International Movements Breaking the Siege on Gaza

Since June 2007 the Israeli
government has imposed almost complete closure over the Gaza Strip.
The siege prevents nearly all movement of people or goods to and from
the coastal region with only minimal amounts of humanitarian provisions
inconsistently allowed in. With the exception of a small amount of carnations
allowed out earlier this year, there has been a virtual ban on all exports
from Gaza since 2007. [1] A quick socio-economic glimpse of Gaza includes
agricultural losses totaling US $30 million and more than 40,000 jobs
for the 2007/2008 season, the suspension of 98% of industrial operations,
and more than 80% of Gaza's population is now dependent on humanitarian
aid from international aid providing agencies. [2]

Closure of Gaza and the West
Bank has intermittently been imposed since 1991. While Israel prevents
movement and access in the name of temporary security measures, the
regularity and extent of these mechanisms, particularly since the Oslo
process, represents an institutionalized policy of closure. Israel's
current siege on Gaza reflects an unprecedented and severe application
of the closure policy. In the past year internationals have tried to
break the siege on Gaza by bringing critical medical supplies and other
humanitarian goods into Gaza.

While the world's most powerful
and influential states stand back and watch the complete collapse of
Gaza's economy and livelihood of its population, citizens around the
world are joining Palestinians in various forms to break the siege on

In August 2008 the Free Gaza
Movement sent the first boat into the Gaza port in 41 years. Since the
first boat set sail, the Free Gaza Movement has sent seven more boats
to Gaza with vital supplies, medical staff, journalists, and prominent
individuals such as Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of Tony Blair, 1976
Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan, Palestinian Legislative Council
member Mustafa Barghouti, and Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire. The Free
Gaza Movement plans to send more boats to Gaza in the future.

For over 30 days the International
Movement to Open the Rafah Border has maintained a persistent presence
on the border of Egypt and Gaza to demand an opening of the border and
end to the siege. They call on any person or group to join them "until
the definitive opening of the border between Gaza and Egypt."

Viva Palestina is an aid convoy
initiated by UK Member of Parliament George Galloway. In March of this
year Viva Palestina took over 100 vehicles filled with humanitarian
supplies from the UK to Gaza. Galloway and Vietnam veteran and peace
campaigner Ron Kovic recently organized a US-led Viva Palestina convoy.
The convoy entered Gaza through Rafah Crossing with 200 Americans including
former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and New York Councilmember Charles
Barron. Viva Palestina is planning another convoy from the UK in October

After a successful delegation
in March that coincided with International Women's day, Code Pink
organized two delegations to Gaza earlier this summer - one through
Rafah Crossing in the south and one through Erez Crossing in the north
that brought vital supplies to the people of Gaza.

The Coalition to End the Illegal
Siege of Gaza, coordinated by Norman Finklestein and other leading academics/activists,
is organizing a March on Gaza for January 1, 2010. According to a website
promoting the march, "when nations fail to enforce the law, when the
world's leaders break the law, the people must act!"

In addition to the larger acts
of international popular resistance against the Israeli siege on Gaza,
there are a host of smaller initiatives lead by Palestinians, Israelis,
and internationals that work in tandem to these efforts.

Total success of any one group
has been difficult, given the immense amount of opposition from the
Israeli and Egyptian governments (and the powerful states that support
them). Members of each group have suffered in various ways from bureaucratic
hurdles, arrest, detention, deportation, etc. as the Egyptian and Israeli
states hope to suppress and otherwise intimidate peoples of conscious.
While breaking the siege on Gaza requires more than delivering humanitarian
aid, collectively the international popular movements represent a very
real threat to Israel's closure policy.

The longer the siege lasts,
the larger the popular resistance to it appears to become. Over two
years after its implementation, the movements to end the siege are larger
and stronger than ever before. What is clear by all these acts of popular
resistance is that people of the world are prepared to do what states
are either unwilling or too inept to do - break the siege on Gaza!

1. PALTRADE, "Gaza Strip
Crossings Monitoring Report," Monthly Report (June 2009).

2. World Bank, "Moving Beyond
the 'Movement and Access' Approach" West Bank and Gaza Update
(October 2008), 15 and OCHA Special Focus, "The Closure of the Gaza
Strip: The Economic and Humanitarian Consequences" (December 2007).

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