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This morning (28th October), the Free Gaza Movement was informed through the media that the Israeli Navy is threatening to forcibly stop the Dignity from entering Gaza tomorrow morning. Israel has not bothered to inform us of a legitimate reason for preventing us from delivering medical supplies, doctors, lawyers, and prominent human rights advocates to the Gaza Strip. Indeed, Israel has not bothered to communicate with us at all.
We are returning to Gaza for exactly the same reasons we came in August: to deliver medical supplies, meet with civil society organizations, volunteer in hospitals, and visit Palestinians who have requested our presence.
According to Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza spokesperson and law lecturer at al-Quds University in Jerusalem: “The Dignity is carrying 27 unarmed civilians, as well as a ton of urgently needed medical supplies. We will be sailing from Cypriot territorial waters to international waters, directly into Gaza territorial waters. We do not pose a ‘security threat’ to Israel, we
will not be going anywhere near Israeli waters, and therefore, Israel does not have any legal right to violently disrupt our mission.”
The Free Gaza Movement would like to make it clear that we do not wish nor do we seek any confrontation with Israel. We have already invited Israeli Director General of the Foreign Ministry, Aharon Abramovitz, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak to join us on our voyage as long as they remain non-violent. In August, we invited Tzipi Livni to accompany us.
We would like to extend this invitation to any member of the Israel Knesset:
“If you are legitimately concerned about our mission, or if you wish to educate yourself on the devastating effects of Israel’s policies of collective punishment against the families of the Gaza Strip, join us in breaking this brutal siege, sail with us to Gaza, and learn first hand
what Israeli violence has done to the civilian population of Gaza.”
Mairead Maguire, the winner of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize and one of the passengers aboard the Dignity, stated: “The people of Gaza are part of our human family. The Israeli government cannot cut off Gaza forever. We will come again and again until we reach our family. We go to visit our family, and the Israeli government has no right to stop us.”
The 27 unarmed civilians sailing aboard the Dignity represent 13 different countries. We are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and human rights advocates. We are Christians, Muslims, Jews, and agnostics. It would be ignorant and outrageous for Israel to use violence against us, and we are reminded at this moment of a message from the Qur’an:
“And the servants of God most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, ‘Peace!'”
If any of you reading these updates can put pressure on your governments, here are the names of the crew and passengers and their countries.
Denis Healey, Captain, UK
George Klontzas, First Mate, Greece
Derek Graham, Crew, Ireland
Nikoals Bolos, Crew, Ireland
Ali Al Jabar, Al Jazeera, Qatar
Ghazi Abourashad, Holland
Dr. Mohammed Alshubashi, Germany
Huwaida Arraf, attorney, US
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Palestine
Audrey Bomse attorney, US
Renee Bowyer, Australia
Caoimhe Butterly, Ireland
Rod Cox, UK
Guisippe Fallisi, Italy
Marco Giusti, Italy
Dr. Ibrahim Hamami, UK
Ramzi Kysia, US
Alan Lonergan, Ireland
Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Lubna Masarwa, Israel
Vilma Mazza, Italy
Theresa McDermott, UK
Amir Siddiq, Al Jazeera, Sudan
Gideon Spiro, Israel
Dr. Jock McDougall, UK
Israel has decided to prevent an additional group of left-wing activists from reaching Gaza by sea. About 20 passengers, most of them members of the Free Gaza organization, are expected to set sail for the Strip on Wednesday from Cyprus. MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) will most likely be aboard along with 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan.
Two months ago, members of the organization sailed from Cyprus to Gaza under the slogan “breaking the blockade.” The Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry viewed the move as a provocative propaganda stunt, intended to provoke a confrontation with the IDF. A day before the boat was to arrive at the shores of Gaza, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak held a consultation and decided to allow the boat to reach land – and thereby block the activists’ plans to create an international incident.
Nevertheless, in discussions held over the past few weeks between the PMO, Foreign Ministry and the IDF, it was decided that this time the boat would not be allowed to reach Gaza. “The first time we wanted to prevent a provocation, but if it is to become a routine, then we will have to make it clear we will not allow it,” said a senior official in Jerusalem.
Egypt also prevented the sailing of a similar ship a few weeks ago from Alexandria to Gaza.
The Israel Navy will stop the activists’ vessel once it reaches Israel’s territorial waters, it was decided. If the ship turns around, then the IDF will not use any force. However, if the activists decide to sail on toward Gaza, the IDF will take control of the ship, by force if necessary, and tow it to Ashdod port. The activists will be arrested for illegal entry and will be deported to Cyprus or to their home countries.
The left-wing activists were scheduled to set sail yesterday, but they were delayed by bad weather. If the weather improves, they will leave today.
The ship’s passengers are to including a number of journalists, including from international networks such as Al Jazeera.