Posts Tagged ‘aid for palestine’
Message from Sinead MacLochlainn , Chair of Derry Friends of Palestine:
The first (of many more) Freedom & Friendship Irish Delegation to Gaza was a big success, we covered so much. As an organiser of the delegation, I think we delivered for our members an experience they wont soon forget. As we all begin to attempt to settle back into “normal” life, bits and pieces of the long trip begin to find their places in my memory. We will, of course, eventually post reports on all the meetings we had with various Universities, NGO’s, Schools, and the main political parties. But I first want to tell our supporters about the frustration and anger of the experience.
Israel only allows 6 hours of electricity within each 24 hours. And as even more cruel punishment, this 6 hours can occur at any time within that 24 hour period, day or night, morning or middle of the night, always at israel’s discretion. This is done to demoralise the Palestinians even more, so that they cannot plan for anything in their lives with any assurance that they will have electricity available. It’s all about keeping them suffering, always keeping Israel in control of most aspects of Palestinians lives, making sure the people of Gaza are unable to control even the simplest of activities in their lives, like when they can flip a switch and a light comes on, or when they use a washing machine, or when they can charge their computers or phones, or when their children can study or play. For those who can afford it, tiny Generators and candles are what they mostly rely on.
So night after night as we returned to our hotel, we climbed the 5 flights of stairs, usually in darkness, up to the top floor Cafe which seemed to have generator power most nights. We came in search of an internet signal, or a cup of tea, or just to unwind and digest the realities of what we had witnessed that day. So we often sat on the top floor café which is an open space with a balcony which faces the ocean and the Gaza seashore which was in front of us. As you stand on the balcony and look across the darkness, the most amazing fact will hit you, as you stand there in Gaza and look across the water, you can, within a matter of minutes see the entire desperate sad story of Palestine encapsulated into one glance across the ocean.
Once, long ago, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived side by side in the land across the water, before Zionism took control of the Jewish religion and the region. For as I stood in the darkness on the balcony in Gaza and I cast my gaze across the water, I can see lights, millions and millions of lights twinkling in abundance. So what was once part of Palestine, it is lit up like a giant Christmas tree or Disney Land in the distance, welcoming the world to the now Jewish State as the people of Gaza suffer with candles in the darkness. This is the story of the “haves” and the “have nots” the occupiers and the occupied, the land stealers on one side, and on the other side in the darkness, those with the keys still in their hands.
And, what will strike you the most about Palestinians, is the smiles on their faces, and that they have nothing and yet want to give what they have to you to thank you for just visiting them, for just validating their story, and their existence. Because that is what this is really all about, Even the smallest child knows what the real battle is about, it’s the land, it’s always about the land, their land, their existence. They are fighting so as not to become a people without a land, they are fighting for their very existence in this world.
We must all redouble our efforts to help them in this noble fight for their existence!
Tuesday 10th April 2012
For Immediate Use
Irish Freedom & Friendship Delegation to Gaza a resounding success
Local Derry/Irish Friends of Palestine delegates returned from the first Irish “Freedom and Friendship Delegation” to Gaza promising to redouble their efforts to build links with our sister city of Khan Younis and to support the people of Gaza by continuing with more delegations in future.
Delegates from Irish Friends of Palestine were Gerry MacLochlainn delegation leader & Charlie McMenamin activist (both former Irish Political Prisoners), Ruairi McLaughlin, Mickey McCrossan, Alanna Campbell and Cathal Og Donnelly (Students and members of Sinn Fein Republican Youth), activist Liam McConway and Freedom & Friendship Delegation organiser Sinead MacLochlainn.
Speaking on arrival home, Derry/Irish Friends of Palestine Chairperson Sinead MacLochlainn said:
“Our delegation was hosted by the Mayor of Khan Younis Mr. Mohammed Al Farra, and the Municipality of Khan Younis, who so graciously offered us the most incredible hospitality, given the current conditions in Gaza which remains under a brutal blockade by Israel. Mayor Al Farra received us on our arrival and ensured a packed programme of visits and meetings with all aspects of society throughout Khan Younis and Gaza City.”
“The main purpose of the delegation was to build educational links with the Ministry of Education and HIgher Education and University students. As such our Delegation was received by the heads of some of the main Universities in the Gaza strip, including the Islamic University of Gaza, Al Aqsa University (both the Gaza and Khan Younis Campus) and Khan Younis College of Science and Technology. Despite the siege and lack of electricity or fuel, we were impressed to learn that some 40% of young people in Gaza have access to further or higher education and some 60% of these students are women.”
“The Delegation was invited to a lunch at the Ministry of Education where we were greeted by Mr. Ahmed Ayesh Alnajjar the Director of International and Public Relations of Ministry of Education and Higher Education on behalf of Dr. Osama Elmozini the Minister of Education and Higher Education. The Student leaders on our Delegation were presented with a beautiful Plaque from the Ministry of Education to be presented to the Minister of Education here in the North of Ireland. Additionally a Plaque was also give the the Delegation itself in appreciation of the Educational links being created between Ireland and Gaza.
“Members of the Irish Delegation also met with representatives of the main political parties in Palestine, including Dr. Hisham Abdelrazic the Fateh leader in Gaza, and Dr. Yousef Al-Mansi, One of Hamas leaders and also the Minister of Telecommunication in the Gaza Government and finally Dr. Ahmed Bahar, Deputy Speaker of the Palestine Legislative Council.”
“In Khan Younis we visited the site of a large play park and International Garden area which is still under construction, here the student delegates joined local families in a soccer game with an idyllic view of the Mediterranean sea in the background. The Students played ball with local children at the park. Even here the realities of Israeli occupation were evident with armed Israeli drones and F-16 fighter planes flying over head. During our stay the F-16’s were our alarm clocks and the early morning call as they criss-crossed Gaza skies terrorising the population. They also dropped leaflets warning that anyone who went to within 300m of the border would be shot. Welcome to life in Palestine.”
“Visiting the packed refugee camps bears witness to the reality of life for many poor or homeless people in Gaza. Many of them had once been in full-time employment before the blockade, still others had their homes destroyed by Israel. Up to 4 generations all living in a 6 by 6 metre shed with broken walls, collapsed roofs and dirt floors with sewage problems. And still they smile at us for visiting them, this is the unbreakable spirit of Palestine!”
“On our last morning as we had our breakfast we were again reminded of the realities of life for the innocent civilians of Gaza. Fishermen in small wooden crafts who attempt to gather the ever shrinking available fish which swim in the three kilometres of their own waters, the only place that Israel allows them to fish, were to come under fire from Israeli naval ships. We could hear the heavy naval canons interspersed with the pulse of heavy machine guns. We were left wondering if we’d be hearing of yet another fishermen killed for trying to support his family.”
“We also learned that three young children had been burned to death during the night while attempting to read and study by candlelight. The candle fell over and they were trapped in their bedroom, God help them, all that was left of the three children were the scorched books on the floor which they had been studying from. Yet more tiny victims of the collective punishment siege as Israel only allows 6 hours of electricity each day, these few hours can come at any time even in the middle of the night when the population is asleep, so many students rely on dangerous burning candles to study! Myself and Ogra Alanna Campbell of Coalisland attended the children’s wake with other local women. Their Mother came over and handed me her last remaining child to hold in my arms as we cried together. The tiny 3 month old baby sister who was the only survivor, found under a pile of blankets which somehow managed to save her little life by protecting her from the smoke and flames which consumed her 3 siblings.”
“Leaving we were all very silent heading to Rafah to cross back into Egypt and then home to Ireland, just trying to absorb the gravity of what we had all witnessed for the last 8 days. But we pledged we would do all we can to support our friends in Gaza and to tell their stories to the world. Therefore Irish Friends of Palestine and Derry Frinds of Palestine will continue with more Freedom & Friendship Irish Delegations to Gaza until the murderous siege is lifted!”
BOOKMARK OUR PAGE AS WE WILL BE POSTING INDIVIDUAL REPORTS ABOUT ALL THE MEETINGS AND EVENTS WE ATTENDED IN GAZA
some of those inculded are:
Ministry of Education and HIgher Education
Islamic University of Gaza
Al Aqsa University
Khan Younis College of Science and Technology
Jabalia Martyrs Primary School
Refugee camps, meeting the poor and homeless
Global March to Jerusalem/Land Day Events
Khan Younis meetings
Political Meetings with Fateh, Hamas, and the PLC
Ministry of Youth and Sport
Effects of the Siege First Hand
Local Weekly Prisoner Protests
Prisoners and their Families
UFREE Prisoners Conference Gaza City
Emaar & Albasmah Centre
Khan Younis Park and Garden Development
plus much more…..
Clr Gerry MacLochlainn of Derry Friends of Palestine along with Jennifer McCann MLA were invited by the Council for European-Palestinian Relations (CEPR) to take part in the largest International Delegation to Gaza. The delegation of more than 100 government officials and advocates includes representatives from Ireland and 40 other countries and is the largest group of national officials yet to visit Gaza.
Saying it is long past time for the international community to step in and force Israel to end its siege on Gaza, a global coalition of statesmen and NGO representatives issued and adopted a unanimous resolution demanding immediate action through all diplomatic, cultural and economic means possible.
Before drafting the resolution, the delegation considered reports from experts documenting the following facts:
• Israel continues to maintain complete control over Gaza’s territorial waters, preventing all movement of people and goods by sea and limiting fishing to a distance of three nautical miles from the Strip’s coastline. Fishermen who defy the ban are shot at and /or their boats are confiscated. An estimated total of 4,5000 residents who had previously supported their families by fishing have thus been stripped of their livelihoods and the entire population of 1.5 million have been deprived of a vital source of natural inexpensive nutrition.
• Likewise, Israel prevents access to a 300-1,500m “buffer zone” along its border with Gaza, cutting residents off from one-third of their most arable land.
• All exports from Gaza continue to be virtually prohibited. Although a minimal amount of strawberries, flowers, peppers and tomatoes were allowed to be shipped out between November 2010 and May 2011, the average rate of export during that time was two truckloads per day, compared to Israel’s commitment in 2005 to allow the export of 400 trucks per day. Since May 12 of this year, no trucks have been allowed to leave the Strip. Without exports, it is impossible for Gazans to build anything close to a healthy, self-sufficient economy. Thus, the official unemployment rate now stands at 25.6%.
• Imports of construction materials continue to be severely restricted, when allowed in at all. Each month since January 2011, approximately 17% of the materials that entered monthly in the years prior to June 2007 (when the siege began) has been allowed in. One consequence is a shortage of 250 schools.
• The resolution calls for free excess for both people and goods by land, sea and air, through both Israel and Egypt.
The time for words is past. Governments and human rights organisations worldwide must employ all peaceful powers at their disposal to force an end to the siege. These actions should include economic sanctions, cultural boycotts and diplomatic actions such as ambassador recalls.
Specifically, the International Delegation calls for all governments and NGO’s to use these measures to demand:
• An end to the prohibition on exports.
• An end to all import bans and restrictions related to consumables, healthcare and industry/business.
• The lifting of all control of Gaza’s territorial waters.
• The opening of the “buffer zone” along Gaza’s border with Israel.
• The free flow of people in and out of Gaza, limited only by reasonable security checks and document requirements.
• International acceptance of the Palestinian people’s democratic choices in the next elections, and a commitment to constructively engage with their elected representatives.
Delegation members will work through their own networks to lobby for the implementation of this resolution.
PLEASE JOIN AND SUPPORT THE WORK OF DERRY AND THE IRISH FRIENDS OF PALESTINE IN SUPPORT OF THE RESOLUTION TO END THE SIEGE!! FIND US ON FACEBOOK HERE
Clr Gerry MacLochlainn reports the following today:
I was happy to arrive again in Gaza and to visit old friends and new friends. However I was saddened to see that still nothing has changed from my last few visits. No rebuilding of homes, no cement allowed in.
(Above photo) In Zionist settlements north of Gaza – the area in front of these settlements was ethnically cleansed by Israeli Invasion forces in Operation Cast lead – No houses were left standing – Only those who fled survived the slaughter – the intensity of the Zionist aggression was such that a young girl of 3 years was killed running from her home but her body could not be recovered for another 20 days. Such is life in Gaza. Thousands of people are still being forced to live in tents or one room shacks 3 years on from the brutal attack on the civilian population.
(above photo) This crater which you now see, was once a fisheries police station until a week ago when Israel decided it had not killed enough Palestinians for a while. They bombed it and killed several policemen. There were no survivors – one policeman’s body was thrown some 30 metres away
I then spent the evening in Derry’s sister city of Khan Younis, meeting with my good friend Ahmed Al Najjar from the Gazan Ministry of Education, along with the Mayor of Khan Younis, Mr Muhammed Al Farra.
We spent the evening discussing future projects of mutual interest and ways that the people of Derry, Belfast and Ireland can help to improve the situation in Gaza. More on this when we get home to Ireland.
Today, Jennifer and I met the Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyah. As Jennifer and I are both former Irish political prisoners, we asked the Prime Minister if there was anything that we, as former political prisoners, could do to work with, assist, or help the Palestinian prisoners. Hundreds of them were recently released by Israel under the “Shalit” deal and there will be 500 more released soon. The majority of these prisoners are released into Gaza, even if they were from the West Bank. So they wer free from Zionist prisons, but not free to go home to the West Bank. Jennifer and I were honoured to be told by the Prime Minister that a meeting will be arranged for the two of us to meet with the prisoners and their families later today to explore what further work we can do, Insha Allah.
After meeting the Prime minister, I was one of two people selected to attend and speak at a press conference being held today with the Samouni family.
The Samouni’s lost 29 members of their family, mostly women and children when their home was deliberately attacked. Israel has denied any wrong doing and after it’s own “investigation” has decided the Samouni’s case and other cases like these will be “dismissed and closed.” yet another murderous war crime being swept under the Zionist rug.
Insha Allah, tonight Jennifer and I look forward to an evening spent with good friends, good Palestinian food, and good discussions.
Irish and Canadian ships challenge Israel’s illegal blockade with Freedom Waves to Gaza
Responding to an urgent call for international solidarity from 46 civil society organisations in Gaza, an Irish ship MV Saoirse and a Canadian ship Tahrir have successfully reached international waters in the Mediterranean Sea on a mission dubbed Freedom Waves to Gaza. The boats, two civilian vessels carrying 27 passengers from nine countries, are currently en route to Gaza, Palestine. They will sail from international waters directly to Gaza, and will not pass through Israeli territorial waters.
This is the 11th attempt to break the siege of Gaza via the sea, with five missions arriving safely in Gaza between August and December 2008. The remaining six were violently intercepted by Israel. In May 2010, Israel attacked passengers participating in the first Freedom Flotilla in international waters, killing nine civilians and injuring over 50. Israel’s actions were widely condemned and led to protests around the world. Efforts to bring a second flotilla to Gaza were thwarted by the government of Greece last July following pressure by Israel and Western governments. The Irish vessel, MV Saoirse, was sabotaged while in port in Turkey when its propeller shaft was gouged in a manner almost identical to damage suffered by the Swedish ship. The Irish ship has since been repaired, with funds raised via small donations from Irish citizens in all of the 32 counties. In total, the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign has raised over €140,000 for its mission, a clear sign of the depth of support among ordinary Irish people for the beleaguered people of Gaza.
Throughout the week Palestinian activists in the West Bank and inside Israel will be organizing solidarity actions with the Freedom Waves to Gaza, including a presence outside the UN compound and rallies across West Bank towns. Israel has intensified its aerial bombardments on Gaza in the last few days, killing at least nine people, underlining the need for international solidarity initiatives such as this one.
“The Freedom Waves to Gaza emerged from the Freedom Flotilla initiatives,” says Irish Ship to Gaza organiser Fintan Lane from on board the MV Saoirse. “While the Freedom Waves to Gaza will be delivering some much-needed medicines, our primary goal is to help free Palestinians from their inhumane isolation in what is in effect an open air prison.”
Also on board in this civil society to civil society initiative are delegates from Canada, Australia, the US, Greece, Palestine, Poland and Egypt. “We have just entered international waters and hope to reach the shores of Gaza in a couple of days. The only obstacles in our way are Israel’s military, but international public opinion is behind this effort, and so is civil society in Gaza.”
“The Palestinians living in Gaza want solidarity – not charity. They have made it clear to the world that their primary demand is for freedom. While humanitarian aid is helpful, Palestinians are still prisoners with no freedom of movement,” adds Ehab Lotayef, the Canadian boat organizer. “Israel’s illegal blockade prevents not only imports into Gaza, but exports as well. And the blockade prevents Palestinians from moving freely between Gaza and the West Bank, in violation of fundamental human rights.”
The Freedom Waves to Gaza Initiative is a non-violent, civil society movement the primary aim of which is to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Bios of delegates are available at http://irishshiptogaza.org/
There will also be various media outlets reporting on developments aboard the Tahrir, including Al Jazeera and Democracy Now.
A press conference will be held in Dublin on November 3rd at 11.30am. Details to follow.
Irish Ship to Gaza media contact for the North:
Aoife McLaughlin local 0788 652 4999
outside Ireland 00 44 788 652 4999
Gaza rejects Greek government charity
The following letter was delivered to the Greek Government on July 12, 2011 making it clear that the people of Gaza seek freedom and respect for their human rights, including their right to lead a dignified life, not charity. Seemingly deaf to their call, yesterday a spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Delavekouras, repeated the Greek Government’s “generous offer” to deliver limited humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza – instead of helping them gain the freedom that is rightfully theirs.
We, members of Palestinian civil society in Gaza, have been watching the actions your government has taken to block Freedom Flotilla 2 from setting sail towards the biggest open air prison – the Gaza Strip – to challenge Israel’s criminal blockade. Israel’s closure of Gaza has deprived us of things that most people take for granted, first and foremost, our freedom of movement. We are not allowed to pursue adequate health care or educational opportunities because we cannot travel freely. We are cut off from our families in other parts of the occupied territory and abroad; and we are not allowed to invite people to visit us in Gaza. Now, you have imported this restriction on the people whose main mission is to stand in solidarity with us.
The people of Gaza are only in need of humanitarian aid because we are prevented from building our economy. We are not allowed to import raw materials or to export; our fishermen and farmers get shot at when attempting to fish or to harvest their crops. As a result of deliberate Israeli policy, 80% of our people have become food aid dependent, our infrastructure is in shambles, and our children cannot imagine a day when they will know freedom.
Your offer to deliver the cargo of the Freedom Flotilla entrenches the notion that humanitarian aid will solve our problems and is a weak attempt to disguise your complicity in Israel’s blockade.
We are so sorry not to accept your charity. The organizers and participants of the Freedom Flotilla recognize that our plight is not about humanitarian aid; it is about our human rights. They carry with them something more important than aid; they carry hope, love, solidarity and respect. Your offer to collude with our oppressors to deliver aid to us is strongly REJECTED.
While it is clear that you have been under enormous political pressure to comply with the will of the Israeli regime, to collaborate with Israel in violating international law and legitimizing the siege, we refuse to accept your breadcrumbs. We crave freedom, dignity and the ability to make choices in our daily lives. We urge you to immediately reconsider and to let the Freedom Flotilla sail.
Finally we recognize the historical relations between our people and your country’s support for our legitimate rights. With this history in mind and your previous acknowledgment of the freedoms denied to us, we are calling on you to allow the freedom flotilla boats to leave for Gaza, thus challenging Israel’s illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip and illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
Palestinian Network of NGOs (PNGO) –
Representing over 60 non-governmental organizations in Gaza, www.pngoportal.org
Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza
General Society for Rehabilitation
Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children
Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth
Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah
Rafah Olympia City Sisters
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya Camp
Ajyal Association, Gaza
Al Karmel Centre, Nuseirat
Local Initiative, Beit Hanoun
Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Middle East Children’s Alliance – Gaza office
Alshomoa Club for Women
General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Health Services Workers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
General Union of Palestinian Syndicates
General Union of Palestinian Women
Palestinian Congregation for Lawyers
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Union of Health Work Committees
Union of Synergies-Women Unit
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime
Palestine Sailing Federation
Fishing and Marine Sports Association
Palestinian Women Committees
Progressive Students’ Union
source FREE GAZA
The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) has welcomed home Pat Fitzgerald, one of its members who sailed on the Saoirse as part of the Gaza flotilla. Pat, who is also a Sinn Féin councillor for the Tramore area of County Waterford, said he was disappointed that sabotage had aborted the trip.
A motor mechanic and marine engineer, who spent 20 years at sea on deep sea tramp steamers, container ships, fishing vessels and North Sea oil rigs, he said he had “no doubt at all that the vessel’s propeller shaft was sabotaged”.
Pat took part in the Gaza flotilla because of his involvement in other campaigns for justice. “I suppose it was during my life at sea that my social conscience was awakened. When you travel between poor countries and affluent countries you see the glaring social divide”.
TEEU General Secretary Eamon Devoy said; “The union unreservedly condemns this attack on Pat and other Irish citizens participating in a peaceful protest at the treatment of the people of Gaza. It is clear from talking to Pat that the ship would not alone have been disabled but sunk if it had put to sea without the damage being spotted.
“The Irish Government must make it clear to the Israeli government that these illegal acts of war must stop, he added.
Published on Tuesday 5 July 2011 13:40
Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn has called upon to Irish government to intervene and protect Irish citizens after an act of sabotage on board one of the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ ships put lives in grave danger.
Colr MacLochlainn and fellow traveller Charlie McMenamin have just returned from the Mediterranean where they were among twenty Irish people on board one of the ‘Freedom Flotilla ships docked in the Mediterranean sea attempting to break the Israeli blockade and get aid to Gaza.
However, their boat, the MV Saoirse, was, they believe, badly sabotaged by Israeli agents, forcing them to abandon their efforts.
Colr MacLochlainn has just returned from his second attempt to get to Gaza, having managed to board another ship in the flotilla in an attempt to get to Gaza. He then transferred to Greece where he was to board another boat to Gaza. It was not to be.
“The Greek authorities seized and raided a US boat at sea and arrested its captain, who is now in jail. Despite protests, they also impounded all other boats and subsequently announced that they were not going to allow any boats to leave Greece for Gaza. If it wasn’t for the Greek government banning boats, I would be in Gaza today.”
Colr MacLochlainn has vowed to continue his efforts to enter Gaza and colleagues are currently waiting for the Irish boat to be repaired.
“We’re very lucky they didn’t sink it,” he added. “There is no question that this was sabotage. The Israelis cut a V-shaped cut into the boat’s propeller shaft which means that shaft would have snapped at sea and went up through the ship’s hull, probably killing everyone on board. We were then contacted by a Greek boat and they had a photo of the damage done to their own boat – it showed the exact same V-shaped fault.”
Colr MacLochlainn is in no doubt that the trip could have ended in tragedy and the incident has been reported to the Turkish authorities.
“We could have sank at sea and no-one would ever have known what caused it. This was the attempted murder of twenty Irish citizens – it’s a disgrace. We need the Irish government to step up now and get the Israeli government to show respect to fellow countries and their citizens. The have no respect for any country in the world and are prepared to murder Irish citizens if we oppose their genocide in Gaza. Our government must protect us.”
July 6th 2011
Israel must answer questions on MV Saoirse
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD this morning raised the damage done to the MV Saoirse in its efforts bring much needed humanitarian aid to the besieged citizens of Gaza.
Mr. Adams asked the Taoiseach if the government had spoken with the Irish crew who were aboard the MV Saoirse to seek their account of what occurred last week and their belief that their ship was sabotaged and that the lives of Irish citizens were placed in danger.
He also asked the Taoiseach if the government has spoken to either the Israeli or Turkish authorities on this matter.
Regrettably, the Taoiseach could not answer these questions but said he was raise these matters with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and come back to the Sinn Féin President.
Speaking after Taoiseach’s Questions Mr. Adams said:
“Serious questions must be asked of the Israeli government about the events surrounding the MV Saoirse and a thorough investigation of the damage done to the Irish boat is required.
The blockade of the Gaza strip is illegal. The boarding of the flotilla by Israeli forces last May and the killing of 9 aid workers was illegal. The separation wall is obscene and illegal and the construction of settlements on stolen Palestinian land is illegal.
I strongly support the right of the humanitarian aid workers and others to deliver very necessary humanitarian aid to the people of that region which they are being illegally denied by the Israeli authorities.
Providing humanitarian aid for the million and a half people who live under siege in Gaza and making a stand against the aggression and illegal actions of the Israeli state is hugely important.
The situation in that region and the illegal blockade of Gaza will not go away. It must be faced up to and the siege ended if there is to be any hope for peace.
The Irish government can play a key role in this by giving leadership within Europe and supporting the right of the Palestinian peoples to their own state.”
Note to editor: Gaza Statistics:
· 1.5 million people live in a piece of land 40 km long by 10 km wide.
· 80% of Gazans are now dependent on some form of aid.
· 100,000 estimated to have lost their jobs in the private sector since 2004/5.
· 56% of the population of Gaza is under 18. Schools in Gaza have often classes of over 50 children.
For immediate release 5th July
Government must get answers on MV Saoirse – Mac Lochlainn
Sinn Féin raise sabotage of Irish aid boat with Tánaiste
At today’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, TD, has challenged the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore on what efforts he has made to get answers on the sabotage of the Irish aid boat, the MV Saoirse, while docked in Turkey, last week.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore confirmed that he has been in contact with the Turkish authorities, seeking an update on their investigations and also that he has raised the matter with the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“There is widespread outrage at the obvious sabotage of the MV Saoirse. Those responsible recklessly endangered the lives of the Irish citizens aboard the boat and prevented them from carrying out their mission of solidarity and aid for the beleaguered Palestinian people of Gaza”.
“The facts are that the lives of Irish citizens were put at serious risk and all efforts must be made to get to the truth of this affair in a fashion deployed by the previous Irish Government when Irish passports were utilised to facilitate the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai Hotel. Israeli intelligence agents acting on behalf of the Israeli Government were subsequently held responsible”.
“I welcome the initial efforts of the Tánaiste but I expect a relentless pursuit of the truth.
It is absolutely incumbent on the Irish Government to ensure that a full and comprehensive investigation in to this shocking incident is carried out by the Turkish authorities and that answers are demanded of the Israeli Government, believed by many to be responsible”