending crops and livestock, passing through an Israeli military checkpoint, or going to school when illegal Israeli settlers attack.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and U.S. President Jimmy Carter described Israel’s Apartheid policies as “worse than South Africa’s.”

There’s always plenty of argument and hot-air generated about Palestine, but the ISM gives you the chance to act. Palestinians ask international volunteers to support their non-violent demonstrations, to confront policies of land theft and destruction, and to intervene whenever necessary.

Why Now?

This June marks the 40th anniversary of the military Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Now, more than ever there is a need for an international presence in Palestine.

International volunteers help reveal to the world the truth on the ground from Occupied Palestine—a truth that the mainstream media disguises or simply ignores. The world needs to understand that when the Israeli government says they are going to “starve” the Palestinian government into making concessions, the ordinary people do the starving and no political progress is made.

The world may believe that the Israeli occupation ended with the Gaza pullout, but volunteers who witness settlement expansion on Palestinian land know that the occupation in the West Bank gets worse.

Volunteers with ISM’s Freedom Summer 2007 will stand side by side with villagers in Bil’in as they continue their two-year struggle to save their land from Israel’s Apartheid Wall. They will also join demonstrations in the village of Um Salamuna, where a large amount of village land has been confiscated for the construction of the Apartheid Wall and expansion of nearby illegal settlements. Volunteers will also protest the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley and South Hebron, where Israeli forces are currently demolishing homes.

When international volunteers are absent, the Israeli army use lethal tactics of repression, such as live ammunition on unarmed protesters. Your presence means Palestinians can peacefully protest without being threatened with death.

ISM volunteers also serve as human rights monitors in the Hebron neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, where Israeli settlers harass and often attack children and teachers. Israeli soldiers in Hebron sometimes detain Palestinians for hours at checkpoints and arbitrarily invade Palestinian homes.

You can make a difference, as our volunteers have in the past, to help hold Israeli soldiers and settlers accountable for their actions.

In addition to the important field work, there are many other tasks that must be done. You may be able to join Palestinian communities in providing emergency medical services, help to disassemble restrictive roadblocks, or assist in the ISM Media Office.

One of our most important and undervalued skills as internationals is listening to and witnessing what Palestinians have to say about their current situations and how their lives have been ruined by the illegal occupation of their land.

There is plenty of room to share your creative skills with the Palestinian and international community, whether you can help run an art workshop for children or utilize your circus talents to de-escalate military harassment, both of which are current projects in Tel Rumeida.

Join the ISM for Freedom Summer 2007 and encounter first-hand the courage and the generosity of the Palestinian people as they continue to exist and survive under Israeli Apartheid and occupation.

On the day of the Summer Solstice, let us join Palestinians in non-violent struggle to end the Israeli Occupation. Let the whole world come together here in Palestine to confront Apartheid and to sustain the solidarity which remains unbroken.

Your presence in Palestine this summer, for a week or for three months, is an important part of maintaining the bridges that have been built with the Palestinians, and for new ones to come.

Freedom Summer 2007 kicks off June 21 and ends August 15. Volunteer training sessions are held every Tuesday and Wednesday.

In addition, there are two ISM-related projects, Art Under Apartheid and the Tel Rumeida Circus for Detained Palestinians for those interested in developing creative workshops with children or non-violent resistance through circus performance. See www.artunderapartheid.ps and trcdp.livejournal.com.

Further details to come…

For more information on how to join us in Palestine, click HERE:

Contact: freedomsummer2007@gmail.com

13. A letter from Hisham

Salaam for everyone.

It is no secret what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank now. As Palestinians, we have been through worse situations. In 1982 something like this conflict also happened in Lebanon between the Palestinians. Also in 1999, there was a conflict between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, most of the Hamas people were put in prison.

Because we have been through this before, we know that we must get through it again, together as one people, Palestinians.

Recently, this conflict appeared with Palestinians fighting for control in the Gaza Strip.

Some think it is a conflict of who wants the control and power in the Gaza Strip, others think that it happened because some people want to fight the corruption in the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, others still think it is a result of pressure from other countries.

The result of this conflict is that Gaza is under the control of Hamas and the West Bank is under the control of Fatah.

As Palestinians, we believe that Hamas and Fatah are not representing the will of all the Palestinian people and because of this, we come to the big question. Why is Gaza under control of Hamas and the West Bank under Fatah if we do not feel they represent all the Palestinians?

The answer to this question is that nobody can deny that we are still currently under occupation. Because Hamas and Fatah are the only strong military groups in Palestine, it is easier for them to enforce their will upon the entire population. All of this happened while we are under occupation. The history of the Palestinian people shows, and we teach this in ISM training, that the majority of the population wants to live honorably and in a non-violent way. Even if part of the population supports military resistance to the conflict, it is only because we see the violence and injustice of a military occupation on a daily basis.

We must know that the Fatah and Hamas groups are part of the Palestinian people and as I wrote above, sooner or later they will sit together and they will solve the differences between them. This is the only way, they have no other choice because we will never become a divided people.

In ISM, we have the respect and protection of ALL the Palestinian factions. In the last few days, I had a lot of phone calls from Europe and the United States, asking if we are still having the summer campaign or not. My answer was, “yes we need you now more than ever!” We do not want the internal Palestinian problems to overshadow the daily injustices of the occupation.

That’s why we need you here for the summer campaign, to show solidarity at demonstrations against the wall which is confiscating land and destroying livelihoods, to video tape and intervene in settler attacks against Palestinians, to monitor detentions and abuse at checkpoints, to document what you witness through reports, photography and video and to create fun projects for children. The Popular Committees in the regions have requested your presence here in Palestine because you are still very much needed.

We hope that the conflict between Palestinians will end soon but we need the non-violent resistance to continue until the occupation ends.

All of you are welcome in Palestine.