Together we can make this next voyage happen, not only for the people in Gaza, not only for Palestine, but for the principle that the power of the people can defeat even the most powerful militaries in the world.
Huwaida Arraf, Chair, Free Gaza Movement
On November 7 and 8, The Free Gaza interim board of directors met in London to plan our strategy for 2010 as well as to schedule the next mission to Gaza.
The situation in Gaza is as bad today as it was the day the bombs stopped falling in January. The Gaza Strip is still sealed; homes, businesses, hospitals, schools and mosques still lie in rubble; and fundamental supplies are in severe shortage, as Israel continues to restrict the entry of basic goods such as fuel, medical equipment, oxygen, baby formula, paper, books, and construction material.
We are determined not to let Israel’s violence halt our efforts to break the siege on Gaza, and even more determined to open a sea route so the people of Gaza can import the supplies they need to rebuild their lives.
However, Israel’s use of force to stop our last 3 voyages has made it imperative to revise our strategy. Instead of sending one vessel to Gaza, we are working on a flotilla, or mini fleet with more boats, including at least one cargo ship, more people, more supplies, and more media on the high seas. And around the world, tens of thousands of people engaged in the mission. Our intention is to build a truly international fleet that will reach Gaza, or, if stopped, be politically costly for Israel.
Over the past six months, we have been to various countries meeting with political figures, unions, Palestine solidarity activists, and other groups and NGOs. To make this next mission to Gaza successful we need to continue to:
(1) Raise money to purchase boats
(2) Secure members of parliament and other high profile people to come
(3) Obtain letters of support from governments and/or parliaments
(4) Get resolutions passed in parliaments in support of our efforts
(5) Mobilize various civil society groups for action in their home countries
We have tentative commitments from over a dozen members of parliament from around the world. From MPs who are not able to come with us, we have written and vocal support. We now have Free Gaza branches / coordinators in over 20 countries and are still growing. We have made initial visits to Latin America, India and South Africa and have enthusiastic support in all of these countries.
In addition, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed established a Free Gaza fund and secured the money for us to obtain a cargo ship. On this cargo ship, we will take construction supplies to Gaza. We had wanted to travel in October / November so that at least some people in Gaza could start rebuilding their homes before the cold weather hit. Unfortunately we could not meet this deadline.
We have the funds for one cargo ship, and one passenger vessel. However, we need at least one more passenger vessel plus the operating expenses before we can go. In financial terms, we need about €300,000, or someone to donate a passenger vessel and €100,000 in operating expenses (fuel, port fees, crew wages, etc.)
We thought we could go, if not in October / November, then in early January, to coincide with the planned Viva Palestina convoy and the Gaza Freedom March* both initiatives the Free Gaza Movement supports.
However, it is now end-November, and we are still €300,000 short of the funds, it is not realistic that we can be ready to sail by early January.
The efforts of the Free Gaza Movement are vitally important; we need to end the blockade, not just deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. While many potential funders recognize the significance of our work, for various reasons they have not come through with funding. Most prefer their financial contributions go toward to humanitarian aid for Palestine. But Palestine is not a charity case! There are hundreds of millions being pumped into Palestine by aid agencies that are unable or unwilling to address the political issues, or by donor countries that shirk their political, legal, and moral obligations, by throwing money at Palestine.
This aid is paying for Israel’s occupation by alleviating Israel of the responsibility to care for the people it occupies. We firmly believe that activists and people who care about Palestine should not be raising money for humanitarian aid but should focus on direct action to confront the Israeli policies that leave Palestinians in need of this aid.
If you believe as we do that our efforts are important, please help us raise the remaining funds we need to launch an international flotilla to Gaza by early February 2010. Please:
(1) Make a personal contribution by going to www.freegaza.org and donating through our website at http://www.freegaza.org/en/donate
(2) Contact people you know who might be able to help us and either ask directly for a donation or make an introduction for us to speak
(3) Organize a private fundraiser for Free Gaza and ask for one of our speakers at http://www.freegaza.org/join-in/speaker-bureau
(4) Speak at potential fundraisers that we organize
If you have any other suggestions, please email us at email@example.com
•Note: we will have a Free Gaza delegation at the Gaza Freedom March. If you are considering joining the Gaza Freedom March, please contact Dina at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can connect you to other FG Movement representatives