Tag Archives: Gaza

Aid groups call for end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza

4 Sep

 

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By Ben White, The National, 29 August 2015

A year after the Gaza war, Palestinians are still choking

[Last] Wednesday marked one year since the ceasefire that ended Israel’s unprecedented seven-week assault on the Gaza Strip. On the occasion of this week’s anniversary, an international coalition of 35 NGOs issued a new call for the end of Israel’s blockade.

“For a whole year the Israeli government has restricted basic and essential construction materials from entering Gaza,” stated the aid groups, who noted that “not one of the 19,000 homes that were bombed and destroyed has been fully rebuilt”.

A petition launched by the NGOs on the Avaaz online community – “World Leaders: Lift the Gaza Blockade” – had, at the time of writing, already attracted 538,000 signatures.

While the agencies acknowledged the roles played by Palestinian political division and Egypt’s frequent closure of the Rafah crossing, they maintained that Israel’s blockade represents the primary obstacle to reconstruction. “At this rate, it could take 17 years before Gaza is rebuilt.”

The central – often, sole – reason cited by Israel for its continuing blockade of Gaza is “security”. The NGOs are not deaf to these concerns – but they do not believe this gives Israel carte blanche to choke 1.8 million people and destroy their economy and social fabric.

However, the security argument is itself a red herring.

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One year later: In search of Ayman

26 Aug
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Ayman loved birds, keeping several for pets until the day he died.

By Yousef Aljamal, We are Not Numbers, Gaza, 24 August 2015

Palestinians are sentenced to sadness. Death haunts us as if it is our own shadow. Even when we want to celebrate, death infiltrates into our backyard, replacing our little joyful moments, which soon vanish in a twinkle of an eye—replacing smiley faces with tear-streaked cheeks. When someone is gone, things are never the same. With Ayman gone, Gaza has never been the same. Ayman’s birds stopped singing.

As bombs were falling on Gaza in the summer of 2014, I landed in Amman to celebrate my cousin’s wedding and meet my West Bank family there, whom I had not seen for nearly 15 years. My uncle and I were driving back from his sister’s house, after we paid her a short visit and distributed some wedding invitations, when I got a text message notification on my cell phone. It was from my sister in Gaza telling me, “your friend Ayman was killed by Israeli shelling just now.” It was so direct and blunt that I could not read it a second time. Silence fell. I had lost my childhood friend.

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Egypt closes Gaza’s Rafah crossing again

24 Aug
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The Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only connection to the outside world, has been virtually closed since October 2014, allowing only a fraction of Gazans to leave or enter the blockaded enclave.

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip, 22 August 2015

Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah Crossing with Gaza on Friday, after it had been open for four days to allow emergency cases through.

Spokesperson of Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza Iyad al-Buzom said that 2,579 humanitarian cases left Gaza while 3,178 people entered the coastal territory.

Egypt prevented 146 Palestinians from leaving Gaza, he added.

Some 17,000 Palestinians need to urgently leave the territory, either for medical treatment or to continue their study abroad.

Egypt did not indicate when the crossing would be opened next.

The Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only connection to the outside world, has been virtually closed since October 2014, allowing only a fraction of Gazans to leave or enter the blockaded enclave.

Four Gazans were abducted by masked gunmen in Sinai just minutes after they had passed the Rafah Crossing.

Egypt blames Sinai ISIS for the abduction, but Hamas and Egyptian tribesmen reiterated that the Egyptian security abducted them.

 

Gaza Fire – frontline documentary

20 Aug

Short video documentary: ‘Gaza Fire’

The Palestine Chronicle, 19 August 2015.

More than a year since Israel’s devastating war in Gaza, whole communities remain affected.

The conflict left more than 2,000 Palestinians and 71 Israelis dead, while Israel’s aerial bombardment of Gaza left 18,000 homes destroyed.

The Palestinian enclave’s fire service was on the front line – desperately trying to save people caught in the fighting. One year on, Gaza’s firefighters are battling not just flames – but politics, salary shortages and a chronic lack of equipment.

This is their story.

 

 

Gaza’s Reconstruction Plan: designed to fail

17 Aug

08-12-2014Palestinians_Gaza-629x420The rubble of twisted concrete and metal bakes in the hot Mediterranean sun of a regional heat wave. A year on from Israel’s 51-day military operation in 2014, not a single one of the 11,000 destroyed homes in Gaza has been rebuilt. Photo credit: UNRWA Archives/Shareef Sarhan

By Charlie Hoyle, Bethlehem, Palestine, Inter Press Service, 15 August 2015

“Palestinians need solutions for the crisis, not mechanisms that manage the crisis.”

Eight months ago, the infrastructural devastation in the Gaza Strip was the same, except floodwater and freezing winter temperatures swept over the heaped remnants of people’s homes and businesses.

A year on from Israel’s 51-day military operation – in which over 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including more than 500 children – not a single one of the 11,000 destroyed homes has been rebuilt.

The task of large-scale reconstruction work was entrusted to the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), a United Nations-brokered agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which would oversee the distribution of building materials entering Gaza.

“Most of the 100,000 Palestinians displaced by the [2014] war continue to live in makeshift shelters, often in the rubble of their former homes, and the landscape is littered with miles upon miles of apocalyptic decay where homes, shops, and restaurants once stood”

To date, only 5.5 percent of the building materials needed to repair and rebuild homes and other damaged infrastructure has entered the coastal enclave, according to Israeli rights group Gisha, founded in 2005 to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especial Gaza residents.

Failed promises by donor countries which pledged 5.4 billion dollars last October, political tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and Israel’s continued restrictions on materials entering the territory have all impeded reconstruction efforts.

However, many hold the GRM directly responsible for the glacial pace of reconstruction, arguing that the terms of the agreement have entrenched Gaza’s underdevelopment by granting Israel control over nearly every aspect of the rebuilding process.

“Israel actually has deep power over every single house built in Gaza,” says Ghada Snunu, a reporting officer at Ma’an Development Centre in Gaza.

“We cannot build a house if Israel says no. Israel decides whether homes are built or not.”

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Saving Gaza’s medical services from collapse

17 Aug

mideast_israel_palestinians_axlp119_44530839A Palestinian youth carries a wounded child into the emergency clinic at Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Gaza, during Israel’s war on Gaza last year.

Gulf News report, 15 August 2015

At a time when the Middle East region is grappling with heightened volatility and ongoing conflicts from Syria to Iraq to Yemen, it is easy to ignore the harsh realities of Palestinians living in the open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip. It has been eight years since Israel imposed a land, air, and sea blockade on Palestinians living there following Hamas’s 2006 win in the legislative elections — depriving them of any possibility of leading normal lives. Coupled with this are Israel’s three full scale wars, which killed thousands of Palestinians including women and children and left swaths of ruins in the Strip. Yes, Palestinians are justified for feeling totally abandoned by the international community.

The latest news coming from Gaza is that its health care is on the verge of collapse. Dr Ashraf Al Qudra, spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry, told Gulf News, “People are dying in Gaza and we have nothing in hand to help them.” Gaza-based hospitals and primary medical centres lack 32 per cent of the medicines they need and the shortfall is greatest for drugs used to treat chronic diseases.

Moreover, the infant mortality rate in Gaza has risen for the first time in more than half a century, according to the United Nations. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) says the number of babies dying in 2013, that is, before the last Israeli war on Gaza, before the age of one, rose to 22.4 per 1,000 live births.

Imagine watching your loved one suffer from a medical problem and, because of Israeli restrictions on movements in Gaza, you are unable to transport them to a hospital or get them any proper medical care. Such is the reality of living in Gaza and experiencing daily the inhuman and unjust blockade through which Israel contravenes international law with impunity. And there is no end in sight to the suffering of the people, especially given that there is no international pressure for change.

The Palestinian Israeli conflict urgently requires Arab and international attention. It remains at the centre of Arab issues and without addressing Israeli intransigence, this region will never enjoy long term stability.

 

Aljazeera documentary – Gaza: Human shields

13 Aug

 

Aljazeera World video documentary, 13 August 2015

For 50 days, more than 6,000 air strikes, 14,500 tanks shells and 45,000 artillery shells were fired on Gaza as Israel decimated the Palestinian enclave in Operation protective edge.

More than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children were killed, as Israel attempted to end rocket attacks and destroy tunnels used by Hamas and other Palestinian groups.

As shells, bombs and rockets laid waste to Gaza, both sides were engaged in a propaganda battle as the civilian death toll continued to rise.

The Israeli government repeatedly claimed that Palestinian groups were to blame, accusing them of using women and children as human shields as they fired rockets into Israel.

In Gaza: Human Shields, we speak to civilians, academics and human rights advocates who have accused the Israeli military of employing the tactic as they battled Hamas.

We hear testimony from Palestinians being forcing them to walk in front of Israeli soldiers at gunpoint and enter potentially hostile buildings.

We examine evidence alleging Israel’s long-standing practice of human shields and explore whether Hamas used residential buildings and civilian areas to launch attacks.

“They [the Israeli army] took me and put me on top of a tank”, Anas Najjar, a resident of the battered southern town of Khuazaa says; while Ramy Abdu of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor says there is “enough files to condemn Israel and prove it’s committed war crimes by using civilians as human shields.”

Showing both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on the use of human shields, Gaza: Human Shields follows on from a recently-published UN enquiry into war crimes during the July-August 2014 war.

 

 

Witnessing Israel’s war and destruction of Gaza

11 Aug

 

AJ+ video

One year on: when Israel started its invasion of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the pictures of death and destruction were all over our screens. But Max Blumenthal travelled there to see for himself. So many of the stories he witnessed were never talked about in the news.

Israeli attacks create ‘a powder keg waiting to explode’

5 Aug

 

Ashraf Shannon reports from Gaza, PressTV, 5 August 2015

The Israeli army has made an incursion into the Gaza Strip forcing farmers and villagers out of the area.

The incursion happened in the east of the southern city of Khan Younis. Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the area and dug trenches inside the so-called buffer zone. Israel occasionally launches limited raids into the Gaza Strip on security pretexts, often razing land near the so-called buffer zone. Such moves violate an agreement that ended Israel’s last summer war on the besieged enclave.

 

Gaza poverty at 38.8% due to blockade

3 Aug

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PressTV report, 1 August 2015

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has revealed that the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip over the past eight years has pushed up poverty in the coastal enclave to new highs.

The PCHR has said in a report that Gaza’s poverty rate for the first half of this year has now reached 38.8 percent.

It added that 21.1 percent of the Palestinians living in the coastal strip are suffering from “extreme poverty”.

The PCHR report has further added that in addition to causing a rise in the poverty rate, the Israeli blockade has caused unemployment in the enclave to rise to 44 percent.

This indicates the extent of the unprecedented economic deterioration suffered by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, it added.

“Israel’s isolation and siege of Gaza has resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights of 1.8 million people, as well as a serious deterioration in their living conditions,” said the PCHR in its report.

In May, the World Bank described Gaza’s economy as one of the worst in the world, with unemployment in the strip standing as high as 43 percent. It also warned that as much as 73 percent of the population there is suffering from food insecurity.

The Israeli military last summer devastated the Gaza Strip after 51 days of relentless attacks and strikes that left over 2,000 Palestinians killed – mostly civilians – and many wounded. Tens of thousands were also displaced in the wake of the conflict.

A UN report in June decried as “unprecedented” the devastation and human suffering left behind by the Israeli war. It also denounced the “huge firepower” used in Gaza. The UN further criticized the Israeli blockade for hampering reconstruction in the coastal enclave.

 

Israel allows increased trickle of goods into Gaza

16 Jul

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Israel allows 650 truckloads of goods into Gaza (MaanImages/File)

Israel’s strict blockade has destroyed the economy in the Gaza Strip and has made it near impossible for the strip’s 1.8 million residents to recover from three wars over the last six years.

The vital Kerem Shalom crossing is regularly closed by Israeli authorities for alleged security reasons as well as during many national Israeli holidays according to Israeli watchdog Gisha.

As of June, UNOCHA reported that only 1 percent of the construction materials required to rebuild houses destroyed and damaged during hostilities last summer had entered Gaza so far – highlighting the urgent need to build international pressure to not merely ease Israel’s inhumane siege on Gaza, but to end it.

 

Ma’an News Agency report, Gaza City, 15 July 2015

Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza on Wednesday enabling 650 truckloads of goods to enter, a Palestinian crossings official said.

Raed Fattouh, head of the Palestinian coordination committee for the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, said that the Israeli authorities would allow the goods to enter for the commercial, agriculture and transportation sectors.

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‘Let me be blunt: Gaza is a huge concentration camp’

10 Jul

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Amira Hass, Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Territories, pictured during her speaking tour of New Zealand earlier this year (Photo: Kia Ora Gaza.)

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, Editor, ISLAMiCommentary 6 July, 2015:

This past Spring Amira Hass, correspondent for Haaretz, spoke at the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University. Hass, an Israeli who has won numerous awards for her reporting, has been covering the region since the early 90s. She lived in Gaza for three years and currently lives in Ramallah in the West Bank. Originally from Jerusalem, she was educated at Hebrew University and wrote the well-known book Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege as well as the forward and epilogue to the diary of her mother who survived the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

She gave two public talks during her week-long residency at Duke — “The Israeli Occupation and Jewish-Israeli Dissent” and “Reporting from Ramallah: An Israeli Jew in an Occupied Land” — and also had the chance to meet with students.

Hass said she’s aware of the “contradiction of reporting about the Occupation,” while at the same time “profiting from” that Occupation as an Israeli.

“It’s a constant contradiction in my life. It is a bitter acknowledgment of a privilege and a contradiction,” she said during one of her talks. “It is especially bitter when I talk about Gaza.”

This week (July 8th) marks the one-year anniversary of “Operation Protective Edge” — also referred to as Israel’s invasion of Gaza — a seven-week operation in a long running conflict. According to a bleak new World Bank report, Israeli blockades, war and poor governance have left Gaza’s economy on the “verge of collapse.” It now has the highest unemployment rate in the world — 43 percent, and 60 percent among youth.

Here are some excerpts from Hass’s “Reporting from Ramallah” talk (re-ordered slightly for content continuity), which was audio-recorded in March 2015:

Hass on Freedom of Movement in the Occupied Territories: A Concentration Camp?

When I think of all my friends in Gaza … not only my friends…that haven’t been out of the Gaza Strip for the past 20 years … they are deprived of so many basic things, because Israel deprives them of peace, (the) basic right of freedom of movement.

I’m not talking about food. I’m not talking about even the water situation in Gaza, which is appalling and disastrous. I’m talking about the very basic need of people to travel, to move, to see other places, to have both the ability to plan or the ability to be spontaneous. The Palestinians are deprived of all this.

In practice, Gaza has become a huge, let me be blunt, concentration camp for right now 1, 800,000 people. This is not a novelty. This is not something new. This did not start, unlike what many people think, with the rise of Hamas, Hamas being elected in 2006, or Hamas taking over the security agencies and apparatus in Gaza in 2007 after the short civil war. We can almost trace it to the moment when it started, and this is the 15th of January 1991 — long before Oslo, long before Madrid, and of course long before the suicide attacks inside Israeli cities and against Israeli civilians.

This policy of sealing off Gaza, of making Gazans into prisoners, defacto prisoners, started then. I’ve written extensively about it and yet I know it always surprises.

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Has the world abandoned Gaza?

9 Jul

 

Democracy Now! report, 8 July 2015

As Gaza marks one year since the launch of Israel’s devastating 50-day assault, it remains in a state of crisis. The assault killed 2,200 Palestinians, including 550 children. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. A year later, none of the 12,000 homes destroyed in Gaza have been rebuilt, in part due to the ongoing Israeli blockade. The World Bank is warning the Gaza economy is on the verge of collapse. Overall unemployment now stands at 43 percent — the highest in the world.

We speak with Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, author of “Shell-Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assault.”

 http://democracynow.org

 

Israel’s Army of Spin-Doctors is Doomed to Defeat

8 Jul

gaza_bombing_ahmad_dalloul_irin Aftermath of Israeli raid on Gaza. (Ahmed Dalloul, UN)

By Jonathan Cook, Nazareth, The Palestine Chronicle, 8 July 2015

The Israeli government believes it is locked in an epic struggle to save Israel from the growing movement calling for an international boycott. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns that Israel must quickly “rebrand” itself to avoid pariah status.

Ordinary Israelis are therefore being conscripted into an army of spin-doctors in a campaign termed “hasbara” – Hebrew for “public diplomacy”, or more literally “propaganda”.

In the latest offensive, the education ministry has launched a compulsory hasbara course for Israeli students travelling abroad. All youth delegations are now required to learn how to justify to outsiders Israel’s policies in the occupied territories. According to officials, the students must challenge those who “seek to delegitimize Israel”.

It is yet more evidence that hasbara has become a national obsession in Israel – and that the line between support for one’s country and support for the subjugation of another people has been erased. Some 85 per cent of Israelis tell pollsters they are keen to become hasbara ambassadors for the Netanyahu government.

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One year on: Gaza still subsisting in rubble & ruin

7 Jul

A continuous barrage of Israeli bombs rained down in Gaza for 51 days from 8 July 2015. Associated Press video report, July 2014.

The destruction of Shujaiyeh & Rafah – Surviving Palestinians still subsist among the rubble. To date not one house has been rebuilt – thanks to the tight 9 year siege imposed by Israel & Egypt. Reuters video, 4 June 2015

BBC video report with drone footage of the aftermath of Israel’s 51 day war against Gaza. September 2014

Drone footage reveals the devastating destruction to Shuja’iyeh (Shejaia), a neighbourhood district in Gaza, the result of the Israeli assault that lasted 51 days. Between 8 July and 27 August 2014, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge bombardment killed at least 2,200 Palestinians (mostly civilians) along with 66 Israeli soldiers and 7 civilians in Israel. And according to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA), more than 300,000 Gazans had been sheltering in its schools and up to 500,000 people have been displaced by the conflict. The extensive destruction caused means that many Palestinians have no home to return to. Many faced a harsh winter in emergency shelters. Most still remain without adequate shelter today.

Is Gaza blockade breaking international law?

3 Jul

 

VIDEO: Inside Story report, Aljazeera, 1 July 2015

Israel’s navy seizes an activists’ boat attempting to break a blockade of the Palestinian territory. It’s almost a year since Israel’s 50-day war on Gaza. The assault, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, added to the already desperate living conditions for the 1.8 million people living in the Palestinian territory. A UN report in August concluded that almost everyone in Gaza faced some urgent need for basic protection, healthcare, housing, food and water.

In a largely symbolic gesture, a converted trawler has tried to break an Israeli blockade of the coastal strip to deliver humanitarian aid. But the Marianne was boarded by the Israeli Navy on Monday, and the activists detained. On Inside Story: is Israel justified in maintaining its nine year blockade in the name of security, or are the continued restrictions in contravention of international law?

Presenter:Martine Dennis. Guests: Rami Abdo – Director of the Euro-Mediterranean Observer for Human Rights. Ben Hartman – national security correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. Diala Chehade – president of the Center for Defending Civil Rights and Liberties and an international criminal law specialist.

‘Barely a whisper’ when Israel arrests MaoriTV journalists

30 Jun

Maori TV journalist Ruwani Perera and free-lance cameraman Jacob Bryant with other international participants aboard MariannePhoto Credit: Kia Ora Gaza : Jacob Bryant on the left and Ruwani Perera 4th from the left alongside other international participants on the Flotilla boat the Marianne.

By Martyn Bradbury, DailyBlog editor on Waatea News, 30 June 2015

NZ mainstream media will focus on Maori TV when journalists leave, but not when their journalists get arrested by Israel

It’s remarkable.

When Journalists leave Maori TV, the mainstream media are almost gleeful in covering it, yet today when Maori TV have had two of their journalists arrested by the Israeli’s, there is barely a whisper?

Maori TV Journalist Ruwani Perera and camera operator, Jacob Bryant, were arrested yesterday on board a peace flotilla trying to break the violent and brutal blockade of Gaza.

In 2010, Israel boarded another peace flotilla and murdered 10 activists. The cruelty and apartheid nature of the occupation of Gaza by the Israeli’s is one of the great on going cultural genocides the modern planet is witnessing. Maori TV have a long history of covering indigenous issues around the globe, and the vicious nature of the illegal occupation of Palestinians is an issue they should be focusing upon. Gaza is little more than the largest open air prison on Earth and the inhumane manner in which Palestinians are forced to suffer as a people is the very type of story Maori TV has every right to cover.

Trying to ignore the journalistic reasons as to why Maori TV journalists are there and paint them as ‘trouble makers’ merely supports and aids the occupiers. It doesn’t shine light on the ugly truth.

At a time when our Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, is attempting fro search for peace in the Middle East as part of our new role on the Security Council, the least he can do is demand Israel release two of our journalists immediately, and the least the wider NZ media can do is show support for two of their colleagues arrested for doing their job.

Martyn Bradbury, Editor – TheDailyBlog.co.nz   Facebook/CitizenBomber    twitter.com/CitizenBomber

Open letter to Murray McCully from Kia Ora Gaza

27 Jun

27 June 2015

Hon Murray McCully,
Minister of Foreign Affairs.

OPEN LETTER

Dear Sir,

I wish to draw to your attention, that two New Zealand journalists have joined other international media personnel on board the Freedom Flotilla III to observe and document this peaceful civil society mission to challenge the inhumane Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and to deliver some aid.

We urgently request the NZ Government to promptly call on the Israeli authorities to allow the Freedom Flotilla III boats safe passage to their destination.

Yours sincerely,

Roger Fowler QSM,
Chair,
Kia Ora Gaza
PO Box 86022,
Mangere East,
Auckland.
Website: http://www.kiaoragaza.net
Email: office@kiaoragaza.net

Gaza prepares to welcome Freedom Flotilla III

25 Jun

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Little fishing boats prepare for a huge welcome for the international flotilla in Gaza port.
Middle East Monitor report, 24 June 2015

Preparations are being made in Gaza coinciding with the countdown for the launch of the latest Freedom Flotilla. There are dozens of European activists, Arab figures and journalists aboard the five ships that make up the flotilla. According to the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), the ships have come from ports across Europe.

The Government Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza lit a torch to mark the sailing of Freedom Flotilla III, which is scheduled to reach Gaza port on Friday.

Alaa Al-Batta, head of the committee, told a press conference in the port on Tuesday that the final countdown has started and the flotilla is ready to set sail for Gaza, which has been besieged by Israel for nine years. “The Freedom Flotilla is only a few hours away from the Gaza seaport,” he said. “All Palestinians, across the spectrum, are standing here today to welcome and support the flotilla.” People from all over the world of all religions and ethnicities have gathered in solidarity out of their love for Palestine in an effort to lift the unjust siege, added Al-Batta.

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Flotilla ships gather before sailing to break Israel’s siege

25 Jun

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As global pressure and regional shifts undermine Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, Palestine supporters from more than 20 countries are preparing for the latest attempt to defy it.

By Joe Catron @jncatron, MintPress News, 24 June, 2015

GAZA STRIP — A converted Swedish fishing trawler left the port of Messina in eastern Sicily late Friday evening, sailing into the Mediterranean to meet other vessels before they attempt to break Israel’s nautical blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“The goal is, as always, to challenge and eventually end the inhuman and illegal blockade of Gaza,” David Heap, a spokesperson for the Canadian Boat to Gaza, told MintPress News.

“Whether we reach our destination, as happened five times in 2008, or are stopped by the occupier, as has happened from 2010 to 2012, our course remains the same: the conscience of humanity.”

The Marianne of Gothenburg, which left its home port on May 10, publicized its voyage down the coast of Europe and into the Strait of Gibraltar through the organizations supporting it, Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway.

Other groups in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition have declined to disclose their efforts, including the names and locations of vessels.

“There has been secrecy around details that might be relevant to efforts to obstruct the flotilla, as there usually are,” Robert Naiman, a spokesperson for the U.S. Boat to Gaza, told MintPress.

Heap says the high level of security within “Freedom Flotilla III” stems from past Israeli attempts to prevent similar projects.

“In 2011 some boats were sabotaged, and Greek coast guard authorities stopped some of our boats when Israel outsourced its blockade to European ports,” he told MintPress. “So we have learned to be cautious about what information we release when.”

He added that “more than 50 people from over 20 countries [are] on board or ready to board at least three vessels.”

With the Marianne now at sea, its final departure for Gaza is expected as soon as weather clears.

 CGWcZ5VUYAACTjKPalestinian children preparing a huge welcome for the Freedom Flotilla ships

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