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Home arrow News arrow A Statement to the Press from the Free Gaza Movement
A Statement to the Press from the Free Gaza Movement PDF Print E-mail
Aug 25, 2008 at 12:03 PM
Forty-six international human rights workers are now sailing to Gaza through international waters with one overriding goal: to break the Israeli siege that Israel has imposed on the civilian population of Gaza.  Any action designed to harm civilians constitutes collective punishment (in the Palestinians’ case, for voting the “wrong” way) and is both illegal under international law and profoundly immoral.  Our mission is to expose the illegality of Israel’s actions, and to break through the siege in order to express our solidarity with the suffering people of Gaza (and of the occupied Palestinian territory as a whole) and to create a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside world. Israel claims that since the “disengagement” in 2005 it no longer occupies Gaza.  However, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international human rights organizations reject this claim since Israel still exerts effective control over Gaza.  As an Occupying Power, Israel has a responsibility for the well-being of the people of Gaza under the provisions of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.  Israel has abused its control and responsibilities by wrongfully obstructing vital supplies and humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

As Israel’s 41-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip defies international consensus, and because Israel has grossly violated its obligations, we do not recognize Israel’s right to stop us outside its own territorial waters, which we will not be approaching.  To remove any “security” pretense that Israel may raise, we have had our boats inspected and certified by Cypriot authorities that they carry no arms or contraband of any kind.  We have invited Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to join us on our voyage and, in fact, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has itself told us the Israeli government “assume[s] that your intentions are good.”

We are human rights activists, invited to visit Gaza by our Palestinian partners, and each of us has vowed to do no violence, in either word or deed.  If Israel chooses to forcibly stop and search our ships, we will not forcibly resist.  Such a search will be under duress and with our formal protest.  After such a search, we fully expect the Israeli navy to stand aside, as we continue peacefully to Gaza.  If we are arrested and brought to Israel, we will protest and prosecute our kidnapping in the appropriate forums.  It is our purpose to show the power that ordinary citizens of the world have when they organize together to stand against injustice.  Let there be no doubt: the policies of repression against the civilian population of Gaza represent gross violations of human rights, international humanitarian law, and constitute war crimes.  The goal of our voyage is to break the illegal siege on the people of Gaza as a step toward ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Satellite phone numbers available on the boats will be: a) 00 870 773 160 151; b) 00 870 773 160 156  c) 00 881 651 442 553;  d) 00 881 651 427 948.


For More Information, please contact:

JERUSALEM: Angela Godfrey-Goldstein
Tel. +972 547 366 393
angela@icahd.org

CYPRUS: Osama Qashoo
Tel. +44 78 333 81660 / +44 79 779 3595
osamaqashoo@gmail.com

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Facts and Figures about the Current Darkness in the Gaza Strip

January 23rd 2008

Report from the Palestinian Hydrology Group
  1. Gaza Strip today is facing a very harsh siege which is expected to have severely negative humanitarian impact.
  2. The distribution of drinking water and the collection and treatment of wastewater completely rely on electricity and fuel in Gaza Strip.
  3. For several months now Israel has imposed a cruel siege on the Strip preventing people and goods from free movement. This has immobilized the importing of spare parts, pumps, pipes and other necessary accessories for the water and sanitation providing facilities.
  4. According to different sources the water and sanitation services are expected to be completely paralyzed within a matter of hours due to the lack of fuel reserves.
  5. About 133 water wells are being used for domestic purposes in addition to 33 sewage pump stations and three treatment plants; 10 of these groundwater wells function using fuel while the rest rely on electricity. Diesel powered generators are normally used as backup for the whole system but only for a limited time.
    The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility needs at least 100,000 liters of diesel per month to operate the water system. An additional 100,000 liters of diesel per month are needed for the sewage system to prevent wastewater from flooding the streets and residential areas.
  6. Reducing electricity and fuel supplies are potential causes to trigger an environmental crisis especially in the wastewater pump stations and treatment plants. If wastewater is not treated it will have to be pumped directly to the sea. This will for sure have a direct and negative impact on the groundwater aquifer and marine life.
    During winter time sewage pumps need to operate about 24 hours per day due to rainfall. Therefore, interruptions in fuel and electricity supply would be particularly significant.
  7. The sewage treatment plant in Beit Lahiya is also vulnerable to interruptions in electricity supplies. The treatment lagoons must be pumped regularly, or else the 10,000 people living in the area are in danger.  Six months ago, one of the lagoons over flooded and caused the death of five persons. Proper maintenance could have prevented the disaster.
  8. The water supply in Gaza City, with a total of 600,000 residents, in addition to a major part of the central portion of the Strip is expected to be completely cut-off as a result of ceasing the pumping from the municipal groundwater wells. The City also faces the threat of overflowing wastewater since the pumps (especially Al Samer and Aqoola stations) are expected to stop operating within the next 24 hours.
  9. If the current situation should persist the solid wastes generated in the Strip will accumulate in piles on the streets endangering the health of the locals.

The WaSH Monitoring Program calls on the International Community to push Israel to immediately cease all military operations, reopen the borders to allow the movement of people and goods and provide fuel supply and humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza.

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