Ship to Gaza is buying Estelle

At a press conference the 4th of April 11.00 in Läntinen Rantakatu 67, Turku, Finland, Ship to Gaza Sweden’s spokesperson Dror Feiler, will announce the purchase of the Finnish sailing ship Estelle. The ship has been in the possession and care of Eestaas Ltd since 1985, and been used for fair trade and sea travels between Northern Europe and Africa. These are traditions that will be maintained and cherished by Ship to Gaza, a non-violent initiative and act of solidarity with one purpose: To end the inhumane and illegal siege on Gaza and its 1.6 million Palestinian inhabitants.

Estelle will be an important tool in our coming effort to end the siege. In 2010, a large, Israeli naval force, killing nine passengers and injuring some 50 people, attacked a peaceful flotilla. In 2011, a Greek government under hard pressure resigned to the Israeli blockade and detained a second Freedom Flotilla of boats in Greek ports. This was forceful and in violation of international law as well as EU laws. No government was heard to protest against this full-fledged breach with the EU principle of Freedom of movement, for people and for goods.

Freedom of movement is something the people of Gaza can only dream of. The near five year long blockade is devastating in its efficiency in keeping people and goods from moving in and out of Gaza. Enclosed in this small enclave, the people are regularly the object for attacks from Israeli military. In the aftermaths of the Flotilla in 2010, an Israeli government under pressure declared some relaxation in the blockade. This has proven to be a trick, an illusion. Illegal, collective punishment keeps on hitting people every day, week and month. Imports are, with generous calculations, approaching 40 % of the pre-blockade levels. Exports are all but eradicated and large shares of the population are dependent on international aid. The crisis is acute when it comes to power, fuel, water resources and sanitation. Maybe worst of all, is the isolation from family, friends, universities and other parts of society in the occupied territories.
Since the introduction of the blockade, 350 000 children has been born in Gaza. They know no other reality than the world’s largest open-air prison.

In March 2012 The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern regarding “the dramatic and disproportionate impact of the Israeli Defence Forces’ blockade and military operations on Palestinians’ right to housing and basic services in the Gaza Strip”. The international community have many times condemned the blockade, and deemed it illegal. But this is not turned in to action, and mere lip service is paid to common principles and values: Human Rights. This passiveness forms a backdrop to our engagement for Ship to Gaza. We pose a simple question to ourselves and to others: Are Palestinians human beings? If the answer is yes, then the Palestinians have to be acknowledged with the same inalienable rights as others. If the answer is no? Then one has out-defined one self, rather than those one seeks to de-humanise.

The siege is not only inhumane and illegal. It is also counter-productive. When will the Arab spring, be allowed to cross the border into Gaza?

Ship to Gaza will in 2012, in a joint-effort with partners realise a whole new project, all over Europe. We will this time sail from the Nordic waters to Gaza, via harbours in the Baltic, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. In every harbour we will organise events: In music, discussions and our voyage we will spread the word about the situation for Gaza and its people. We will bring much wanted cargo. Many will have the opportunity to participate in this peaceful journey for solidarity, on one of the many laps we will make on the way from the North to Gaza. S/V Estelle will be our ship and we will perpetuate her proud tradition to sail for fair trade and human rights.

Ship to Gaza-Sweden

http://www.shiptogaza.se

Spokespersons:
Dror Feiler: +46 702855777
Mattias Gardell: +46 703036666
Ann Ighe: +46 709740739
Victoria Strand + 46 727356564

Media co-ordinator:
Mikael Löfgren: +46 707983643
media@shiptogaza.se

För more information on Estelle’s past:
http://www.estelle.fi/en/estelle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SV_Estelle

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