SS Dignity Arrives in Gaza
Larnaca: The DIGNITY pulled into Gaza at 9:15 a.m. Gaza time after an uneventful trip from Cyprus. The 23 passengers and crew on board were tired but ecstatic that they’d arrived. The 11 members of various European parliaments, originally denied entrance through the Rafah border, had made the crossing by sea, courtesy of the Free Gaza Movement’s blockade-busting boat, the third trip for this human rights organization.
“I am here to assess the humanitarian situation in Gaza, especially the medical situation. We have medicine and some medical equipment to deliver,” said Baroness Jenny Tonge, one of the parliamentarians. “What Israel does is outrageous when it breaks all international laws. No other country is able to get away with what Israel does.”
In addition to delivering medical equipment and supplies, the DIGNITY carried mail from friends and family around the world addressed to Gaza residents. This is the first time in years that mail has reached Palestine without passing through Israeli hands.
Israeli journalist Amira Hass, author of “Drinking the Sea at Gaza,” was also on board. Watching passengers disembark, we could see the joy on her face as she came back to Gaza, to undertake her duties as a journalist, having been denied entrance for two years.
Just before arriving in the waters of Gaza, an Israeli naval gunboat approached, cutting across the bow of the boat, then falling back and tracking it for about an hour. Finally, the gunboat radioed the DIGNITY and asked who they were and where they were going. After Huwaida Arraf responded, the gunboat asked for the passenger list. “Our passengers are listed on our Free Gaza website for everyone to see,” replied Ms. Arraf, “You’re welcome to visit it any time. And… while you’re there, feel free to make a donation.” After a pause, then a laugh, the voice on the other end said, “Have a nice day” and left the DIGNITY to glide into the port of Gaza to cheering crowds and a packed agenda for the Parliamentarians.
The passenger list (see below) and biographies are posted at http://www.freegaza.org Thos.e present at the press conference on Monday at 2.00 p.m. at Ramattan Studios in Gaza will include:
Lord Nazir Ahmed, (Pakistan/UK),
Christopher Andrews, (Ireland),
Huwaida Arraf, (US),
Eva Bartlett, (Canada),
Nikolas Bolos, (Ireland),
Sami Moheildin Mohamed Elhag (Sudan),
Derek Graham (Ireland),
Amira Hass (Israel)
Denis Healey, (UK),
Pauline McNeill (Scotland),
Fernando Morena (Spain),
Mohamed Nacer, (UK),
Hugh O’Donnell, (Scotland, UK),
Aengus ÓSnodaigh, (Ireland),
Fernando Rossi, (Italy),
David Schermerhorn, (USA),
Rob Sharp, (UK) (The Independent),
Clare Short, (UK),
Dr. Arafat Shoukri, (Palestine, UK),
Rhodri Glyn Thomas, (Wales, UK),
(Baroness) Dr. Jenny Tonge, (UK),
Sandra White, (Scotland, UK),
Josef Zisyadis, (Switzerland)