Prof. Jeff Halper, only Israeli who took part in peace sail to Gaza, says idea came from realization that Israel, world governments sluggish about lifting blockade on Strip; adds restrictions on Gaza symptomatic of more than security needs
By Anat Shalev
To view original article, published on the 24th August, click here
Prof. Jeff Halper, a former anthropology lecturer at the Ben Gurion University and the head of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, was the only Israeli aboard the human rights boat which made its ways to the Gaza Strip shores on Saturday.
In a phone interview with Ynet, Halper spoke about the reasons which motivated him and other left-wing activists to try and break the siege on the Strip: “There are people here yearning to live in peace with us, yearning for freedom.
Gaza disappointment: Palestinian source tells Ynet local residents disappointed by small quantities of food brought in aboard leftist ‘peace boats’; some people left beach in disillusioned after realizing boats were mostly carrying activists
“All these restrictions, they’re not just for security reasons, they’re symptomatic to something much, much deeper.”
After years in the hub of anti-occupation and pro-peace activities, Halper decided to enlist the aid of some of his international peace activists’ associates and try and put the sail together.
The idea, he explained, was motivated by the notion that world governments in general and the Israeli government in particular, are not doing enough to lift the siege. His boat – an old Greek liner which was renovated and sailed to Cyprus – ended up hosting 43 peace activists from around the world.
‘Acting against injustice’
“I see this port, which was once so beautiful and is now is in shambles… I want to relay to people the life in Gaza, what it’s like for the people who live here,” he said.
The sail itself took about 36 hours. “We were pretty cut off (from the world) while we were on the boat. We were under the impression that it’s going to make headlines around the world.
“I felt a great since of responsibility and empowerment. A lot of people feel bitter in their everyday lives and here we felt we were doing something beautiful, acting against injustice. We felt we were on a mission… and by the response – we hit a nerve.”