ACTION ALERT: Humanitarian Relief Ship, Gaza’s Ark, Bombed and Sunk

April 30th, 2014 - by admin

Just Foreign Policy & Fares Akram / Al Jazeera – 2014-04-30 11:00:59

Gaza’s Ark to Challenge Israel’s Blockade
Megan Iorio, Chelsea Mozen and Robert Naiman / Just Foreign Policy

(Feb 6, 20140 — After weeks of repair work on the shore in port, Gaza’s Ark returns to the water at the beginning of February 2014.

For nearly seven years, Gaza has been under siege. Its 1.8 million inhabitants have been denied their rights to move and trade freely. Farmers have been blocked from farming their land. Fishermen have had their lives threatened and their property confiscated. And, crucially, Palestinian producers have been blocked from exporting their goods. Gaza’s economy has been strangled.

In the short run, aid is necessary but, in the long run, aid not the answer. Freedom is the answer. That’s why we’ve been working on Gaza’s Ark, an international campaign to challenge the blockade politically by exporting Palestinian goods through the port of Gaza.

Gaza’s Ark is a refurbished fishing boat that will soon sail from Gaza carrying Palestinian export goods. Like other boats that have attempted to break the blockade, Gaza’s Ark will face the danger of interception by Israeli forces. That’s why we need your help today.

The UN and world governments have it in their power to ensure safe passage of Gaza’s Ark and an end to the siege. Prominent human rights activists from around the world are initiating the call — will you join them?

Here’s what you can do:
1. Join our Thunderclap. Thunderclap allows large groups of people to blast social media all at once with one resounding message. Our Thunderclap will help promote the international call for an end to the blockade and raise awareness about Gaza’s Ark.

All you have to do to participate is visit this link, select which social media you’d like to post to, authorize the Thunderclap app to post on your behalf this one time, and that’s it! Thunderclap won’t retain your information and will only post to your account once for this campaign.

2. Sign the petition. Join world-renowned human rights activists such as Noam Chomsky, Mairead Maguire, and Alice Walker in signing Gaza’s Ark‘s petition calling upon the UN to take action to end the siege of Gaza. You can sign the petition here

(Aug 11, 2013) — The significance of Gaza’s Ark and how it
differs from previous Flotilla efforts.
Geneva, July 2013

Petition to the UN
(April 26, 2014) — In order to build a peaceful future, Palestinians must have full freedom of movement, to travel and trade freely, to and from the port of Gaza and throughout Palestine. A lasting peace can only be achieved by fully, permanently and unconditionally lifting the blockade imposed on Gaza and by restoring Palestinian rights under international law.

We call on the UN Secretary-General and our own governments to:
• do everything in their power to press Israel to lift all restrictions on the freedom of movement and trade imposed on Palestinians, including allowing the internationally owned Gaza’s Ark to sail safely from Gaza without obstacles;

• demand that Israeli authorities respect the full territorial waters of Palestine, including the right of Palestinians to fish at least 20 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza and safely access all their lands, to conduct other peaceful activities throughout their entire economic zone, and to freely access international waters as other coastal nations do;

• call for the immediate return of all boats seized by Israel, both Palestinian fishing boats from Gaza, and all the vessels from international solidarity sailings to challenge the blockade, and for payment of full financial compensation to owners for the extended loss of use of their boats and equipment.

Gaza’s Ark Attacked: Ship Sunk
Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen and Megan Iorio / Just Foreign Policy

(April 29, 2014) – In the last few days, we asked you to participate in efforts to support Gaza’s Ark, a project to politically challenge the blockade of Gaza by bringing a boat out of the port of Gaza carrying Palestinian exports. Thanks to the many of you who signed the Gaza’s Ark petition or participated in the Twitter storm!

Today, we have grim news. Gaza’s Ark was attacked last night.

At 3:45 AM Gaza time, the night guard on board Gaza’s Ark received a call to leave the boat because it was going to be attacked. The guard left, but when nothing happened after about 5 minutes, he returned. A few minutes later, a large explosion rocked the boat, causing extensive damage. [See story below.]

The boat sank part way and is now sitting on the shallow sea floor. The guard was not injured but was taken to the hospital for tests. Investigations are underway, both to determine what happened and to determine whether the boat can be repaired.

Here’s how you can help now:
Help us get the word out about what has happened to the boat.
If you’re on Twitter, share tweets from @GazaArk and @justfp about what happened. If you’re on Facebook, share the Al Jazeera article [See below].

ACTION: Sign and Share the Petition.
If you haven’t signed the petition to the UN against the blockade yet, please sign and share by clicking here.
If you have signed it, please share it again. The petition currently has 6,500 signatures. We’d like to gather 10,000 signatures in the next few days.

“Blast Damages Gaza Anti-siege Boat”
Fares Akram / Al Jazeera

GAZA (April 29, 2014) — An explosion has damaged a boat docked at a fishing harbor in Gaza, nearly a month and a half before it was to set sail to defy Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The explosion happened early on Tuesday after “the guard received an anonymous call that the boat would explode in a few minutes,” Mahfouz Kabariti, a spokesman for Gaza’s Ark, the coalition that had funded the boat’s building, told Al Jazeera.

After spending two years building the boat, Gaza’s Ark had planned the boat’s first sailing test next week.

The explosion caused damage to the engine and the hull as it partly sank. Divers were sent to assess the extent of the damage. Kabariti refused to blame any party, saying “it’s still premature”.

Eyad Al-Bouzom, a spokesman for Gaza’s Interior Ministry, said the authorities opened an investigation into the incident. “We will follow the case as it’s a great priority for us,” he told Al Jazeera.

Gaza’s Ark comprises Palestinian activists and international campaigners from Canada, Australia and the United States.

The initiative aims at sailing with this boat out from Gaza to challenge the naval blockade, which Israel tightened in 2007. Palestinian fishermen can sail up to six nautical miles, but have reported being shot by Israeli naval forces as close as two nautical miles from shore. Kabariti recalled several past incidents in which Israeli naval forces destroyed Palestinian ships by explosives.

Before Israel’s major military assault in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009, Israel allowed several boats carrying western and Arab activists to sail to Gaza.

But Gaza’s Ark would have been the first boat to sail out of Gaza in several years. Kabariti said the voyage was scheduled for June 15.

The boat, with a fibreglass body, wooden cabin and deckhouse, was supposed to carry the activists and some products made by impoverished families in Gaza to Europe.

“The boat was made to break the siege from inside,” according to Kabariti. “One of its goals was to empower the families who have had no chance to export their products.”

Kabariti said the activists are determined to sail after the boat is repaired.

Gaza’s Ark Attacked

(April 28, 2014) — At 3:45 AM Gaza time on April 29th, the night guard on board Gaza’s Ark received a call to leave the boat because it was going to be attacked.

The guard left, but when nothing happened, he returned after 5 minutes. A few minutes later, a large explosion rocked the boat, causing extensive damage.

The boat sank part way and is now sitting on the shallow sea floor. The guard was not injured but was taken to hospital for tests.

Mahfouz Kabariti, Gaza’s Ark Project Manager, says: “The extent and nature of the damage are currently being investigated. We will provide an update when available.”

Gaza’s Ark and all our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are considering our next move in response to this cowardly act of terrorism, but our position remains clear: Neither this nor any other attack will stop our efforts to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends,” adds David Heap of Gaza’s Ark Steering Committee.

“Freedom Flotilla boats have been sabotaged before. This attack comes as we were almost ready to sail. You can sink a boat but you can’t sink a movement,” concludes Ehab Lotayef, another member of the Steering Committee.

For information:
Ehab Lotayef +1-514-941-9792
David Heap +1-519-859-3579
Charlie Andreasson +970 (59) 8345327

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.