For Immediate Release
Free Gaza Movement Meets With European Parliament and Lauren Booth Trapped in Gaza
BRUSSELS - oday, in a special session of the European Parliament's Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council (DPLC), Paul Larudee, one of the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement's successful breach of the Israeli blockade of Gaza in August, called upon the international community to join the Movement's efforts to lessen the human suffering created by Israeli's strangulation of Gaza.
"The Israeli siege has produced widespread and needless human suffering in Gaza," Larudee told DPLC Parliamentarians. "We've proved that the sea link to Gaza is viable, but the humanitarian needs in Gaza are overwhelming and our two, small boats cannot even begin to meet those needs. Today we call for a much broader effort; specifically, we are calling on other members of the international community - governments, non-governmental organizations, and others dedicated to protecting human rights - to join us by providing their own ships, humanitarian goods, and human capital to open wide Gaza's access to the world. This is an opportunity that simply must not be squandered."
Since Israel imposed the blockade two years ago, malnutrition and unemployment rates in Gaza have soared. In May 2008, several international aid organizations, including CARE International UK, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Medecins du Monde UK, stated that, "the stranglehold on Gaza's borders has made ... the work of the UN and other humanitarian agencies ... virtually impossible. Only a trickle of medicine, food, fuel and other goods is being allowed in. [The Israeli blockade of Gaza] has made people highly dependent on food aid, and brought the health system and basic services such as water and sanitation near to collapse."
Two of the Free Gaza Movement's boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty, arrived in Gaza Port on August 23 to the jubilation of tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered at the port. It was the first time in over forty years that international ships had docked in Gaza Port. The boats avoided Israeli interference by staying exclusively in international, Gaza, and Cypriot waters on their journey.
Speaking from Jerusalem, Huwaida Arraf, a law professor at Al-Quds University and another organizer with the Free Gaza Movement, stated that, "We urge the world to join us in asserting that the Palestinian people have a right to access the outside world. The world cannot stay silent as the Palestinian people are deliberately starved and humiliated; Palestinians have a right to life with dignity."