Israel let leftists land in Gaza in August
Israel let leftists land in Gaza in AugustFlash 90

Left-wingers plan to launch next Tuesday a long delayed second attempt to break Israel's control over Gaza's coastal waters. This time, Arab Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka and Palestinian Authority legislator Mustafa Barghouti plan to be on board.


The first 'Free Gaza" activists arrived in Gaza in late August on two boats after the Olmert government backed down from threats to arrest them or keep them at sea. The Foreign Ministry explained at the time it did not want to give the activists an opportunity to gain more media attention.


However, foreign media touted the sailing as a successful challenge to Israel's sovereignty, which it stipulated as a condition to the 2006 expulsion of Jews from Gaza and withdrawal of all military forces. The government said that the PA cannot take control of land or air space until it eliminates the terrorist infrastructure. Two years after the expulsion and withdrawal, Hamas terrorists took over control of Gaza from the rival Fatah faction.


Free Gaza spokeswoman Greta Berlin said the delay in the second launch, which had been scheduled last month, was caused by work to make the boat stronger in the face of the approaching winter.


Berlin added that the "siege-breakers" will bring with them large quantities of medicine that are being donated by European activists. Dr Arafat Shoukri, head of the European campaign, claimed that cough syrup is non-existent in Gaza and that the de facto Hamas government has made specific requests for medicines.


The Foreign Ministry previously has stated that medicines are available through humanitarian shipments that Israel has allowed to pass through Gaza crossings, except when they are closed in response to Kassam rocket attacks. It added that if the activists want to deliver medicine, they can do so via the port at Ashdod.


Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Lior Haiat stated, "We will not comment on announcements" because the activists made similar claims several weeks ago. He added that the government response not to intervene in the first landing was correct but does not serve as a precedent.


"They violated international law and caused incitement, so the real reason they gave of bringing food is not true," he explained. Next week's sailing is scheduled to arrive in Gaza next Wednesday or Thursday.

Ministry officials have not responded to requests to comment on what action, if any, it will take against the planned sailing next week.


"We intend to break Israel's blockade as often as we can," said Berlin. "This second trip is just one of many we intend to organize over the next year. We have lawyers, members of Parliament and other professionals already on our passenger lists for upcoming voyages."


She told IsraelNationalNews, "We are not in contact with any official government source, whether Palestinian or Israeli. We have been invited [to Gaza], by the NGOs of Gaza."


Berlin added it had no contact with the Foreign Ministry because the movement does not "need their permission to sail into Gaza.... unless, of course, they are willing to admit that they are still occupying Gaza, something they refuse to do."


The spokeswoman added that the activists' financial sources have "always been and will continue to be private donations. We take no government money from anyone."