In a conversation with the press last night, Mark Regev, the official spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, made the following statement:
"Free Gaza is a cool idea, but free them from what?" said Regev. "If they want to free Gaza they should take out women who fear for their lives, Christians and gays. We want to free Gaza from this terrible Taliban regime. This terrible Taliban regime is oppressing women, Christians and gays."
This is our response:
Dear Mr. Regev,
Thank you for your recognition of our efforts to break Israel's inhumane and illegal siege of Gaza. We also think that "Free Gaza" is a very cool idea.
With respect, Israel's siege is directly preventing all the people of Gaza from accessing clean water, electricity, adequate food supplies, and freedom of movement to seek essential medical care, educational development, as well as from being able to freely visit with family and friends.
Israel's siege is indiscriminate, and unjustly affects everyone in Gaza -- including, but not limited to, the women, Christians, and gays that you speak of. These denials all stem from your government's policy of collective punishment, in direct violation of international law and basic human dignity -- both Israel's and that of the Palestinian people.
All of the people of Gaza have reason to fear for their lives due to the Israeli army's reckless use of force, bombing civilian areas, bulldozing homes, shelling civilian areas using flachette shells, and terrorising young and old with the frequent use of sonic booms which have resulted in the permanent deafening of children. The perpetual threat of a ground invasion and escalation of aerial bombardment is both an immediate and continuing threat, as well as an ongoing form of psychological torture. The humiliation of those trying to exit Gaza for medical treatment, the visitation of loved ones and for the right to pursue education also creates the fear of never being able to develop, to learn, to survive, to live, and to love.
We will be leaving Cyprus this evening on our fourth voyage to Gaza, in order to symbolically break Israel's siege, in particular drawing attention to the generation of Palestinians denied the right of self and national realisation and advancement through education -- a right not a privilege, for the youth of every country in the world. We also aim to draw attention to the humanitarian catastrophe the siege has caused, and inspire deeper and more sustained political action across the world to end the illegal and inhumane Israeli occupation.
Mr. Regev, we urge you and other members of your government to join us in this vital mission, see first hand the brutal affects of Israeli policies on the families of Gaza, and work with us to end Israel's siege of Gaza and the ongoing Occupation of Palestine. We appeal to your humanity and once again echo a point of evident agreement between us: Yes, Free Gaza is a cool idea -- now let's put it into practice.
Free Gaza Movement, Cyprus