For the second time in three months, a boat sponsored by the Free Gaza Movement has succeeded in landing in Gaza and breaking Israel’s siege of that Palestinian enclave:
The Free Gaza Movement is delighted to announce that their third boat, the SS Dignity carrying 27 crew and passengers arrived in Gaza at 8:10 Gaza time, in spite of Israeli threats to stop them…
The right-wing Jerusalem Post reported with utter certainty that the ship would be stopped. Anonymous sources in the Israeli defense ministry threatened to board the ship and prevent it from reaching Gaza. I wonder what Herb Keinon is saying right about now? Thank God, just as cooler heads prevailed last time so they prevailed again this time.
Among those who sailed this time were noted Palestinian non-violence proponent, Mustafa Barghouti, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead McGuire, and Balad Party MK Jamal Zahalka. Mazel tov to them all on a job well done.
Only traitors amongst the Jewish nation would be proud of this!
Ira Glunts says
Congratulations to all the participants in the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) for bringing the siege of Gaza to the attention of the world. Kudos to Jewish Voice For Peace for its support of their efforts. And to Richard for covering this and their first voyage on his blog.
What FGM is doing will bring hope to an oppressed people. The two voyages have been truly audacious. In this respect FGM is the Barack Obama of the people of Gaza. 🙂
I look forward to reading about FGM’s next arrival in Gaza on Tikkun Olam.
Michael W. says
I don’t think this boat trip accomplished much. It would have been better for the Palestinians if the boat was stopped by the Israeli Navy. More publicity.
Barak Ravid (who else), quoting an unnamed “senior official” (whom else) was just as adamant that the boat would be stopped: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1032271.html, but included this interesting tidbit:
“The Israel Navy will stop the activists’ vessel once it reaches Israel’s territorial waters, it was decided.”
So we can conclude, can’t we, that there’s an Israeli “senior official” who considers the sea before Gaza Israel’s territorial waters.
My questions are thus:
Is this the reason the source chickened out of having him/her quoted by name?
Or is this the official view of the Israeli government (who then decided to let the boat pass anyway)?
Congrats on breaking the Egyptian siege of Gaza!
Richard Silverstein says
@fiddler: I read on the FGM site that the participants interpreted this statement to mean if the boat entered Israeli waters then Israel would stop it. Therefore, the boat stayed clear of Israeli territorial waters.
But if Israel views Gaza’s shoreline & waters as Israeli territory that would be quite interesting & problematic for Israeli stated policy that it does not control Gaza.
Richard Silverstein says
@Manchester: Hey, mazel tov–for calling me a traitor to the Jewish nation, you’re banned! Read the comment rules. Nice knowin’ ya.
@Richard: That was the FGM’s interpretation alright, and no one’s disputing Israel’s right to control its own waters. But that’s not how the Haaretz article framed it – after stating clearly that the Israeli Navy would stop the boat Ravid reported they would do so “once (not if) it reaches Israel’s territorial waters”.
Since it was clear from the outset the FGM had no intention to enter Israel’s real territorial waters (not, I think, because Israel would stop them, but simply because they had no reason to) that can only mean Gaza’s waters, which the boat had to travel through, are considered Israel’s own, by some Israeli officials at least.
And, as if to confirm this, the FGM reports today that Israeli gunboats have again attacked Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza waters with machine guns and a water cannon.
Mary Hughes-Thompson says
We were overjoyed when our boat, SS DIGNITY, landed safely at the port of Gaza this week. Yesterday some of our passengers accompanied five Gazan fishing boats as they ventured out within their own territorial water in gaza hopes of making a good catch to provide food and income for their families.
While the Oslo agreement gave Gaza a 20 mile limit, the people of Gaza have never asked for more than the 12 miles which are standard under international law. After the elections in Palestine, Israel arbitrarily announced, as part of its blockade to punish Palestinians for democratically electing the wrong party, that it was cutting the limit to 6 miles.
Since our first Free Gaza boat landed in late August, internationals have often accompanied fishermen within their own territorial waters, Every day Israeli gunboats with nothing better to do, menace and attack at will, using live ammunition and high-powered cannons to damage or destroy these humble boats. One of our human rights observers and several Palestinians have been injured.
Yesterday we in Cyprus received repeated distress signals from one of the boats which was under attack. When one of our colleagues in Israel called the Israeli military to protest, the response was “They have plenty of food; why do they need to go fishing?”
Thankfully the damaged fishing boat made it safely back to shore, and we have good audio and video coverage of the hours-long attack.
We are hoping to send the SS DIGNITY back to Gaza within the next two weeks.