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Gazans Living in the Darkness CLICK to see



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.

University Student studies using Tiny LED light

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!

Existance is Resistance

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.

Sincerely,

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

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Sabra and Shatila Massacre

On 6 June 1982, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon. The invasion was grotesquely named “Operation Peace for Galilee.” With the meaning of Peace for Israel and death for everyone else. Over all reports from Lebanese claim the Israeli invasion and subsequent bombing of Beirut killed 18,000 and 30,000 injuries. The majority of these were civilians.

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Ultimately after about 60 days of fighting a cease-fire was finally agreed. With the PLO agreeing to pull out of the area, this was witnessed by a multinational team. Under the Reagan Administration, Philip Habib a US envoy was sent to Lebanon in 1981 to defuse the Lebanese Civil War. Habib negotiated a peace that allowed the PLO to evacuate from the besieged city of Beirut. Within this agreement West Beirut would fall under the control of the Lebanese army, and the PLO were given a US guarantee of security for the Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila camps once the 14,000 PLO fighters had withdrawn.

Despite the witnessing of the PLO having left the area and despite the promises of protection for the remaining civilians in the two camps by the US envoy Habib, Israel saw a big opportunity to use the situation to its ultimate goal of wiping out more Palestinians. Ariel Sharon unilaterally made the unfounded claim that “2,000 terrorists” were still inside the Palestinian refugee camps. Then, on 15 September the Israeli army moved in and occupied West Beirut. They then surrounded and sealed off the camps of Sabra and Shatila. Leaving the Lebanese and Palestinian civilians at the mercy of their captors.

The War Criminal Sharon personally directed the Israeli operation, placing himself in a vantage point at the Kuwait embassy located at the outskirts of the Shatila camp. Like a dictator overseeing his subjects from atop a six story building, he could see the camps of Sabra and Shatila and witness his orders being carried out. His plan began swiftly and by that afternoon the camps were shelled by the IDF under the direction of Sharon atop his perch. The following order was given “The searching and mopping up of the camps will be done by the Phalangists army.” Then the IDF gave the command to the Phalangist militia to enter the camps and “commence” the “mopping up procedure.” Israeli General Amir Drori then telephoned Ariel Sharon and said, “Our friends are advancing into the camps. We have coordinated their entry.” To which Sharon replied, “Congratulations! Our friends’ operation is approved.”

Over the next 40 hours the Phalangists raped, killed, and injured thousands of unarmed civilians, mostly children, women and elderly inside the surrounded and sealed camps.

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

The IDF were in full contact with the militia and could see what was taking place, yet they never intervened. Instead, they prevented innocent civilians from escaping their death and assisted the terrorist militia by illuminating the camps at night so the killing, raping and injuring could continue round the clock.

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

We can never know the exact number murdered, it ranges between the Israeli IDF counts of 800 to 3,500 by the Lebanese. Almost 1,000 people were dumped in communal graves by the Red Cross. Additionally family members outside the camps buried some in cemeteries in Beirut and lastly hundreds were buried beneath bulldozed buildings by the terrorist Phalangist militia in their “mopping up” operation.

Despite evidence in the UN Security Council calling Sabra and Shatila a “criminal massacre,” despite the UN finding that illegal weapons were used on civilians, Ariel Sharon the man who was found to be “personally responsible” for this war crime has never been punished. Instead, the War Criminal Sharon was rewarded as a Hero by his country and was later welcomed to the White House, as a man of peace. As for the US Envoy Philip Habib who promised protection for the civilians in the camp which prompted the PLO to leave the area? Well In 1982, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom which is the highest official honor given to a US citizen by the US government.

Flash forward to December 2008, Gaza, operation “Cast Lead” and we see the same tactics once again. An area of 20 by 5 miles, surrounded by Israel with the 4th largest army in the world. We see Gaza being invaded by air, the use of illegal white phosphorous on civilians, being bombed shelled and shot at for 28 days, 1400 killed almost 400 were children, and since the so called end of “Operation Cast Lead” almost each week several more trapped Palestinians are killed by Israeli fire. With the latest victims 91 year old grandfather, Ibrahim Abu-Asad, and his 14-year-old grandchild, Hussam Abu-Asad.

91 Year Old Ibrahim Abu-Asad

91 Year Old Ibrahim Abu-Asad


Today Gaza is the new Sabra and Shatila camps, and more over, the massacre that occurred in Gaza beginning Dec 27th 2008 until Jan 18, 2009 can and will happen over and over again, at Israel’s slightest whim. The captive population has no way out, just like the people inside Sabra and Shatila camps. There is no one to protect them, and the world ignores this crisis. As Obama’s so called “peace talks” take place with only one Palestinian political party represented, there is a continued slow massacre in Gaza which has continued since operation Cast Lead. Each week without fail another Palestinian dies at the hands of Israel. Sometimes 1 person, other times 2 or 3 or more. Just as Sharon claimed those left trapped inside the Sabra and Shatila camps were “terrorists” Israel uses this same tactic when it murders Palestinians in Gaza. Israel has appointed itself to be judge, jury and executioner, without world supervision, investigation, transparency.. It’s a constant drip, a slow painful massacre that the world continues to ignore. Israel’s bloody history repeats itself and this will continue until the world demands otherwise.

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION

The situation in Gaza is not a humanitarian one, it’s a political one. The proud people of Gaza do not want to be aid dependant. In order to free the people of Gaza so they can live normal lives, it is imperative that this cruel, unjust and illegal siege be lifted. A new Flotilla is taking place very soon, the Freedom Flotilla 2. As Irish people of conscience we must step forward and help the people of Gaza together. Please support the Irish Ship to Gaza so Ireland can help break this siege on the seaport which will then allow cargo ships to bring re-building supplies, food, medical equipment and medicine to those trapped inside suffering for years and help get the Gaza economy back to work so they can get off the dole. All of us can help stop this; all of us can make a change happen. Together we can make a difference, please donate to the Irish Ship to Gaza and be part of the solution. Any amount is welcomed.
Remember what Bobby Sands said “Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small; no one is too old or too young to do something.”





Donate now; let’s help Gaza be free together

BLOODY SUNDAY 38 YEARS FOR THE TRUTH TO BE SET FREE

On 15 June 2010, the people of Derry were waiting with great anticipation for the long awaited Saville report to be released. The town was filled with people, thousands gathering and assembling at the Guildhall Square and overflowing down to Williams Street and up Shipquay Street waiting for the Truth to be Set Free. It was as if the whole town was “one” That day.

At 3:15 the first sign emerged to the thousands waiting outside, a thumbs up from the windows of the Guildhall to the crowd below,

The cheers spread across the crowd in all directions. A short time later the families emerged victoriously, with cheers of “Innocent” ringing from the Guildhall steps. I remember the faces of people in the crowd, a day I will never forget, there were cheers, tears and joy in Derry that day. I thought of the poor family members who fought for the truth to be set free for so many years, yet who had passed away never having the chance to see this day come. I noticed someone in the crowd was flying a Palestinian flag, and I found myself thinking of the hundreds of innocent Palestinians murdered, and wondered would their truth ever be set free. And I thought of how many Bloody Sunday’s, Monday’s, Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s, Thursday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s they have suffered for so many years.

As the Truth was finally set free in Derry, and as each Bloody Sunday family member spoke of their murdered loved one, followed by the word “Innocent!” we all stood and cheered as one. But we were more than one that day.

As people in our little corner of the world were rejoicing at the coming of a day they had dreamed of for 38 years, yet far away in Palestine, others were also affected by our victory that day. In our sister town of Khan Younis the news spread about what was taking place in Derry. It was soon decided that an official celebration for the people of Derry should be organized, so that the people of Khan Younis could show their solidarity in our long awaited victory, a victory they also have dreamed of, with regard to their own innocent civilians who have been murdered by their occupiers and oppressors.

And so it was that on 22nd June 2010, the people of Khan Younis came out in a show of solidarity for Derry. Hundreds assembled in front of the Khan Younis Municipality Building, a place that has fond memories. As I viewed the photos of the day’s event, it was almost overwhelming. To see the people of Khan Younis holding the placards of those faces we know only too well here in Derry, the 14 murdered on Bloody Sunday, this illustrated what our victory in Derry meant to others around the world, it represented “hope” that their day of truth would one day come as well. And this was voiced so eloquently in the speech given in Khan Younis that day, a copy of which is provided below the video.

Full Text of Speech Below:

I am very pleased to speak on behalf of the people of my city Khanyounis and all the Palestinians inside Palestine and the Diaspora to extend our hearty congratulation to and support for the people of Derry and all the Irish people on the release of the Final Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
Though it is said: better late than never, it is still very sad that justice took 38 years to be served in Derry. On this historic day, the city of Khanyounis shares with Derry and the families of the martyrs of Bloody Sunday happiness that their beloved heroes were declared innocent.

We call upon all humanitarians and people concerned to exert all their efforts to bring the murderers to justice and specially Brigadier General Robert Ford who was the one to give orders to kill. It is not only Ford and his soldiers that should be charged, but all those who committed the massacres in Derry. All the soldiers that have committed atrocities against Palestinians and the people of Gaza should be charged for their crimes against humanity.

Bloody Sunday brings to mind Black Sunday in 1990 when 6 Palestinian workers were slain by the hands of a criminal Zionist who opened fire on them while trying to find work to sustain their offspring.

This event also brings to mind the Balfour declaration that resulted in the suffering and misery of our Palestinian people after he promised a home for the Zionists on our land in 1917. We take this opportunity to call upon the present British Government to apologize to the Palestinian people for the agonies resulted from this promise.

The people of Derry and Ireland have stood steadfast and in solidarity with the people of Gaza and all Palestinians that live both inside and outside of Palestine. For the struggles you have endured in the past are similar to those that Palestinians continue to face today. A humane and just world implores that all concerned humanitarians from the Irish to Palestinians, from Ireland to Gaza, and from all over the world, join together in the struggle against injustice, suppression and the innocent killing and massacre of people.

Derry and the Irish have aided the people of Gaza since the Israeli massacre of Palestinian women, men and children. The aid and, more importantly, the support given will be forever remembered in the hearts and minds of Gaza’s wee ones, as well as the old.

Like the martyrs of Bloody Sunday, one day the martyrs of Palestine including Palestinians and Internationals will be vindicated and commemorated worldwide. They will be forever remembered for their heroic actions because the voice of the voiceless will not be relent until injustice is reversed and justice is prevailed and until the Gaza siege has been completed lifted and a Palestinian state declared.

So as the Truth was finally Set Free in Derry, we must remember our friends who are still waiting for their truth to be set free. And pray it does not take another 38 years for them inshallah

Music Night for Gaza!
Sat 12th June, Culturann, 37 Great James Street, Derry

On Saturday 12th June, Derry Friends of Palestine would like to invite everyone to a ‘live music event for Gaza’. Following the horrific raid and murder of humanitarian workers on board the Gaza bound ship last week; we wish to invite the people of Derry and further afield to attend a gathering to show solidarity with the people of Palestine. In this event, there will be an exhibition of selected photographs, showing the daily oppression of the Palestinian people, in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively. Additionally, there will be a range of top-class musicians.

Headlining the gig is Tyrone folk singer Mickey Coleman, who has written a protest song against the siege of Gaza – titled ‘Mother’s Lullaby’. Terry ‘Cruncher’ O’Neill, Declan McLaughlin and others will also be performing. During the course of the night, there will also be raffles for pictures/t-shirts donated kindly by the Bogside Artists.

Come along and show your support against the siege of Gaza! There will be music and great craic as well of course!
Admission £5 (BYOB – bring your own booze)

For more information please email
info@derryfriendsofpalestine.org

On the heels of the Derry Friends of Palestine protest and vigil held 31st May the morning of the massacre, many more marches and protests were called around the world, in every city and every country. Again we wish to thank those groups who came out and supported our protest vigil and who accepted our invitation to speak at our event alongside our Chair, representing Derry Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn, and representing DAWC/Raytheon 9 women, Goretti Horgan.

On Friday our members attended a white line picket in Strabane held by a new group in support of the Flotilla.

On Saturday we were invited by Derry Anti War Coalition to attend and speak at a march through Derry which ended at the Guildhall. The marchers assembled at Guildhall square at 2:00 and proceeded to march through the town to the Diamond, then down Shipquay Street back to the Guildhall.

Speaking at the event was Roisin Barton representing the Raytheon 9 women, followed by Derry Friends of Palestine member Stephen Crockett, ending with Eamon McCann of DAWC. Photos and video below:

Derry Friends of Palestine-Stephen Crockett

Eamonn McCann

Eamonn McCann

Roisin Barton

Roisin Barton

MORE PHOTOS IN OUR GALLERY HERE,
AND ALSO ON OUR FACEBOOK GROUP

During the Gaza invasion in 2009, at the behest of Derry Friends of Palestine members, our city council was the first local government to pass a motion to officially boycott Israel. Additionally we called for a ceasefire and for Israel to withdraw from Palestine.

Emergency Motion on Gaza
Passed by Derry City Council
Tuesday 6th January 2009

Proposed by
Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn of Sinn Féin

Derry City Council notes the appalling loss of life particularly of children taking place now in Gaza.

We call for an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and from all the territories occupied by Israel since 1967 in defiance of the United Nations.

We believe that peace will only be brought to the Middle East on the basis of a full inclusive dialogue between the representatives of the people of Palestine and Israel.

We call on people in Derry to show solidarity with the victims of this aggression by joining the international boycott of Israeli goods so that pressure can be mounted on the Israeli government to respect international law.

Derry City Council resolves to write to the British and Irish Governments and the EU President to express our rejection of Israeli aggression and to call on both governments and the EU to bring diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on Israel until they abandon their current belligerent strategy and withdraw from Gaza and all illegally occupied territory.

We also urge all parties and groups in the region to accept inclusive dialogue and political negotiation as the way forward and for all acts of violence to end immediately

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