Palestinians to trade using Gaza Ark
IMPOVERISHED Palestinians living under the Gaza blockade are planning to build a vessel that will trade at ports on the Mediterranean as early as Christmas.
An international collective is backing the plans, with at least two Sydney residents helping to plan and fund a project called “Gaza’s Ark”.
Free Gaza Australia member Michael Coleman, 36, of Chippendale, said Palestinians sailing from Gaza’s main port equated to “challenging the blockade in reverse.”
“They’re going to either build a new vessel or restore an old one in Gaza,” he said.
“International boat builders and sailors are going in to assist. They can rebuild their economy on their own terms.”
Mr Coleman said Palestinians planned to trade with international businesses and non-government organisations. His colleague, James Godfrey, 44, said the ark would be a public challenge to Israel.
“(Imports) are prevented by the Israeli navy. Gaza is the only port on the Mediterranean closed to shipping,” Mr Godfrey, of Annandale, said. “It’s about free trade as well as fair trade.”
But NSW Jewish Board of Deputies head Vic Alhadeff said ending the war between Israel and Hamas – not beginning a trade program – would stop the blockade.
“If Australians genuinely wish to help the people of Gaza and get the blockade lifted, they should encourage Hamas to end its state of war with Israel and its smuggling of arms into Gaza,” Mr Alhadeff said.
“We support all bona fide aid efforts by recognised agencies, which Israel helps facilitate.”
NO WAY IN
■ The blockade of the Gaza Strip was established by Israel and Egypt in 2007.
■ It limits humanitarian aid and includes economic sanctions.
■ Michael Coleman was detained at Givon prison, near Tel Aviv, for five days while protesting against the Gaza blockade last October.
■ Details: freegazaoz.org
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies on aid to Gaza:
“(It includes) 30,000 tons of humanitarian goods that Israel delivers every week.”
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