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I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

Month

August 2008

Free Gaza: The journey home

Received by e-mail
Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2008 12:10:26 AM
Subject: The journey home

We arrived safely last night. The trip home was much less eventful than the trip to Gaza and much less emotional. On board my boat, the FREE GAZA, was a family of Palestinians who had not been let out of the concentration camp called “Gaza” for five years. The mother had given birth to her youngest son four years ago, and the family, living in Cyprus, had not seen him. The joy on the faces of Hana’s family was worth waiting the extra half day to leave. We had to make sure that the Cypriot authorities would allow them in.

On board the LIBERTY was a 10-year-old boy whose leg had been shot off by the Israeli military. He was from Khan Younis. The story (and I haven’t been able to verify it it yet) is that he was standing with his friend as an Israeli tank invaded his town. A sniper shot him through one leg, then when he stood to run, the sniper shot him through the other one, causing huge damage to the leg. It was amputated at the hip. Again, we had to wait for Cypriot authorities to give permission for him to transit to another country.

On the first page of the Cyprus Mail is a photo of the boy with Osama, one of our organizers. Even though we came in at 9 pm, the media was all over the quay waiting for us. Although we didn’t get seasick this time, many of us, because we are so exhausted, are feeling the land effects today, swaying as we try to walk down the streets.

It has been a week of over-riding joy, sadness at the condition of so many sick and wounded Palestinians, hope for the future, and disbelief that we not only arrived safely but left safely. As we pulled out of Gaza yesterday, seven Israeli naval vessels surrounded the Palestinian fishermen who joyfully escorted us six miles out. The last view we had of Gaza was of the seven gunboats surrounding the fishermen. We’ve heard from our Israeli sources that they arrested four of them.

As usual, the Palestinians will face the wrath of the Israeli military, because they had egg on their faces and will take it out on the weakest.

We meet this morning to plan the second trip.

Greta

The boats of SS Liberty and SS Free Gaza arrived safely in LarnacaCyprus last night with some of the original passengers and 9Palestinians from the Gaza Strip aboard.
About 9 of our original international passengers stayed on in Gaza to do media and other work.

Yesterday, British Journalist Lauren Booth and I attempted to exit via Eretz Crossing into Israel, accompanied by sick Palestinians needing specialty care not available in Gaza. The Israeli border guards threatened to shoot us, but we advanced slowly with our arms raised holding our passports up high; We advanced right through the tunnel right up to the iron gate, but the Israelis would not open it. The US and British Embassy’s gave us the Royal runaround and would not help us.

So after a visit to Beit Hanoun to see the Al Athamna Family, who are still in a state of grief from the massacre of 19 members of their family by Israeli mortar shells 2 years ago, we headed back to Gaza City. So now we are waiting for the Egyptian authorities to let us out of Gaza through Rafah. They are under pressure from Israel to keep us trapped in here. Now I am getting a better appreciation of what it means to be a Palestinian from Gaza.

Bill Dienst, MD


Greta Berlin
Media Team
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 08 17 67
http://www.freegaza.org
http://www.anis-online.de/office/events/FreeGazaSong.htm
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

Free Gaza and Liberty arrive in Larnaca, Cyprus

by e-mail :

FREE GAZA MOVEMENT announces the arrival at 20:30 (10:30am PDT), Friday 29 August, 2008 of the FREE GAZA and LIBERTY vessels, in Larnaca Harbour, returning from Gaza, and a successful end to this first of such missions.

The historic return voyage represents the first time ever that Palestinians have been able freely to enter and leave their country. The Free Gaza Movement will mark this historic moment with a reception at Larnaca Harbour , as will Palestinians in Gaza , as both boats return safely from Gazan and international waters after a calm and uneventful crossing.

Organiser Paul Larudee: “This endeavour has been a huge success, far more significant and wide-reaching than anyone ever dreamt it could be. It has had obvious beneficial effects on the Palestinian people, but also on Israel . In fairness, credit must go where credit is due — despite threats or obstacles, a responsible decision was made by Israeli authorities not to interfere with our mission and this is a model for the future.”

As reported by the world press, news has travelled worldwide of the Free Gaza Movement. Supportive messages have come in, including from UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the OPT, Richard Falk, who wrote:

“The landing of two wooden boats carrying 46 human rights activists in Gaza is an important symbolic victory. This non-violent initiative of the Free Gaza Movement focused attention around the world on the stark reality that the 1.5 million residents of Gaza have endured a punitive siege for more than a year. This siege is a form of collective punishment that constitutes a massive violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The siege, the coastal blockade, and overflights by Israeli aircraft all bear witness to the fact that despite Israel’s claimed ‘disengagement’ in 2005, these realities on the ground establish that Gaza remains under Israeli occupation, and as a result Israel remains legally responsible for protecting the human rights of its civilian population. By severely restricting the entry of food, fuel, and medicine the economic and social rights of the people of Gaza have been systematically violated. There is widespread deafness among the people of Gaza that is blamed on the frequent sonic booms produced by over-flying Israeli military aircraft. For this reason the peace boats brought 200 hearing aids to Gaza.”

Mr. Falk strongly urged the international community to take action to uphold human rights in the Gaza Strip.

“Above all, what is being tested is whether the imaginative engagement of dedicated private citizens can influence the struggle of a beleaguered people for basic human rights, and whether their courage and commitment can awaken the conscience of humanity to an unfolding tragedy.”

Or, in the words of Palestinian voyager, Musheir El-Farra, originally born and raised in Khan Younis in Gaza but currently living in Sheffield , UK :

“For the first time in my life, I went to Gaza without being humiliated, without having to ask Israel for permission. We did it. We finally did it. And now others must join us and do it as well.”

McCain extolls Veep Pick’s Qualifications

From Borowitz

McCain: Obama Lacks Experience Running 5,000-Person Town in Alaska
Extolls Veep Pick’s Qualifications

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) used the announcement of his vice-presidential pick, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, to blast the experience of his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill), arguing that Sen. Obama has never been the mayor of a 5,000-person town.

“The Presidency of the United States of America is the toughest job on the planet,” Sen. McCain said. “And my friends, the best testing ground for that job is being the mayor of a 5,000-person town in Alaska.”

Sen. McCain unleashed a savage attack on Sen. Obama, claiming that his Democratic opponent would be “at a loss” when faced with the challenges of running a 5000-person municipality in Alaska.

“Let’s say a constituent calls you and says that a caribou has wandered onto his front lawn,” he said. “My friends, Barack Obama wouldn’t know what to do.”

He used the hypothetical situation to draw a sharp contrast with his vice-presidential choice: “Sarah Palin would take out her gun and shoot the caribou.”

Mr. McCain said that an understanding of foreign affairs, Congress, and other issues that a president has to deal with is “overrated,” adding, “That’s what ‘Presidency for Dummies’ is for.”

While saying that her “vast experience” was the main reason he selected Gov. Palin, Sen. McCain said that she also had the other three qualifications he was looking for in a vice president: “She is pro-life, pro-drilling, and willing to housesit.”

Straight from the SS Liberty

Radio Interview of Paul Larudee on board SS Liberty on Thursday 8/28/08 returning to Cyprus from Gaza

Interview starts at 8 min:39 secs into program and ends at 15 min:07 sec HERE

Denver and the Arab world

From Mosaic TV, the Arab take on the Democratic National Convention and how it slighted Carter.

Read transcript here

The SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty left port in Gaza at 3:40 PM

The SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty left port in Gaza at 3:40 PM, and have
begun their long voyage back to Cyprus. Aboard the ship are seven
Palestinian passengers, including several children. We were able to speak
with Paul Larudee on the SS Liberty just a few minutes ago:

“We’re a little over an hour into our return trip to Cyprus and, unlike
when we came in, there are several Israeli naval vessels in sight. We seem
to be the focus of their activity, the center of their attention so to
speak. However they’re keeping a careful distance, not really approaching
us. We expect to reach the twelve-mile limit around 7 PM this evening, and
then cross over into international waters.

“When we arrived in Gaza last Saturday, it was the first time in forty-one
years that anyone has freely entered Gaza. But our leaving is in a way
even more significant. Last Saturday, two of our Palestinian members came
into Gaza on these boats. Today, seven more Palestinians are leaving with
them. They got exit stamps from the Palestinian government, they boarded
the ships, and soon they’ll be in international waters, and then in
Cyprus. This is the first time, ever, that Palestinians have been able to
freely enter and leave their own country. It’s an incredible step forward,
and a sign of greater things to come.”

–Paul Larudee, aboard the SS Liberty, freely leaving Gaza.

SS FREE GAZA AND SS LIBERTY TO LEAVE GAZA PORT ON THURSDAY

Date : 08-26-2008

(GAZA CITY, 26 August 2008) – The SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty will leave Gaza for Cyprus on Thursday morning at 9:00 am. Several Palestinian students who have been denied exit visas by Israel will travel to Cyprus on the boats. One Palestinian professor will finally be able to go back to teaching in Europe and one young, Palestinian woman will finally be reunited with her husband. Several of the Free Gaza international human rights workers will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

By freely traveling to Gaza, on Saturday, August 23rd, in two, small, wooden boats, the Free Gaza Movement forced the Israeli government to issue a fundamental policy change regarding their military and economic blockade of Gaza. Until now, Israel has wanted absolute control of Gaza with no responsibility. Israel has managed to maintain this situation, in spite of international law, because its policies have never been challenged.

When the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty approached the waters of Gaza, the Israeli government had to decide whether it wanted to publicly acknowledge that Israel remains an occupying power in Gaza, in which case Israel would be responsible under international law for its actions, including war crimes. In the face of intense, public scrutiny, Israel instead chose to acknowledge the inherent right of Palestinians to freely engage with the world. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs publicly announced that humanitarian and human rights missions to Gaza will no longer be stopped or threatened by Israel. With the end of the Israeli siege of Gaza, Palestinians are free to exercise their rights without fear of being stopped or killed by the Israeli military.

Since the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement will not be entering Israeli territorial waters, and since they will request an inspection from the Gaza Port Authority, they expect no interference on the part of the Israeli authorities when they leave Gaza. By Israel’s own admission, it has no authority to inspect the boats or the passengers when they leave Gaza.

With the collapse of the Israeli blockade, the Free Gaza Movement will quickly return to Gaza with another delegation, and invites the United Nations, Arab League and international community to organize similar human rights and humanitarian efforts. The Free Gaza Movement will continue to work to ensure the free passage between Gaza and the outside world will remain safe and open.

For an illustrated version of this article see here

Biden the zionist

Mainstream news pundits are calling the Obama/Biden ticket “the most liberal ever”. Surprise, surprise, nothing could be further from the truth. If Cheney pulls Dubya’s strings, then Biden will certainly pull Obama’s, but who will be pulling Biden’s?

Watch this short interview for a not-so-subtle hint.

Found this here

Nothing much to hope for

McCain the POW

Have a look at the comments on this video but also the ones at drudge retort.

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