For Immediate Release
Dignite on the last leg of voyage to Gaza: Small French ship carrying message that cannot be silenced
[ATHENS] The Steering Committee of Freedom Flotilla II: Stay Human can confirm, that after anchoring in international waters overnight, the French-flagged ship Dignite / Karama has commenced the last leg of its voyage to Gaza. We wish all on board well and remind Israel to refrain from interfering with our vessel as it makes its way through the illegal and immoral sea blockade it has imposed on the Gaza Strip.
It is in large part because the Dignite commenced its voyage from a French port and the French government refused to interfere with this civilian human rights initiative that the ship continues its mission. The Dignite and its passengers -- from France, Canada, Greece, Sweden, and Tunisa -- represent a flotilla that was delayed by acts of sabotage and by an egregious act of complicity by the Greek government with Israel's human rights violations and policy towards Gaza that the International Committee of the Red Cross determined to be "collective punishment." But they also represent the steadfastness and determination of the flotilla movement to sail until the blockade is broken. The idea that Freedom Flotilla II could be stopped misunderstands the nature of this non-violent movement and its strength of purpose.
Despite most of the ships being unable to leave Greek ports, the flotilla nonetheless managed to highlight the vicious nature of Israel's policy towards Gaza. Israeli leaders showed their willingness to use intimidation, lies, economic blackmail, threats of violence, and sabotage to stop boats that Israeli military officials admitted would not be carrying weapons. This clearly demonstrates that Israel's blockade of Gaza is not based on "security", but is meant to punish the Palestinian people, denying their freedom and keeping them cut off from the rest of the world.
Israel believes itself untouchable and continues its affront to humanity as a result of the international community's failure to take tangible measures to defend Palestinian human rights. Indeed, as we have seen recently in Greece, some significant players -- including the EU and the US -- are even directly complicit in Israel's crimes. This is why international civil society has mobilized to take direct action.
We cannot predict how Israel will behave as the Dignite approaches Gaza but we can say that -- just as Israeli threats and violence have failed in the past to deter non-violent global solidarity with the people of Palestine -- those on board this small French ship intend to reach their destination. The Dignite carries a message of solidarity and human empathy from the people of the world to the people of Gaza, and all of Palestine, that Israel's violence can never silence.
While the Dignite continues to sail to Gaza, proving that the will of global civil society cannot be intimidated, the remaining ships in Freedom Flotilla II: Stay Human are regrouping to fulfill our obligations to the besieged people of Gaza and to the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people around the world who funded and organized this act of solidarity.
As long as the illegal blockade of Gaza remains in place, ships will sail to confront it; as long as Israel continues its occupation, colonization, and violent repression of Palestinians and our governments are silent about it, the global solidarity movement will mobilize to challenge it directly.
History shows that Israel is running out of options; we are only getting stronger.
For more information:
Huwaida Arraf (US): +1-202-294-8813
Alex Harrison (London): +44-759-485-7448
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein (Jerusalem): +972-547-366-393
[UPDATE 19 July 2011, 12:00 CST]Haaretz is reporting that...
"The Israel Navy on Tuesday intercepted the last remaining member of a flotilla of boats which had intended to reach the Gaza Strip, after it refused to obey an Israeli demand to change course as it sailed for a Gaza port.
"The Israel Navy began trailing the Karame while it was some 50 miles from Gaza. The boat was asked to state its final destination and disclose if there were any weapons onboard. One of the group of Greek activists on the ship told the Navy that there were no weapons, and that they were heading to Gaza port."
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