Tag Archives: David Heap
10 December 2013
When I finally entered the Gaza Strip on October 18, 2012, I wept. The trip across the Sinai and the crossing at the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza (as described in detail by my colleagues Máire Noonan and Verena Stresing) seemed long and fraught. This was my fourth attempt to reach Gaza, so it was emotional for me to finally arrive. We were there for a linguistics conference, and had the opportunity to meet some wonderful young people who were thirsting for contact with the outside world. We felt lucky to be able to travel there and meet them, and to enjoy some legendary Palestinian hospitality.
Our timing was indeed very lucky: the same trip a year later would be impossible, since the Egyptian military has since closed down that crossing.
Since the July 2012 coup and the Egyptian military's xenophobic scapegoating of Palestinians, the crackdown at the Rafah crossing has become brutal. The stories of individuals unable to cross are heartbreaking: students losing their academic year and in some cases scholarships because they cannot enroll, sick patients suffering because they cannot reach needed treatments, families kept apart, and worse. The systemic effects are even worse, as lack of fuel limits electricity supplies, which in turn means failure of critical infrastructure: kids wading through sewage on the way to school and having to study by candle-light while hospitals are unable to keep life-saving equipment powered up.
These increasingly unlivable conditions in Gaza are an unnatural human disaster, and entirely preventable. The Israeli blockade and the Egyptian enforcement of it on one side are both political choices by governments that subject Palestinian civilians in Gaza to miserable conditions for political motives. These political choices are in turn enabled by the complicit silence of the governments we elect. So the Palestinians in Gaza know that they cannot depend on governments, only on international civil society — people of conscience the world over — to draw attention on their plight.
For some years I have been working with civil society groups opposing the blockade of Gaza. But you don't have to join our grassroots direct actions in person to support our efforts to challenge the blockade, or join the more than 10 000 people worldwide who have signed a petition initiated by young Palestinians in Gaza calling for the complete opening of the Rafah border in both directions. As an educator, I can't help thinking about the young Palestinians we met in Gaza. Depriving them of freedom of movement means condemning them to a future without hope: if we allow that, we can hardly be surprised if some of them turn to hopeless actions.
Personal emotional responses aside, my ability to travel to Gaza is of course not the real issue. What is really at stake here is one of the basic human rights that the occupation deprives Palestinians of on a regular basis: the right to travel about their land, to leave and return to their country. Freedom of movement, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is fundamental for everything from education and health care to the ability to earn a living and see your family.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says the Israeli blockade on Gaza and restrictions on freedom of movement throughout Palestine amount to collective punishment, a violation of fundamental human rights. On Human Rights Day (or any other day), you can learn more about lack of freedom of movement imposed on the West Bank Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh by the same occupation, its effect on people's livelihoods as well as what you can do to about it in this Write for Rights action featured by Amnesty International. Although the situations vary in different parts of Palestine, the overarching violation of the right of freedom of movement is a constant of the occupation.
The video includes coverage of Gaza's Ark initiative and an interview with David Heap.
CORRECTION: Gaza's Ark will NOT carry over 100 people. In addition to its cargo, it will likely carry no more than 20 people or so; and our revised timeline is to sail in the spring of 2014 as announced on 21 August (NOT by the end of this year).
by Dr Sarah Marusek
Friday, 30 August 2013 16:18
An interview with David Heap on Gaza's Ark
A new mission vows to challenge the blockade of Gaza by sea following Freedom Flotilla efforts since 2010, and Free Gaza missions preceding Cast-Lead in 2008. Not a Gaza-bound aid convoy this time.
With a crew of Palestinians and international activists on board, Gaza’s Ark will sail from the port of Gaza, carrying Palestinian products to buyers around the world, to defy Israel’s illegal and inhuman blockade.
Gaza’s Ark is rebuilding a cargo vessel that will attempt to open the sea to Palestinian exports to show to the outside world that Palestine is a productive land, while drawing public attention on the 7-year blockade.
Radio interview: David Heap from Gaza’s Ark updates us on the new construction, and also significant worldwide developments in Palestine solidarity.
David Heap from Gaza's Ark updates us on the new construction, and also significant worldwide developments in Palestine solidarity.
In June 2013 David Heap gave a presentation about Gaza's Ark in Berlin, Germany.
Originally published here with additional material.
This week we talk with the two spokespersons for Gaza’s Ark here in Canada, David Heap and Ehab Lotayef, who update us on the project and what people here can do to help. We reached David in Italy where he is promoting the Ark project and then spoke with Ehab in Montreal.
Our final piece of music is by Lebanese singer Marcel Khalife, Walking Tall, and we dedicate it to the proud Gazan people who continue to walk tall and resist the Israeli occupation until they are able to live free and with dignity.
Download an audio file of today’s entire show to listen at home on your computer:
"Land, liberty, dignity," chanted the marchers as they made their way to the emblematic Habib Bourguiba Avenue — epicenter of the 2011 protests in Tunisia that sparked the Arab Spring in several Arab capitals.
The march on Saturday was organized to coincide with Land Day commemorations in Palestine and parts of Israel to mark the 1976 killing of six protesters demonstrating against Israeli plans to confiscate Palestinian land.
Courtesy of PressTV