The Canadian Boat to Gaza campaign announces today the successful conclusion of arrangements to purchase and register a boat to carry the Canadian delegation to Gaza. The boat's name Tahrir ("liberation" in Arabic) has been chosen to honour the square in Cairo that was the focus of the democratic uprising that has spread hope across the Middle East.
The Tahrir will sail with vessels from France, USA, U.K., Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, and other countries, as part of the Freedom Flotilla II. This international movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people turns the spotlight on the blockade of Gaza and its 1.6 million residents whose access to resources and ability to travel has been unilaterally impeded by the illegal Israeli blockade.
Fundraising for this campaign has been shared by thousands of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and with the momentum building for this project we expect to secure the remaining amount needed over the next few weeks of fundraising. "We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of individuals and groups across the country," said Wendy Goldsmith of the Canadian Boat to Gaza Fundraising Committee, adding that "we are sure that with our boat now a reality, the community support will come through to raise the remaining funds needed."
The 25-metre Tahrir will carry approximately 45 people: delegates from across the country, high profile Canadians plus journalists. As well, the Canadian campaign has partnered with campaigns from other countries and will carry delegates from Australia, Belgium and Denmark. A new website, tahrir.ca, was launched today to coincide with news of the boat's purchase and will be the site for online donations.
Despite news that Egypt plans to open the Rafah border crossing, the maritime blockade by Israel remains a major obstacle to achieving normal life in Gaza. The Canadian Boat to Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla movement will continue our work until the Port of Gaza is opened to ensure free circulation of goods and people. "Gaza is the only port on the Mediterranean which is closed to shipping and the only coastal area in the world which cannot access its own territorial waters," points out David Heap of the CBG steering committee. "Until the Palestinians of Gaza can travel freely and trade with the world, we will continue to challenge this illegal military blockade."
As the Israeli government continues to threaten the use of force against the Freedom Flotilla II, we call on all Canadians, including Members of Parliament from all parties, to join with us in demanding that the Canadian government take concrete steps to guarantee the safety of humanitarians headed to Gaza. "My heart is with the participants in the Canadian boat to Gaza in this important initiative for freedom and justice for Palestine. I urge the Canadian government to do all it can to prevent Israeli aggression against the flotilla and the activists aboard the boats," said Jewish Holocaust survivor and Palestine rights activist Suzanne Weiss in Toronto.
The world is watching: we will not be intimidated and we will not forget the Palestinians of Gaza.
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