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LA Jews for Peace support upcoming 'Free Gaza' sailing from Cyprus

by Rebecca Tobias Monday, Jul. 21, 2008 at 9:42 AM

Ship sponsored in part by Carter Center to challenge Israeli blockage of Gaza port:

"Free Gaza" initiative to try and enter Gaza by sea and open port

Date: 19 / 07 / 2008 Time: 14:58

Bethlehem - Ma'an - A small shipping vessel will set sail for Gaza from

Cyprus on 5 August expecting to be illegally detained as it enters Gazan


The waters off the Gaza Strip are patrolled by Israeli naval vessels, and

Israel enforces a "Fishing Limit" that is 6 nautical miles (11.1 km) from

the Gaza shore. These restrictions on access and borders are enforced

despite the 2005 Israeli "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip.

There will be 60 people aboard the "Free Gaza" vessel including a Holocaust

survivor a survivor of the Palestinian Nakba, and members of the

international Palestinian diaspora.

The crew intends to travel into the Gaza strip, past the international

waters boundary, the 1996 Oslo accords boundary (20 nautical miles from the

Gaza coast), the 2002 Bertini agreement boundary (12 nautical miles and 22.2

km from the Gaza coast) and the current "Fishing Limit" imposed by the

Israeli navy since October 2006.

Legally, the group says there should be no problem passing each of these

lines since Israel disengaged from the Gaza strip in 2005 and should no

longer its control airspace and territorial waters.

The initiative hopes to draw attention to the continued de facto occupation

of Gaza. In an interview with Ma'an on Saturday, a spokesperson for the

group in Israel said that the crew expects to be stopped by the Israeli navy

shortly after they cross from international waters into Gazan territorial

waters, which according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the

Sea, extend 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from an area's shoreline.

While Israel has not signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, they

did sign the Bertini Agreement in August 2002 with the UN, which stated that

Gazan territory extended the full 12 nautical miles from the shore.

In June 2005, Israel unilaterally "disengaged" from Gaza and withdrew all

troops to the 1967 borders. In theory, Gazans control the entire Strip,

excluding approximately 650 meters along the eastern border which is called

a buffer and "no go" zone.

The trip organizers think one of four things will happen to the ship: it may

be stopped as it crosses or approaches the barrier marking the international

waters boundary, in which case the crew is prepared to stay on board for at

least two weeks in protest of the illegal halt of passage. The second

possibility envisioned by the organizers is that the ship will be allowed to

pass into the area, and will be stopped in the territorial waters. In this

eventuality the crew expects to be arrested, and the ship dragged to shore.

A third possibility is that the ship will be sunk by the navy.

The final option is that the ship actually makes it through to the Gaza port

near Gaza City in the north of the Strip.

According to Holocaust survivor and crew member Hedy Epstein, in the event

that they can get through to Gaza they will "open the port, fish with the

fishermen, help in the clinics, and work in the schools."

What Epstein hopes to do on this journey is to "remind the world that we

will not stand by and watch 1.5 million people suffer death by starvation

and disease."

Coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, Palestinian

Legislative Council member and lawyer Jamal Al-Khudari said that he hopes

the arrival of the ship in Gaza will mean an end to the siege. He emphasized

that the ship has a right to enter the local waters and Gazans have the

right to host their guests without Israeli intervention.

Opening a port in Gaza would allow residents to export agricultural

products, and gain control over the goods and material brought into the

region. Currently, all crossing points are controlled by Israel and Egypt.

The truce between Hamas and Israel was supposed to see the blockade and

restriction on essential goods lifted, but food, medical supplies, cement

and fuel are still only trickling in.

The ship was invited to Gaza by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in the

Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, the Palestinian Centre

for Human Rights and the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, and support

for the initiative was provided in part from Carter Center in the US and

Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

If you are media, please email us to reserve a place on the boat or boats;

we intend to have satellite capabilities onboard; we will keep you posted on

dates and locations.

The Free Gaza Movement

405 Vista Heights Road

El Cerrito, CA 94530

### ### ###


Rebecca Tobias

Program Director

Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics

Malibu, California


And the work of generosity shall be peace; and the effect of generosity will be quietness and security forever.

Isaiah 32:17

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 18 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
God bless you all dessert rain Monday, Jul. 21, 2008 at 2:14 PM
they deserve NO praise, just scorn PrionPartyy Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2008 at 4:38 PM
way to go pointless attack Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008 at 3:34 AM
too bad Zionists-Nazis in drag Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008 at 11:42 AM
r u a zionazi? fun times at the Zionazi Lobby Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008 at 1:21 PM
silly zionazi silly zionazi Friday, Jul. 25, 2008 at 9:19 AM
"Palestinian nationalism is a failed experiment. "Palestinian nationalism is a failed exp Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2008 at 7:31 AM
gee, a zionist perspective silly zionazi Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2008 at 10:04 AM
tucherb tucherb Friday, Aug. 01, 2008 at 4:22 AM
yup, dangerous psychopaths alright yup, dangerous pyschopaths alright Friday, Aug. 01, 2008 at 6:27 AM
notice anything? notice anything? Friday, Aug. 01, 2008 at 6:47 AM
why was this hidden? LA CENSORING Friday, Aug. 01, 2008 at 7:03 AM
Wish I could be with you Alexander Baldal Saturday, Aug. 02, 2008 at 3:22 AM

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