Demonstration at sea: Gaza: Stop the siege
Press Release, June 14, 2008
Demonstration at sea: Gaza: Stop the siege,
let the ceasefire sail!
Monday morning, June 16, between 10.15 am and 11.30am
Sailing from the Herzliya Marina dock
In solidarity & simultaneous with protest sailing by Gaza Fishermen
Israeli peace activists will convene on Monday June 16, at 10.00 at the Herzliya Marina, and will on 10.30 set out into the sea, for an hour-long protest sailing in a catamaran boat on which the prominent banner will read, in Hebrew, Arabic and English, "Gaza: Stop the Siege, Let the Ceasefire Sail!". (To those wishing to photograph the event, a smaller boat following the catamaran will be available.)
Simultaneously, Palestinian fishing boats will set out from the harbor of Gaza for a protest sailing in the Gaza strip waters, hosting on board Palestinian and international activists headed by Dr. Eyad Sarraj, psychiater and human rights activist. And a direct phone link, from ship to ship, will be established. We look forward to the ending of the siege, when it would be possible to sail all the way from the shores of Herzliya and Tel Aviv to those of Gaza and Rafah, and hold meetings between Israelis and Palestinians by sea and land. Until that moment comes, we will still maintain direct contacts between peace seekers on both sides of the border, both sides of the fighting front.
The action is being sponsored by the peace groups united in the Israeli Coalition Against the Siege of Gaza, who organized the January supply convoy to the Erez Checkpoint and last week's protest march in Tel-Aviv, marking the 41st anniversary of the occupation. A regular contact and cooperation is maintained with the Gaza-based Palestinian-International Coalition Against the Siege, which organizes the sailing in the Gazan waters.
The demonstration is aimed at protesting the siege which severely harms the Gaza Strip inhabitants in general and the fishermen in particular. It is also aimed at protesting against the irresponsible elements, inside and out of the cabinet, which push for a bloody invasion of the Gaza Strip; to support the achievement, with no further delay, of a ceasefire ("Tahadiya") which will put an end to the bloodshed and the suffering of Israeli and Palestinian civilian populations on both sides of the border; and to demand that such a ceasefire will include an immediate and complete removal of the siege on the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air.
We, citizens of Israel, are completely free to sail as far as we want into the sea, even for pleasure and without a special purpose – as yachtsmen are doing every day at the Herzliya Marina. On the other hand, the inhabitants of besieged Gaza who are denied the possibility of sailing, even in order to gain a meagre and sorely needed livelihood: The Israeli Navy forbids them to sail more than a short distance from the shore; the severe shortage of fuel makes it difficult to sail even that far; and the increased spilling of raw sewage into the sea of Gaza, also a result of the siege, directly affects the fish. As Israeli citizens granted the privilege of sailing without limit, will mke use of that privilege in order to express solidarity with the Gaza inhabitants, victims of the siege.
Inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, like those of Israel and any other country, are entitled to direct contact with the outside world by sea, land and air, to travel wherever they want and go back, import and export any product freely. In this framework, work should be resumed on a big and modern port of Gaza, through which the inhabitants could maintain direct economic contact with the outside world, independent of Israel, Egypt or any other country, and whose construction will also revive the Gaza economy, and provide thousands of jobs to the presently unemployed.
This struggle is not only of the Gaza inhabitants, but also our own struggle. Not only because it is the duty of moral people to protest injustice, and especially injustice perpetrated by their own country, its government and its armed forces, but also because we, inhabitants of Israel, could never live in peace and quiet, while the Gazans live under siege and in terrible poverty.