Archive for the Gaza Category

Remembering Rachel

Posted in Gaza on March 15, 2012 by lamalucy

March 16th marks the 9th anniversary of Rachel’s death. Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer while she was attempting to protect a Palestinian family in Gaza. We, Voices for Palestine, as well as the greater activist community, possess immeasurable gratitude for Rachel and her direct actions to bring justice to into this world.Below is a video which was recorded two days before her death.

To learn more about Rachel and her actions please visit The Rachel Corrie Foundation.

This year’s anniversary of Rachel’s death comes at a time of unrest in Gaza. Last Friday Israel began air strikes on Gaza killing 25 and wounding over 75 people. Retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza has injured 3 Israelis. There is a fragile ceasefire in place, for the moment. Read more about the current situation at Al Jazeera.

 

Artwork Drawn by Children from Gaza to be Exhibited in Boise

Posted in Events, Gaza on November 27, 2011 by lamalucy

“A Child’s View from Gaza”

Drawings created by children in Gaza depicting the horrors, experiences and emotions generated by Operation Cast Lead

For the month of January 2012, Voices for Palestine will be sponsoring the exhibition of “A Child’s View from Gaza” in downtown Boise. This is an incredible opportunity for our community to view the experiences of children in the Gaza Strip. It is a glimpse into the mind of a child living under a violent occupation.

“A Child’s View from Gaza” is an exhibit featuring drawings created by children living in the Gaza Strip. All experienced the trauma of “Operation Cast Lead;” Israel’s 23 days of bombardment and invasion of Gaza during December 2008 and January 2009.

The drawings in this exhibit were created by children ages seven to fourteen. The exhibit expresses the children’s experiences and hopes for the future. Viewing their drawings is a heart wrenching experience. The drawings are a call for a world of peace, justice and equality for the children of Gaza and the world.

Below is a video showcasing images from the exhibit. Please go to our Local Events page for exhibition location and dates as well as special coinciding activities.

Egypt reopens Rafah border crossing with Gaza

Posted in Gaza on May 28, 2011 by lamalucy

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Egypt reopened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza permanently on Saturday morning, easing Israel’s four-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian officials said the terminal would operate daily between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. except Fridays and public holidays, giving Gazans a gateway to the world as Rafah is the only crossing which does not pass through Israel.

Residents of Gaza will be able to enter Egypt without visas with the exception of men aged between 18 and 40.

Hundreds of Palestinians arrived at the crossing, but Gaza official Salamah Baraka said Palestinians who had already registered to cross the border would be given priority.

Baraka said police would announce new travel arrangements soon, but that online registration via the interior ministry website would continue.

Among the first to cross the reopened border post were two ambulances ferrying patients from the hitherto-blockaded Gaza Strip for treatment in Egypt as well as a minibus carrying a dozen visitors, an AFP correspondent reported.

Egyptian medical staff were deployed to the crossing to make sure travelers did not have infectious diseases, but state security was not present at the terminal.

In the past, Egyptian state security were a major part of the staff manning the crossing.

People entering from Gaza were supposed to be inspected by the newly formed Egyptian national security service, but the officers were not at the terminal on Saturday due to problems with police deployment in the Sinai peninsula, a Ma’an correspondent reported.

Commercial traffic will continue to have to pass through border points with Israel to enter the impoverished enclave.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Arabi announced in April that the crossing would reopen permanently, stressing this would help ease the blockade imposed by Israel.

The border has remained largely shut since June 2006 when Israel imposed a tight blockade on Gaza after militants snatched Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still being held.

The blockade was tightened a year later when Hamas seized control of the territory, ousting forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

The United Nations has called the blockade illegal and repeatedly demanded it be lifted.

The decision to permanently reopen the Rafah crossing came more than three months after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned under pressure following 18 days of massive street protests against his rule.

It was hailed by Gaza’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, and the European Union, but Israel has greeted the news with trepidation.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Thursday the move was “a courageous and responsible decision which falls in line with Palestinian and Egyptian public opinion.”

“We hope that it is a step towards the complete lifting of the siege on Gaza,” he said, a day after Egypt announced it would open the crossing on a permanent basis to ease the blockade which has been in place since 2006.

The European Union also praised the move and said it was in consultations with Egypt, the Palestinians and Israel about returning its team of advisers to monitor activity along the frontier.

But Israel expressed concern, with Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai telling public radio it would create “a very problematic situation.”

The move was hailed by Israeli NGO Gisha, which campaigns for freedom of movement for Palestinians.

“Gisha welcomes the announcement that Egypt will expand the ability of Gaza residents to travel abroad via Rafah crossing, which has become Gaza’s gateway to the world,” the group said.

The move follows an April 27 unity accord between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and the Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas that was signed in the Egyptian capital.

“This new Cairo spring is bearing fruit such as the Rafah opening and efforts to end the blockade,” said Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah official on a visit to the Gaza Strip.

Figures provided by the NGO show that over the past year, an average of 19,000 people a month have used the crossing — just 47 percent of the number who used it in the first half of 2006.

http://maannews.net/eng/

Palestinians detained, prices soar as Rafah stays closed

Posted in Gaza on February 9, 2011 by lamalucy

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 8 February 2011

OCCUPIED GAZA STRIP (IRIN) – More than a week of political unrest in Egypt has heightened the threat of a humanitarian crisis in neighboring Gaza. Egyptian soldiers fled their posts on the northern border on 30 January, forcing the Rafah crossing — a critical valve for the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza — to close.

Approximately sixty Palestinians, attempting to return home via Cairo when Gaza’s southern border closed, are still being held in the “deportation room” at Cairo airport. Among them are six children and several critically ill patients who are running out of medication.

“The children don’t know what’s happening. Sometimes they’re crying. It’s very, very cold here; it’s crowded and there is nowhere for us to wash,” one of those being detained, who asked not to be named, told IRIN on 30 January.

Israel destroyed Gaza’s airport during the second intifada in 2002, and Palestinians from Gaza have few alternatives but to transit through Cairo airport, via Rafah. Since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007, Palestinians from Gaza need special security clearance to enter Egypt. Those with permits to travel abroad are taken directly to Cairo airport by bus where they are held until their flight departs. On the return leg they are held at the airport until they can be taken to the Rafah crossing.

Tunnels close

Israel’s blockade of the region means Gaza depends heavily on goods smuggled through tunnels from Egypt — particularly fuel, cooking gas and building materials — but the ongoing instability in Egypt has caused these tunnels to close, severing a vital supply line.

“The problem is getting fuel to the border inside Egypt. There are no military forces on the Egyptian side of the border, so smugglers are getting hijacked on the road from Cairo and all their stuff stolen. It’s very dangerous for them,” said taxi driver Farid Abdul al-Rahman, who is running his car on the last of his Egyptian diesel.

“There is nothing coming through the tunnels now — I think the problem is only going to get worse,” he said. Petrol has now run out entirely and the only fuel available is the limited amount coming from Israel at treble the price.

A fuel shortage in Gaza would not only mean no cars, but also no electricity. The blockade and severe damage to power stations during the 2009 conflict resulted in a chronic power shortage with up to six hours of electricity cuts every day. Gaza’s homes and businesses rely on fuel-powered generators.

“I have to stock up like everyone else, as we have no idea when there will be petrol here again,” said a senior judge, who asked not to be named because of his position, queuing with hundreds of people at one of the few petrol stations in Gaza City that still had fuel.

Hospitals affected

The major hospitals have stockpiles of fuel to power their generators, but the biggest, Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, has less than a week’s supply in reserve. If the tunnels remain closed much longer, the situation will become critical.

Mohamed Abu Rahman, a senior nurse in the intensive care unit, said he was very concerned about the border closure. “This unit, especially, is entirely dependent on electricity. If there’s a power cut we have to operate the ventilators manually before the generator kicks in,” he told IRIN.

“There are power cuts here for four hours every day. It will be impossible to keep people alive without our generators — the monitors, the ventilators, everything — will be gone.”

For some the situation is life-threatening. Gaza suffers acute shortages of crucial medical equipment and medicines, which means many people, often those with serious conditions like cancer, must be referred abroad for treatment.

Every month approximately 500 Palestinian patients from Gaza are referred to Egypt. With the Rafah crossing closed indefinitely, the UN is looking into the possibility of transferring medical cases from Gaza through Israel, although the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) predicts at least 20 percent of patients will be refused on security grounds.

Bassam Abu Hamad, a senior health consultant in Gaza, warned that closure of the Rafah crossing was putting lives at risk. “People in need of radiotherapy, and advanced surgery in particular, are simply unable to get treatment,” he said. “While Rafah is closed, we will see increased loss of life here in Gaza.”

Price hikes

The prices of many consumer goods have rocketed since the tunnels closed. Cigarettes have gone up 25 percent, but the cost of vital building materials has doubled.

Much of Gaza is still in ruins after Israel’s last invasion in 2009, which left 60,000 buildings damaged and more than 4,000 destroyed.

Israel’s ban on importing cement, steel and gravel through its border posts means that any construction in Gaza has to rely on materials smuggled through the tunnels.

“Since the problems started in Egypt, the prices of cement and gravel have doubled — one ton of cement cost 520 new Israeli shekels [NIS — US $140] last week. Today, I bought a ton for 1,100 NIS [US $296],” said Ashraf al-Aloul, a driver for an international nongovernmental organization, one of thousands of Gazans in the process of building a home.

“Nobody here can afford to buy material at this price. I think all building work will stop while people wait to see what’s going on.”

Witness to State Terror: Aboard the Mavi Marmara ( Fatima Mohammadi )

Posted in Eyewitness, Gaza on June 18, 2010 by lamalucy

Israeli Butchery at Sea

Posted in Gaza on June 2, 2010 by lamalucy

by Gilad Atzmon

http://www.gilad.co.uk/

As I write this piece the scale of the Israeli lethal slaughter at sea is yet to be clear. However we already know that at around 4am Gaza time, hundreds of IDF commandos stormed the Free Gaza international humanitarian fleet. We learn from the Arab press that at least 16 peace activists have been murdered and more than 50 were injured. Once again it is devastatingly obvious that Israel is not trying to hide its true nature: an inhuman murderous collective fuelled by a psychosis and driven by paranoia.

For days the Israeli government prepared the Israeli society for the massacre at sea. It said that the Flotilla carried weapons, it had ‘terrorists’ on board. Only yesterday evening it occurred to me that this Israeli malicious media spin was there to prepare the Israeli public for a full scale Israeli deadly military operation in international waters. Make no mistake. If I knew exactly where Israel was heading and the possible consequences, the Israeli cabinet and military elite were fully aware of it all the way along. What happened yesterday wasn’t just a pirate terrorist attack. It was actually murder in broad day light even though it happened in the dark.

Yesterday at 10 pm I contacted Free Gaza and shared with them everything I knew. I obviously grasped that hundreds of peace activists most of them elders, had very little chance against the Israeli killing machine. I was praying all night for our brothers and sisters. At 5am GMT the news broke to the world. In international waters Israel raided an innocent international convoy of boats carrying cement, paper and medical aid to the besieged Gazans. The Israelis were using live ammunition murdering and injuring everything around them.

Today we will see demonstrations around the world, we will see many events mourning our dead. We may even see some of Israel’s friends ‘posturing’ against the slaughter. Clearly this is not enough.

The massacre that took place yesterday was a premeditated Israeli operation. Israel wanted blood because it believes that its ‘power of deterrence’ expands with the more dead it leaves behind. The Israeli decision to use hundreds of commando soldiers against civilians was taken by the Israeli cabinet together with the Israeli top military commanders. What we saw yesterday wasn’t just a failure on the ground. It was actually an institutional failure of a morbid society that a long time ago lost touch with humanity.

It is no secret that Palestinians are living in a siege for years. But it is now down to the nations to move on and mount the ultimate pressure on Israel and its citizens. Since the massacre yesterday was committed by a popular army that followed instructions given by a ‘democratically elected’ government, from now on, every Israeli should be considered as a suspicious war criminal unless proved different.

Considering the fact that Israel stormed naval vessels sailing under Irish, Turkish and Greek flags. Both NATO members and EU countries must immediately cease their relationships with Israel and close their airspace to Israeli airplanes.

Considering yesterday’s news about Israeli nuclear submarines being stationed in the Gulf, the world must react quickly and severely. Israel is now officially mad and deadly. The Jewish State is not just careless about human life, as we have been following the Israeli press campaign leading to the slaughter, Israel actually seeks pleasure in inflicting pain and devastation on others.

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Deadly Israeli raid on aid fleet -19 Internationals Dead **Boise Native Fatima Mohammadi Was on Aid Ship

Posted in Eyewitness, Gaza on May 31, 2010 by lamalucy

A Chicago-based human rights activist is among hundreds of elected
officials, former diplomats, aid workers and activists currently en
route by sea to Gaza to break Israel’s blockade of the tiny strip of
land. Fatima Mohammadi, who lives in Chicago, is currently aboard the
Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship with hundreds of aid workers and
activists aboard. A total of six ships, including two cargo ships and
other passenger vehicles, are carrying more than 10,00 tons of
humanitarian aid to the besieged region, which has been under Israeli

blockade since 2006.

“Israel has marshalled its most lethal military vessels to try to stop this humanitarian marine convoy, but we will not be intimidated,” Ms. Mohammadi said early this afternoon from the Mavi Marmara by instant message. “Too much is at stake for the people of Gaza, who continue to suffer tremendously and needlessly under Israel’s inhumane, illegal blockade.”

Two boats in the aid flotilla, one currently traveling with the convoy
to Gaza and another in port in Cyprus for repairs, are flagged and
registered in the United States. The ships are U.S. territory under
maritime law, and the U.S. government is required to intervene if this
“U.S. property” is attacked or illegally confiscated by Israeli
authorities — a tactic Israel has threatened and deployed in the
past. Israel has a long history of attacking ships whose missions are
deemed undesirable. In December 2008, it rammed the Dignity, carrying
medical and humanitarian aid, doctors, human rights workers and a
former U.S. congresswoman, without warning in international waters.

Israel intensified its 2006 blockade after attacking the area in a
weeks-long assault that ended in January 2009, killing more than 1,400
and leaving thousands more homeless and reducing huge swaths of
housing to rubble. The blockade has created mass unemployment and
extreme poverty, leaving four out of five Gazans — half of whom are
children — dependent on humanitarian aid.

The Freedom Flotilla carries more than 10,000 tons of relief and
developmental aid to Gaza. These supplies are being delivered by a
coalition of international civil society and human rights
organizations directly to the people of Gaza, using only international
waters and the coastal waters immediately off of Gaza for passage. The
flotilla is expected to arrive in Gaza as early as today.

Chicagoans will protest in support of the flotilla’s humanitarian
mission at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, June 1, in front of the Israeli
consulate at 111 E. Wacker Dr. in Chicago.

U.S.-based humanitarian projects with news updates on the Gaza aid flotilla:

WitnessGaza.com
http://www.freegaza.org
gazafreedommarch.org

LIVE video feed: http://www.livestream.com/insaniyardim

Israeli commandos have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships off the coast of the Gaza Strip, killing up to 19 people on board.

Dozens of others were injured when troops raided the convoy of six ships, dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, early on Monday.

Israel said activists on board attacked its commandos as they boarded the ships, while the flotilla’s organisers said the Israeli forces opened fire first, as soon as they stormed the convoy.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, gave his “full backing” to the military forces after the raid.

“The prime minister… reiterated his full backing for the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] and inquired about the well-being of the wounded,” his office told the AFP news agency.

He also said Israel regretted the loss of life in the raid.

Israeli media reported that many of the dead were Turkish nationals.

Organisers of the Freedom Flotilla say it was carrying 700 activists and 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid with the aim of breaking the Israeli siege of Gaza.

Full Story at http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/05/201053113252437484.html

ANCHORED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN:
THE US PRESENCE ON THE FREEDOM FLOATILLA TO GAZA – by fatima mohammadi

If allowed in, this will be my third humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza.

Each convoy has had its difficulties and its joys. The difficulty of

this current convoy is that nearly 800 volunteers aboard 6 ships are

attempting to enter the besieged strip through International waters –

a completely legal activity – despite constant threats by the Israeli

government to block, arrest and deport the entire convoy. These

threats have two effects in my opinion: 1) they highlight the severity

and depth of the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza for nearly four

years, showing Israel to be the vicious occupier and instigator of

hostility in the region that we know them to be and 2) they strengthen

the resolve of volunteers around the world, on this convoy and beyond,

who are aware of the plight of the Palestinians and who actively seek

a resolution to the unjust occupation and continued colonization of

Palestine. Of course, the joy of this convoy is the real potential it

has to finally end the siege on Gaza if it gains enough international

support and attention in the upcoming hours.

Currently, we are anchored in the Mediterranean Sea about a 6 hour

sail from Cyprus, where we have been awaiting two final ships. A Greek

ship carrying members of Parliament from half a dozen European

countries has just arrived, and the Irish boat, the MV Rachel Corrie

follows shortly. We will soon set sail towards Gaza, straight towards

the threats of Israel to stop us at all costs, including by use of

force. Rest assured, however, regardless of their tactics to stop us –

force or delay – we will not turn back nor will we allow Israel to

board our ships.

It is imperative to reiterate that this is an unarmed humanitarian aid

convoy carrying the better part of one thousand volunteers from 1½

years of age to 88 years of age, from more than 30 countries. We have

the official support of the governments of France, Mexico, Belgium,

Brazil, Chile, Italy and the European Union. Unfortunately, my own

country is not on that list…the United States. As they are a

stall-worth supporter of Israel, that is hardly surprising. What is

surprising, however, is that although I was the only American on board

as an IHH participant, I have been joined by a few US citizens from

the Free Gaza movement and discovered that we are 11 in all –

including ex-military and government personnel, dual citizens,

activists and medical volunteers. Most have been to Gaza at least once

and are “used to” dealing with the threats of oppressive regimes and

direct conflict with their police and military forces. And most of us

still hope and expect the United States to take an openly supportive

role of this convoy and to pressure Israel to allow our convoy into

Gaza to deliver aid.

In sum, we, the Americans on board the ships, and the collective “we,”

volunteers and people of conscious from around the world, are relying

upon the support of our fellow citizens and our respective governments

to pressure Israel to 1) allow this humanitarian aid convoy into Gaza

and 2) once and for all end this crippling and unjust siege of Gaza.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION! WE NEED YOU TO SPREAD THE WORD!!! Join the Freedom

Floatilla: Midwest Emergency Response Network on Facebook and stay

updated through the dozens of media sources on board the Mavi Marmara,

our IHH ship of volunteers, including Al-Jazeera English, Arabic, and

Indonesia, Press TV-UK, Venezuela-Telesur TV, and El Quds and El Aqsa

TV.

Send a letter demanding that the Israeli government allow free passage

to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Every time someone sends a letter from

the following link, it will email AND fax 150 Israeli Embassies and

Consulates worldwide:

http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6207/t/6210/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=3142

Sign the petition:

http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6207/t/6210/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=775

Organizations wishing to suport the Midwest Emergency should send an

e-mail to ISMinChicago@aol. com with the name of your group and your

contact information.

Also, if you are located in the Midwest, please send an e-mail address

for media contacts to: FGMinChicago@aol.com and include your phone

number if possible!

Please see also:
http://www.witnessgaza.com/
http://fpmdigitalship.blogspot.com/
http://www.freegaza.org/
http://www.ihh.org.tr/
http://savegaza.eu/eng/
http://www.perdana4peace.org/Default.aspx
http://www.shiptogaza.gr/
http://shiptogaza.se/
http://www.commondreams.org/

Israelis Kill at least 10, Injure Dozens in Assault on Gaza Ship Convoy Carrying Humanitarian Aid

http://palsolidarity.org/2010/05/12551/

UPDATE 3 PM (GMT+2): All six humanitarian aid ships have been docked in Ashdod. The injured, numbering over 25, have been taken to Tel Hashomer and Beilinson hospitals, according to Physicians for Human Rights. The death toll has been reported as high as 19.

10 PM CST: Solidarity activists aboard one of six relief vessels traveling to Gaza with humanitarian report that they have been attacked by Israeli forces, with three of their human rights volunteers killed and roughly 30 injured. The assault comes in the wake of the flotilla being surrounded earlier today by three Israeli warships in international waters, roughly 70 miles away from the Israeli coast. The Flotilla moved further west, deeper into international waters to avoid any conflict with Israeli navy vessels, but had been concerned all night that Israeli forces would send small inflatable military boats towards the flotilla and attempt to attack and board the humanitarian vessels.

Those fears have apparently been realized, with people aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship with hundreds of aid workers and activists aboard, reporting that they have been attacked. At least three passengers have been killed and dozens more wounded. Israeli commandos apparently rappelled onto the Mavi Marmara, whose passengers range in age from 88 to a year old and include Christians, Muslims and Jews seeking to end the blockade. Midwest U.S. activists have been unable to reach Chicagoan Fatima Mohammadi, traveling aboard the Mavi Marmara.

**Note from Voices for Palestine; Fatima is a native of Boise, ID – our thoughts and prayers are on her safe and speedy return home)

Live video from the flotilla shows Israeli naval commando vessels pulling alongside the aid ships, and what sounds like gunfire can be heard in the background. No-one on the aid ships is carrying any kinds of weapons, including for defense against a feared Israeli attack in international waters.

Hundreds of elected officials, former diplomats, aid workers and activists – including a Nobel laureate and many European legislators – are with the flotilla, traveling by sea to Gaza to break Israel’s blockade of the tiny strip of land. Foreign news correspondents and independent journalists are traveling aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship with hundreds of aid workers and activists aboard which is also running its own press operation reachable at the satellite number +8821636619168. A total of six ships, including two cargo ships and other passenger vehicles, are carrying thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to the beseiged region, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.

Israel has marshalled its most lethal military vessels to try to stop the humanitarian marine convoy, and at around 2:20 pm Central Standard Time (US) the first reports of unmanned drone planes buzzing the vessels was received from convoy passengers.

Two boats in the aid flotilla, one currently traveling with the convoy to Gaza and another in port in Cyprus for repairs, are flagged and registered in the United States. The ships are U.S. territory under maritime law, and the U.S. government is required to intervene if this “U.S. property” is attacked or illegally confiscated by Israeli authorities — a tactic Israel has threatened and deployed in the past. Israel has a long history of attacking ships whose missions are deemed undesirable. In December 2008, it rammed the Dignity, carrying medical and humanitarian aid, doctors, human rights workers and a former U.S. congresswoman, without warning in international waters.

Israel intensified its 2006 blockade after attacking the area in a weeks-long assault that ended in January 2009, killing more than 1,400 and leaving thousands more homeless and reducing huge swaths of housing to rubble. The blockade has created mass unemployment and extreme poverty, leaving four out of five Gazans — half of whom are children — dependent on humanitarian aid.

The Freedom Flotilla carries more than 10,000 tons of relief and developmental aid to Gaza, along with roughly 700 participants from more than 30 countries, among them volunteers from South Africa, Algeria, Turkey, Macedonia, Pakistan, Yemin, Kosovo, the UK and US and Kuwait – and an exiled former Archbishop of Jerusalem who currently lives in the Vatican. The cargo includes prefabricated homes and playgrounds, cement and other home-building supplies, medical devices and medications, textiles and food, in defiance of Israel’s siege on Gaza, which restricts the entry of all materials, including food and medicine. The flotilla’s supplies were gathered by a coalition of international civil society and human rights organizations to be sent directly to the people of Gaza by sea, using only international waters and the coastal waters immediately off of Gaza for passage. The flotilla is expected to arrive in Gaza as early as today.

Participants on board speak languages that include English, Turkish, Kurdish, over ten dialects of Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Portugeuse, French, Malaysian, Indonesian, Norweigen, Swedish, Urdu, Punjabi, Farsi, Hindi, German, Flemish, Greek, Catalon, Russian, Bosnian, Chechen, Macedonian and Albanian. Reporters on board hail from locations that include the United Kingdom, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Kuwait, South Africa, Pakistan, Jordan, the Persian Gulf and across the Arab world.