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Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.

DATABASE & REPORTS
Monday
Sep142009

End Participation of Ariel College in Solar Decathlon - Madrid 2010 !

8 July 2009

To: Beatriz Corredor Sierra,

Ministerio de Vivienda, Government of Spain.

Paseo de la Castellana,112

2807, Madrid, Espana

 

Dear Minister Sierra,


RE: SOLAR DECATHLON EUROPE - MADRID 2010, Participation of Ariel.

As members of the international organisation, Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine, and academics from Universities in the UK, we are astonished to see that the  self-styled Ariel 'University Centre’ of Samaria is representing Israel in the Solar Decathlon, and has been selected as a participant in the final entries.

This 'college' is not in Israel, but in territory which the settlers call ‘Judea and Samaria’, in the West Bank illegally occupied by Israel. The settlement of Ariel has been constructed illegally, and its settlers and institutions illegally set up, to create facts on the ground that will negate the possibility of a viable Palestinian state. This is in complete contradiction to international law and the Geneva Conventions.

Under the Rome statute of the Geneva Convention, "The transfer ... by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" is a war crime – an apt description of the Israeli settlement process. The International Criminal Court Act states that it is an offence to aid and abet war crimes. So it is considered illegal for an EU country to award any recognition to this sort of institution, let alone to "enhance its prestige" which is one of the stated aims of the Decathlon.

The International Union of Architects (UIA) has already taken note that Israeli architecture and planning in the West Bank is contrary to its professional ethics and Codes of Conduct and Accords. Architects, planners and academics around the world have signed petitions against the illegal settlements.

Ariel college, whose degrees are not even recognised by Israel’s own Council of Higher Education, generally excludes the local Palestinian population, who are confined and restricted in every detail of their lives and controlled by hundreds of checkpoints and barriers, and prevented from travelling on the main settler-only highways in the West Bank. Their water resources and land are expropriated, and their houses and trees demolished. The head of the architecture department in Ariel College in the West Bank commented that his students watching out of their classroom windows  "see the Arab villages, but don’t notice them. They look and they don’t see.”

Ariel College has been the subject of international boycott by academic institutions around the world, and the Palestinian community and NGOs (PACBI) have requested that the participation of the illegal colonial institutions like Ariel, set up against international law by Israel, have no place in international forums. Their participation would convey undeserved respectability and recognition to them.


In the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression, and as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid, we sincerely urge the organisers of the Solar Decathlon to withdraw the participation of this illegal institution. Its presence in the Decathlon will only sour the atmosphere and constructive spirit of such an important gathering.

We look forward to your urgent response.

With best regards

Abe Hayeem, RIBA Chair, Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine,UK
Hans Haenlein, RIBA
Kate Mackintosh,RIBA
Cezary M Bednarski RIBA FRSA SARP
Dr. Ghada Karmi, MD, Exeter University, UK
Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Chair of Media and Cultural Studies, University of E. London
Walter Hain, Architect,UK

Martin O’Shea, RIBA

Isabel Camacho, arquitecto COAM, Spain.

Jonathan Rosenhead, Emeritus Professor of Operational Research, LSE

John Murray, Architect,UK
Gail Waldman,RIBA

Malcolm Hecks,RIBA, UK, France
John van Rooyen, RIBA
David Berridge, RIBA
Professor Osama Hamdan, Architect, Al Quds University, Jerusalem
Mike Gwilliam, RTPI, Planner UK
Zahira Nazer, Architect, Urban designer, Lebanon, UK
Mike Cushman, LSE
Dr. Robert Boyce, LSE

Dr. Derek Summerfield, London Institute of Psychiatry

Edwin Rutledge, Architect USA/Germany
Prof. Fahmi Salameh ,Architect, Universitat Politecnica, Barcelona, Al Quds
Ahmad Barclay, Architect, UK, dip.Arch Nottingham University

Yara Sharif, Architect, Unversity of Westminster, Birzeit University, Ramallah
Sara Wood, UK
Nicholas Wood, Architect, UK

Kelvin Bland,RIBA

Aun Qurashi,RIBA

Dr. Sue Blackwell, Birmingham University
Dr.Keith Hammond, Glasgow University

Phil Marfleet, University of East London,UK

Steve Fox, RIBA

Paul Barham,Architect,UK
Mayyad Bader, Architect, UK
Francesca Visconti, Architect, Italy
Anne Markey,RIBA, London Metropolitan University
Robert Shaw,RIBA Practice

John Lynes, Engineer, Christians’ Peacemakers’ Team, Iraq
Anil Korotane, Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory (FAST) UK

**************************************************************************************

Letter from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campaign

Palestine, September 2, 2009

Beatriz Corredor Sierra,

Minister of Housing, Government of Spain.

Javier Uceda Antolín,

Rector, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid,

Subject: The participation of ARIEL UNIVERSITY’s Center of Samaria IN THE SOLAR DECATHLON MADRID 2010 

Illegal Israeli settlements should not be promoted as a form of sustainable architecture.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), which is drawn from the major Palestinian political and social force is deeply concerned about your selection of Ariel 'University’s' Centre of Samaria (hereafter referred to as AUCS) as a participant in the Solar Decathlon, organized by the Spanish Ministry of Housing and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and taking place in Madrid in June 2010. Extending an invitation to AUCS is a form of complicity in breaching international law through offering concrete support and legitimation to an illegal Israeli settlement built on occupied Palestinian territory.

The Palestinian BDS campaign has called for the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions until Israel fully complies with its obligations under international law.[1] Israeli academic institutions have “either contributed directly to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying … [Israeli colonial] oppression, or have been complicit in them through their silence."[2] AUCS is especially complicit as it is itself a colony built on occupied Palestinian territory, violating the Fourth Geneva Convention which regards such colonization as “war crimes.” The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in July 2004 also ruled in its advisory opinion on Israel’s Wall that all such settlements are illegal.

Founded as a regional branch of Bar-Ilan University, AUCS is located in the Ariel settlement which, together with its industrial zone Barkan, is the second largest Israeli colony in the West Bank, just after the occupied East Jerusalem settlement block. It is located 22 km away from the “Green Line,” cutting deep into the Palestinian Governorate of Salfit and grabbing more than  22% of its land: 10% is used to house 17,000 settlers, and 12% is used for military training purposes[3].

Israel’s illegal apartheid Wall divides the governorate into separate Bantustans in order to facilitate the annexation of the Ariel settlement block to Israel. The colony destroys the livelihoods and water sources of Palestinian farming communities as prime agricultural lands are buried under its cement or polluted by its waste.

The Fourth Geneva Convention states that "the transfer by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" is a war crime.[4] Also, U.N. Security Council Resolution 465 confirms the illegality of Israeli settlements and calls on “all states not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories.”[5]

Ariel settlement

 

The most recent European Council meeting in Brussels, held on June 15th, 2009, has once again reiterated the illegality of Israeli settlements and has defined them as "obstacles for peace."[6] Spain, represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos, has explicitly adopted this European position on Israeli settlements, which lends further support to why Spain should not engage in any cooperation with AUCS.

The Israeli project, called ‘the stretch house’ is in fact the ultimate model of Zionist expansion and colonialism. Fayeq Kishawi, coordinator of the popular committees against the Wall and the settlements in Salfit district, comments: “The Israeli project represents Israeli claim to expand control over our land and resources and to expel us, occupy us and destroy our livelihoods at their own whim and desire. It is a recipe for how to steal more and more land. As somebody living in Salfit and suffering like the others from Ariel’s continuous ‘stretching’ I wonder how the Solar Decathlon can accept a project submitted by an institution that has stolen our land and will build its project on our stolen land.”

Abe Hayeem, chair of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, has referred to the irony of the name Ariel College chose for its project at the Solar Decathlon, "the stretch house;” illegal settlements, like Ariel, have been built by 'stretching' and distorting international law to justify their construction. Hayeem believes that “Ariel’s entry boasts of proposing a different alternative at a time of growing awareness for sustainability and ‘green’ architecture" in blatant disregard for international law.

The inclusion of “the stretch house” into the “Solar Villa” undermines international law and offers concrete support for and complicity with Israeli war crimes. We ask that you reconsider your invitation to the illegal settlement institution to display its model illegal expansion rebranded as one of ‘sustainability.’

The International Union of Architects (UIA) has charged that Israel’s architecture and planning in the occupied West Bank are contrary to its professional ethics and Codes of Conduct and Accords. Architects, planners and academics around the world have signed petitions against the illegal settlements.

Thus, inviting AUCS to participate in the Solar Decathlon is not only a breach of international law, but also lends validity to the illegal settlement through promoting its model of ‘illegal sustainability’ in house building.

 In compliance with international law, and in the spirit of international solidarity and moral consistency, we ask the organisers of the Solar Decathlon Madrid 2010 competition for sustainable architecture to cancel the participation of AUCS. We ask that you recognize that the ‘stretch house’ is not a sustainable housing development, but rather a model that actively breaches international law. We sincerely hope that Madrid’s Solar Villa will not include a model promoting the Israeli occupation and apartheid.

The Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)

www.bdsmovement.net

Endorsed by Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP)

www.apjp.org  


[1] This includes ending the occupation, facilitating the right of Palestinian refugees to return and ensuring equal rights for all Palestinian citizens of Israel. For more information please see the Palestinian BDS call: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52

[2]http://www.pacbi.org/printnews.php?id=1051

[3] http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_barrier_report_july_2009_english_low_res.pdf. Page 40.

[4] Rome Statute of the Geneva Convention, Art. 8 (2) (b) (VIII)- and as a source of International Humanitarian Law Art. 85(4) (a) as quoted by the International Red Crescent Committee: http://www.icrc.org 

[5] “All measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” See: http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/db942872b9eae454852560f6005a76fb/5aa254a1c8f8b1cb852560e50075d7d5

[6] Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process, adopted by the Council on 15 June 2009

(11046/09) http://www.europa-eu-un.org/articles/es/article_8923_es.htm

****************************************************************************************************************************

Wednesday
Sep092009

CALL FOR THE SEVENTH WEEK AGAINST THE APARTHEID WALL, NOVEMBER 9 – 16 2009.

The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, its popular committees and member organizations call on activists to launch a week of global mobilization against the walls of apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza from November 9 to 16 2009

We call on all organizations, networks, institutions, unions and concerned media to mobilize during the 7th Week against the Apartheid Wall and to:

• Protest the overarching Israeli policy of ghettoization behind a system of walls that targets the Palestinian people, whether in Gaza or the West Bank, isolating them from each other and the Palestinians inside the Green Line.

• Protest the criminal repression of the people resisting these walls.
- Protest the inhumane siege on Gaza imposed to force its people to surrender their dignity and struggle.
- Protest the repression of the communities struggling against the Wall in the West Bank. The current wave of violence has reached alarming highs, and education and awareness raising around this issue is critical. Stop the Wall and Addameer have published Repression allowed, resistance denied, an extensive report on the repression of the grassroots movement against the Wall.

• Continue BDS efforts. Launch campaigns against companies building the Wall and complicit in the siege of Gaza. BDS campaigns have already made important inroads, especially against transportation giant Veolia’s project in Jerusalem and settlement builder Lev Leviev. Campaigns are being built up against those involved in the construction of the Wall, such as CRH which is involved in supplying concrete and Elbit Systems, which equips the Wall with sensors and other hi-tech equipment while at the same time producing the drones that kill Palestinians in Gaza.

• Put the Wall back on the agenda. Pressure your government representatives to follow their obligation to ensure the walls in Palestine are torn down and the siege on Gaza is ended. Governments have to respect the ICJ decision and not to aid the construction and maintenance of the Wall. They have to stop their complicity through silence in the siege on Gaza.

On November 9 1989 – exactly 20 years ago – the Berlin Wall fell. The event was celebrated as a victory of the ‘Free World’. Today, however, the same powers back the construction of walls which are destroying Palestine.

Five years ago – the International Court of Justice ruled that the Wall is illegal and has required that it be torn down and all laws and orders related to it be reversed. The Court has reminded the international community of its obligation not to render any aid or assistance to the Wall and to ensure the implementation of international law. To date, the international community has not promoted any tangible move towards the ruling’s implementation.

The hypocrisy must end – justice has to prevail.

Gaza has been imprisoned by walls and razor wire for 15 years. The wall and its no-go zone confiscate almost 25% of the prime agricultural land of the starving Strip. About 15% of Gaza’s farmers are barred from working their farmlands, while tens of water wells and about 50% of livestock shelters and other related industry in the east part of the Gaza strip have been destroyed. Many farmers have been killed while tending to their land or have been displaced and forced into overcrowded urban centers.
 
In the West Bank, the Apartheid Wall carves out today’s Bantustans. It curves around settlements, which continue to grow despite disingenuous talks of a “settlement freeze.” So far its path has isolated 78 Palestinian villages, trapping them between walls, settlements and/or the Green Line while stealing land, water and other resources from hundreds more. Jerusalem remains isolated by the Wall and settlements, and an increasing number of Palestinians have found their homes demolished or taken over by settlers.

In response, the international community has put a veil of silence over these crimes – yet another Nakba for the Palestinian people.

In spite of this, Palestine resistance to the Wall has grown. Protests have been a weekly undertaking in a number of West Bank villages. In an attempt to uproot what they have termed “a dangerous phenomenon”, Occupation forces have employed increasing violent means against protesting communities, in particular youth. In barely more than a year, 6 have been shot and killed by soldiers, hundreds have been injured and dozens arrested in the villages struggling against the Wall.

Gaza has seen much worse. In response to their resilience under siege, the people of Gaza have faced an overwhelming military onslaught. More then 1,500 were killed as a result and thousands more injured this past winter when Occupation forces laid waste to the small costal territory.

In their struggle, the Palestinian people shall not stand alone.

Unite against apartheid!

Thank you for you continued support,

Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee in Bilin
co-founder  of Friends of Freedom and Justice - Bilin

Email- bel3in@yahoo.com
Mobile- (00972) (0) 547847942
Office- (00972) (2) 2489129
Mobile- (00972) (0) 598403676
www.bilin-ffj.org <http://www.bilin-ffj.org/> 
 

Tuesday
Aug252009

End IDF Terror in Bil'in - APJP Petition August 2009

URGENT: Message from Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine.

To:

David Miliband <mailto:private.office@fco.gov.uk> UK Foreign Secretary
Ron Prosor <mailto:ambassador@london.mfa.gov.il> Israeli Ambassador
Ehud Barak <mailto:ehudb@knesset.gov.il> Israeli Minister of Defence
His Excellency Shimon Peres <mailto:president@president.gov.il> President of Israel
Itzhak Lipovetzky , President,The Israeli Association of United Architects<u-architects@barak.net.il> 

22 August 2009

End IDF terror in Bil’in!

We are writing to protest in the strongest possible terms at the illegal military incursions and attacks by the IDF into the peaceful West Bank village of Bil'in near Ramallah. These terrifying night time incursions have resulted thus far in the arrests of 25 people (most under 18) 18 of whom still remain in detention.

Since 1991, 60% of Bi’ilin’s agricultural land has been confiscated to build settlements for Israelis, unlawful under the Geneva conventions, continue the enforced constructon of the annexation Wall, decreed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

Our international group Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine are extremely concerned at these actions, and the resulting expropriated land stolen from these West Bank villages, including the participation of Israeli architects and planners involved in the design and construction of the illegal housing, against professional ethics and the UIA codes of conduct.

The effect of these actions has been both to impoverish the defenceless Palestinian community and to imprison them in their village, where they are subject to repeated attacks by the Israeli army. These attacks have resulted in injury and even death.

However the people of Bil'in have responded with immense self-control. They have shown the strength of their commitment to a humanitarian outcome by opting for a strategy of non-violence. They have organised weekly demonstrations against the Wall, after Friday prayers. These demonstrations have attracted supporters from Israel and from peace campaigners around the world. However the Israeli army, under no threat whatsoever, has responded with tear gas and rubber and live bullets. On 17th April 2009, Bassem Abu Rameh, known to everyone including the Israeli army, as a man of peace, was shot dead at close range by a high velocity gas cannister. Thus far there seems to have been no credible investigation of his death, or arrest of the known soldier who perpetrated this crime.

The Israeli government seems to find non-violent responses to its illegal behaviour extremely threatening. This may explain the dangerous escalation now taking place. Since June there has been an increased intimidatory atmosphere with regular night raids by heavily armed, face blackened IDF soldiers. These raids are accompanied by threats and intimidation of vulnerable civilians in the Bil'in area and by arrests. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the state wishes to make an example of those who would justifiably protest non-violently. They have the power to do this through the terror of night time raids, threats and intimidation of women, old people and children, and by jailing the members of the organising committees.

As supporters of Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine, anxious for a peaceful and just solution to the conflict, we urge you to use your good offices with the Israeli Government and Ministry of Defence to call for Israel's and its IDF's adherence to international law.

We also call for:

- a halt to these vicious and indiscriminate pogroms in the West Bank villages and an immediate end to the terror incursions and arrests.
- the release of all who have been arrested,
- an end to all illegal settlement construction, and participation in this by Israeli architects and planners.
- removal of all settlers in housing already built on Bil'in land, and from all expropriated land in the Occupied Territories.
- the return of the land to the rightful owners, the village of Bil'in
- dismantling of the illegal Separation Barrier and compensation for all the destruction created by the wall as demanded by the ICJ in 2004.
- an embargo on all arms trading, joint training and EU privileges,
- comprehensive sanctions until Israel adheres to international law and all UN resolutions. 

In addition in meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu, we urge you to demand:
* Israeli settlements blocks – they must be dismantled, not just frozen
* End Israel ’s siege on Gaza
* End Israel ’s ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem

Yours sincerely

Abe Hayeem, RIBA Chair APJP

Hans Haenlein, RIBA

John Hodge, RIBA

Michael Goulden, RIBA

Walter Hain, Architect. UK

Jake Brown, Architect, UK

Anil Korotane, F.A.S.T.

John Lynes, Eng. UK

Isabel Camacho, Arquitecto, Spain

Ian Martin, journalist, UK

Kelvin Bland, RIBA, UK

Gail Waldman, RIBA,UK

Robert Shaw, RIBA

John Murray, Architect

Malcolm Hecks, Architectural and Planning consultant, France

Martin O’Shea, RIBA, UK

David Berridge, RIBA

Beatriz C. Maturana, Architects for Peace, Australia

John Dorman, Architects, Ireland

Mustafa Chaudhury, Architect, UK

Haifa Hammami, Architect, UK

Faisal Khan, RIBA, UK

Asif Khan, MRTPI, Planner UK

Aun Q Qurashi, RIBA

Kim Linden, RIBA

Anne Markey BArch MSc RIBA

John Dorman, RIAI, Ireland

Stephen Kerpen, Architect, US

Michael Gwilliam, MRTPI, Planner, UK

 

(this is only a representative list which is ongoing-

please contact us if you wish to add your name.)

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday
Jun292009

Free Gaza Boat "Spirit of Humanity" Departs Cyprus - 29 June 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Free Gaza Boat "Spirit of Humanity" Departs Cyprus

For more information, please contact:
Greta Berlin (English/French) or Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish)
tel: +357 99 081 767 / email: friends@freegaza.org

(LARNACA, 29 June 2009) - The Free Gaza boat the "Spirit of Humanity" departed Cyprus at 7:30am on Monday, 29 June. Twenty-one human rights and solidarity workers representing eleven different countries were aboard. The passengers include Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The ship also carries three tons of medical aid, children's toys, and rehabilitation and reconstruction kits for twenty family homes.

Over 2,400 homes were destroyed in Gaza during the Israeli massacre in December/January, 490 of them by F-16 airstrikes, as well as 30 mosques, 29 educational institutions, 29 medical centers, 10 charitable organizations, and 5 cement factories.

Each kit carries a small amount of supplies for a single family, representing sectors of civil society currently being blockaded by Israel: Agriculture, Building & Reconstruction, Education, Electricity, Health, and Water & Sanitation. Although over 4 billion dollars in aid was promised to Gaza in the aftermath of the Israeli onslaught, little humanitarian aid and no reconstruction supplies have been allowed in.
###

Quotes:

Mairead Maguire, co-winner of the 1977 Nobel Peace prize for her work in Northern Ireland:
"[The Palestinians of Gaza] must know that we have not and will not forget them.”

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney:
"[T]he U.S. should send a message to Israel reiterating the reported White House position that the blockade of Gaza should be eased, and that medical supplies and building materials, including cement, should be allowed in ... Will [President Obama] stand by his own words and allow us to provide relief for Gaza or will he back down?”

Huwaida Arraf, Chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement:
"Israel’s closure policy is a blatant violation of international law. We call upon our governments to take action to uphold their obligations under the Fourth Geneva Conventions. Until they do, we will act.
###

Passengers aboard the Spirit of Humanity include:

Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain
Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association of Bahrain.

Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.

Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain
Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.

Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.

Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain
Fatima is a relief worker and community activist from Bahrain.

Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain
Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.

Huwaida Arraf, US
Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries focus on international struggles for social justice.

Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain
Kaltham is a community activist.

Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate aboard the Spirit of Humanity.

Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth voyage to Gaza.

Fathi Jaouadi, UK/Tunisia
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-coordinator for this voyage.

Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.

Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.

Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Cynthia McKinney, US
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice issues, as well as a former U.S. congressperson and presidential candidate.

Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.

Adam Shapiro, US
Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.

Kathy Sheetz, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights monitoring.
-----
Greta Berlin
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 081 767
www.freegaza.org
www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

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Saturday
May022009

You Cannot Sink Our Boats - Free Gaza Press Release

Date: Fri, 1 May 2009 16:54:09 +0300
The Hope Fleet
You Cannot Sink Our Boats



May 1, 2009
For Immediate Release

Contact: Ramzi Kysia, Cyprus: +357 99 08 17 67, rrkysia@yahoo.com
Greta Berlin, France, +33 60 73 74 512, Iristulip@gmail.com
Angela Godfrey Goldstein, Jerusalem: +972 547 366 393 angela@icahd.org

In most of the world, May 1st is a day of international labor solidarity. It is a day of joy as workers picnic together with their families and celebrate the achievements of one of the most phenomenal movements of the 20th century.

It is fitting, then, that the Free Gaza Movement chooses May 1 to announce the launching of the HOPE FLEET TO GAZA. We are leaving on June 1 as an act of solidarity with the Palestinians, a people who have been massacred, terrorized and suffocated by the Israeli military.

We sail again to break Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million civilians, 80% unemployed because of Israel’s draconian siege. “I believe the Israeli government policies are against international law, against human rights, against the dignity of the Palestinian people,” said Mairead Maguire whose efforts for a peaceful solution to the violence in Northern Ireland earned her the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize. “And I feel grateful to be able to go again on one of these boats to visit the people of Gaza.”

The Free Gaza Movement will use the Free Gaza as the lead vessel in the flotilla. In August 2008, it was the first boat to dock in the Gaza port in 41 years. The movement intends to donate it to the fishermen who labor every day to make a living under the gunboats of Israel.

The Dignity will carry Mairead as well as two other high-profile passengers, 84-year-old Hedy Epstein, a holocaust survivor and Cynthia McKinney, former Georgia Congresswoman and candidate for U.S. President under the Green Party. McKinney was on the Dignity when it was rammed three times by the Israeli navy on December 30, 2008 when they tried to sink the small sturdy yacht.

"We cannot let Israel's threats and aggression deter us. To do so would give in to violence and concede that might is stronger than right. To do so would turn our backs on our brothers and sisters in Gaza who have been waiting far too long for the international community to stand up to this injustice,” said Huwaida Arraf, one of the delegation leaders on the Hope Fleet.

Our boats are a part of a larger flotilla making its way to Gaza loaded with humanitarian aid and building supplies such as generators and electronic equipment for hospital emergency machines. The people of Gaza need cement and lumber and PVC to rebuild their shattered infrastructure, and Israel refuses to allow anything into the small enclave except for food and some medicine.

“The Palestinians don’t want hand-outs from the international community. They want their lives back. They want their human and civil rights. They have a great labor force wanting to rebuild their communities. They are perfectly capable of that if their borders, including the sea border, were open,” states Lubna Masarwa, another delegation leader of this flotilla and a passenger on board the rammed Dignity.
###

For more information or to make a donation the HOPE FLEET, please visit www.FreeGaza.org

--
Greta Berlin
Media Team
Free Gaza Movement
310 422 7242
www.freegaza.org
www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/

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