Socialist Worker

New convoy setting out to break Israel's siege of Gaza

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2219

Activists will set out from London this Saturday on an aid convoy to break the blockade of Gaza.

The convoy will drive through Europe and parts of Africa before arriving in Gaza by the end of October.

The campaigners’ aim is to break the Israeli siege of the Palestinian people.

This will be Viva Palestina’s fifth aid convoy from Britain.

The last one—a flotilla of aid ships—hit the headlines when Israeli troops attacked it in May.

This resulted in the deaths of nine people on board the main ship, the Mavi Marmara.

Israeli snipers who lowered themselves onto the deck shot them dead.

Other boats in the flotilla were attacked, with activists handcuffed, their phones and documents taken and some held in Israeli prisons for days.

This act of state terrorism was met with anger and revulsion across the world.

Thousands protested across Britain calling for Israel to be held to account for its crimes and for the lifting of the siege of Gaza.

As a result, the new convoy has seen a range of people from Britain sign up to take part.

One is Jim Nichol, a socialist and human rights lawyer from north London.

Jim told Socialist Worker why he is going.

“I went on my first demonstration in support of the Palestinians in 1967,” said Jim.

“I’ve been campaigning for them ever since.

“But nothing prepared me for the horror I saw in Palestine when I went there last year.

“I went as part of a legal delegation to look at Palestinians being tried in Israeli military courts in occupied Palestine.”

Jim was shocked by the segregation and abuse meted out to the Palestinian people.

“Many of the things I saw left scars on my memory,” he says.

“A 12 year old child was brought into the court accompanied by soldiers carrying automatic machine guns.

Prison

“He was shackled and wearing brown prison uniform. He had no legal representation.

“The proceedings were conducted in Hebrew—but the boy only spoke Arabic.

“He was remanded back to prison for a further seven days and he was charged with throwing a stone at the wall.

“For a lawyer, it doesn’t come more shocking than that.”

Israel systematically harasses and abuses the Palestinian people.

The more than one million people in Gaza have been under siege since the election of the Hamas resistance movement in 2006.

Israel justifies its human rights violations by saying it is fighting against terrorism.

But it is practising state terrorism against an entire people.

Jim went on, “Another case that I’ll never forget is the grandmother, with nine grandchildren, who spoke on the phone from the West Bank to someone in Gaza about her son.

“The Israeli state claims the person she spoke to was a member of Hamas.

“She was sentenced to nine months in prison immediately.

“I saw many shocking cases like these. That’s why I’ll be on the convoy to Palestine.”

Jim believes that protests and the work of activists abroad are vital.

“What is important is that the people of Gaza see they have international solidarity,” he says.

The siege has resulted in the narrow strip of land becoming a prison camp for its inhabitants.

It means that even the most basic supplies are vetoed by the Zionist state, including concrete, tools and materials to build and maintain energy and water supplies.

As a result the area is often plunged into darkness.

Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, which lasted from December 2008 to January 2009, flattened hospitals, schools, mosques, homes, and a UN compound in Gaza with bombs.

Reconstruction has been impossible under these conditions.

The Zionists must not be allowed to get away with the abuse of the Palestinians any longer.

Initiatives like the Viva Palestina convoy deserve the full support of people everywhere.

The Viva Palestina convoy will assemble at 8.30am, Saturday 18 September, Embankment, London. For more information go to www.vivapalestina.org

Keep watching this site for Jim’s regular blogs from the convoy


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Article information

News
Tue 14 Sep 2010, 17:14 BST
Issue No. 2219
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