Exhibition of Gaza's Ark products from all of Palestine, for export by Freedom Flotilla
Gaza City June 6-8.
When Gaza's Ark was destroyed during last year’s attack on Gaza by Israel, we all lost a boat intended to break the blockade “from the inside out". But our goal of helping to build a sovereign Palestinian economy based on freedom of movement has not changed. Palestinian products from both Gaza and the West Bank were to be exported not only as a symbolic stimulus to the Palestinian economy but to show the world the industrious work of craftspeople and farmers who continue to struggle against the overwhelming odds of occupation, economic strangulation and war.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is now on its way to once again challenge the blockade of Gaza. The remaining goods that were to be exported by Gaza’s Ark are now to form part of the export cargo of the Freedom Flotilla when it reaches Gaza. To showcase these goods and highlight exactly what Israel was trying to stop by destroying Gaza’s Ark, Palestinian producers organizations are participating in an exhibition of export goods at the Red Crescent Hall (near Al Azhar University) in Gaza City, from June 6th to 8th, 11am to 6pm.
Sameera Qarmout, from one of the producers’ organizations at the exhibit, says: "Before it was attacked, we had the hope that our embroideries would be exported aboard Gaza's Ark. The coming Freedom Flotilla III has given us a light of new hope that our products will still be made available to world markets." The exhibit includes goods from Palestinian producers in Gaza as well as goods from West Bank producers that reached Gaza in spite of the Israeli Occupier’s restrictions: embroidery, wood carvings and olive oil.
Watch this video to both see some of the products that Israel barred from export and to hear first hand from Palestinians about what these goods mean to them. One of the West Bank artisans whose products are at the exhibition in Gaza stated: “My dream is to go to Gaza… we can go all over the world but we can’t go to Gaza – which says a lot about the situation”. This exhibition not only shows the world the tragedy of the ongoing separation of the Palestinian people imposed by Israeli policies in the occupied territories – in direct contravention of the Oslo accords – but also fosters connection between producers in the West Bank, Gaza and their customers around the world.
Organizations and individuals in Australia, North America and Europe purchased over $24 000 USD worth of Palestinian export goods via Gaza’s Ark, and new orders are still being placed, showing the confidence people have in the need for a Palestinian economy. Peter Downey (Chair, Bethlehem B&NES Links Ltd., Bath, England) adds: “We have bought goods from West Bank artisans as samples for a potential distributor of their products in the UK and Europe. This new sea route will be far less expensive than the courier system to which we are subject currently. It is vital for the economic development of the Palestinian State that there are trade routes by which they can export their goods."
The Israeli military did not just target Gaza’s Ark. It targeted the hope that Palestinians have for an economy based on their right to export their products from their own port, independently of the occupying power. As the Freedom Flotilla III as it sets its sights on economic freedom and social justice for the 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, follow our progress athttps://freedomflotilla.org/ and https://shiptogaza.se/en, and on Twitter:@CanadaBoatGaza @GazaFFlotilla @ShiptoGazaSE
For more information about this event, please contact product exhibitcoordinator for Gaza’s Ark, Awni Farhat at email@example.com (+
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.
CAIRO (AFP) — Egypt will reopen its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza strip Monday and Tuesday to allow humanitarian cases to cross.
The decision by Egyptian authorities marks the fourth time the border will be opened since it was closed after a suicide bombing in the Sinai Peninsula in October killed 30 soldiers, security officials said.
Director of the Gaza crossings Maher Abu Sabha told Ma'an that the Egyptian authorities will open the crossing from both sides.
Palestinians who travel through Rafah are mostly students heading to universities in Egypt or beyond, and those seeking medical treatment.
October's attack also led to a state of emergency and curfew being imposed in some parts of North Sinai where security forces are battling an Islamist insurgency.
The army has also created a wide buffer zone along the border with Gaza aimed at preventing infiltration by militants.
Despite these measures, on Jan. 29 another 30 people were killed when rockets and a car bomb targeted a military base and other security posts in North Sinai.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a militant movement affiliated to the Islamic State group that has seized territory in Syria and Iraq, has claimed most of the attacks in North Sinai, including those in October and January.
It says its attacks are retaliation for a brutal government crackdown on supporters of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the army in July 2013.
The military has said that in February 172 militants were killed in joint police and army operations in the peninsula.
An Islamic Jihad delegation and Egyptian authorities met in Cairo on March 1 to address the need for Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, a need that has taken particular urgency due to the detrimental impact of movement restrictions on the reconstruction of the war-torn areas of the strip.
Sources said that Egyptian authorities agreed in principle to opening the crossing on regular basis soon, before opening it completely in the long run when Sinai calms.
Opening the crossing will be contingent on the role of the unity government in its operation, and reliant on a commitment by Hamas to stop interfering in internal Egyptian issues, sources added.
Hamas has agreed to let the presidential guards to take charge, as part of a comprehensive plan to merge employees from West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Rafah crossing into Egypt has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.8 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an Israeli blockage on the strip since 2007.
Full article available through Ma'an News Agency at: http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=759785
The main U.N. aid agency in the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday a lack of international funding had forced it to suspend payments to tens of thousands of Palestinians for repairs to homes damaged in last summer's war.
"People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble, children have died of hypothermia," Robert Turner, Gaza director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said in a statement.
We would like to provide a summary of the Gaza's Ark project as it stands now and what we have achieved over the last couple of years.
As you know, our boat was destroyed by the Israeli military during the Israeli assault on Gaza in July, the second time the Ark was deliberately targeted [http://www.gazaark.org/2014/
We will continue our work with our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends. We are putting Gaza's Ark on hold for now, until the situation becomes more suitable to resume it or similar work to challenge the blockade from inside Gaza.
Trade not Aid – Palestinian products:
Successful aspects of our ongoing work include the export product promotions and sales which link Palestinian producers in Gaza to solidarity purchasers around the world. Thanks to individuals and organizations in Europe, North America and Australia, we arranged over $25,000 in export contracts for Palestinian producers in Gaza. Of that amount, over $14,000 was for traditional food items, which were recently donated to needy Palestinian families in Gaza with the help of our friends at MECA [http://www.gazaark.org/2014/
Your support is what has brought Gaza's Ark this far. You contributed $341,000 (all figures in Canadian Dollars) to the project. We bought the fishing trawler which became Gaza's Ark for $87,000. Over the period between May 2013 and July 2014 we spent $131,000 modifying, upgrading and refurbishing it which went to the local economy, much of it payments to local workers.
Other expenses (including travel and administrative costs) amounted to $18,000. Professional services (legal, accounting, management and other service fees) totaled $58,000. All Steering Committee members were volunteers none of whom received any payment for their work.
We started the project with $22,000 – mostly money remaining from the Canadian Boat to Gaza Tahrir project of 2011. Main contributions after this came from Canada, $130,000, the US, $57,000 and Australia, $24,000, while our FFC partners contributed $74,000 which included sizable donations from partner campaigns in France, Turkey, South Africa, Norway, Sweden and others.
What will remain, after covering payables and selling some remaining assets in Gaza, is estimated at $45,000 which we will put towards work on the same line we are following since we started in 2010: challenging the Israeli illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza through non violent direct action such as the FFC's Open Gaza Port (FF3) announced lately.
We will continue to count on your support. Together we will succeed.
Gaza's Ark Steering Committee
Awni has worked as a volunteer with Gaza’s Ark for more than 2 years, in addition to volunteering with groups that help children and youth his native Gaza. He has been admitted to a Masters program in Violence Conflict and Development in London, England in 2015, and he is seeking help to enable him to travel and pay for his studies:
Please visit Awni's web page and offer whatever support you can, both directly and by sharing his appeal with your networks.
In continued solidarity
Gaza's Ark Steering Committee
Four Hundred (400) Palestinian families in Gaza are receiving food packages made up of agricultural products produced in Gaza, thanks to the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and Gaza’s Ark international solidarity network.
Israel’s 51 days of attacks on Gaza this past summer killed more than 2000 people, destroyed thousands of homes and apartments, damaged 75 hospitals and clinics, and caused millions of dollars of damage to farmland and civilian infrastructure. Currently more than 100,000 people in Gaza are displaced and an alarming 72% of households are considered food insecure by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Solidarity not Charity
This food distribution will include locally produced food products thereby directly benefitting both the local economy and families in need. Unlike goods which are brought from outside Gaza, this distribution is not subject to permits or authorizations from the Israeli occupation, nor on the ‘charity’ of aid organizations.
MECA is distributing the food packages to 400 families throughout Gaza who are food insecure. The distribution will mobilize and empower grassroots organizations and local volunteers in Gaza to help their communities. MECA partner organizations in Jabalia, Khan Younis, Nuseirat, and Gaza City are assisting in identifying families who are in need and have been overlooked by larger aid efforts.
“This is an innovative and positive example of how people around the world can work in partnership to support Gaza,” says Dr. Mona El-Farra, a physician, activist, and Gaza Project Director for the Middle East Children’s Alliance. “Through this small aid effort, we are helping the local producers as well as needy families in Gaza. These families have been impoverished by decades of occupation and years of a tight blockade; many were also hit savagely by the latest Israeli offensive.”
This humanitarian relief helps support Palestinian farmers and agricultural cooperatives throughout the Gaza Strip who have been paid $14,000 for their maftoul (couscous), date products like awja, debes and makhtom, spice mixes of dugga and za’atar which are used in traditional Palestinian breakfasts, as well as honey and olive oil.
“The Gaza’s Ark project has helped Palestinian women’s co-operatives and eight local associations by making solidarity sales and promoting their products outside of Gaza's borders,” said Awni Farhat, products and endorsements coordinator for Gaza’s Ark.
Salma Abu Mostafa from Abbassan Women’s Cooperative for Medicinal Herbs, one of the producers of the food products, added: “This project helped 67 women who work on their farms in the village of Abbassan to earn a bit of income and empower themselves in the community.”
Gaza’s Ark supporters from Europe, Canada, US and Australia paid for the food as part of an international solidarity campaign aimed at challenging the illegal blockade of Gaza. Individuals and organizations placed orders from Palestinian producers in Gaza and a fishing boat was being rebuilt in the port of Gaza to carry these exports to international markets. The boat was struck by Israeli shelling in July 2014 and destroyed along with thousands of Palestinian homes and other civilian structures. This attack put an end to the plans to sail against the blockade this year, but the international buyers agreed to donate the foodstuffs, originally purchased for export via Gaza’s Ark, to humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza.
Trade not Aid
Gaza’s Ark and MECA believe that the root causes of poverty and unemployment in Gaza cannot be addressed by humanitarian aid alone.
“The Gaza Strip has many high quality products which could compete in international markets, but we need the light of freedom,” emphasized Awni Farhat. “There is an urgent need for opened borders and the lifting of the Israeli blockade.”
In order to enjoy the right to earn a livelihood, Palestinians in Gaza need the international community to guarantee their right to freedom of movement, including to trade freely throughout the region and the world. While lifting the blockade remains Gaza’s Ark’s main objective, this cooperative effort with MECA shows how foodstuffs from Palestinian agricultural producers can help satisfy the immediate needs of Palestinian families and helps to build hope around the idea of a sovereign Palestinian economy.
“With this joint effort, we are sending a message to the world that what we need is our inalienable rights, not charity,” comments Dr. El-Farra of MECA.
Statement from the Freedom Flotilla Coalition
December 8, 2014
The humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate. Israel is not being held accountable for the damage it caused during its assault on the strip nor for the commitments it made as a part of the Egyptian brokered agreement to end hostilities. The port of Gaza remains closed and borders remain blocked and Palestinians in Gaza continue to be denied their basic right to freedom of movement. Gaza continues to suffer from the lack of basic supplies and materials needed for daily life let alone rebuilding what Israel damaged during its July/August assault. The International community did not meet the obligations it made to Gaza after the assault either.
In the shadow of these circumstances the Freedom Flotilla Coalition met in Athens on December 6th and 7th to follow up and revise plans for the upcoming flotilla: Freedom Flotilla III: Open Gaza port.
In this meeting, following the previous meeting in Istanbul last August, details were finalized for "Open Gaza Port" (OGP) to sail during the first half of 2015 with a flotilla of at least 3 ships, reflecting the urgency, wide interest and diverse public support to the project and taking into account the above mentioned grave situation in Gaza.
More details about OGP will be released over the coming weeks.
Freedom Flotilla Coalition members:
Canadian Boat to Gaza
European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza
Freedom Flotilla Italia
International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG)
Rumbo a Gaza
Ship to Gaza Greece
Ship to Gaza Norway
Ship to Gaza Sweden
also participating in the project:
Palestine Solidarity Alliance – South Africa
Miles of Smiles
Life Line Gaza – Jordan
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The Foreign Ministry has denied that Israel banned a Norwegian doctor from entering the Gaza Strip, but confirmed that he has indeed been banned from entering Israel.
A life ban was reportedly imposed on doctor and activist Mads Gilbert from entering Gaza, but according to spokesman Paul Hirschson, he was banned only from Israel, for security reasons.
The Steering Committee of the Gaza Ark project would like to publicly express our gratitude to Swedish volunteer Charlie Andreasson for all his assistance to the project over the last year.
As the dust settles in Gaza after the latest Israeli massacre of Palestinian civilians, we at Gaza’s Ark have been renewing our contacts with our Palestinian partners and producers.
Firstly we are inquiring about them, their families and any losses/damages to their businesses that may have been sustained in the latest Israeli aggression. Please read this report from Awni Farhat, the Product Coordinator for Gaza’s Ark, about the impact of Israeli attacks on two of them, the Palestine Association for Development and Heritage Protection and El Sawaf carpets: http://www.gazaark.org/2014/