Friday March 7, 2014
Gaza Ark and The Estelle Freedom BoatSpecial to Salem-News.com
Gaza builds a ship to break the Israeli blockade from the inside.
(VANCOUVER, B.C. / Agence France-Pres) - A ship built in Gaza will sail next year carrying Palestinian exports to international customers, and to challenge Israel’s blockade from the inside out.
Gaza’s Ark will build a boat in Gaza using existing resources. A crew of internationals and Palestinians will sail it out of Gaza, the only Mediterranean port closed to shipping, carrying Palestinian products to fulfill trade deals with international buyers, to challenge the illegal and inhuman Israeli blockade.
Gaza’s Ark will be constructed in Gaza by Palestinian hands and expertise, with international assistance where requested.
Gaza’s Ark will help revitalize the dwindling ship building industry in Gaza and help ensure the transmission of this disappearing expertise (another effect of the blockade) to the younger generations.
Through Gaza’s Ark and trade deals secured between Palestinian producers in Gaza and international businesses and NGOs, a channel will be established to export Palestinian products from Gaza that are available despite the blockade.
"The Gaza’s Ark project was building a boat using existing resources in the tiny Palestinian enclave to carry Palestinian goods to the outside world," said former Canadian member of parliament, Jim Manly.
Manly held a briefing on Wednesday at Vancouver airport before flying to Naples to join the Estelle, which is scheduled to sail from Italy this month carrying humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip in another challenge to the blockade. He said the Estelle, coordinated by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, would carry an anchor for Gaza’s Ark paid for by Canadians.
The Estelle, to carry at least 17 activists from around the world, is the latest ship organized by the international pro-Palestinian coalition to try to break Israel’s blockade.
Israel says the blockade is necessary to stop weapons from entering the territory, which is run by the Islamist movement Hamas. It has used force to stop previous attempts to run it. The old Israeli rhetoric does not convince any more. Hamas was democratically elected on 2007 by Palestinians living in the Mediterranean enclave.
Nine Turkish nationals, one of which was American, were killed in May 2010 when Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of a Gaza-bound flotilla.
In November 2011, 27 passengers and crew aboard two ships were intercepted by the Israeli navy trying to enter Gaza.
Israeli commandos boarded the Irish-flagged Saoirse (Freedom) and the Canadian ship Tahrir (Liberation) in international waters off Gaza before the navy escorted them to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
The last Freedom Flotilla to enter Gaza was “Dignity” that triumphantly entered the coast of Gaza on November 2009.
Canadian activist Irene MacInnes said that when the last flotilla was intercepted, activists in Canada, the US and Australia came up with the idea of building a ship in Gaza. She said a committee was working on the Gaza boat using paid local labour.
Gaza’s Ark will probably be used to ship olives, oil and local handicrafts in between other products.
It is a great honor to be able to accompany the Swedish sailing ship Estelle for a few days, from Barcelona to Ajaccio (Corsica), on its way towards Gaza to challenge the illegal and inhuman blockade which has lasted now for more than five years.
The Estelle in a 90 year-old three-masted schooner purchased from a Finnish fair-trade organization by Ship to Gaza Sweden in April and renovated for this sea voyage. She began a Swedish coastal tour in June, with solidarity and information events in communities to raise awareness about the blockade in Gaza.
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