Dignitaries on The SS Dignity Sailing to Gaza
On Friday, November 7, the SS DIGNITY leaves at 5:00 pm from Larnaca to Gaza. This time, thirteen members of the European Parliament from the England, Ireland, Italy, Turkey, Wales, Switzerland, and Scotland are on board.
After two successful voyages, one in August and one last week, members of the Free Gaza Movement are pleased to bring yet another delegation to Gaza to see for themselves the devastation Israel has meted out to 1.5 million Palestinians.
“Our dream two years ago was to bring people to Gaza to witness what Israel is doing. This time, we are honored to have Parliamentarians from the world community coming with us,” said Mary Hughes Thompson, one of the original Free Gaza Movement organizers.
The Free Gaza Movement and the European Campaign to End the Siege have organized this voyage because Egypt refused 53 international Parliamentarians who were holding a conference in Gaza from November 8 – 11 from entering. Now, several of them are going to meet with their counterparts and assess the humanitarian situation there.
“Egypt did not allow us to enter Gaza via the Rafah terminal, but this will not stop us from visiting the area,” Lord Nazir Ahmad, head of the European delegates stated, “We will sail to Gaza, we are determined to break the siege.”
Ms Clare Short UK MP emphasized, “The Egyptian refusal to grant us access through Rafah Crossing is insulting to all of us, and Egypt should open the crossing now.”
The parliamentarians will visit hospitals and deliver a ton of medical supplies brought over by the DIGNITY. Hopefully they will be able to meet with many of the 700 students who have been denied the right to leave Gaza and study at universities that have already admitted them.
Dr. Arafat Shoukri of the European Campaign to End the Siege added, “We intend to deliver the medical supplies to the most vulnerable of the stricken population in the territory”.
“This journey will send a strong message to the world and is a direct challenge to the Israeli siege on Gaza. We hope this trip of Parliamentarians will be one of many to follow,” said Osama Qashoo, another Free Gaza Movement organizer.
On the past two trips, Israel has threatened to stop the DIGNITY, arrest its passengers and tow the boat to Israel. The government has been silent on its plans this time, perhaps out of respect for the dignitaries on the voyage. Members of the two organizations stress that the DIGNITY has no intention of going anywhere near Israeli waters but will enter Gaza through its own coastal waters.
The port authorities have asked the media to come between 3:30 and 5:00 pm Friday at Larnaca Port to see the boat leave and to conduct interviews.
The passenger list is posted on the Free Gaza website, http://www.freegaza.org