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This summer, the intensified blockade of the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip has continued into its sixth year. The blockadeâ€”referred to as “the siege” by its victimsâ€”is a violation of international law and of the fundamental human rights of the civilian population in Gaza. The blockade has devastating humanitarian consequences for more than 1.6 million people, most of them children, on this coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the Negev desert.
The blockade is illegal, inhumane andâ€”from IsraelÂ´s point of viewâ€”counterproductive; it neither stops weapons from being smuggled into the Strip or missiles from being fired, nor has it put Hamas out of power. On the contrary.
The documentation of the blockadeÂ´s inhumanity and failure to generate anything but violence and despair, is mounting. â€ťEnd the blockade on Gaza nowâ€ť, 50 humanitarian organizations and UN agencies urged in an exceptionally frank statement in June. In addition, a UN report issued in August concluded that Gaza wonâ€™t be livable by 2020 if urgent action is not taken.
The blockade makes it impossible to properly rebuild the hospitals, homes and water treatment plants that were all destroyed in the massive bombing of Gaza in the winter of 2008/2009. The export ban prevents Gazaâ€™s residents from earning a living and is an important factor behind the almost total dependency on aid. The â€śtunnel economyâ€ť, which is one of the consequences of the blockade, nurtures criminality and undermines any legitimate economy.
Family members who live in Gaza and the West Bank are denied the right to visit each other. Young people are denied access to higher education at Palestinian universities in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Fishermen are forbidden to fish outside of three nautical miles from the coast.
Throughout history, the Mediterranean Sea has provided a link between people and cultures. However, for the Palestinians in Gaza the sea constitutes a wall, just like the ones that separate them from Israel, Egypt and other parts of Palestine.
The blockade is a clear impediment to a sustainable and just peace. However, it is evident that our politicians have fallen short when it comes to adhering to declarations on human rights and international law. It is now time for civil action.
Civil action is what the Ship to Gaza/Freedom Flotilla is offering. The S/V Estelle has been sailing since the beginning of the summer. Gaza is her destination; ending the siege is her goal. We, the undersigned, express our support for non-violent actions of solidarity like the Ship to Gaza/Freedom Flotilla, an initiative in which some of us are participating as passengers and others as committed sympathizers on land.
Our message is simple:
Palestinians are humans with human rights! End the siege! Let the people go!