In a wooden boat not much bigger than the one in which Jesus of Nazareth stood and calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee with the word ‘peace’, the volunteers of the Free Gaza movement crossed over 200 miles of choppy seas to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, and to the surprise (and relief) of many, succeeded, a little sea-sick but basically unharmed.
As reported earlier by American Free Press, the Free Gaza Movement (peopled with individuals from as many as 46 nations) purchased the two boats with money raised by private donations. One, named the SS Free Gaza, and the other, named the SS Liberty (in memory of the USS Liberty deliberately attacked by Israel during the Six Day War) left Cypress the 3rd week of August and headed with humanitarian supplies towards Gaza where Israel has maintained program (pogram?) of economic and material suffocation on the 1.4 million Palestinian Christians and Muslims living there.
From the very beginning of the venture things were not looking good. Israel, seemingly addicted to the same sort of sadism and bloodshed that characterized her ancestors’ extermination of the 31 Palestinian villages as recounted in the Old Testament–promised ‘business-as-usual’ in dealing with the Free Gaza volunteers. Warnings from various Israeli ministries and their accompanying ministers, the Jewish state threatened to ‘use force’ in preventing the ship from bringing relief to the besieged non-combatants–women, children and elderly–of Gaza. The response on the part of the volunteers of the Free Gaza movement was ‘Give us liberty or give us death…We are sailing to Gaza, with or without the blessings of the Jewish state.’ Comments left on various blogs concerning the story of the ‘SS Liberty’ prior to the voyage delineated the absence of civility characterizing the Jewish state and her supporters since she was resurrected from her 2,000 year old grave over half a century ago. Despite the fact that the rest of the non-Jewish world is constantly lectured on things such as ‘human rights’ and subjected to the shrill, senseless shrieking of some impending rebirth of fascism whenever an agenda arises contrary to Israel’s wishes, nevertheless the Jewish state’s double-minded supporters out in the blogosphere have weighed in with their own comments. Terms such as ‘useful idiots’, ‘socialists’, ‘communists’, ‘terrorists’, ‘pirates’, ‘criminals’ and many others of similar vein have been hurled at the group of peaceful human rights activists intent on bringing medicine to needy Palestinian children. Many of these persons (who constantly parade themselves as being cut from a moral cloth superior to all others) voiced other comments expressing their hopes that Israel will attack the vessel, kill all persons on board and sink it to the bottom of the sea, just as Israel tried (but failed) to do to the crew of the USS Liberty in 1967. Other things on their collective wish list have included taking the crew hostage, shooting them in the head and throwing them overboard to imprisoning them for life.
Nevertheless, having received a clean bill of seafaring health from the Cypriot maritime authorities (meaning certification the boats were not carrying contraband) the ships set out, but not before holding a solemn ceremony where 34 long-stemmed roses were cast in the sea in memory of the 34 American sailors executed by Israel in 1967. Once at sea, it was not long before they ran into choppy waters that resulted in every person onboard scrambling for a space to throw up overboard. Worse still was the fact that halfway through the journey, all their communication equipment failed to operate, including satellite hookups. Spokesperson Greta Berlin, speaking to American Free Press from Gaza City relayed that it is the ‘generally accepted’ perception that Israel deliberately jammed the communications equipment the group was using.
It should be remembered here that this–jamming of communications equipment–was the very first act Israel executed in its assault upon the USS Liberty 41 years ago, attacking the antennae of the ship and jamming its communications to prevent word of the attack getting out. Given the fact that the Free Gaza movement, being media savvy and wise to the ways of Zionist intrigue utilized webcams broadcasting what was happening in real-time around the world means Israel would not be able to get away with sinking the ship, as there would be too many witnesses to her crime if she did. For reasons beyond the group’s explanation–similar to what took place aboard the Liberty 41 years ago–the jamming ended and a com-link was re-established with persons associated with the movement on the ground both in Cypress and Gaza.
If there is anything that can be inferred by this latest success by the Free Gaza movement, it is that when playing chess with Israel, one must be as ‘wise as serpents,’ just as Jesus of Nazareth warned his followers. Members of the Free Gaza movement–well-acquainted with Israel’s endemic use of ‘false-flag’ events to create certain illusory outcomes–knew Israel would more than likely try to pull a fast one by raiding the boats and ‘finding’ items that could be used to support ‘terrorist’ activities, one of the reasons they had the ships authoritatively inspected before departing. Secondly, deciding to name one of the ships after the USS Liberty attacked in 1967 virtually guaranteed their safety, as the LAST thing Israel can afford to do is attack a ship named ‘Liberty’ again, and particularly with the growing amount of interest this subject is gaining these days. Finally, the group’s use of cameras was particularly important, as Israel would not be able to get away with claming that ‘a,b and c’ happened when photos instead show ‘x,y and z.’
Speaking with American Free Press, Mz. Berlin described the scene as the ships approached besieged Gaza, with as many as 50 fishing boats sailing out to greet them, some people climbing (or trying to climb) on board and cheering. According to her estimates, there were at least 50,000 people on the beach cheering as the boats approached. Other reports estimate it may have been as high as 200,000.
Continuing, Mz. Berlin stated however that the two ships and their crew are not out of dangerous waters yet, as they plan to sail back to Cypress with 10 Palestinian students who have been accepted to study abroad but who have been prevented from leaving Gaza. Given the fact that one of Israel’s policies is one of ‘never forget’, the fact that this latest thumbing of the nose at the Jewish state means there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth taking place in Israel, as well concealed as it may be, and that some accident may befall the 2 ships on their way back to Cypress, such as a ‘storm’ or an ‘attack by pirates,’ who no doubt would wind up being ‘Islamic’.
The situation on the ground in Gaza is as grim as the brave seamen (and women) anticipated. In her journal entry entitled ‘Smiles and Tears in Gaza’, ‘Mary has the following to report–
‘It was a day of smiles and a day of tears for me here in Gaza City…A visit to the hospital which has seen most of the carnage created in Gaza by Israeli bombs and rockets. The doctor related some of the difficulties faced by the population of Gaza. That 50 children have died because Israel refused to let them enter Israel for treatment. The reason given by Israel? The mothers were under 35 years old and could be terrorists. So the children died. He told us that so far 242 people have died during the siege because of Israel’s refusal to allow them to get the treatment they need. And that there have been 300 deliveries at checkpoints, resulting in 69 babies dead.
Next we visited a room whose walls were filled with horrific photographs of injured and dying and dead children and babies. On the table was a collection of fragments of Israeli artillery — rockets, bombs, shrapnel, bullets…
Next to visit some patients. We didn’t see any victims of this violence there. One small boy, clearly very ill, maybe 7 or 8 years old. He held his mother’s hand and tried to smile at us at she told us he will die without an operation that cannot be performed in Gaza. The Israelis won’t let him into Israel or the West Bank for treatment.
Then we went to the neonatal unit where a dozen babies you could hold in your hand were struggling to survive in patched up incubators. Some were just tiny, some had bandages, all were breathing through tubes. Their tiny chests rose and fell, some moved, opened their eyes, cried out, waved arms or legs. They didn’t seem to be ill, just very tiny. In an American hospital I’m sure they would all survive and thrive. Here we know their lives are fragile because they depend on the electricity it takes to keep their incubators working.
They are just little babies… all different. Some fair, some darker, some red faced… some with hair, some without. They could be Arab babies, or Jewish babies, or Christian babies, or Muslim babies. They are Palestinian babies, and they deserve to grow into healthy Palestinian children and adults. I wonder how it can be that some people believe the lives of Palestinian babies are less precious than those of any others?
We went to the kidney dialysis unit, where 7 or 8 adults were getting their treatment. The doctors told us that often the patients must wait for hours until there is enough electricity for the machines. Israel usually allows them 12 hours of electricity per day, but sometimes only 6, so they constantly fear the machines will stop in the middle of treatment, which sometimes happens. They said also that Israel will not let them import necessary parts to keep the machines, and the incubators, operating properly, or let them have the solution needed to cleanse the blood of the dialysis patients.
And then to lunch with Prime Minister Ismail Hanyeh at his house inside the refugee camp. He greeted each of us individually, and told us we are now citizens of Palestine. He placed a large medal around each of our necks and spoke to us about who we are, and we were able to respond. After lunch he led us into several of the tiny houses, often a single room without furniture, where he and we were greeted warmly by the Prime Minister’s neighbors and their children.
As always the people and the children were friendly and welcoming, greeting us with smiles and reaching out their hands to us. Many of the women folded me and the other women into their arms, or touched our faces, and kissed us, always telling us ‘thank you for coming’ or ‘welcome to Gaza.’ The children were everywhere, running through the narrow alleyways of the camp, waving to us, calling out to us ‘what’s your name?’ and a few hiding behind their mothers, too shy to come near us. One little boy of around three dragged his green blanket around in the narrow little alley, reminding me of my own granddaughter who drags around a green blanket that I knitted for her when she was born.
Afterwards we went to the big outdoor market in downtown Gaza City. There are so many people… it’s such a little strip of land for a million and a half people. Everywhere they waved to us, smiled, held up their fingers in a peace sign. A flatbed truck pulled up beside our bus and we were entertained by a band playing just for us. We walked a lot today, and saw a thousand smiling faces.
Tonight we were entertained by Ramattan TV Network which had a journalist on our boat FREE GAZA. They showed a 6 minute film they have already made of our journey and our arrival in Gaza. There were many tears as we re-lived our rough voyage when many of us were seasick throughout the night, and frightened at the the thought – the expectation even – that we would suddenly be set upon by craft from Israel’s Navy which had warned us we would not be allowed to reach Gaza. And then cheers and smiles when we saw again the incredible greeting we had received as we sailed into Gaza port. There must have been 60 or 70 boats at least, and more than a hundred people in the water swimming beside our boats, or climbing aboard.
So here we are in Gaza, and we haven’t seen a single Israeli with a gun. Just three unarmed Israelis who sailed with us on this remarkable voyage.
The last news we received tonight was that the people of Gaza City will build a square for us and name it Free Gaza Square. And all of our names will be displayed there, along with one of our boats (or a replica if we choose not to leave one of our boats behind when we go.}
Tomorrow at 4:30 AM some of us are going out with the Gaza fishermen in their boats to see what we can catch. We hope our presence will provide some degree of protection for these men and boys who risk injury and death from Israeli guns each time they try to work their trade in the waters off the coast of Gaza.
with love from Gaza City…
Whatever happens, a small portion of the world–sick of seeing the Jewish state revel in the innocent blood it sheds and the misery it causes–can derive some sense of comfort in seeing the bravery of a handful of persons whose sense of humanity compelled them to do something compassionate in the face of such enormous evil taking place these days. And for those who are still scratching their heads, asking the question ‘how’d they pull it off?’ perhaps an old saying comes into play here–Sometimes big things come in small packages.
The other blessing of course is that this latest event proves that Israel is EXACTLY what the civilized world has said now for generations–a cowardly bully who will only pick a fight when she knows she can win against defenseless victims, and all persons following this story should take stock of the fact that if Israel knew she could have gotten away with murder–AGAIN–she would have given it her best shot.
Either way, what should be remembered–not only in the hearts and minds of those watching these events, but in the history books that one day will be written, is that it was a small group of true believers who put life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at great risk just to show a group of beleaguered persons in the world’s largest concentration camp that there are still people who care, as small in number as they may be.
2008 Mark Glenn
Correspondent, American Free Press Newspaper