Huge thanks to terry and nicholas……………see you again soon, insh`allah
York-to-Gaza (via Birkenhead, Dublin and Dundalk)
We’ve just heard that Free Gaza has bought a ship to take a cargo of relief supplies to Gaza. We have to do something in support. We look at pics of the cavernous hold of the MV Rachel Corrie: how to fill that ? Most of it’s for cement and other building materials, badly needed by the bombed-out people of Gaza but vindictively blocked by Israel and Egypt as part of the siege. Free Gaza needs money to buy those materials. But we also want to give something tangible, something special from York to Gaza.
We hear from Derek and Jenny on board about David in Goole who has a barge loaded with nautical gear for a sailing school which they are going to start in Gaza. Sailing school ? How is that in the list of priorities ? Because it’s a seafaring people, or would be but for the blockade. Because to sail is a relief, a release from the pressure of living in the most densely populated place in the world. Because Hamas people and Fatah people cannot help but bond if they are crewing the same small dinghy. Because the Olympic Association of Qatar have donated twelve Laser dinghies. Because, because, because ….
Let’s take some medical supplies too. And educational goods. And water filtration kits. There is that old estate car in my garage, could it fit into that ? Maybe – .
In the few days before the May Day holiday it all came together. David brought a boot-load of life-jackets, oilskins, wet-suits, sea-boots. Mike brought from the Beverley-based charity Jacobs Well a generous donation of medical goods: sterilising unit, colostomy bags, braces and splints, and a dozen boxes of pharmaceuticals. Tanya brought knitted hats. Carol got a camera for a youth worker in the Jabaliya refugee camp, so he can document the young people’s experience and achievements. Sue brought toys and sports gear for children. And another Sue from Preston met us at Birkenhead with boxes of schools’ stuff, paper and art things.
And we took over a magnificent 1050 euros, some of the money given to support the York-to-Gaza ambulance last winter.
What we did not understand as fully as we do now is how high the stakes are in this enterprise. Success will pave the way for other convoys, fully laden ships using redeveloped docks. And paying their way. There is some 5 billion dollars of international aid pledged for the rebuilding of Gaza after the 22-day assault by Israel. Unspent because of the blockade. Enough to pay for these cargoes, including the cost of shipping. So the hope is that the convoys will be self-sustaining, and Gaza will also be able to re-start its export trade: strawberries, citrus fruit, all kinds of Mediterranean products. Busting the siege. The beginning of liberation.
Meanwhile our hosts in Dundalk rough it on board in basic conditions. Running costs cannot be avoided, and for a 1200-ton ship they are high: a professional crew to pay, insurance, fuel, harbour dues. So this is an appeal for donations. Give a regular sum if you can. The reward, potentially, is nothing less than a break-down of the whole repressive regime which so blights the lives of the people of Palestine.
Terry Gallogly and Nicholas Hall
For more information and to donate on-line visit www.freegaza.org