The Free Gaza Movement has set sail on its ninth mission to Gaza in an effort less about the delivery of aid and more about posing a challenge to the ongoing Israeli siege and the “discourse of power” that gives the slow-acting international community control over Palestinians’ future.
The past three attempts have been blocked violently by the Israeli Navy, but according to Ewa Jasiewicz, a coordinator with the Free Gaza Movement, the activists are upping the ante by traveling with four vessels (instead of their customary one or two). There are 700 passengers and some 5,000 tons of reconstruction materials and medical equipment on board. They are also sailing a path that never enters Israeli territorial waters. But even so, as Jasiewicz pointed out, they are still a military target.
The Israeli government has responded to the “sea intifada” coming its way with saber rattling and accusations of serving Hamas. Israel has proscribed the Turkish human rights and relief group Insani Vardim Vakafi (IHH). IHH is responsible for sending a cargo ship and passenger ship in the Freedom Flotilla. Israel has accused it and Free Gaza of “supporting terrorism.” Half the Israeli navy is set to challenge the mission, with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the helm commanding the operation in person. The air force is on standby and “diplomatic pressure” is being applied behind the scenes. The message is clear from Israel: “We will stop you and we will use force to stop you.”
Jasiewicz and the Free Gaza Movement recognize what they’re up against and see the danger as part of their mission.
When Rachel Corrie stood in front of the bulldozer driver that killed her, she acted on radical trust — that the soldier would see her humanity. She lost, because the soldier had lost his humanity. Yet Rachel’s faith abides in each of us. Because if our oppressors are losing their humanity then we must never stop showing them that we have it. We are undertaking this mission in the spirit of those who have fought and sacrificed their lives for our collective humanity, and to remind everyone who can see of the need to act on it.