Food insecurity mounting in Gaza

29 May

Ashraf Shannon, PressTV, 28 May, 2015

Nearly eighty percent of Palestinians in Gaza are facing food insecurity after years of land, air and sea blockade imposed by Israel, coupled with several military offensives against the coastal enclave. Attacks on fishermen and farmers have been depriving Gaza’s one-point-eight million population of fresh and healthy food.

 

Ex-president of Tunisia will sail with the Freedom Flotilla

28 May
tunisia-president-moncef-marzoukr_0Former Tunisian president Dr. Moncef Marzouki

When Freedom Flotilla III sets sail for Gaza next month, former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki affirms that he will be on board, along with delegations from up to 20 countires.

Statement from the Freedom Flotilla Coalition:

Representatives of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and partner organizations traveled to Tunis (recently) where they participated in the World Social Forum.  During the WSF they met with several Palestinian and Tunisian civil society organizations.

FFC representatives were also received by Dr. Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia and renowned Human Rights defender.  During the meeting Dr. Marzouki gave FFC his full support and confirmed that he will be on board of one of Freedom Flotilla III ships.

The week was concluded with an internal FFC and partners meeting during which the FFC points of unity were reconfirmed. The group agreed that FF3 will sail with at least three ships.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is more critical than ever and is worsening by the day. Media apathy and inaction by most governments puts the burden on civil society organizations, as ourselves, to take the lead in challenging the Israeli blockade. Our flotillas will continue to sail until the illegal blockade of Gaza is permanently lifted.  [End of statement. Slightly abridged]

Kia Ora Gaza has been invited to send a Kiwi delegation to join the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza next month. Please donate to our appeal here, and send a message of support. – Kia Ora Gaza

‘Time’s up!’

28 May

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FIFI president Sepp Blatter

By Jonathan Cook, The View For Nazareth blog, 27 May 2015

Arrests by US as FIFA mulls giving Israel boot

FIFA, world football’s governing body, is due to meet this Friday in Zurich to decide whether to back a Palestinian motion to suspend Israel for its systematic violations of Palestinian footballers’ rights in the occupied territories, including preventing practice sessions and games, arresting players, denying entry to other teams, and bombing grounds, as well as for endemic racism towards non-Jewish players in Israeli football itself. I have written about this in the past: here and here.

Although a 75% majority is needed for the Palestinian motion to carry, there has been a growing sense that the mood at FIFA is shifting the Palestinians’ way. Israel and the US are, of course, deeply worried. Such a move would have strong overtones of the sports boycott against South Africa and further reinforce the idea that the description of Israel as an apartheid state holds. It would also disrupt FIFA tournaments Israel is due to host in the coming months, causing great embarrassment to Israel and FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter.

Meanwhile, almost everyone quietly acknowledges that FIFA is corrupt from head to toe, and has been for as long as the game has been another branch of the big-business entertainments industry. Just think how impossible it would have been for a body not profoundly infected with corrupt practices to have backed desert emirate Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 tournament – in the middle of its stifling summer.

Today, however, the US decided it was time to call a halt to FIFA’s corruption. It ordered the high-profile arrest and extradition of six senior FIFA officials on corruption charges dating back to the early 1990s. The operation at the FIFA officials’ Zurich hotel, as they waited for Friday’s vote, was covered in detail by leading US media organisations after they were tipped off beforehand. Apparently it has taken the US the best part of 20 years to get round to doing the paperwork to make the arrests.

Doubtless, none of this was designed to have – or will have – the slightest effect on FIFA officials as they contemplate whether to infuriate Israel and the US by booting Israel out of world soccer.

In the meantime, you can try to shore up FIFA’s resolve by signing a petition here.

www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.658271

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“Freedom Flotilla III” Sails to Break a Shifting Siege of Gaza

22 May

2015_0520gaza

September 4, 2008: Boats flying the Palestinian flag welcome the Free Palestine vessel in Gaza. (Photo: Free Gaza movement)

Kia Ora Gaza has been invited to send a Kiwi delegation to join the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza next month. Please donate to our appeal here, and send a message of support. – Kia Ora Gaza

By Joe Catron, Truthout, 20 May 2015 

As a ship crewed by Palestine solidarity activists from Sweden and Norway navigates the northern European coast, political shifts across the Mediterranean could affect both the reception and the impact of its impending voyage.

The Marianne of Gothenburg, which left its home port on May 10, is the first of at least three vessels to depart for a new effort to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian Gaza Strip. In late June, “Freedom Flotilla III” will rendezvous in the Mediterranean before the final leg of its journey.

The flotilla will follow previous efforts by international activists to sail into Gaza, starting with the August 23, 2008, arrival of two small wooden boats launched by the Free Gaza Movement. They were the first foreign vessels to sail into Gaza since Israel closed its seaport after occupying the Strip in June 1967.

After four more Free Gaza voyages successfully reached the enclave in 2008, the Israeli navy began intercepting them, starting with the Dignity, which Israeli warships rammed on December 30. The damaged craft limped to Lebanon. Others would not be so lucky. In coming years, the new Israeli policy of strictly enforcing its blockade brought detentions, injuries and deportations.

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Kiwi delegation to join new Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

20 May

11263943_10152994654268432_1389637303134061456_nThe first of the Freedom Flotilla ships, the Marianne, gets a big farewell from Sweden last week.

Kia Ora Gaza has been invited to send a New Zealand contingent to join the new international Freedom Flotilla to Gaza next month. We hope to be able to name the delegation soon. We have launched an appeal to cover the costs. Our target is $15,000.

FREEDOM FLOTILLA APPEAL – HOW TO DONATE:

Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email office@kiaoragaza.net with your deposit details so our Board of Trustees can send you an e-receipt.

Or write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, P.O. Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158

Kia Ora Gaza is a Charitable Trust incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957.

The Flotilla will comprise at least three ships. The first, the Marianne, departed from Sweden last week, and has arrived in Germany on the way to the Mediterranean sea to link up with the other boats.

Organisers said “Marianne will join other ships and together they will form the ‘Freedom Flotilla III’ in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.”

Marianne’s cargo includes donated medical equipment and solar panels: “The sun cannot be blockaded.”

RT video interview with filmmaker and activist Osama Qashoo who was on the Freedom Flotilla five years ago.

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza has launched an international campaign to mobilise support and advocacy politically and diplomatically for the Freedom Flotilla III which included a number of meetings with European parliamentarians and parties’ advisers.

The campaign confirmed during these meetings the need to press Israel to immediately lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki (Dec. 2011 – Dec. 2014) confirmed his participation on one of the FF III vessels. He indicated full support for the mission. Delegations, including law makers, well known artists, activists and media from up to 15 counties will also join the Flotilla

Conditions in Gaza are worse than ever. In March, UNRWA said “the effects of (Israel’s) occupation, blockade and recurring military campaigns have devastated not only Palestine refugee homes, lives and income, but also hope for a secure and dignified future.”

Separately it said “Gaza and its people are becoming more isolated. Families fear and worry that in addition to the devastated economy and stalled political environment, the future of their children is also under siege.”

Israel ruthlessly holds 1.8 million Gazans hostage to its to aim for Middle East dominance.

Regional wars serve Israeli interests. They help its expansionist agenda – at the cost of millions of lost lives and futures.

Israel ‘will not allow’ peace flotilla

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman announced on Monday that ‘Israel will not allow unauthorized boats to enter its territorial waters’ as the converted trawler Marianne left Sweden intending to break the illegal naval blockade of Gaza.

Without referring to the specific Swedish boat, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that “if the so-called helpful Gaza flotillas were really interested in the welfare of the population in Gaza, they would send their aid via Israel. The fact that they insist on a flotilla demonstrates this is an unnecessary provocation.”

The first Freedom Flotilla was led by Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara, which set off towards the besieged Gaza Strip in May 2010 before Israeli forces attacked it in international waters killing ten activists and injuring many others.

Gaza remains illegally and tightly blockaded despite Israel’s pledge to ease it. Large parts of the Strip lie in ruins, with thousands of families still without adequate shelter – almost nine months since Israel’s last war of aggression ended, resulting in over 2000 Palestinian deaths and many thousands injured.

Funds pledged for reconstruction have been almost totally blocked as Israel maintains tight control over what’s allowed in or out.

Living conditions are deplorable. Most Gazans have no electricity 18 or more hours daily. Over 90% of the water is undrinkable, and half a million residents have no running water. Other basic services are woefully inadequate.

Almost half the population is unemployed, including nearly 70% of youths. Around 80% rely on desperately needed humanitarian aid.

Israel’s cruel siege is slowly suffocating Gaza’s 1.8 million people. Egypt’s military rulers have closed down the border crossing at Rafah.

Efforts to break Israel’s siege and deliver vital humanitarian aid are blocked – at times violently.

Flotilla III is a humanitarian mission to deliver vital aid and challenge the naval blockade. Israel blocked the Flotilla II vessels from reaching Gaza.

Its mission statement says the flotillas “will continue to sail until the illegal blockade of Gaza is permanently lifted.”

“Our objective is humanitarian. Our basis lies in international humanitarian law. Our method is non-violent.”

Israel’s blockade is blatantly illegal. It’s slow-motion genocide. It needs to be unconditionally ended.

World leaders able to help, sit on their hands and do nothing. They issue outrageous statements calling for “quiet diplomacy” – code language for condoning Israel’s worst crimes. The humanitarian flotillas and solidarity convoys are international civil society’s practical actions to break and end the siege. 140515_ASH_00-(4)Palestinians hold flags and banners at the Gaza port during a recent rally to show solidarity for Third Freedom Flotilla. [APAImages.]

 

 

Marianne is headed for Gaza

13 May

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Ship to Gaza’s ‘Marianne’ sets off for Gaza (photo: Freedom Flotilla Coalition)

Press release from Ship to Gaza – Sweden10 May 2015

Marianne of Gothenburg will leave her home port at 7pm on the 10 of May. The trawler, which has been acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway jointly, departs for a voyage of almost 5000 nautical miles to eastern Mediterranean and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Marianne will join other ships and together they will form the “Freedom Flotilla III” in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In passing Marianne will call at European ports for manifestations against the blockade. The First three ports will be Helsingborg, Malmö and Copenhagen. The subsequent ports will be announced in press releases.

Cargo
Marianne is not a cargo-ship, but she will bring a limited cargo of, among other things, solar cell panels and medical equipment.

The solar cell panels are a gift from ETC-El. In the blockaded Gaza Strip, where the infrastructure has been demolished, solar cells will thus provide an opportunity to independent local production of clean energy. The sun can not be blockaded.

Delegates
In addition to a crew of five people, Marianne will have up to eight delegates as passengers in each section of the route. The names of these individuals  will be announced as time progress. In the first section are among others:

  • Maria Svensson, pro. tem. spokesperson, Feministiskt initiativ
  • Mikael M Karlsson, Chairperson, Ship to Gaza Sweden
  • Henry Ascher, professor of Public Health, paediatrician
  • Lennart Berggren, filmmaker
  • Dror Feiler, musician, spokesperson of  Ship to Gaza

VIDEO: A public health crisis in Gaza

12 May

Gaza Strip has borne the brunt of war and shows the effects of multiple Israeli incursions that have destroyed homes, schools, mosques and infrastructure critical to the health of the civilian population 

By Gerri Haynes, Middle East Eye, 10 May 2015 

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility (WPSR) has been sponsoring delegations to the Middle East since 1993. WPSR is a member of the National  Physicians for Social Responsibility and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which is dedicated to the prevention of nuclear war. The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme  hosts the WPSR delegations.

But the small region known as the Gaza Strip has borne the brunt of war and shows the effects of multiple Israeli incursions that have destroyed homes, schools, mosques and infrastructure critical to the health of the civilian population. Following the 2008/2009 war on Gaza, WPSR began sponsoring medical service delegations to work in Gaza. Physician and nurse specialists participate in care and in consultation with colleagues and describe abiding concern over the many aspects of health that have been affected by war.

When we visited in March 2015, we stood on the bare earth in places near the border with Israel where the local economy was destroyed when Israeli bulldozers uprooted olive and citrus trees – to improve visual “security”.

The heartbreaking scenes in every village along the northern border revealed that almost no repairs or rebuilding has occurred since our visit here in November 2014. Remains of thousands of bombed homes lie in heaps along street after street.

Where the potential for shelter exists, families continue to live in these ruins. For most of these areas, access to electricity, water, and sewage service was also destroyed and through the cold and very wet winter, families have struggled to survive.

Tens of thousands of Gaza’s residents still shelter with other families, in UN schools, in scrap metal structures, temporary caravans or in the bombed out caverns of their previous residences. Political barriers continue to prevent reconstruction money (and money from taxes) from reaching Gaza – money that could provide building materials and jobs for vastly unemployed Gazans.

Before Egypt destroyed hundreds of tunnels between Rafah and Egypt, some construction materials came to Gaza through the southern border. Now, all materials must come through the singular “goods” crossing between Israel and Gaza at Kerem Shalom and precious few materials are arriving.

So, tens of thousands of Gazans remain homeless. Tens of thousands of Gazans remain jobless. Tens of thousands of Gazans who have jobs as doctors, nurses, social workers, etc. continue to work with no pay.

This video illustrates the deepening public health crisis following Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 war on Gaza.

Gerri gaza video

A portion of the wall that separates Gaza from the rest of the world (photo: Middle East Eye, Bob Haynes) 

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