Free Gaza Movement: A Ship Called Dignity
It rained today in Cyprus, a rain the Cypriots really need. Those of us who were getting ready to send another delegation to Gaza worried the weather would prevent us from leaving. But by 3:30 pm the rain began to stop, the sun came out, late-afternoon rays shining through the flags that draped our new boat, the DIGNITY. We had worked so hard over the past two months to keep the boat safe.
Several times over the past week, people had said that Israel was looking for the FREE GAZA, asking port authorities where it was and when we were going. So today was another triumph for the human spirit.
Twenty-seven passengers and crew were on board, grinning and waving at the media gathered below on the docks. All the hard work and all the frustration were worth it as they crowded around the upper deck of the new boat, posing for photos. JOE FALLISI, a passenger on board and an Italian tenor, sang as the boat pulled out. Once again, the Cypriot authorities escorted the boat out and on its way to Gaza.
Israel says they will stop us and not allow us into Gaza. How cruel to threaten to stop a boat full of non-violent people like MAIREAD MAGUIRE and DR. MUSTAFA BARTHOUTHI. Why would they want to send doctors away from injured children? What are they so afraid of that they would want to shoot instead of talk? Mairead Maguire said it perfectly today,
“If we had continued to fight instead of talk, Northern Ireland still would have no peace.”
This morning, the Free Gaza Movement was informed through the media that the Israeli Navy is threatening to forcibly stop the Dignity from entering Gaza tomorrow morning. Israel has not bothered to inform us of a legitimate reason for preventing us from delivering medical supplies, doctors, lawyers, and prominent human rights advocates to the Gaza Strip. Indeed, Israel has not bothered to communicate with us at all.
We are returning to Gaza for exactly the same reasons we came in August: to deliver medical supplies, meet with civil society organizations, volunteer in hospitals, and visit Palestinians who have requested our presence.
According to Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza spokesperson and law lecturer at al-Quds University in Jerusalem: “The Dignity is carrying 27 unarmed civilians, as well as a ton of urgently needed medical supplies. We will be sailing from Cypriot territorial waters to international waters, directly into
Gaza territorial waters. We do not pose a ‘security threat’ to Israel, we will not be going anywhere near Israeli waters, and therefore, Israel does not have any legal right to violently disrupt our mission.”
The Free Gaza Movement would like to make it clear that we do not wish nor do we seek any confrontation with Israel. We have already invited Israeli Director General of the Foreign Ministry, Aharon Abramovitz, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak to join us on our voyage as long as they remain non-violent. In August, we invited Tzipi Livni to accompany us.
We would like to extend this invitation to any member of the Israel Knesset: “If you are legitimately concerned about our mission, or if you wish to educate yourself on the devastating effects of Israel’s policies of collective punishment against the families of the Gaza Strip, join us in breaking this brutal siege, sail with us to Gaza, and learn first hand what Israeli violence has done to the civilian population of Gaza.”
Mairead Maguire, the winner of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize and one of the passengers aboard the Dignity, stated: “The people of Gaza are part of our human family. The Israeli government cannot cut off Gaza forever. We will come again and again until we reach our family. We go to visit our family, and the Israeli government has no right to stop us.”
The 27 unarmed civilians sailing aboard the Dignity represent 13 different countries. We are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and human rights advocates. We are Christians, Muslims, Jews, and agnostics. It would be ignorant and outrageous for Israel to use violence against us, and we are reminded at this moment of a message from the Qur’an:
“And the servants of God most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, ‘Peace!’”
Free Gaza Movement
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