04 January 2009|
2008: Sixty Years On
May 2008 marks the 60-year anniversary of the Nakba, "the catastrophe", when the overwhelming majority of Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their ancestral homeland to create the state of Israel. In contravention of International law, human rights, and basic principles of morality, Israel continues to deny these refugees and their descendants their right to return home. Israel has neither acknowledged nor attempted to amend this historic injustice that gave birth to the Jewish state. Instead, more than 5 million Palestinian refugees languish in refugee camps, while their homes, farms, and properties are inhabited by Jewish immigrants who arrived in Palestine from around the globe.
The historic illegal appropriation of Palestinian land, home and heritage is at the heart of the Middle East conflict. It has given rise to the largest ongoing refugee population in the world. It paved the way for subsequent land theft in 1967, and the ongoing ethnic cleansing that has squeezed Palestinians in the West Bank into ghettos and bantustans surrounded by 27-foot walls, sniper towers, and military guards. It has created the open-air prison of Gaza with an impoverished and overcrowded population of 1.4 million inhabitants.
This tragic event has dispossessed and disinherited Palestinians all over the world; and a destitute population of refugees with only their memories of Palestine, crumbling property deeds, and an undaunted will to return.
We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise.
Who are we?
We are these human rights observers, aid workers, and journalists. We have years of experience volunteering in Gaza and the West Bank at the invitation of Palestinians. But now, because of the increasing stranglehold of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine, many of us find it almost impossible to enter Gaza, and an increasing number have been refused entry to Israel and the West Bank as well. Despite the great need for our work, the Israeli Government will not allow us in to do it.
We are of all ages and backgrounds. Back home, we are teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, truck drivers, youth workers, musicians, secretaries, parents, grandparents, lawyers, students, activists, actors, playwrights, politicians, web designers, authors, international training consultants, and we even include a former Hollywood film industry worker, a former Marine, an aviator, and an explorer. We are Italian, Irish, Canadian, Greek, Tunisian, German, Australian, American, English, Scottish, Danish, Israeli, and Palestinian.
What are we doing?
On August 23, 2008, we broke the siege of Gaza by sea for the first time and on October 29 for the second time. We want to repeat the action and establish a permanent sea lane between Cyprus and Gaza.
Points of Unity
All participants in the Free Gaza Movement accept the following principles and practices:
1. We respect the human rights of everyone, regardless of race, tribe, religion, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship or language.
2. The lawful inhabitants of all territories occupied by Israel since June 5, 1967 must have unimpeded access to international waters and air space, in conformity with all UN resolutions and international law.
3. The lawful inhabitants of all territories occupied by Israel since June 5, 1967 have the right to control all entry and exit to and from those territories without Israeli interference.
4. Israel must withdraw its military presence from all territories occupied since June 5, 1967 and revoke all legislation, regulations, directives and practices that apply differently to different populations living in those territories.
5. Israel must demolish all barriers built to restrict passage in all territories occupied by Israel since June 5, 1967.
6. We recognize the right of all Palestinian refugees and exiles and their heirs to return to their homes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories; to recover their properties, and to receive compensation for damage, dispossession and unlawful use of such property. This is an individual and not a collective right, and cannot be negotiated except by the individual.
7. We agree to adhere to the principles of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance in word and deed at all times.
------------------------------------------FREE GAZA IN THE MEDIA (ENGLISH)
(Update 13.12.2008) The following list is a collection of English media responses to the Free Gaza Movement's boat trips from Cyprus to Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement is not responsible for the content of external websites.
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