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Thursday July 22, 2010 12:10 PM (EST+7)
Ranks of international supporters swell after flotilla incident

Read more: International Solidarity Movement, ISM, international supporters, foreign activists, activism, Freedom flotilla, Free Gaza

RAMALLAH, July 22 (JMCC) - The ranks of a group of foreign supporters of Palestinians are swelling after its role in planning and recruiting participants for a Gaza-bound aid fleet in May.

Around the world, we motivated people who were frustrated but didn't know what to do, said Huwaida Arraf, 34, co-founder of the [International Solidarity Movement] and its naval spinoff, the Free Gaza Movement, which organized the May flotilla. Since the movement's ships began, other groups have joined them or imitated them with their own ships trying to reach Gaza's shores — some of them successfully.

Israel is trying to crack down harder on ISM, and the group has also come under criticism for putting volunteers in danger.

Still, more people are volunteering.

Palestinian activist Hisham Jamjoum says the since the May flotilla, 10 recruits a week have attended his workshop, required for ISM volunteers — double the average.

The ISM was launched in 2001 for sympathetic foreigners to help Palestinians throw off Israeli rule. Its founders are a mix — Arraf, a Palestinian who is a dual Israeli-U.S. citizen; her husband, Adam Shapiro, an American Jew; Neta Golan, an Israeli, and Ghassan Andoni, a Palestinian from the West Bank.

Some 7,000 people — a third of them Jews — have participated since, mainly serving as peaceful, but provocative buffers between Palestinians and Israeli forces, mostly at protests. The group was first noticed in 2002 when its activists rushed past Israeli tanks to shield the besieged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in his West Bank headquarters.

Read the story from AP...







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