Arab and Jewish Canadians hail victory in breaking Gaza siege
Toronto (Aug 29, 2008) – The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) and the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP) issue this joint statement as a stand of solidarity and to salute the Freedom Sailors group for its courageous stand and principle in challenging the brutal siege on Gaza imposed by Israel . In doing so a small group of ordinary world citizens sick of the injustices imposed on the world by political bullies have achieved what the whole International community has not been able to deliver. We are pleased to state that once again the will of justice and determination from the grassroots is able to prevail over all obstacles.
The Freedom Sailors, a group of activists and health professionals from various countries operating the SS Free Gaza and SS liberty, sailed from Larnaca in Cyprus, were able to land their ship in Gaza on August 24 and received a tumultuous welcome, despite threats of harm and intimidating tactics by Israeli officials and their supporters. The two ships landed in Gaza bringing badly needed medical supplies and balloons for children after months of brutal siege that has left Palestinians short of fuel, food, drinking water, electricity and medical supplies. Health services had badly deteriorated in Gaza and many Palestinians required treatment. This bold act now ensures that some can receive much needed medications and others can leave for Cyprus to receive treatment.
While in Gaza , the Free Gaza activists also escorted Palestinian fishing boats into the Mediterranean Sea to ensure they would not be fired upon by Israeli forces, as has often happened in the past. Palestinians are the only people living on the shores of the Mediterranean denied access to their own waters.
The injustices and repression faced by peace seeking activists and groups promoting human rights and humanitarian values continues. Jeff Halper, an Israeli citizen and one of the Freedom Sailors, is now facing such repression. He was detained by Israeli security forces upon his return from this trip and arraigned to be prosecuted for his role and continued activism. We condemn Israel for persecuting agents of justice and suppressing the basic human rights of Palestinians.
As this signifies the collapse of Israel’s blockade of Gaza , The Free Gaza Movement intends to return to Gaza with another delegation from Cyprus , inviting the United Nations, the Arab League and other international and civil society organizations worldwide to organize and undertake similar human rights and humanitarian projects.
As Canadians, we are alarmed by the silence and indifference of our Canadian government towards the injustice and hardship imposed on Palestinians and towards Israel’s oppressive treatment of Palestinians and their supporters. We call upon the Harper government to join the growing call to denounce the injustice and oppression faced by the Palestinians and act to end the Siege on Gaza to promote a just peace in the region.
CAF National President
Independent Jewish Voices
Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine