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Thursday June 3, 2010 12:09 PM (EST+7)
Gazans say blockade-busting to continue as long as Israel closes borders

Read more: Freedom Flotilla, convoy, Gaza convoy, aid convoy, humanitarian aid, Hamas, IHH, blockade, siege, closure

GAZA CITY, June 3 (JMCC) – Palestinians in Gaza say that as long as Israel seeks to control the flow of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip, they and their supporters will continue to find ways around the blockade.

Convoys of boats will continue as long as the siege continues on Gaza,” said Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri.

But Abu Zuhri added that he hoped the deaths of nine activists in the latest attempt to break Israel’s sea blockade would lead to a big international act pressuring Israel to end the closure.

I think that this is a turning point to break the siege and to end the blockade, he told


On Tuesday, Egypt announced the opening of Rafah crossing to people and goods. Abu Zuhri was pessimistic, however, that the move was a change in policy. He said it was not enough and that Egypt should open the crossing forever rather than temporarily.

When Hamas forcibly took over Gaza’s security installations in June 2007, Egypt closed Rafah crossing with Gaza and stopped facilitating a US-brokered agreement on the crossings that allowed European monitors to observe traffic and goods.

This heinous crime of the Israeli naval commandos increased our will to resume our efforts. We will not surrender,” said Amjad Al-Shawwa, coordinator of the Palestinian International Campaign Against the Siege.

“Two months from now a new convoy is coming, Al-Shawwa said.


The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, based in Brussels, announced Wednesday that it would send a new convoy of at least six ships, called Freedom 2.

Head of the Campaign, Araft Madhi, said in a statement that the campaign and other international organizations have been working hard to send a new convoy.

Lots of boats are coming to Gaza, and the boats will carry hundreds of people more than the Freedom Flotilla [attacked by Israel], and humanitarian aid, as well, Madhi added.

The Freedom Flotilla was the tenth convoy organized to break the blockade of Gaza. The first two boats, the Free Gaza and Liberty arrived in the Gaza port on August 23rd, 2008.

The first convoy to be prevented from landing by the Israeli navy was the Libyan Al-Marwa boat on December 1, 2008.

The blockade could be tested as early as Friday, however, as the MV Rachel Corrie, an Irish-commissioned boat, heads from Malta towards the Gaza Strip.

Mohammed Kaya, head of the Turkish Association for Humanitarian Aid said that the IHH never expected that the Israelis would kill activists. But despite that, we will send a new convoy in the next couple of months, he told JMCC in an interview at Gaza harbor.

Kaya said that the IHH would only stop sending boats to Gaza when Israel ends its blockade of the Strip.


Key to ending the blockade of Gaza is reaching a reconciliation pact between Palestinian factions – Hamas as it administers the Gaza Strip, and Fateh in power in the West Bank.

Some believe that this week’s tragic outcome has opened the possibility for reuniting the political factions.
Hundreds of Palestinian political leaders and ordinary people paid visits of condolence this week to the Gaza port that was to receive the international activists who were intercepted Monday morning by the Israeli navy.

Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas authorities in Gaza called for three days of mourning to honor the international activists.

Additionally, Abbas ordered a delegation from Fateh to visit Gaza to explore possible reconciliation.
Al-Shawwa, for one, says that he is optimistic.

This event is the event of Palestinian unity,” he says. “The Palestinian Authority, Fateh, Hamas and civil society -- all of them share the same attitude.

But political analyst Akram Atallah said that the gap between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority has actually become wider, and the prospects for reconciling them less likely.

Despite the collective mourning for the international activists, rallies in Gaza continued to be organized separately by individual factions.

Hamas has now had a propaganda victory,” he said.  “Thus, it will use it for diplomacy, and place more conditions before signing any reconciliation [agreement].

Israeli naval commandos forcibly boarded the six boats of the Freedom Flotilla on Monday morning, killing nine international activists seeking to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Israel claimed that its soldiers acted in self defense after the activists attacked them with clubs, chairs, metal stakes and live gunfire.

Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip after Palestinian armed men captured an Israeli soldier in a battle near the Gaza border with Israel in June 2006.






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