"Spirit of Humanity" Leaves for Gaza

The Newsletter of the Free Gaza Movement 2/2009, Jan. 12

The ongoing Israeli massacre severely and massively violates international humanitarian law defined by the Geneva Conventions, especially the obligations of an Occupying Power and the requirements of the laws of war. Barak, Olmert, Livni, Ashkenazi & co. are committing war crimes and thus have to be tried in Den Haag. What good are civil laws when some countries decide to prefer the law of the jungle? See an analysis by "The Real News Network" featuring Phyllis Bennis, a Senior Analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC: http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=3064 (8:57). According to Maan, 85% of the killed are civilians, see article below. Enough of the double-standard for Arabs and Muslims! Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have injured thousands of civilians and killed over 800 people, including scores of women and children. - This week's press photo shows the new Free Gaza Movement boat "Spirit of Humanity" which will leave on Monday, heading for Gaza (download at http://www.freegaza.org/uploads/media/02_2009.jpg - 1600 x 1200 pixel, 72 dpi). Also in this issue: the official notification that we intend to enter Gaza, 540 Israeli citizens protest against their government, a Free Gaza poster for download, the lyrics of Michael Heart's new song "We Will not Go Down", and the quote of the week.


"SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, the new Free Gaza Boat", copyright: The Free Gaza Movement

"We are Coming in on Tuesday"
The Free Gaza Movement ship, "Spirit of Humanity", will leave Larnaca Port at 12:00 noon, Monday, 12 January, on an emergency mission to besieged Gaza. The media is invited to the Larnaca Port at 10:00am for final preparations and a press conference before departure. The ship will carry desperately needed doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and members of several European parliaments as well as medical supplies. This voyage marks Free Gaza's second attempt to break through the blockade since Israel began attacking the Gaza Strip on 27 December. Between August and December 2008, the Free Gaza Movement successfully challenged the Israeli blockade five times, landing the first international ships in the port of Gaza since 1967. The Israeli military violently attacked an earlier attempt by the Free Gaza Movement to send an emergency boat filled with doctors and medical supplies to Gaza. In the early hours of Tuesday, 30 December, the Israeli navy deliberately, repeatedly, and without warning rammed the unarmed ship, the "Dignity", causing significant structural damage and endangering the lives of its passengers and crew. The ship found safe harbor in Lebanon, and is currently awaiting repairs. - Contact: http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/666-free-gaza-to-israel-qwe-are-coming-in-on-tuesdayq  

Official Notification of Intent to Enter
To the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Navy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: This letter serves as a formal notification to you as the Occupying Power and belligerent force in the Gaza Strip that on Monday, January 12 we are navigating the motor vessel, "Spirit of Humanity", from the Port of Larnaca to the port of Gaza City. Our vessel will be flying the Greek flag, and, as such, falls under the jurisdiction Greece. We will be sailing from Cypriot waters into international waters, then directly into the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip without entering or nearing Israeli territorial waters. We expect to arrive at the Gaza Port on Tuesday, January 13, 2009. We will be carrying urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca. There will be a total of 30 passengers and crew on board, among them members of various European Parliaments and several physicians. Our boat and cargo will also have received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we depart. As it will be confirmed that neither we, the cargo, any of the boat's contents, nor the boat itself constitute any threat to the security of Israel or its armed forces, we do not expect any interference with our voyage by Israel's authorities. On Tuesday, December 30, an Israeli Navy vessel violently, and without warning, attacked our motor vessel Dignity, disabling the vessel and endangering the lives of the 16 civilians on board. This notice serves as clear notification to you of our approach. Any attack on the motor vessel, Spirit of Humanity, will be premeditated and any harm inflicted on the 30 civilians on board will be considered the result of a deliberate attack on unarmed civilians. - As a document at http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/666-free-gaza-to-israel-qwe-are-coming-in-on-tuesdayq  

Civilian Casualties Rise to 85% of the Dead in Gaza
One of the staff of the Mezan Center for Human Rights (http://www.mezan.org) reported that Israel has begun a new policy in Gaza called the "roof knock". This is when a "small" rocket is fired from an Israeli military aircraft that is strong enough to blast open the roof of a targeted building. It is sent as a "warning message" to the building's inhabitants giving them between 2 and 3 minutes to evacuate before the building is completely destroyed. A number of cases of this new technique have been reported recently. Secondly, while the UN continues to claim that "only" 25% of the casualties from the attacks on Gaza are civilian, the Mezan Center for Human Rights (known for the care it takes not to overstate the numbers and for its strict verification policies) estimates that the number of civilian casualties is approximately 85%. In particular, the number of children has increased to over 200, and the number of women has surpassed 75. One reason for the lower civilian casualty figures used by the UN has to do with the reluctance to consider men -other than the elderly and sick- as non-combatants. In fact, the overwhelming majority of men killed in "Operation Cast Lead" up to now have been non-combatants, including fathers, teachers, shopkeepers, construction workers, laborers, students, as well as the civil policemen. The vast majority are not "Hamas militants." Note that the civil police are considered "non-combatants" under international law and are therefore not "legitimate" targets in any military confrontation any more than traffic cops or firemen. Thirdly, the UN announced that "almost everyone in the Gaza Strip" is now in need of humanitarian aid. Indeed, even those with adequate food supplies are unable to obtain bread anywhere and they are handing out what they have to people in "shelters" which have been targeted consistently by Israeli war machines in the past. Many are using rice or spaghetti to substitute for carbohydrates -- when these are availabe and when there is water and electricity to allow for cooking these items. Forthly, there are widespread reports now of forced evacuations of entire neighborhoods of people who go mainly to nearby schools or other public buildings not yet destroyed. These are considered no more secure than their homes but remain the only other places to go (other than to move into crowded dwellings with relatives; or places no more secure than their own homes). The congregation of so many people in these enclosed spaces increases the likelihood of major civilian casualties when airstrikes target the area.

A Call from Within - Signed by Israeli Citizens
Israel has returned to openly committing war crimes, worse than what we have seen in a long time. Israeli media do not expose their viewers to the horrors and to the voices of severe criticism of these crimes. The story told is uniform. Israeli dissidents are denounced as traitors. Public opinion including that of the Zionist left supports the Israeli policy uncritically and without reservation. Israel's destructive criminal policy will not cease without a massive intervention by the international community. The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves: its trade relations are flourishing, academic and cultural cooperation continue and intensify with diplomatic support. This international backing must stop. That is the only way to stop the insatiable Israeli violence. We are calling on the world to stop Israeli violence and not allow the continuation of the brutal occupation. We call on the world to condemn and not become an accomplice in Israel's crimes. In light of the above, we call on the world to implement the call by Palestinian human rights organizations which urges: "The UN Security Council to call an emergency session and adopt concrete measures, including the imposition of sanctions, in order to ensure Israel's fulfillment of its obligations under international humanitarian law; The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation under common Article 1 to ensure respect for the provisions of the Conventions, taking appropriate measures to compel Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular placing pivotal importance on the respect and protection of civilians from the effects of the hostilities; The High Contracting Parties to fulfil their legal obligation under Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to prosecute those responsible for grave breaches of the Convention; EU institutions and member states to make effective use of the European Union Guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (2005/C 327/04) to ensure Israel complies with international humanitarian law under paragraph 16 (b), (c) and (d) of these guidelines, including the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions, as well as cessation of all upgrade dialogue with Israel." - Read the whole letter signed by 540 Israeli citizens: http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/658-a-call-from-within-signed-by-israeli-citizens  

Free Gaza Poster for Download
A new Free Gaza poster was created by ~Delt4, a graphic designer from Australia. The solidarity poster reads: "Free Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison" and shows two wrinkled hands and arms rising up in front of a wall. On the bottom is an excerpt of the Free Gaza mission statement and the website. See http://Delt4.deviantart.com/art/Free-Gaza-Part-2-108697583. You can download it in high resolution and print it for events, for example. ~Delt4 writes: "I was inspired by the Amnesty International 'Free Speech' posters. Guerilla adverting in general is cool. If you're feeling bored/ambitious/have a lot of duct tape lying around, here's what you can do: print off the poster, find some duct tape and a camera, find a telephone pole, duct tape the poster to the telephone pole - make sure that the duct tape goes around the wrists so that it actually makes sense. Take a photo." He gives an example of how this can look like: http://Delt4.deviantart.com/art/Free-Gaza-Guerilla-Advertising-108698084 . NB: Wikipedia says: Guerrilla marketing is an unconventional system of promotions, running on a very low budget, by relying on time, energy and imagination instead of big marketing budgets.

We Will not Go Down (3:11)
http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfhoU66s4Y - Composed and performed by Michael Heart (http://www.michaelheart.com): A blinding flash of white light / Lit up the sky over Gaza tonight / People running for cover / Not knowing whether they're dead or alive // They came with their tanks and their planes / With ravaging fiery flames / And nothing remains / Just a voice rising up in the smoky haze // We will not go down / In the night, without a fight / You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools / But our spirit will never die / We will not go down / In Gaza tonight // Women and children alike / Murdered and massacred night after night / While the so-called leaders of countries afar / Debated on who's wrong or right // But their powerless words were in vain / And the bombs fell down like acid rain / But through the tears and the blood and the pain / You can still hear that voice through the smoky haze // We will not go down / In the night, without a fight / You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools / But our spirit will never die / We will not go down / In Gaza tonight // We will not go down / In the night, without a fight / You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools / But our spirit will never die // We will not go down / In the night, without a fight // We will not go down / In Gaza tonight

Quote of the Week
"We cannot just sit by and wait for Israel to decide to stop the killing and open the borders for relief workers to pick up the pieces. We are coming in. There is an urgent need for this mission as Palestinian civilians in Gaza are being terrorized and slaughtered by Israel, and access to humanitarian relief denied to them. When states and the international bodies responsible for taking action to stop such atrocities chose to be impotent, then we--the citizens of the world--must act. Our common humanity demands nothing less." - Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement

The Newsletter of the Free Gaza Movement and the relaunched website http://www.freegaza.org present news and background info on the nonviolent Free Gaza Movement and their action to break the siege of Gaza and Palestine. This issue was edited by Anis Hamadeh in Mainz, anis at anis-online.de. - German translation at http://www.freegaza.org/de/home/newsletter/670-qspirit-of-humanityq-leaves-for-gaza ; Subscription over the "Friends of Gaza" Newslist at https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/gazafriends, contact to Free Gaza: friendsofgaza at gmail.com. Updated Free Gaza media clippings at http://www.freegaza.org/uploads/media/free_gaza_in_the_media.pdf. For general Palestine daily news visit http://www.theheadlines.org


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