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In Gaza: Waiting for the flotilla

30 May 2010

Via In Gaza

Ibrahim, son of a Palestinian fisherman, waits for the Freedom Flotilla in Gaza City harbour, 30 May 2010

Ibrahim, son of a Palestinian fisherman, waits for the Freedom Flotilla in Gaza City harbour, 30 May 2010

A demo on the sea today, a day in advance of the anticipated arrival of the Freedom Flotilla, originally comprising nine boats and 700 people. The Flotilla has been delayed by sudden mechanical failures, international complicity, the pull-out of the Cyprus government’s support – and its banning of boats in Cyprus waters – and more despicable but unsurprising political manoeuvring.

But despite Israel’s promised threat to forcibly stop the boats (in international or Palestinian waters, as with the sixth Free Gaza boat voyage (which was rammed by an Israeli gunboat) and abduct all their passengers (as they have previously done), the flotilla streams forward with the 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies they are bringing to Gaza.

Ibrahim, 10 or so, is the son of one of Gaza’s unrepresented fishermen, numbering now around just 3000 whereas fishing used to employ over 10,000. The number of reported incidents of Israeli gunboat attacks on Palestinian fishing trawlers and hassakas (small motor or paddled boats) is over 300 since Israel’s war on Gaza. OCHA reports at least two fishermen have been killed and 12 injured by Israeli attacks since January 2009.

(More on Israel’s daily attacks, abductions of fishermen and stealing of boats and equipment can be found at Fishing Under Fire.)

Ibrahim’s father, Khaled al Habil, has on many occassions suffered partial, serious and complete damage to his fishing trawlers. In September 2009, one of his trawlers was targeted by an Israeli gunboat missile, along with intense machine gun fire. The boat burned to charred remains.

But today Ibrahim joins the excitement on the water. He straddles the front of a motor boat, Palestinian flag in hand, other hand raised in victory.

But when the demo is over, Ibrahim will return to his impoverished home (rendered devastated by the siege and Israeli limitations on fishing: down from 20 miles under Oslo, to less than 3 miles under Israel’s unliateral imposition).

The demo returns with an Israeli gunboat pirating Gaza’s waters, machine gun fire reverberating as ever.

Power is out at home, as it will be all over Gaza in stages.

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