Saturday, January 26, 2008

Convoy heading for Gaza carries our hopes for all

CONGRATULATIONS to the people of Gaza who have broken down the barrier with Egypt so they can obtain food and other supplies which were running short due to the Israeli siege. It seems the Egyptian government may now have been shamed into ceasing to play its part in the blockade.

Today another people's initiative will try to take aid into Gaza, in defiance of the Israeli government, and it has been organised from the Israeli side, in consultation with Gaza Palestinian health organisations and others. Of course however much help they can bring, it will be a small part of what is needed, and that is assuming the Israeli forces let them through. But this aid convoy is carrying something else. It is not an act of mere charity, but of solidarity between peoples. In exposing the inhumanity of the Gaza siege, the Israeli blockade busters are also showing up the governments that could help Gaza and could bring pressure on Israel to lift the siege.

They are also breaking down barriers of hatred and fear, and showing the way to a happier, more human Middle East for all. This convoy is bringing food, essential household items, and medical supplies. It is also carrying our hopes.

Here is the convoy appeal:

On Saturday January 26, nobody stays home!
End the Siege!
Relief convoy to our neighbors in Gaza

Does it help the children of Sderot when we force the children of Gaza to drink polluted water? It seems the government of Israel thinks so (if they think).

Gaza is under siege! Hundreds of commodities needed for maintaining daily life are not allowed into the Strip, by order of the Government of Israel. Even the entry of water filters - vital for purifying the water drawn from Gazan wells, which are heavily polluted by brine, oil and sewage - has already been prevented for over half a year. The Israeli media doesn't succeed (and doesn't even try always) to convey to the public a true impression of how severe the situation is. But anyone who has talked to Gazans in the past months understands that the situation has long since developed into a regional disaster, which puts us, too, in danger.

As is well known, the Gaza Strip is a small, poor, overcrowded territory even in "ordinary" times. The occupation of the Strip did not end with the "Disengagement"; on the contrary, passage of persons and goods, in and out of the Strip, was made far more difficult by the Israeli authorities, and no one can enter or leave, by land, sea or air, except by permission from the Israeli security services. As far as Gazans are concerned, Disengagement brought no liberty, but just made occupation that much worse!

However bad the suffering is of the residents of Sderot, Ashkelon and the kibbutzim and moshavim in the area under the barrage of Qassam missiles, mortar shells and sniper bullets, it is in no way a justification for a cruel siege which severely harms a million and half civilians - men, women and children. The siege is an immoral act and a violation of International Law - and from a practical point of view, increasing the bitterness and suffering in Gaza leads to an intensification of attacks on the Israeli side, not to their end. Unlike what we have been made to believe, residents of Sderot and residents of Gaza are not to be seen as opponents: both are victims of a stupid and vicious policy of the Government of Israel.

In the convoy, departing from all over Israel on Saturday January 26, 2008, we will take with us a large quantity of water filters and firmly demand of the military authorities that they be allowed into the Strip where they are urgently needed, together with basic foodstuffs - flour, rice, oil, salt, lentils, beans - for distribution to residents driven to extreme poverty and despair by the siege.

On the border of the Strip we will conduct a protest rally, simultaneously with a rally held by our Palestinian friends on the other side. Together, we will demand of the Government of Israel to remove the siege of Gaza forthwith! We intend to hold the rally where we can have eye contact with the Palestinians, at a distance of no more than one kilometer.
Our friends on the Palestinian side, peace and human rights activists of the Palestinian International Campaign To End The Siege such as the well-known psychiatrist Dr. Eyad Sarraj, will go to the border area despite the great difficulty and risk, in order to greet and support us. It is far easier for us to go towards them and support them. In a joint Israeli-Palestinian action on both sides of the border we will present a true alternative to the continuing escalation, to the shooting and killing, destruction and suffering, missiles and tanks. An alternative of ceasefire, of a true end to direct and indirect occupation, an alternative of peace and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians, for Sderot and for Gaza.

The convoy will include both buses and private cars. It is very important to arrive with a car, if you have
one, in order to create a long and highly visible convoy. If at all possible, let us know in advance, even before
Monday Jan. 21, to Ya'akov 050-5733276 or Teddy 052-5017141. It is especially important to let us know as soon as
possible if you can come with a car - so that we can make better preparations.

Donations to help buy products for the convoy, and defray other expenses, can be transferred via POB 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033, Israel, or handed to our activists during the convoy itself (checks should be made out to Gush Shalom, and prominently marked 'For Gaza Convoy').

We have made considerable and lengthy efforts to coordinate this activity. The convoy will depart from organized rendezvous points at predetermined hours, in order to arrive together and create a long convoy. The rendezvous points are as follows:

Haifa: Solel Boneh Square (buses & private cars) 7:45

Tel-Aviv: Arlozorov Railway Station (buses) 8:15
Reading Parking Lot (private cars, joined by the buses from Arlozorov 8:30

Jerusalem: Liberty Bell Park (buses) 8:30
Teddy Parking Lot (private cars, joined by the buses from Liberty Bell 8:45

Be'er Sheba: University Gate (buses & private cars) 10:15

Signs, posters and cloth banners for the buses will be available at the rendezvous points. Please arrive in time to 'decorate' the cars. Everybody is asked to bring from home commodities needed in Gaza (milk powder, mineral water [not of Eden Springs], oil, flour, school supplies [satchels, pens and pencils etc.] and cigarettes) as a family package for a Gazan family. If you want you can add a personal letter in Arabic or English to the recipients.

Those who arrive in their cars are asked to tie a symbolic aid package to the roof of the car (if you were not able to do it before arriving, please bring the products and a rope with you, and we will help you tie them at the rendezvous).
We also ask all of you to bring drums, whistles, and those who have them - a shofar, in order to make a huge outcry of breaking down the wall of the siege. Please bring food and drink for a whole day.

Registration for Tel-Aviv and Haifa:
taliashiff@gmail.comTalia Shiff 052-3738832

Registration for Jerusalem and Be'er Sheba:
moshepesach@yahoo.esMoshe Pesach 050-9702338

Participating organizations:
Gush Shalom, Combatants for Peace, Coalition of Women for Peace, ICAHD - The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Bat Shalom, Bat Tzafon for Peace & Equality, Balad, Hadash, Adalah, Tarabut-Hithabrut, Physicians for Human Rights, Alternative Information Center, Psychoactive - Mental Health Professionals for Human Rights, ActiveStills, Student Coalition Tel-Aviv University, New Profile, Machsom Watch, PCATI - Public Committee Against Torture.
Details on the Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege to which we are allied:


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