Category Archives: Statements & Releases
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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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
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.
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/
From an August 31 Press Release:
On August 31 an Israeli court issued a verdict in the case by Ship to Gaza Sweden against the Israeli government, regarding the rights to S/V Estelle. The verdict is all in favour of Ship to Gaza's complaint.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) met in Istanbul in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza. We have watched atrocities being committed against an already besieged population. In the two day meeting (August 10th and 11th), the FFC concluded that it is the responsibility of civil society worldwide to sail to Gaza and challenge the Israeli blockade, the source of most problems facing the Palestinian population of Gaza.
We plan to sail to Gaza during 2014, the UN International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People:
Media Advisory: The Freedom Flotilla Coalition to sail to Gaza again. Challenging the Israeli blockade
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition has met in Istanbul, in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza. In the meeting of representatives from 12 countries which lasted for two days, August 10th and 11th, the FFC affirmed that, as most governments are complicit, the responsibility falls on civil society to challenge the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
The conclusion of our meeting will be presented at the press conference.
Negotiators are meeting in Cairo during the 72-hour Gaza ceasefire, trying to make an agreement for a lasting ceasefire. Palestinians are demanding that a long-term ceasefire permanently end the Israeli-Egyptian economic blockade on 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. This is a crucial moment for opponents of the blockade around the world to raise our voices.
Starting at 12 noon eastern US time (11 AM Central, 9 AM Pacific, 6pm CET), we urge you to participate in our daily 15 minute Twitter storm to push for the Cairo talks to conclude with an agreement to end the blockade of Gaza. Go to this page for instructions and sample tweets:
Even if you can’t join the Twitter storm at 12pm ET – maybe you it will be 2AM where you are! – we urge you to post tweets on ending the Gaza blockade with the hashtag #EndGazaBlockadeInCairo whenever you can, in whatever languages you can. We want to raise the profile of the Cairo talks, so that everyone in the world who opposes the blockade understands that the fate of the blockade is being negotiated right now, and does what they can to push political leaders to use their influence to insure that ending the blockade is part of the Cairo agreement.
Even U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has conceded, “Palestinians can’t have a cease-fire in which they think the status quo is going to stay." Scott Anderson, deputy director of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), recently said: “Unless there is material change to the status quo, you’re just resetting the clock for another cycle of violence.”
That’s why, together with our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, we are organizing a daily, 15 minute Twitter storm at 12 noon ET until the Cairo talks conclude with an agreement that ends the blockade. We want to make sure that “end the blockade” is at the top of the international agenda for the talks.
Participate in our daily twitter storm at noon ET every day until the Cairo talks conclude with an agreement to end the blockade. Instructions and sample tweets are here:
Even if you don't use Twitter, you can help by spreading this message by e-mail and by sharing the link above on other media with users who can support these efforts.Thank you for all you do to push for freedom of commerce and movement for Palestinians in Gaza,
In continued solidarity,
Gaza's Ark Steering Committee
July 28, 2014
for immediate release
For more information:
Ehab Lotayef (Gaza's Ark/Canada) +1 (514) 941-9792 firstname.lastname@example.org
David Heap (Gaza's Ark/Canada) +1 (519) 859-3579 email@example.com
Robert Naiman (Gaza's Ark/USA) +1 (217) 979-2857 firstname.lastname@example.org
James Godfrey (Gaza's Ark/Australia) +61 0424 340630 email@example.com
Zohar Chamberlain Regev (Rumbo a Gaza/Spain) +34 (647) 077-426 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dror Feiler (StG-Sweden) +46 (70) 285-5777 email@example.com
İzzet Shahin (IHH/Turkey) +90 (530) 341 2134 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition
Condemns Israeli Attacks on Gaza, Ongoing Blockade, and International Complicity
Planning to launch new Freedom Flotilla to Challenge Blockade