Written by Free Gaza Team | 24 December 2009
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Introduction Ernesto Paramo, UK
It has been an extremely busy time since June when we were concentrating all our efforts on sending the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY to Gaza. It certainly was a very eventful journey. You can remind yourselves of the Israeli attack on and hijacking of the boat by watching this short video filmed by the passengers on board the hijacked boat on 30th June. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDVuQpzwsRo&NR=1
Because of the very real threat posed by the Israeli navy, we decided we would not return to Gaza until we had a mini-flotilla capable of successfully challenging, under these more dangerous conditions, Israel’s draconian siege of the people of Gaza. Thanks to the generosity of the people of Malaysia and many others, we are well on target to getting 3-4 boats ready to go in the spring.
Appeal to all of you who are outraged by Israel’s flaunting of international law
However, resources are still very tight, and we are appealing all of you, our supporters, during this holiday season to donate once more to enable us to get the last boat ready for the journey. It does not matter if you can only afford a small amount of money. We have received donations for as little as $1.50, and we have been very grateful, because every little bit helps. http://www.freegaza.org/donate
At Free Gaza, we are all volunteers, and no one gets a salary for the work we do. The majority of the money raised goes to buying, converting, paying for voyage expenses, and maintaining the boats.
The people of Gaza need our support, please help us in this Season of Good Will to buy the last boat, so we can travel again to Gaza in the spring.
Why I’m Going on the Gaza Freedom March Hedy Epstein, U.S.
After President Obama’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, a prize he does not deserve, it is a good time to think about what real peacemaking looks like. It is not beautiful speech making. It is more than 1,000 people from over 42 countries, caravanning hand in hand, on the Gaza Peace March into Gaza, to witness the devastation from last winter’s Israeli attack. Once across the Rafah border – insh’Allah – we will be joined by 50,000 Palestinians, in a non- violent march to the Eretz/Israel border. On the Israeli side of the border Palestinians & Israelis will also call on the Israeli government to open the border. http://www.gazafreedommarch.org/article.php?list=type&type=416
I am going to Gaza because I know what it is like to be awakened at night by a knock on the door; to have your home ransacked; not to be able to attend school; to have your parents arrested; not to know if, or when they will return; to hear planes overhead, waiting for them to unload their deadly cargo; to be orphaned at a young age. Yet, I am one of the lucky ones who survived; leading a privileged life, free to travel. Because I know all this, “I cannot stand idly by” (Leviticus 19:3).
It is incumbent on me to reach out to my Palestinian brothers and sisters in their time of need, to stand in solidarity with them, to let them know that they are not alone, that I am bringing them a message from people back home, that they are in their thoughts. I am going because I am inspired by the resilience, strength, and yes, even hope, of the Palestinians, despite all odds. I am going so I can, upon my return, tell my congressional people, maybe even President Obama, and anyone else who will listen of my greater understanding, knowledge and authority about devastated Gaza and its courageous people.
For you people back home, I ask that you keep us in your thoughts, I ask that you call your congressional representatives and ask them to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities to allow us safe passage and put pressure on the Israeli government and military not to interfere. Ask your representatives to not only open their doors, but their hearts and minds, to listen to our report-backs about Gaza, still under Israel’s illegal occupation and still under siege.
Elie Wiesel: Come with us to Gaza
Greta Berlin, France
On December 1st, three women, one Holocaust survivor, one Palestinian, and one educator, went to hear Elie Wiesel speak in St. Louis. Watch how he dismisses them, after they asked him to come with them to Gaza.This man of ‘peace’ ignores the plea of these women to witness for himself what Israel is doing in his name and with American money. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4wkR1IUUE8
Action Call on anniversary of Israel’s massacres in Gaza
December 27th-January 18th 2009-2010 marks the one-year anniversary of Israel’s brutal ‘Operation Cast Lead’ against the people of besieged Gaza.
Free Gaza is asking groups around the world to show Spanish Film-Maker Alberto Arce and Mohammad Rujailah’s ‘To Shoot an Elephant’ (2009) – an award-winning documentary filmed during Operation Cast Lead, detailing war crimes and the impact on ordinary people, journalists and paramedics.
This massacre intensified and escalated an existent policy of ethnic cleansing and deliberate destruction as well as re-inflicted a new Nakba on the Palestinian people
. The 22-day attack left more than 1,400 dead, the vast majority of them civilians, including nearly 400 children. It left over 5000 injured, displaced 50,000 and made 20,000 homeless (until today).
 More than 3,600 homes were completely destroyed and 11,000 partially destroyed. Over 258 people died because Israeli forces prevented rescue services from reaching them.
 Most people were bombed to death in or close to their homes, with over a third (519) cut down by Israeli Drones and another 473 by jet planes.
 Israel used white phosphorous, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, F16s, Apache and Cobra Helicopter gun ships, Naval Vessels, Tanks, APCs, Caterpillar Military Bulldozers and soldiers armed with M16s to systematically kill people and destroy Gaza’s infrastructure, businesses and agricultural land and property.
We also re-iterate the call from Palestinian Civil Society, issued in 2005, for a comprehensive Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign (BDS) against Israel as the primary means to promote human rights and an enforcement of international law.
We also ask activists to take direct action in solidarity with Palestinians throughout the Middle East, in refugee camps outside of Palestine, struggling against apartheid inside ’48, as well as those resisting the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem and steady bantustanisation of the West Bank. Arms companies such as Rafael, Elbit Systems, Lockheed Martin, EDO-ITT, Caterpillar, and companies cementing occupation such as Ireland’s CRT (Cement Roadstone Holdings) (Apartheid Wall) Veolia and Alstom (Jerusalem Light Railway), Carmel-Agrexco (Illegal colonies and agriculture) and Edelman PR as well as Israeli Embassies and the institutions that collude with the occupation such as the European Union
. The deadly closure of Gaza continues, the colonization of East Jerusalem and the West Bank continues, and the inalienable right of refugees to return to their homes still remains out of reach for millions. Grassroots resistance to Israel’s ongoing attacks has never been as urgent as it is today.
REMEMBER GAZA – STAND UP FOR PALESTINE — TAKE ACTION! ACTIONS •SHOW: The award-winning Gaza Attack 2009 Film – ‘To Shoot an Elephant’ by Alberto Arce and Mohammad Rujailah www.toshootanelephant.com
•INVITE AN EYEWITNESS SPEAKER: Witnesses who were present on the ground and accompanying ambulances during the attacks are available to speak including: Fida Qeshta, Gaza ISM Co-Ordinator and film maker (Palestine), Caoimhe Butterly (Ireland), Ewa Jasiewicz (Poland/UK) – also featured in ‘To Shoot an Elephant’, Jenny Linnell (UK), Fida Qshta (Gaza Palestine), Natalie Abu Shakra (Lebanon/UK) and Sharyn Lock (Australia/UK) – Sharyn has also just completed a book ‘Gaza Beneath the Bombs’ which is due out on January 1st (http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745330242&)
•TAKE DIRECT ACTION: Find your local occupation and apartheid profiteer
•JOIN THE BDS CAMPAIGN: Find out more and get involved www.bdsmovement.net
•CHECK OUT AND JOIN: ◦THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH http://www.gazafreedommarch.org
◦VIVA PALESTINA http://www.vivapalestina.org ◦
IRISH PALESTINE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN http://www.ipsc.ie
◦RUSSELL TRIBUNAL http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.net/
◦THE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT http://www.palsolidarity.org Sources
 UNHCR and UNDP June 2009
 Al Mezan, Cast Lead Offensive in Numbers, June 2009, http://www.mezan.org/upload/8941.pdf
 Al Haq Palestinian Human Rights Organisation, Operation Cast Lead – A Statistical Analysis, August 2009