Huwaida Arraf adalah duta Free Gaza Movement dan ini kali pertama dia ke Indonesia. Dalam jumpa persnya di kantor Voice of Palestine di bilangan Pasar Minggu, dia bicara banyak soal Palestina, soal kebejatan Israel dan soal misi FGM untuk menerobos blokade Israel atas Gaza dengan berperahu dari Siprus.
Acaranya memang kecil tapi Huwaida seorang pembicara yang baik. Tak ada nada ekstrim. Hanya paparan fakta yang merangsang kesadaran. Masalah Gaza adalah masalah kemanusiaan, katanya. Huwaida sendiri beragama Kristen dan ini cukup mengejutkan bagi sebagian yang hadir.
Seharian kemarian dia meladeni media, dari Indosiar, Republika hingga wartawan majalah Intelejen. Dia senang terlebih pada Harian Kompas. Raksasa media ini mengirim tiga wartawannya sekaligus (dari Kompas cetak, Kompas Online dan Maria Hartiningsih) dan ketiga-tiganya meminta waktu wawancara tambahan di luar konferensi pers.
Lalu ada pula yang membuat Huwaida berbunga-bunga: dalam konferensi pers kemarin, Direktur MER-C, dr. Joserisal Jurnalis, memberikan komitmennya untuk menyumbang sebuah kapal seharga $ 200.000. So, dalam misi internasional menerobos blokade Israel pada April nanti, akan ada bendera Merah Putih yang ikut berkibar di salah satu kapal. Bakal cukup membanggakan. Di luar Indonesia, Tun Mahathir Muhammad dari Malaysia lebih dulu mendonasikan tiga kapal, termasuk sebuah kapal cargo raksasa. Lalu ada pula Turki yang mendonasikan lima kapal.
Huwaida akan tinggal di Jakarta sampai Senin malam. Senin pagi tanggal 21 Feb., dia dapat slot wawancara di Metro TV, siang sedikit bertemu bos PMI yang baru, Jusuf Kalla.
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20 February 2010
I am here as a representative of the Free Gaza Movement, to discuss with you and hopefully to inspire you to support our efforts to break the Israeli siege of Gaza. However, it is important to keep in mind that what’s happening in Gaza is not independent of what’s happening in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. In the West Bank, Israel continues to confiscate and destroy Palestinian agricultural land, siphon water recources, build an Apartheid Wall, cutting people off from their families and their livelihoods. In Jerusalem, Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes–there are currently 200 oustanding demolition orders for Palestinian homes–threaten the existance of Muslim holy sites, and deny Palestinians their rights to live in or even visit Jerusalem. Last year, the Israeli government stripped 4,577 Palestinian of their residency rights in Jerusalem. Where I am from, inside the 1948 borders, what is now the State of Israel, Palestinians continue to be discriminated againts in all areas because we are not Jewish. The struggle for justice in Palestine is one struggle. However, what is happening in Gaza is a crime againts humanity and no one is doing anything about it.
Many people, and the media had their eyes on Gaza last year during Operation Cast Lead, when Israel bombarded Gaza relentlessly, from air, sea and land, for 22 days. In three weeks Israel killed 1.419 Palestinians, 1.167 of them civilians, 326 of them children, and wounded over 5.300, and they destroyed thousands of homes, businesses, hospitals, schools, mosques, and clinics.
Today, bombs are not actively falling on Gaza, and so Gaza has fallen out of the media. However, the situation today is just as bad, if not worse, that it was this time last year, as Israel has kept Gaza almost completely sealed. Since 2006, Israel has been squeezing Gaza, severely restricting who and what goes in and out of the tiny strip of land, home to 1.5 million Palestinians. In June 2007 Israel instituted a near total closure on Gaza, decimating Gazas infrastructure and economy, leading to a sharp rise in unemployment, poverty, malnutrition and anemia. By May of 2008 the United National was reporting that 80% of the population of Gaza was food aid dependent andcould not survive without handouts from the UN. Then on December 27, 2008, Israel launced its massive assault, on an already very weakened population. After Israel declared a ceasefire on 18 January 2009, Israel did not open the borders of Gaza so that the people could start to rebuild their lives. Today Gaza remains sealed. Palestinians are denied permission to leave Gaza, even for education or medical purposes. In the past 3 years, over 360 patiens have died because they were not able to get the medical attention that they needed. Over 800 students that have scholarships to sutdy in different countries are trapped in Gaza. Israel tightly controls what enters Gaza. It only allows the UN to bring in trucks carrying intems limited to the basic good necessary for the survival of the population. Only 30-40 kinds of items are allowed to enter Gaza. Thousands of items are banned. Oxygen for hospitals, anaesthetics, generators, cancer treatment, baby formula, books, paper, ink, all of these things are banned. Even coffee and tea until last month was banned because Israel considered these a â€œluxuryâ€� that the people of Gaza donâ€™t need. There is a total ban on raw materials that would permit Gaza to engage in commerce and production.
Israel’s policy is not about security, but rather is aimed at punishing the people of Gaza. Collective punishment is a violation of international humanitarian law, but who is doing anything to stop Israel? No one. This is what the Free Gaza Movement aims to do, to stop Israel from being allowed to persecute the Palestinian people, not by giving aid to Palestinians, but by standing up to the policies that leave Palestinians in need of aid.
On August 23 2008, 44 ordinary people from 17 different countries sailed to Gaza on two small wooden boats. We did what our goverments would not do. We directly challenged Israels illegal blockade, and we won. For the first time in over 40 years, international ships docked at Gaza Port. Since then we have organized a total of eight voyages to Gaza, successfully arriving in Gaza five times. We brought into Gaza doctors, nurses, teachers, parliamentarians, journalist, human rights observers, and others … all who could not enter Gaza any other way. We also carried on our small boats, a symbolic amount of aid. Our boats were too small to carry the things that Gaza really needs. Also, the purpose of our missions is not to simply deliver aid to Palestine, but to campaign for Palestinian human rights. The Palestinian people have a right to freedom where they can work, feed their families, lead a dignified life. Palestinians don’t want to live on humanitarian aid. We don’t want charity.
On December 30, 2008, in the midst of Israel’s assault on Gaza, the Free Gaza Movement organized its sixth voyage on an emergency mission to Gaza to bring in doctors and medical supplies. The Israeli navy violently rammed our small boat, the DIGNITY, in the middle of the sea in international waters. Luckily no one was hurt, but the boat was destroyed. Two weeks later, we organized another mission on a different boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, and Israel nearly sank that boat. On June 29, 2009, we launched our latest mission carrying 9 tons of medical supplies, reconstruction supplies, school supplies, and toys for childern. On 30 June our boat was surrounded by Israeli naval forces. Israeli soldiers commandeered our boat, sailed it to an Israeli port and arrested 21 human rights campaigners on board, including a former member of the US Congress Cynthia McKinney and Irish Nober peace laureate, Mairead Maguire.
Despite these violent interceptions, the Free Gaza Movement is not backing down. The violence perpetrated againts us is nothing compared to what is done to the Palestinian people on a daily basis. In two months we are going back to Gaza with more boats, more people, more supplies, and more media. Now instead of just sending one boat to Gaza, we will sail a fleet of boats. Amongst these boats, we will have a cargo ship so that we can carry the concstruction supplies that Gaza needs to rebuild and the school supplies that Israel denies to Gaza’s youth. We have been working hard over the last few months to raise the funds that we need to make this happen. And we need your help. This is why I am in Indonesia today to ask for your support.
For far too long people have treated Palestine as a charity case. Its not. There is a crisis in Gaza, but it’s a man-made humanitarian crisis. Therefore, in it not enought to just send food and medicine to Gaza. In order to end this crisis, we must mobilize to confront collectively, the policies that cause it. We must break this illegal blockade on Gaza. I am inviting the people of Indonesia to join us by sending a boat to Gaza.