Gaza Boats: The SS Free Gaza & SS Liberty are on their Way to Gaza!

Gaza Boats: The SS Free Gaza & SS Liberty are on their Way to Gaza!

by Ramzi Kysia

Forty-six international human rights workers are now sailing to Gaza through
international waters with one overriding goal: to break the Israeli siege that
Israel has imposed on the civilian population of Gaza .  Any action designed to
harm civilians constitutes collective punishment (in the Palestinians’ case,
for voting the “wrong” way) and is both illegal under international law and
profoundly immoral.  Our mission is to expose the illegality of Israel ’s
actions, and to break through the siege in order to express our solidarity with
the suffering people of Gaza (and of the occupied Palestinian territory as a
whole) and to create a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside
world.

Israel claims that since the “disengagement” in 2005 it no longer occupies
Gaza .  However, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other
international human rights organizations reject this claim since Israel still
exerts effective control over Gaza .  As an Occupying Power, Israel has a
responsibility for the well-being of the people of Gaza under the provisions of
the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.  Israel has abused its control and
responsibilities by wrongfully obstructing vital supplies and humanitarian
assistance to the people of Gaza . 

As Israel ’s 41-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip defies
international consensus, and because Israel has grossly violated its
obligations, we do not recognize Israel ’s right to stop us outside its own
territorial waters, which we will not be approaching.  To remove any
“security” pretense that Israel may raise, we have had our boats inspected
and certified by Cypriot authorities that they carry no arms or contraband of
any kind.  We have invited Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to join us on
our voyage and, in fact, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has itself
told us the Israeli government “assume[s] that your intentions are good.”

We are human rights activists, invited to visit Gaza by our Palestinian
partners, and each of us has vowed to do no violence, in either word or deed.
If Israel chooses to forcibly stop and search our ships, we will not forcibly
resist.  Such a search will be under duress and with our formal protest.  After
such a search, we fully expect the Israeli navy to stand aside, as we continue
peacefully to Gaza .  If we are arrested and brought to Israel , we will
protest and prosecute our kidnapping in the appropriate forums.  It is our
purpose to show the power that ordinary citizens of the world have when they
organize together to stand against injustice.  Let there be no doubt: the
policies of repression against the civilian population of Gaza represent gross
violations of human rights, international humanitarian law, and constitute war
crimes.  The goal of our voyage is to break the illegal siege on the people of
Gaza, and end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.


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