Gaza’s Ark – Building Hope
Free Gaza Australia in cooperation, with international partners in Palestine, Canada, the US and Europe, is participating in a new initiative to challenge the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza, Gaza’s Ark.
Gaza’s Ark is building a boat in Gaza, using existing resources. Once completed it will be sailed out of Gaza with a crew of Palestinians and internationals aboard, carrying Palestinian products to fulfill trade deals with international buyers.
Gaza’s Ark is being constructed in Gaza by Palestinian hands and expertise, with international assistance.
Gaza’s Ark is helping revitalise the dwindling ship building industry in Gaza and helping ensure the transmission of this disappearing expertise to the younger generations.
Through Gaza’s Ark trade deals will be secured between Palestinian producers and international businesses and NGOs.
Gaza’s Ark will also provide training to Gaza’s sailors in the use of up-to-date electronic sailing equipment and techniques which they have been denied for years as a result of the blockade.
Although it will help in a very limited manner to alleviate Gaza’s unemployment crisis by paying wages to the boat builders and providing business opportunities to traders, Gaza’s Ark is not an aid project. It is a peaceful action against the blockade which Israel unilaterally and unreasonably imposes on Gaza.
Gaza’s Ark also stands in solidarity with Palestinians seeking to derive a livelihood from fishing in Gaza, whose ability to operate in territorial waters is threatened by the same Israeli blockade which our campaign is challenging.
Gaza’s Ark challenges the blockade by building hope on the ground in Gaza, and affirms our confidence that the Palestinians of Gaza can rebuild their economy through outbound trade that threatens no-one’s security.
Michael Coleman from Sydney returned from Gaza in July 2013 following four months working with the project in Palestine. Here is his report:
I have just returned to Australia after four months in the Gaza Strip working on the Gaza’s Ark Project (www.gazaark.org). During this time, I saw for myself and experienced some of the daily hardships that Palestinian people suffer, including salty and unclean water and a sea where you cannot safely swim due to pollution caused by the sewerage systems that are destroyed by the Israeli military. I sailed out with fishers and visited farmers who are harassed constantly by the Israeli Occupation Forces and saw for myself the conditions in which they struggle to maintain their livelihoods. I participated in the purchase of a 24 metre long fishing boat and the public launch of the Project in Gaza. I also met with potential suppliers of goods and produce, which we are now selling and which will be transported on Gaza’s Ark. I helped establish a local youth committee to support Gaza’s Ark and met with many organisations and individuals who have agreed to endorse Gaza’s Ark. For more details of my solidarity activities in Gaza, visit: http://occupiedterritories.wordpress.com/.
My time in Gaza increased my belief in the importance of the project. The high rate of unemployment in Gaza is a direct effect of Israel’s illegal blockade and no amount of aid will change the despair of those currently unemployed. By attempting to establish a trade route between Gaza and the rest of the world, Gaza’s Ark provides a ray of hope to the Palestinians of Gaza for an economy independent of their occupying power. This is a vital step towards self-determination, a step the Oslo process of the 1990s – which was supposed to lead to a final peace in the region – has failed to deliver.
However Gaza’s Ark to me, and the Palestinians of Gaza, is much more than a trade mission. It is an act of solidarity which raises awareness of the situation the residents of Gaza currently face. Whilst the people of Gaza have a lack of export opportunities – just 2% of pre-blockade levels – the living conditions of the vast majority of the population are summed up by the UNRWA in its recent comprehensive report on the Palestinian enclave, which concluded that: “Gaza will no longer be ‘liveable’ by 2020 unless urgent action is taken to improve water supply, power, health and schooling”.
With governments around the world ignoring Israel’s regular violations of international law, I feel it is important to show the Palestinian people through direct actions, that our governments do not speak for us on the issue of their human rights. History has shown us that on issues of social justice, people lead and governments follow. To get the people to lead, though, they need to know the facts and not the myths.
Gaza’s Ark can only continue and progress with your support. You can help fund the refurbishment process, or you can purchase Palestinian products that will be exported aboard the Ark. And let’s be honest, how often in this modern world do you get a chance to purchase a share in hope!
If you are as excited about Gaza’s Ark as we are, you can help in several ways:
1. Give of your time/skills – contact us to discuss how you would like to be involved: Publicity/Outreach, Fundraising, Media, Social Media, Website Development or Planning.
2. Give your financial support:
Bank: Commonwealth Bank
Acc Name: GFF Australia Group
BSB: 062102 Acc No: 10197185
* Please insert your name into the reference section and send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to advise of your donation so we may directly thank you.
Or you can even post us a cheque or Postal Order made out to GFF Australia and post it to PO Box 542, Leichhardt, NSW 2040