Reuven Moskovitz, an 82-year-old passenger who survived the Nazi Holocaust, told AFP he felt duty-bound to attempt the voyage in the small blue and white sailing boat, a trip expected to take around 36 hours.
"It is a sacred duty for me, as a survivor, to protest against the persecution, the oppression and the imprisonment of so many people in Gaza, including more than 800,000 children," Moskovitz said. -AFP
Another boat, named "Irene" is on the way to Gaza. This boat carrying Jewish activists from the US and around the world.
Why is it that, just months after the murderous slaughter that the Israeli Military greeted the last flotilla (See Heathlander's diary), that again people are willing to take such risks?
"Remember the solidarity shown to Palestine here and everywhere... and remember also that there is a cause to which many people have committed themselves, difficulties and terrible obstacles notwithstanding. Why? Because it is a just cause, a noble ideal, a moral quest for equality and human rights."
Richard Kuper, a member of the organising group, said "the Jewish Boat to Gaza is a symbolic act of protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza, and a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice.
"Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews," Kuper said.
Activist Rami Elhanan, who is also on board, said: "We are banging our head on a very hard wall of hatred. Our hope is to make little cracks on that wall, so that in the end it will fall.
"Whatever happens, the worst thing has already happened to me, I am not afraid of what is coming next," added Elhanan, who lost his daughter in a 1997 suicide bombing. AFP
Press Release from Jewish Boat to Gaza website:
At crisis point in peace talks, Jews, Israelis call to lift the siege on Gaza, end the occupation.
A boat carrying aid for Gaza’s population and organized by Jewish groups worldwide has set sail from Cyprus today at 13:32 local time
The boat, Irene, is sailing under a British flag and is carrying ten passengers and crew, including Jews from the US, the UK, Germany and Israel as well as an Israeli journalist.
The boat’s cargo includes symbolic aid in the form of children’s toys and musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets for Gaza’s fishing communities and prosthetic limbs for orthopaedic medical care in Gaza’s hospitals.
The receiving organization in Gaza is The Palestinian International Campaign to end the siege on Gaza, directed by Dr. Eyad Sarraj and Amjad Shawa, Director of PNGO
The boat will attempt to reach the coast of Gaza and unload its aid cargo in a nonviolent, symbolic act of solidarity and protest – and call for the siege to be lifted to enable free passage of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip.
The boat will fly multicolored peace flags carrying the names of dozens of Jews who have expressed their support for this action, as a symbol of the widespread support for the boat by Jews worldwide.
Speaking from London, a member of the organizing group, Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said today that the Jewish Boat to Gaza is a symbolic act of protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza, and a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice.
‘Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews,’ said Kuper. ‘We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege.’
Regarding the threat of interception by the Israeli navy, Kuper said ‘This is a nonviolent action. We aim to reach Gaza, but our activists will not engage in any physical confrontation and will therefore not present the Israelis with any reason or excuse to use physical force or assault them.’
Passenger Reuven Moskovitz, 82, said that his life’s mission has been to turn foes into friends. "We are two peoples, but we have one future", he said.
It is clear that they have a larger agenda beyond getting the aid they are carrying into Gaza. They want freedom, they want justice, and they want peace.
This has always been for many of the millions of people who support Palestinian rights about justice, about doing the right thing. It certainly is not about doing the most convenient thing, the most expedient thing. It is about understanding that your future is intertwined with the future of others, that unless others are free you are not free.
Meanwhile, in other news from Gaza:
A fisherman has been shot and killed by the Israeli navy off the northern coast of the Gaza Strip, doctors in the territory say.
Israeli officials say the boat had strayed beyond the limit to which Palestinians are allowed to fish under the Israeli blockade.
However, they say a warning shot was fired first. (well then, that makes a difference! -tom)
Israel says the naval blockade is necessary to stop weapons being smuggled to militants within Gaza.
But the restrictions make life very difficult for Gaza's fishermen...BBC
The fishing industry, like nearly every other industry in Gaza, has been effectively destroyed by Israel's illegal military siege on Gaza. This must be part of Israel's "diet plan" for Gaza.
I hope the Irene had a good night. May they arrive safe and be able to rejoice with their brothers and sisters in Gaza.
"Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being." ~ Khalil Gibran
you can follow the progress of the boat on twitter: