Tag Archives: Gaza

Gaza's Ark News News

Trivia Night in support of Gaza’s Ark

Help us turn this picture of Gaza's Ark into a reality

Date: 1st November

Time: 7.oopm for a 7.30pm start

Venue: Marrickville, Sydney, NSW

Facebook Event Link: http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/440430162665473/

Free Gaza Australia is hosting an unmissable fundraiser. Bring your friends and colleagues along for anight of progressive trivia (including a bonus Palestine round) in support of Gaza’s Ark > www.gazaark.com

There will be entertainment/live performances and spot prizes

* nibbles provided

* soft/alcoholic drinks will be available for purchase

Tickets in advance: $25 waged/ $10 unwaged/student

Tickets on the door: $30 waged/$15 unwaged/student

Tickets can be purchased by depositing the ticket amount/s and referencing name/s into our:

Bank Account: Commonwealth Bank

Acc. Name: GFF Australia Group

BSB: 062102 Acc. No: 10197185

(insert your name into the reference section and send an email to freegazaaustralia@gmail.com to advise of your payment)

* To assist with logistics if you are organising a team please send us an email advising the names and the number of waged/unwaged tickets you are buying > freegazaaustralia@gmail.com

See you there !

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Gaza's Ark News News

Rachel Corrie’s humanity lives on in Gaza’s Ark

* Article by Michael Coleman, aka one half of the kayaktivists, edited by Greta Berlin and James Godfrey and first published on Green Left Weekly on Thursday, August 30, 2012http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/52095

Rachel Corrie, 2002

Rachel Corrie was born on 10 April 1979, and raised in Olympia, Washington, USA. She was the youngest of Craig and Cindy Corrie’s three children. Cindy describes their family as “average Americans, politically liberal, economically conservative, middle class”. However, even as a young girl, Rachel’s commitment to human rights was clear, when in grade five she stood in front of an auditorium full of adults and talked passionately about her dreams for the future, giving her now famous “I’m here because I care” speech.

After graduating from college at 23, Rachel’s commitment to human rights took her to the Palestinian enclave called Gaza, to a small city called Rafah  – about as far from Olympia as humanly possible. In Palestine, Rachel volunteered with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), bearing witness to Israel’s daily violations of international law against the 1.4 million people who lived there.

Rachel’s main purpose in Rafah was to try and prevent the Israeli Occupation Force [IOF], from demolishing Palestinian houses along the border with Egypt to create a “security” zone. At the time, the Israeli military had demolished 1,700 homes in Rafah, an action human rights groups claimed was collective punishment. On 16 March 2003, Rachel Corrie died trying to protect a Palestinian home from demolition, when she was crushed by an IOF bulldozer.

Rachel Corrie faces down a bulldozer in Gaza

Shortly before her death, Rachel said that “I feel like I’m witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive”. Unfortunately since 2003 the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has only deteriorated, and the collective punishment now targets the entire population of the Strip. All of Gaza’s now 1.6 million residents, the majority of whom are children, have been under an Israeli blockade since 2007 ‘officially‘. However the restrictions on the movement of the population of Gaza began as far back as 1991 – when Gaza was first cut off from Israel and the West Bank. The blockade is clearly an act of collective punishment, something the International Committee of the Red Cross has pointed out, stating that “the whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility.”

The effects of the blockade are well documented. During the past five years when the blockade has been in full effect, the United Nations and the World Health Organisation have reported that the Israeli Military has killed or injured over 10,000 Palestinians residents. 70% of the population is now reliant on aid organisations for their basic human needs such as food, shelter or medical care. 90% of Gaza’s water is now undrinkable; due to a sanitation system that was rendered inoperable by the IOF during Operation Cast Lead. Gaza’s hospitals have faced constant chronic shortages of drugs and equipment for years, while fuel shortages cause power cuts of up to 18 hours a day.

Last Tuesday, the Corrie family’s decade long struggle for justice for Rachel was dealt a blow when the Haifa District Court ruled that her death was an accident, for which she was responsible. Despite the judge’s decision perpetuating the myth that her death was a tragic accident, the case shed light on Israel’s breaches of human rights and the impunity enjoyed by its military.

However people of conscience around the world have not been deterred by Israel’s murder of Rachel Corrie or the many murders that preceded and followed it. In fact as it has becomes blatantly clear that the only route to a free Palestine is through civil society initiatives like the ISM, the Free Gaza movement, the flotillas, flytillas and other global civilian projects, the numbers of people around the world standing in solidarity with the Palestinians, both in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, has only increased.

The latest creative strategy for challenging Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza is Gaza’s Ark. Gaza’s Ark will not only challenge the blockade physically – it will also build hope on the ground in Gaza by providing investment, training and employment. Gaza’s Ark will also promote Palestinian trade with the outside world through the only port on the Mediterranean that is closed to shipping. Indeed, as James Godfrey of Free Gaza Australia stated: “Gaza’s Ark affirms our belief that the Palestinians of Gaza can rebuild their economy through outbound trade that threatens no-one’s security.”

The legacy and spirit of Rachel’s humanity lives on in projects like Gaza’s Ark and always remember as Cindy Corrie stated following the verdict: “I don’t think that Rachel should have moved. I think we should all have been standing there with her”. The Corrie’s are a truly inspirational family who have both my condolences and gratitude.

Corrie Family awaiting the verdict
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Gaza's Ark News

One year after Greece stopped Freedom Flotilla: The struggle to end Gaza blockade continues


One year after the Greek government bowed to pressure and enforced he outsourced Israeli blockade of Gaza, the international movement to challenge the blockade is still very much afloat: we may change our tactics, but not our objectives. Our new campaign to challenge the blockade from the inside out emphasizes the fundamental importance of freedom of movement for Palestinians.

On July 4, 2011 the Canadian boat Tahrir left the port of Aghios Nikolaos (in Crete, Greece) bound for Gaza. After days of waiting for official clearance in the face of increasing bureaucratic and political obstacles, we decided to defy a Greek government ban on Freedom Flotilla departures and simply cast off. There were more than 40 people on board the Tahrir: a wide range of delegates from Australia, Belgium, Denmark and Canada as well as journalists from various countries. Our Greek captain and crew had been replaced for the occasion by volunteers — we were lucky to have among us delegates with professional maritime experience, from engineer to ship’s officers.

We didn’t make it more than eight nautical miles out before the Greek coastguard commandos boarded the Tahrir and took control of the vessel. We were towed back to port where a three people from our group had been arrested (they were subsequently tried and given suspended sentences). The Greeks used minimal force in stopping the Tahrir. They did not interfere with communications nor with media reporting – cameras and live phone interviews were rolling throughout the whole process. Some of the coastguard commandos in fact said they were embarrassed by what they saw as their government’s betrayal of Greece’s traditional Mid-East position.

By accepting to play the role of unenthusiastic enforcers for Israel’s outsourced blockade of Gaza, then-Prime Minister Papandreou was indeed betraying his father Andreas’ historical support for Palestinian liberation. All the pandering to powerful international forces could not of course save the younger Papandreou’s job as PM from the pressures of the austerity agenda, and it remains to be seen whether present or future Greek governments will return to a more independent foreign policy. Meanwhile, we remain more buoyant about our internationalanti-blockade movement than about the Greek political situation.

When the Tahrir sailed again in November, this time from Turkey and with a much reduced delegation (just 12 people on board), we got much further before being captured by the Israeli navy in international waters just 45 nautical miles from Gaza. In stark contract to the Greeks, the Israeli navy began by blocking all communications and throughout did everything possible to prevent journalists on board from doing their work by reporting. By stealing media professionals’ recording equipment, the Israelis showed once again they know their actions are illegal and indefensible.

Despite recognizing that there were no arms or munitions of any kind on the Tahrir and that they would be met with only non-violent resistance, the heavily armed commandos boarded us with overwhelming military force, an act of state-sponsored piracy.

The Tahrir and the Saoirse are still illegally impounded in Israel, along with at least five other boats from different countries which have challenged the blockade since 2009 (after the six successful voyages to Gaza in 2008). We have filed a legal request for the release of our boat and its content but we know the Tahrir faces more delays before we can deliver this gift from Canadian civil society to the Palestinians of Gaza. The U.S. boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope has been impounded since last year by the Greek authorities, along with three other vessels.

A few Greek and Turkish boats from the 2010 Freedom Flotilla were finally returned, heavily damaged, from Israeli captivity, and the French campaign Un Bateau français pour Gaza, has filed legally against Israeli authorities for piracy, kidnapping and theft following the illegal capture of their boat Dignité Al-Karama last July. Meanwhile the commercial sailing ship Estelle is making its way from Scandinavia through the ports of Europe to the Mediterranean in order to challenge the blockade. So our international civil society movement against the blockade of Gaza remains very much afloat. Launched in May 2012, Gaza’s Ark is a new campaign in cooperation with organizations and individuals in Palestine, Canada, Australia and the U.S. which aims to build hope on the ground in Gaza in order to sail from Palestine against the blockade. It is not an “aid” project but rather an affirmation of the ability of the Palestinians of Gaza to rebuild their productive export economy, once they regain their freedom of movement. We are funding a boat to be sailed out of Gaza (the only Mediterranean port closed to shipping) by internationals and Palestinians to transport Palestinian products to complete trade deals with international buyers.

Importantly, outbound export trade from Palestine cannot be portrayed as threatening anyone’s security. But it does affirm a very basic human right systematically denied to Palestinians by the Israeli occupation: the freedom of movement within as well as in and out of their country. It also supports the Palestinian fishery’s right to operate in Palestinian territorial waters off Gaza for their livelihood, also threatened daily by the same blockade we are challenging.

Five independent human rights experts reporting to the U.N. Human Rights Council reiterated in September 2011 that the blockade of Gaza is illegal under international law. Until the governments of the world take up their responsibilities towards Palestinian civilians and demand that Israel comply with international law, civil society movements like ours maintain our sights steadily fixed on freedom of movement for all Palestinians. Our tactics may change but our course remains the conscience of humanity.

Linguistics professor David Heap and IT engineer & poet Ehab Lotayef are steering committee members with the Canadian Boat for Gaza and Gaza’s Ark. They were on the Tahrir when it was attacked and seized last November and spent six days in Israeli prison before being deported back to Canada.

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Gaza News

50 aid groups demand end to Gaza blockade

As the inhumane blockade of Gaza enters it’s sixth year it’s not enough for 50 Aid organisation to demand an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of Gaza, as they have done below. It is high time we demand similar calls from our elected officials – contact Julia Gillard and Bob Carr and express you disgust at their inaction over the illegal blockade > FGA – this article was first published on Ma’an News on the 14/06/2012.

Fifty international charities and UN agencies called Thursday on Israel to lift its years-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Marking the fifth anniversary of the siege, the organizations — among them Amnesty International, Médecins du Monde, Oxfam, and Save the Children — joined agencies like the World Health Organization, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights  UNICEF and four other UN agencies in urging Israel to lift the siege “now.”
“For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been under blockade in violation of international law. More than half of these people are children. We the undersigned say with one voice: ‘end the blockade now,'” the petition said.
Israel imposed restrictions on trade to Gaza in 2001 following the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising and tightened them further in 2007 after Hamas took over in the coastal enclave adjacent to Egypt, which also enforces a blockade.

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Flotilla News

Lee Rhiannon: Call for govt action on Australian detained in Israel

7 November 2011

Call for govt action on Australian detained in Israel

Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon has called on the Israeli government to immediately release Michael Coleman, an Australian member of the Freedom Waves to Gaza Flotilla, who has been arrested by the Israeli Defence Force.

“I have also asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to work hard to ensure Mr Coleman is safe and is released without delay,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“It is the Israeli Defence Forces that have acted illegally as the boat Mr Coleman and other Freedom Waves participants were on was in international waters when intercepted.

“University of Western Ontario Professor David Heap has reported that he and Mr Coleman were transported to prison in handcuffs and leg shackles. I understand Professor Heap was tasered.

“I know Mr Coleman and congratulate him for his work in highlighting the destructive Israeli blockade of Gaza.

“I have spoken to Mr Coleman’s father who told me he is pleased with the contact he has had with DFAT but does request that every effort is made to have his son released immediately as he has done nothing wrong.

“Mr Coleman and his colleagues are to be commended for their efforts to deliver $30,000 worth of medical aid to Gaza,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“The United Nations Human Rights Council Inquiry Report of September 2010 found that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal. It is time to end it once and for all,” Senator Rhiannon said.

Contact: 0487 350 880 // lee-rhiannon.greensmps.org.au/

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Flotilla News

VIDEO: Australian delegate on why he’s so determined to try and go to Gaza for a third time

Our delegate Michael is a long-time campaigner for justice and freedom for Palestine, in this video he explains why he is so determined to get to Gaza.

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Flotilla News

Audio update from Australian delegate Michael Coleman

Australian delegate on board the Tahrir for Freedom Waves to Gaza, Michael Coleman, filed this audio update with the Institute for Middle East Understanding earlier today (or Thursday night Tahrir middle-of-the-Medditerraean time).

Listen to what he had to say:

9:48pm EDT: Australian passenger Michael Coleman updates us from #FreedomWaves flotilla (mp3)

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Flotilla News

Locals and internationals wait to greet Freedom Waves boats at Gaza seaport

International Solidarity Movement: New Flotilla Scheduled to Arrive in Gaza Friday, Nov.


Press Conference Scheduled to Welcome Boats at Gaza Seaport 9:30 a.m.

[Gaza]  Local fishermen, Palestinian youth, civil society, and international supporters will be awaiting the arrival of Freedom Waves to Gaza which is currently approaching the blockaded strip.  The press conference is being hosted by the Palestinian Fishing and Marine Sport Association (PFMSA), and will be held in Gaza’s fishing port on Friday, 4 November at 9:30 a.m.

“Tomorrow we are gathering in the port to welcome the passengers on the flotilla who are coming here in solidarity with the people of Gaza, said Mahfouz El Kabariti, President of PFMSA.  “We hope that they reach Palestine safely and we call on everyone in Gaza to join us at the port to reciprocate the solidarity that they are showing to us.”

Following the press conference, attendees and media are invited to board fishing boats and sail out of the harbor to welcome the flotilla to Gaza.

For the latest updates follow WitnessGaza.com and #FreedomWaves on Twitter.

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CALL TO ACTION: We need your financial support now more than ever!

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Earlier this year we were keen to get involved in the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human initiative. We did not have the capacity to organise a boat on our own so sought and found an international partner – the Canadian Boat to Gaza group. We contributed funds to a shared ownership of the boat (Tahrir) and our ongoing fund-raising is dedicated to that purpose.

The recent appeal by a wide range of Palestinian organisations in Gaza for boats to come to break the blockade has confirmed the continuing importance of the flotilla strategy. Now we are on board the Tahrir again for Freedom Waves to Gaza. We need to raise money to repay a loan that we secured which enabled us to continue our partnership in the Tahrir on this mission, as well as building a kitty to assist with publicity and logistics.

We need your financial support at this critical point and we hope that as supporters of this campaign you will be able to assist in funding this phase of the Flotilla.

Can you donate to the Free Gaza Australia and support the Australian delegation?

We here at Free Gaza Australia are all so proud of our Australian delegate Michael Coleman who is right now on board the Tahrir bound for Gaza! We made a commitment to Palestinians and civil society activists that we would uphold a promise to continue to challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza. As such we’ve sent along Michael Coleman to take part in the current Freedom Waves to Gaza initiative. It’s an exciting mission, but a dangerous one. Already the Israeli military have said they are prepared to stop the boat Michael is on using any means necessary.

Please support Michael on board the Tahrir.

As a long-term committed Palestinian solidarity activist, for years Michael has been committed to justice and freedom for the people of Palestine. He has spent tireless hours working with local groups and non-profits in Sydney on solidarity advocacy. He has done voluntary work in Nablus in the West Bank of Palestine for Project Hope, teaching English and music production, and is working on establishing a non-profit incorporated association called ‘Music for the Dark Corners’ to support strategies to challenge the occupation and show solidarity with the Palestinian people. We reckon he’s a pretty solid advocate for our shared vision of a free Palestine!

If you agree, we’d be so grateful for your support at this time.

Earlier this year he took part in the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human with three other Australian delegates.

At crunch time, along with another peace activist Michael bravely paddled a kayak around the Greek board where the Tahrir was docked, in an effort to help the Tahrir leave port and head toward Gaza. The Tahrir didn’t quite make it but Michael’s resolve to challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel was only strengthened.

Your financial support will further strengthen this campaign.

The Freedom Waves to Gaza initiative has two boats headed toward Gaza, and Michael is proud to be on board for such an important peaceful civilian-to-civilian initiative to challenge Israel’s ongoing military seige of Gaza. The Freedom Waves flotilla has already attracted media coverage from all over the world, including from Democracy Now and Al Jazeera. We are helping shine a light on how Israel is dishing out collective punishment to 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza!

This is an important awareness raising initiative and you can help support our Australian delegate. Any financial contribution is so appreciated and is vital in helping put crucial pressure on Israel to free Gaza.

Your financial donation makes this exciting Palestinian solidarity campaign possible!

Bank: Commonwealth Bank
Acc Name: GFF Australia Group
BSB: 062102
Acc No: 10197185

Please do let us know if you are able to donate so that we can recognise your important contribution.

Thank you for your support,

Free Gaza Australia

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Flotilla News

Request for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to support Australian delegate and condemn Israel’s threats

We emailed this letter to Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on Thursday 3 November:

Dear Mr Rudd

We are writing to ask that you to make direct and immediate representation to Israeli authorities on behalf of the Australian government supporting Australian citizen and Sydney-based youth worker, Michael Coleman who is currently on board the the vessel Tahrir in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Tahrir is headed toward Gaza as part of the Freedom Waves to Gaza flotilla initiative which seeks to challenge the blockade of Gaza and highlight the plight of the Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in the region. There are 12 people in total travelling on the Tahrir. Also part of the Freedom Waves to Gaza initiative is a second boat, the MV Saoirse.

We also call on you as Foreign Minister to denounce Israel for its intention to “take any necessary action” to prevent the Tahrir and Saoirse from reaching their intended destination. The participants of this flotilla are unarmed peaceful activists and journalists.

We ask that you urge the Israeli government and military to desist from intervening, boarding or towing the boats to Israel, or redirecting the boats to any other location away from Gaza. We ask that you insist Israel does not board the vessels and does not use force or violence against any of the unarmed peaceful activists or journalists on board these vessels, and that they not be detained or interrogated by Israeli authorities.

We note that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has indicated it will provide consular support to our Australian delegate if necessary.

DFAT has however noted that it “strongly advises against travelling by sea to the coast of the Gaza Strip”.

Noting Australia’s recent decision at the United Nations to vote against admission of Palestine to UNESCO, we ask that the Australian Government use this opportunity to take a stand on the key issue of justice for Palestinians. We call on the Australian Government to condemn Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade of Gaza and the consequent collective punishment of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in the region.

We appreciate your consideration and anticipate your prompt response to our concerns.

You can get in contact with Kevin Rudd too:
Email: kevin.rudd@dfat.gov.au
Phone: (02) 6277 7500
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/KRuddMP

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