A Report on Paul Laudree & Huwaida Arafâ€™s Project to relieve Gaza by Sea
By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
Santa Rosa (Calif.)–This week forty-nine nations are meetingâ€“including the Palestinian Authority and Israel, together with several Arab countriesâ€“even Saudi Arabia and Syriaâ€“in Annapolis Maryland (U.S.A.) to hammer out the beginnings of a peace plan for a Holy Land two State solution.
The chances of success are slight because of the snub of Hamas, the democratically elected government of the Fertile Crescent enclave of Gaza, the only functioning autonomous Palestinian republic.
In fact, Hamas and Gazaâ€™s absence are symbolic in that Gaza seems to have been forgotten by the world community–a sick patient left to starve because of its governmentâ€™s unpopularity.
In the accompanying article by Susan Schwartz, The Muslim Observer has exclusively given the story of the attempted rescue of the suffering masses of people in Gaza by the â€œFree Gaza Project.â€
This project represents the first proclamation of the effort to relieve Gaza by sea from a grossly unfair boycott of the small Arab state on the Mediterranean led by Israel and the United States.
Several major news sources plan to cover the voyage, but the Observer is the first information media to break the story!
Succinctly, their scheme is to break the siege of Gaza, and to deliver necessary provisions. The Israelis control the small land borders of Gaza, and have surrounded the â€œnationâ€ with a twenty-seven-foot high wall! Tel Aviv controls all the land entrances except for one by Egypt.
There is merely one small fishing port on the miniscule nation stateâ€™s coast although under the Oslo Agreement the Israelis can claim the sea approaches to this, too, but this is a sticky bit of the Law of the Sea.
Looking at the â€œPortâ€™sâ€ map, it appears to be artificial. It seems that a man made (weak) rock barrier protects it from the weather of the Mediterranean Sea.
The object is to make the advance to Gaza by the sea to deliver desperately required basic supplies. To do this, a large redesigned ocean ferry is being renovated for this function.
Its potentially insurmountable barrier is the Israeli naval blockade.
My suggestion for them is to convince a friendly country or entities to â€œshadowâ€ the marine vehicle either by sky or on the deep.
The first (of several) voyages is scheduled for May 2008, and this maiden voyage will carry essential provisions to relieve the haggard population.
Paul, the leader of the undertaking, and Araf do not see this as a one-time stint; rather they hope to provide a regular ferry service from the Southern Coast of Cyprus in the foreseeable future.
The ferry they have acquired can hold up to 4,000 people, if supplies are not included.
The Hamas government — along with regional NGOs — has invited them to come, but of course the U.S. State Department has announced antagonism to the scheme.
Instead of leasing multiple ships for the undertaking, they are raising the currency for numerous vessels with stand-by liners if necessary.
â€œThe cost of [our] flotilla greater than a destroyer,â€ explained one of the high-level organizers of the rescue effort.