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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.