The Free Gaza Movement is about to embark on another courageous sea voyage from Cyprus to Gaza, bringing 3 tons of medical supplies, 15 tons of cement, and boxes of toys and crayons for children - all materials banned by the Israeli government from entering the besieged Gaza Strip.
The two boats, FREE GAZA and SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, will carry human rights workers and journalists from 16 countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. This will be the movement's first attempt to challenge Israel's naval blockade on Gaza by sea since the Israeli Navy brutally rammed the boat DIGNITY in December 08 [CNN video report] and nearly sank the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY with all on board in January 09.
The expedition of two ships was supposed to leave Cyprus on June 25, but did not, after Cypriot authorities required additional detailed inspections. Responding to the Israeli authorities' warnings that they will forcefully prevent the ships from reaching the Gaza Strip, the Free Gaza movement stated:
"The purpose of nonviolent direct action and civil resistance is to take risks -to put ourselves 'in the way' of injustice. We take these risks well aware of what the possible consequences may be. We do so because the consequences of doing nothing are so much worse. Anytime we allow ourselves to be bullied, every time we pass by an evil and ignore it - we lower our standards and allow our world to be made that much harsher and unjust for us all."
The Israeli government is planning to commit, for the third time, an act of piracy on the high seas. Israeli Navy warships have been ordered to thwart the humanitarian mission to Gaza - by all means. Robotic and obedient that they are, Israeli soldiers will comply with any order given to them, including an order to attack the ships and fire on the unarmed human rights workers.
Only two people can prevent a brutal attack on the civilian boats that might, God forbid, turn into a bloodbath. Their names are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. This is a test of their leadership, and commitment to human rights and international law. It will also put to the test their lofty rhetoric about ending the oppression and humiliation of Palestinians. In his now-famous Cairo speech, President Obama declared:
"So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own...Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security."
In the coming days we shall see if the President intends to keep his promise.