Viva Palestina Make It Through to Gaza

Adam Horowitz @ Mondoweiss

Viva Palestina, a convoy of US human rights activists has entered Gaza with truckloads of humanitarian aid. The delegation has over 200 people, and is a follow up trip to one led by British MP George Galloway last March. This delegation includes Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, New York City Council member Charles Barron and Cynthia McKinney.

Details are still unclear on how much aid got in. Although Viva Palestina’s website reports that they had over “over one million dollars worth of aide” to bring in, Egypt may not have allowed all of it to enter. As has happened on other delegations to Gaza, Egypt created serious obstacles for the convoy as it attempted to enter Gaza, but they got through.

Viva Palestina US has pics.

Update: (thanks Erwicga) The bad news, Egypt holds up its end of the siege-

The Egyptian Authorities stopped trucks of the Viva Palestina aid convoy from entering the Gaza Strip and allowed the crew 24 hours access. The Palestinian Information Center reported that the crew will be allowed into the Gaza Strip for only 24 hours and the aid supplies will stay at the Egyptian side of the borders.

Storming The Gaza Ghetto

Defence Minister Ehud Barak asserted after the war that Israel had the most moral army in the world. These critics say Israelis should not be asked simply to accept that their army’s conduct was “faultless and public accountability uncalled for”.

  • “Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy,” is a typical description by one unidentified soldier of his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day operation, from December 27 to January 18.
  • “In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”
  • Whole streets in parts of the Gaza Strip were razed to minimise the risk of Israeli casualties from small-arms attacks and booby-trap bombs. The United Nations says Gaza six months later is just beginning to clear 600,000 tonnes of rubble.
  • Soldiers describe a “Neighbour Procedure” in which civilians were forced to enter suspect buildings ahead of troops. They cite cases of civilians advancing in front of a soldier resting his rifle on their shoulder.
  • The report repeats charges – denied by Israel – that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets. It cites “massive destruction was unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces” and “permissive” rules of engagement.
  • To strip away cover for Hamas fighters, aerial bombardment, artillery, demolition charges and armoured bulldozers razed whole areas including gardens, and olive and orange groves. “We didn’t see a single house that was intact . . . that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads, was in total ruin. The D-9 (bulldozer) had gone over everything,” the report quoted a soldier as saying.
  • “There was a clear feeling, and this was repeated whenever others spoke to us, that no humanitarian consideration played any role in the army at present. The goal was to carry out an operation with the least possible casualties for the army.”

The testimonies challenge assertions by Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups in the United States that “Israel did all it could to avoid civilian casualties”, as Kenneth Jacobson of the Anti-Defamation League wrote last week to the New York Times. The League denounced Amnesty International for labelling Israel’s actions as “wanton” destruction and said it was “outrageously accusing the Israeli military of war crimes”.

Soldiers in Israel’s largely conscript army have standing orders not to talk to the media. The 112-page report by Breaking the Silence includes testimonies of 30 “who served in all sectors of the operation”. (ht2 Jews sans frontieres)

Breaking The Silence

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Viva Palestina US

As the US is the guarantor for Israel’s siege on Gaza, the shield that gives it impunity, this US convoy is an important step forward in awareness. Obama chose not to speak out to defend the Free Gaza boat instead allowing Israeli piracy (apparently only Somalis get whacked by ‘heroic’ snipers for committing piracy, which must leave the survivors of the USS Liberty unimpressed). Also worth noting the resource question in relation to Gaza raises its head, the Captain of the Spirit of Humanity says in an email- “It appears as though the Israeli government is drilling for natural gas in the buffer zone. That gas belongs to the people of Gaza. It seems to be one of their reasons for stopping us, perhaps they’re worried that we may go back and tell the world what we have seen.” British Gas is working with Israel on this project, as usual ideological reasons for warfare are also allied with the motives of capital.

Viva Palestina US:- Fresh from the success of the Viva Palestina: Lifeline from Britain to Gaza aid convoy – which took over 100 vehicles to Gaza from the UK, Member of Parliament, George Galloway has linked up on his US tour with the Vietnam veteran and peace campaigner, Ron Kovic, to launch a similar, but even larger venture from the States.

Galloway announced the initiative at a 1000-strong meeting in Anaheim, California, rounding off a packed-out, coast to coast speaking tour highlighting the Palestinian cause.

“There’s a new atmosphere in the US over Palestine,” says Galloway, “the phenomenal response to this tour demonstrates that.”

Ron Kovic, whose story was immortalized in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, will be the co-leader of the convoy, which will travel from New York City to Egypt before making its way across the Rafah border into Gaza.

Viva Palestina USA is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, but individuals and groups from across the nation are organizing locally to generate support for the convoy, which aims to raise $10 million for humanitarian aid and 500 vehicles with which to deliver the aid into Gaza.

“And what better day to head off,” says Galloway, “Than July 4 – Independence Day!”

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Entitled To Kill

In the Israeli army reaction to Amnesty’s report on their assault on Gaza they show again the absolute sense of entitlement that views others suffering as subordinate to their own desires. A very dangerous chauvinism that is the logical result of Zionist ideology, a militarist garrison colonial state practising apartheid. Reminding me of what Naomi Klein said recently

“There is a debate among Jews. I used to say the Jewish community then I got excommunicated. There is a debate among Jews–I’m a Jew by the way” that boils down to: “Never again to everyone, or never again to us?… [Some Jews] even think we get one Get away with genocide free card… There is another strain in the Jewish tradition that says, ‘Never again to anyone.'”

FreeGaza- Right To Read

About the Campaign
In partnership with Al-Aqsa University, the Free Gaza Movement (FG) is launching its
“Right to Read” campaign which will use the FG boats to deliver textbooks and other educational supplies to universities throughout the occupied Gaza Strip.

This is not a charitable endeavor. Rather it is an act of solidarity and resistance to Israel’s chokehold on Gaza and attempt to deny Palestinians education. According to UNWRA, Israel’s blockade prevents ink, paper and other learning materials from entering into Gaza.

Our first shipment will be sent on FG’s Summer of Hope July voyage to Gaza.

How You Can Help
Our campaign invites individuals to join us at a person-to-person level by contributing one or more books to our shipment as an expression of resistance to the blockade. This effort also allows institutions around the world to support Palestinians’ right to education by donating new and used copies of textbooks to be delivered by the Free Gaza Movement to universities in the Gaza Strip.

You can donate funds to purchase books (and/or help offset shipping costs to Cyprus) or you can send new and used books directly for inclusion on an upcoming voyage.

Also, if you are an academic institution or are connected to one and are willing to give Gaza universities access to your e-library, please let us know.

Sending Funds
Donations for the Right to Read Campaign will be used to purchase books directly and to cover shipping costs for books that are received at Free Gaza sites other than Cyprus. Please designate “Right to Read” in the comment field to ensure that the funds are appropriated to this campaign.

Sending Books
The Right to Read Campaign accepts all new or used books for shipment. To order books, please refer to either the
U.S. compiled wish list or the UK compiled wish list from the universities in Gaza.

You may send the books directly to Cyprus or to the Free Gaza collection site nearest to you:

Cyprus
Free Gaza Movement
Digenthios and Avgousta Court
Nigrid Street 6018 Apt. 203
Larnaca, CYPRUS

United States
Free Gaza US Collection Site
PO Box 5772
Rockville, MD 20855

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Why Take Two Bottles Into The Gaza Siege?

Well because you are only allowed shampoo-

A little more than a month ago, following a long ban, Israel permitted the import of detergents and soaps into Gaza. Even shampoo was allowed. But one merchant discovered that the bottles of shampoo he had ordered were sent back because they included conditioner, which was not on the list. 

Amira Hass (who was arrested by Israeli authorities when she returned to Israel from Gaza to report) continues-

The few items merchants are allowed to trade in are divided into three categories: food, medicine and detergent. Everything else is forbidden – including building materials (which are necessary to rehabilitate Gaza’s ruins and rebuild its infrastructure), electric appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, spare machine and car parts, fabrics, threads, needles, light bulbs, candles, matches, books, musical instruments, crayons, clothing, shoes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, cutlery, crockery, cups, glasses and animals. Many of the banned products are imported through the tunnels and can be found in Gaza’s markets. 

Pasta, which had been forbidden in the past, is now allowed, after U.S. Senator John Kerry expressed his astonishment at the ban during a visit to Gaza in February. But tea, coffee, sausages, semolina, milk products in large packages and most baking products are forbidden. So are industrial commodities for manufacturing food products, chocolate, sesame seeds and nuts. Israel does allow importing fruit, milk products in small packages and frozen food products as well as limited amounts of industrial fuel. 

Full article here.

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Physicians for Human Rights-Israel Report

“Outside the house there was an Israeli tank. It had come from the west towards the house that was facing north. It was 11.30 – 12.00. The tank was in the garden about ten meters from her, when she stopped to receive permission to leave unharmed. On her right side were the three girls; behind her was the daughter in law close to the door of the house. The soldier on the tank never replied. They were looking into each others´ eyes for 7-10 minutes, when suddenly a soldier opened fire and shot the granddaughter of the witness, Souad, in the neck and chest. She died immediately. They also shot Amal. She was hit in the chest and abdomen, and the interviewee saw her intestines come out. Amal died a little later. The daughter in law ran immediately into the house and was not hurt. The witness Souad Abed Rabbo was hit twice, as she turned around in a clockwise movement. She was hit in the left arm and in the left buttock. She did not see who shot. She assumed that the shots were fired from gun(s) not from the tank, but she was not certain. She saw three soldiers on top of the tanks holding weapons…Samar was hit in the chest with the bullet coming out of the back…at the time of the interview she was in a hospital in Belgium suffering paralysis.”

Independent fact-finding mission of medical experts commissioned by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS). Full report @ their site

(ht2 Pulse)

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