(GAZA, 9 December 2008) – The Free Gaza Movement ship “Dignity” successfully broke through the Israeli blockade for the fourth time since August, arriving in Gaza Port at 2:45pm, Tuesday 9 December. The ship carried one ton of medical supplies and high-protein baby formula, in addition to a delegation of international academics, humanitarian and human rights workers. Three earlier missions made landfall in Gaza in August, October, and November through the power of non-violent direct action and civil resistance. The Free Gaza ships are the first international ships to reach the Gaza Strip in over 41 years.
Ewa Jasiewicz, a Free Gaza organizer, journalist, and solidarity worker, pointed out that, “Tomorrow is International Human Rights Day, and it’s high time the world turned its rhetoric on human rights into reality. We mounted this mission to give our solidarity to the people of Palestine and to highlight the strangulating conditions Israel causes in besieged Gaza. The inhumane effects of this siege threaten to stunt an entire generation – both in terms of physical and mental growth due to malnutrition, terrorization by bomb attacks, incursions and the use of sonic booms – but also in terms of the generation of students which have won places at academic institutions around the world but cannot fulfill them, and those undermined on the ground in Gaza by a lack of food, medicine, electricity, materials, and the peace and space to make use of them in.”
For over two years, Israel has imposed an increasingly severe blockade on Gaza, dramatically increasing poverty and malnutrition rates among the 1.5 million human people who live in this tiny, coastal region. The World Bank recently warned that the entire banking system in Gaza may soon collapse resulting in “serious humanitarian implications.” Already, over eighty percent of Gazan families are dependent on international food aid in order to feed their children.
Lubna Masarwa, another Free Gaza organizer and the current delegation’s leader, pointed out that, “The Palestinians of Gaza don’t need charity. What they need is effective political action that changes their lives and ends the Occupation. We can’t bring electricity to Gaza on our boats. We can’t import freedom of movement or safety. But we can get into Gaza and we are intent to keep coming. We will come again and again and again until the world breaks its silence and we shatter this siege once and for all.”