The following update was just sent out by US to Gaza:
We are writing with an exciting update report on the plan to send a U.S.-flagged ship as part of the next Freedom Flotilla sailing to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Representatives from the US BOAT TO GAZA have just returned from Geneva where an important meeting took place with representatives from Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Sweden, Malaysia, the Netherlands and The Free Gaza Movement. US TO GAZA has joined the steering committee of the Freedom Flotilla II and we are now deeply involved as part of the international team planning for the next mission which will be leaving at the end of March 2011.
First, about the timing: after much discussion, the decision was made by the international group to wait until Spring of 2011 to sail. This is in response to the outpouring of people who want to join this effort from more countries, to have more boats and more of civil society participating. The international movement is growing and voices of condemnation against illegal Israeli policies are stronger now than ever before.
At the table in Geneva were experienced, dedicated Palestinian rights activists, many of whom had participated in the last flotilla. It is significant to realize that the previous mission was, in fact, the first and only large international flotilla to attempt to break the siege of Gaza by sea. Those on board Freedom Flotilla I, as we all know, were brutally and fatally attacked by the Israeli military in international waters. Freedom Flotilla II will be the next mission to attempt to break the illegal Israeli naval blockade following this attack. Those on board the ship and all those standing in solidarity with this effort are defying the brutality of the Israeli regime by the determined measure of returning again to reach the shores of Gaza. We will not be deterred by illegal acts of violence, similar to what the people of Palestine face every day. In fact we are even more motivated to act, in the same way the people within the borders of this brutal occupation march to the walls and barriers to their freedom through tear gas and bullets again and again, or stand in the path of bulldozers, the Israeli weapon of occupation, or rebuild and rebuild the destruction wreaked upon them without pause.
The Israeli military, with impunity, carries on committing the crimes of occupation. Arrogantly and shamelessly officials from the Israeli government recently made public statements, threatening to attack the next flotilla with sniper fire and attack dogs. It is unconscionable to deliver public pronouncements of planned, unprovoked violence against unarmed people, civilians and press who will be on board. As these statements get issued from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, U.S. government officials remain silent, failing to uphold international law and bring Israeli government and military officials to account for their crimes.
We must not be deterred by the violent adventures Israel embarks upon and the complicit silence of our governments. THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, the U.S. Boat to Gaza will sail this Spring, bringing human rights advocates from civil society, supported by international law, to the shores of Gaza. In this country we will be on board, whether sailing on the deck of the boat, or standing on the platform this campaign creates speaking against U.S. foreign policy that supports Israel’s abuse of power perpetrated against the people of Palestine and their supporters in the struggle for the Palestinian people’s freedom and dignity, their human rights and for justice.
We need your help. Over the next few months we need you to help spread the word about the mission of the U.S. BOAT TO GAZA through your lists and sites and link people in your network to www.ustogaza.org. We will be planning several events leading up to and including the launch of THE AUDACITY OF HOPE and we want you and people in your networks to participate. Most importantly we need you to be the voice and to help create the unique profile of THEAUDACITY OF HOPE by speaking on behalf of this mission as it relates to your work in the struggle for Palestinian rights.
Please get in touch if you can take an active part of this campaign in the next phase.
We look forward to hearing from you!
US TO GAZA