Words to be written with gold, and hanged on every wall.
- Bashar Alassad, right now, in the Arab leaders meeting, Live on Aljazeera, From Doha.
Words to be written with gold, and hanged on every wall.
As We Say... Your Secret Is In a Deep Well
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FREE GAZA TO ISRAEL: “WE ARE COMING IN ON TUESDAY”
For More Information, Please Contact:
(Cyprus) Huwaida Arraf, +357 96 723 999 or +357 99 081 767 email@example.com
(Gaza) Ewa Jasiewicz, +972 598 700 497 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Egypt) Caoimhe Butterly, +20 121 027 072 email@example.com
(U.S.) Ramzi Kysia, +1 703 994 5422 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Cyprus, 11 January 2009) - The Free Gaza Movement ship, “SPIRIT OF HUMANITY,” will leave Larnaca Port at 12:00 noon, Monday, 12 January, on an emergency mission to besieged Gaza. The ship will carry desperately needed doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and members of several European parliaments as well as medical supplies. This voyage marks Free Gaza’s second attempt to break through the blockade since Israel began attacking the Gaza Strip on 27 December. Between August and December 2008, the Free Gaza Movement successfully challenged the Israeli blockade five times, landing the first international ships in the port of Gaza since 1967.
The Israeli military violently attacked an earlier attempt by the Free Gaza Movement to send an emergency boat filled with doctors and medical supplies to Gaza. In the early hours of Tuesday, 30 December, the Israeli navy deliberately, repeatedly, and without warning rammed the unarmed ship, the DIGNITY, causing significant structural damage and endangering the lives of its passengers and crew. The ship found safe harbor in Lebanon, and is currently awaiting repairs.
Fouad Ahidar, a member of the Belgian Parliament sailing to Gaza aboard the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, responded to concerns that Israel may attack the unarmed mercy ship by saying, "I have five children that are very worried about me, but I told them, you can sit on your couch and watch these atrocities on the television, or you can choose to take action to make them stop."
Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have injured thousands of civilians and killed over 800 people, including scores of women and children. This ongoing Israeli massacre severely and massively violates international humanitarian law defined by the Geneva Conventions, especially the obligations of an Occupying Power and the requirements of the laws of war.
The United Nations has failed to protect the Palestinian civilian population from Israel's massive violations of international humanitarian law. Israel has closed off Gaza from the international community and demanded that all foreigners leave. But Huwaida Arraf, an organizer with the Free Gaza Movements, stated that, “We cannot just sit by and wait for Israel to decide to stop the killing and open the borders for relief workers to pick up the pieces. We are coming in. There is an urgent need for this mission as Palestinian civilians in Gaza are being terrorized and slaughtered by Israel, and access to humanitarian relief denied to them. When states and the international bodies responsible for taking action to stop such atrocities chose to be impotent, then we--the citizens of the world--must act. Our common humanity demands nothing less.”
Israel has been notified that we are coming. A copy of the notification to the Israeli Authorities is attached.
The media is invited to the Larnaca Port at 10:00am to for final preparations and a press conference before departure.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Take Action! CALL the Israeli Government and let them know that the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY is coming to Gaza. DEMAND that Israel immediately STOP slaughtering civilians in Gaza and STOP using violence to prevent human rights and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office:
+972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264
Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence:
+972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148
Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy:
+ 972 5 781 86248
Official Notification of Intent to Enter
January 11, 2009
To: The Israeli Ministry of Defense, Fax: 972-3-697-6717
To: The Israeli Navy
To: The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax 972-2-5303367
From: The Free Gaza Movement
This letter serves as a formal notification to you as the Occupying Power and belligerent force in the Gaza Strip that on Monday, January 12 we are navigating the motor vessel, Spirit of Humanity, from the Port of Larnaca to the port of Gaza City. Our vessel will be flying the Greek flag, and, as such, falls under the jurisdiction Greece.
We will be sailing from Cypriot waters into international waters, then directly into the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip without entering or nearing Israeli territorial waters. We expect to arrive at the Gaza Port on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.
We will be carrying urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca. There will be a total of 30 passengers and crew on board, among them members of various European Parliaments and several physicians. Our boat and cargo will also have received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we depart.
As it will be confirmed that neither we, the cargo, any of the boat's contents, nor the boat itself constitute any threat to the security of Israel or its armed forces, we do not expect any interference with our voyage by Israel's authorities.
On Tuesday, December 30, an Israeli Navy vessel violently, and without warning, attacked our motor vessel Dignity, disabling the vessel and endangering the lives of the 16 civilians on board. This notice serves as clear notification to you of our approach. Any attack on the motor vessel, Spirit of Humanity, will be premeditated and any harm inflicted on the 30 civilians on board will be considered the result of a deliberate attack on unarmed civilians.
The Steering Committee of the Free Gaza Movement
Contact: Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement, 357 96 723 999
It's time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa. In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era". The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was born.
Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause - even among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors in Israel. It calls for "the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions" and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle. "The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves ... This international backing must stop."
Yet even in the face of these clear calls, many of us still can't go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. But they simply aren't good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tool in the non-violent arsenal: surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counter-arguments.
Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis.
The world has tried what used to be called "constructive engagement". It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon, and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures - quite the opposite. The weapons and $3bn in annual aid the US sends Israel are only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies. For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first country outside Latin America to sign a free-trade deal with the Mercosur bloc. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45%. A new deal with the EU is set to double Israel's exports of processed food. And in December European ministers "upgraded" the EU-Israel association agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.
It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs. It is remarkable that over seven days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's flagship index actually went up 10.7%. When carrots don't work, sticks are needed.
Israel is not South Africa.
Of course it isn't. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, backroom lobbying) fail. And there are deeply distressing echoes of apartheid in the occupied territories: the colour-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said the architecture of segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was "infinitely worse than apartheid". That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza.
Why single out Israel when the US, Britain and other western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the strategy should be tried is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.
Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less.
This one I'll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, including the wonderful writer John Berger, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus's work, and none to me. I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.
Our modest publishing plan required dozens of phone calls, emails and instant messages, stretching between Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Paris, Toronto and Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start a boycott strategy, dialogue grows dramatically. The argument that boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at each other across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.
Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point-scoring: don't I know that many of these very hi-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech? True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel's Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, managing director of a British telecom specialising in voice-over-internet services, sent an email to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax: "As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company."
Ramsey says his decision wasn't political; he just didn't want to lose customers. "We can't afford to lose any of our clients," he explains, "so it was purely commercially defensive."
It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it's precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.
The body of a girl who was found in the rubble of her destroyed house following an Israeli air strike on a house in Zeitoun Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
The Israeli military may have committed war crimes in Gaza, the UN's most senior human rights official said tonight, as Israeli troops pressed on with their increasingly deadly offensive in defiance of a UN security council resolution demanding a ceasefire.
Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, singled out the killing this week of up to 30 Palestinians in Zeitoun, south-east of Gaza City, when Israel shelled a house where its troops had told about 110 civilians to take shelter.
Pillay, a former international criminal court judge from South Africa, told the BBC the incident "appears to have all the elements of war crimes". She called for "credible, independent and transparent" investigations into possible violations of humanitarian law.
The accusation came as Israel kept up its two-week-old air and ground offensive in Gaza and dismissed as "unworkable" the UN security council resolution calling for "an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire". Protests against the offensive were held across the world today as diplomacy to halt the conflict appeared to falter.
With the Palestinian casualty toll rising to around 780 dead and more than 3,100 injured, fresh evidence emerged today of the Zeitoun killings.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said in a report it was "one of the gravest incidents since the beginning of operations" against Hamas militants in Gaza by the Israeli military on 27 December.
OCHA said the incident took place on 4 January, a day after Israel began its ground offensive in Gaza. According to testimonies gathered by the UN, Israeli soldiers evacuated about 110 Palestinians to a single-storey house in Zeitoun. The evacuees were instructed to stay indoors for their safety but 24 hours later the Israeli army shelled the house. About half the Palestinians sheltering in the house were children, OCHA said. The report also complains that the Israeli Defence Force prevented medical teams from entering the area to evacuate the wounded.
The OCHA report does not accuse Israel of a deliberate act but calls for an investigation. Responding to the report, an Israeli military spokeswoman, Avital Leibovich, told AFP news agency: "From initial checking, we don't have knowledge of this incident. We started an inquiry but we still don't know about it."
Among the dead were nine members of the Samouni family; a picture of three of the family's children in blood-stained clothing laid on a morgue floor and in front of their grieving father was shown in the Guardian on Tuesday. The father, Wael Samouni, said dozens of people had been sheltering in the house after Israeli troops ordered them and neighbours to stay inside.
"Those who survived, and were able, walked two kilometres to Salah Ed Din road before being transported to the hospital in civilian vehicles," the UN said.
Rescuers from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said they were able to reach the area on Wednesday only after being allowed safe passage by Israel.
The ICRC issued a statement on the incident yesterday, accusing the Israeli military of "unacceptable" delays in allowing medics safe access to injured Gazans.
More than 40 Palestinians were killed in another incident on Tuesday after missiles exploded outside a UN school that had been sheltering hundreds of people in the Jabaliya refugee camp, despite the UN saying the school was clearly marked with a UN flag and its position reported to Israeli military.
More than 750 Palestinians have died since the start of the Israeli military operation. More than half of Gaza's population are children, and the Palestinian ministry of health said about 42% of the casualties have been children.
Unicef said at least 100 children and minors were killed in the first 10 days of fighting. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which posts staff at hospitals to track casualties, put this number at more than 160.
Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, the Jordan-based spokesman for Unicef in the Middle East and North Africa, said: "We are talking about urban war. The density of the population is so high, it's bound to hurt children … This is a unique conflict, where there is nowhere to go."
Israel has accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields and has said militants have fired rockets from rooftops of homes and mosques.
Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman, said: "Israel wants to see no harm to the children of Gaza. On the contrary, we would like to see their children and our children grow up without the fear of violence. Until now, Hamas has deliberately prevented that from becoming reality."
Fighting in Gaza has continued despite yesterday's UN security council resolution calling for an "immediate" and "durable" ceasefire and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. The resolution was passed with 14 out of 15 members in support of the resolution. The US abstained from the vote.
The United Nations Security Council tonight overwhelmingly called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza leading to a full Israeli withdrawal, the unimpeded provision throughout Gaza of food, fuel and medical treatment, and intensified international arrangements to prevent arms and ammunition smuggling.
What can we do for Gaza, you ask. The answer is: work on stopping the Israeli aggression on civilians, call for Israel to respect human rights laws, demonstrate, send emails, today, the UN security council failed to pass a resolution, submitted by Libya the only Arab country in the council now, to ask for immediate halt of the Israeli military operation in Gaza. The project of the low was rejected because the US refused it, send email, demonstrate.
UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the big fancy name means basically that it is a UN department specialized in helping Palestinian refugees (and IDPs).
UNRWA is a reliable and LEGAL way for you to donate to help people in Gaza. Gaza has been under siege for a long time now, that they ran out of fuel, so transportation is very difficult, and now electricity stopped completely too, electricity stations ran out of fuel to run them, meaning that now people are living with no electricity AND not water, water pumping stations need electricity to work, you know.
Also, hospitals ran out of medical supplies because of the siege and because of the enormous amount of wounded people that are coming in, i lost count, last time i checked it was 470 people killed, and 2400 injured. That is enormous pressure on the hospitals, specially that now they have to do with no electricity too, who knows how much the little fuel they have left, if any, can run the hospitals' generators. News reports talk about 30% of all casualties being women and children.
So, I ask you to visit the website of the UNRWA, where you will find this message at once:
Stop the Killing in Gaza
The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen AbuZayd, expressed her horror to the extensive destruction visited upon Gaza Strip today and her deep sadness to the terrible loss in human life. UNRWA, the United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, strongly urges the Israeli Government to heed calls for ceasing its bombardment on Gaza. Israel is a signatory to international conventions that protect non-combatants in times of conflict. These conventions are worthless if they are not upheld. ...more
Donate to UNRWA Special Gaza Appeal تبرعوا لنداء الاستغاثة الخاص بغزة
1. Arab Bank PLC
UNRWA USD Current account100191-4-510
SWIFT Code: ARABPS22600
El-Rimal Branch Omar El-Mukhtar St, Gaza