Category Archives: Our supporters
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.
This weekend representatives of the Gaza's Ark steering committee met with our Flotilla Coalition partners in London, England, and this morning we are standing together to tell the world that our campaign to challenge the blockade will not be deterred by threats or by violence.
The media statement from our London press conference is here.
A Palestinian doctor and human rights advocate updates us on the situation for women and children in the Gaza strip – the most populated strip of land in the world, where at least 80 per cent of the population depends on external assistance. Dr El-Farra is using play as a means of helping women and children alleviate stress, and address health problems.
Dr. El-Farra works with the Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip and the Middle East Children's Alliance: she is also an Advisory Committee member for Gaza's Ark.
Broadcast Tuesday 23 July 2013 10:20PM Sydney (Australia) time, on ABC radio: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/gaza27s-women-and-children/4812736
Podcast now available here. Interview starts at the 36 min mark.
“To honor my Dad, John E. Frank, a NYC firefighter of 33 years, I donate for the onboard fire-fighting system. Please folks, also support the Gazas' Ark communications systems. If FDNY had had sufficient radio systems on 9/11, many who died in WTC towers would be alive today.”
Vandana Shiva – Philosopher, physicist, environmental and seed sovereignty activist, ecofeminist and anti-globalization author.
Vandana Shiva was in attendance at Terra Futura (www.terrafutura.it)
Terra Futura is a unique annual conference-exhibition that brings together civil society institutions and businesses engaged in building a more equitable and sustainable future for all.
*Having "huevos" is a traditional Hispanic way of saying someone, (usually a man) has "balls" i.e. guts or courage. This more recent usage (having "balls" & ovaries) tries to balance the gender reference to be more inclusive.
Cuban pediatrician Dr. Aleida Guevara, daughter of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, opposes blockades and calls for support of Gaza's Ark and the Freedom Flotilla, in solidarity with Palestinians of Gaza.
Ann Wright and Chris Jones attended the Nobel Women's Initiative meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland, last May. There they got a ratification of her ongoing support for Gaza's Ark from Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire.