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International Solidarity Movement planning "Invasion" of Gaza

by one if by land, two if by sea Friday, Jun. 22, 2007 at 1:28 PM

Project Description This movement is an international nonviolent resistance project to challenge Israel's siege of Gaza. Israel claims that Gaza is no longer occupied, yet Israeli forces control Gaza by land, sea and air. We'll enter Gaza from international waters at the invitation of Palestinian NGOs but without Israeli authorization, thereby recognizing Palestinian control over their own borders.

The Mission

1. To open Gaza to unrestricted international access, i.e.Palestinian sovereignty

2. To demonstrate that Israel still occupies Gaza, despite its claims to the contrary

3. To show international solidarity with the people of Gaza and the rest of Palestine

4. To demonstrate the potential of nonviolent resistance methods

The Plan

Up to 100 international volunteers will sail from Cyprus to Gaza in 2

to 6 seagoing vessels of 12 to 60 passengers each. Women must respect the culture of Gaza and will be required to dress appropriately and cover their hair. The prospective

date is August 15, but will depend upon funding, logistics, weather

and other factors. The journey will take approximately 24 hours.

Contingencies

If Israel respects Palestinian sovereignty, we'll arrive without

incident. Some of us will fish at sea with Palestinian fishermen,

while others will travel back and forth to test the passage for as

long as permitted. If stopped, we'll nonviolently resist. We are

prepared to stay at sea if necessary, and/or resist arrest and

confiscation of our vessels. We doubt that Israel will attack, but we

will be equipped with medical personnel and equipment, life rafts and

flotation vests. More likely, Israel will prefer sabotage. We're

prepared with alternate vessels and plans.

The Passengers

Aboard will be Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, Europeans, Africans

and Asians. There will be rabbis, imams, Christian and Buddhist

clerics, British MPs, entertainment celebrities, and internationally

known journalists. Nakba and Holocaust survivors are also joining the

project. All will undergo a training program and be selected according

to the interests of the mission, such as the mix of persons and

expertise; no one is assured of a place on board. Others will form the

Cyprus support team and may board later vessels.

The Organizers

We are experienced human rights volunteers and organizers, including

Huwaida Arraf, Greta Berlin, Sylvia Cattori, Uri Davis, Hedy Epstein,

Kathy Kelly, Paul Larudee, Alison Weir, and more than 30 others from

13 countries. We have consulted with other organizations such as

Greenpeace, who have experience with such projects, especially with

encounters at sea.

The Vessels

Commercial fishing boats and cruise vessels powered by diesel and sail

will be used. Volunteer vessels are also welcome. All will have

standard GPS, plus radio and communications equipment for

international navigation. They'll a lso have refrigeration and cooking

facilities for their size and passenger load. The larger vessels will

carry fuel for both the voyage and an extended period at sea.

Security

If Israel wishes to harm our mission, we expect them to try to plant

arms on board. Therefore, before boarding, all participants, vessels

and supplies will undergo a security check by qualified personnel from

an internationally recognized NGO to verify that no dangerous items

are brought aboard. Since we will not be entering Israeli territory,

we will not allow Israeli authorities to perform such inspections.

Supplies and equipment

Passengers will take basic necessities and electronic devices.

Journalists, technicians and crew may also bring tools and equipment.

Larger vessels will have at least one satellite phone with high-speed

data transfer. Provisions, including food, water and medical supplies,

will be laid aboard for an extended period at sea. We wil l also carry

relief supplies to the people of Gaza, but this isn't a primary part

of our mission.

Captains and crew

Although we prefer competent volunteers who take principled risks, we

are unlikely to recruit the personnel we need by such means. We will

therefore hire captains and crew, to whom we will fully disclose the

risks involved, so they understand and consent to the mission.

Engineers will also be required to inspect and prepare the vessels.

Costs

We have considered vessel donation, lease and purchase. However, we

prefer purchase, to have complete control and avoid cancellation by

others. Terms are a down payment plus installments to be made either

by reselling the vessels after the mission or by using them for

nonprofit revenue. Other costs will be crew, equipment, supplies,

fuel, docking and agent fees. The estimated cost is 0K, half from

donations and half from loans. We can succeed on a smaller scale for

as little as 0K, but it entails fewer backups and greater risk.

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