The following letter was delivered to the Greek government on July 12, 2011 making it clear that the people of Gaza seek freedom and respect for their human rights, including their right to lead a dignified life, not charity. Seemingly deaf to their call, a spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Delavekouras, repeated the Greek Government’s “generous offer” to deliver limited humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza — instead of helping them gain the freedom that Israel continues to deny them.
Dear Prime Minister Papendreou and Foreign Minister Lambrinidis,
We, members of Palestinian civil society in Gaza, have been watching the actions your government has taken to block Freedom Flotilla 2 from setting sail towards the biggest open air prison — the Gaza Strip — to challenge Israel’s criminal blockade. Israel’s closure of Gaza has deprived us of things that most people take for granted; first and foremost, our freedom of movement. We are not allowed to pursue adequate health care or educational opportunities because we cannot travel freely. We are cut off from our families in other parts of the occupied territory and abroad; and we are not allowed to invite people to visit us in Gaza. Now, you have imported this restriction on the people whose main mission is to stand in solidarity with us.
The people of Gaza are not only in need of humanitarian aid because we are prevented from building our economy. We are not allowed to import raw materials or to export; our fishermen and farmers get shot at when attempting to fish or to harvest their crops. As a result of deliberate Israeli policy, 80 per cent of our people have become food aid dependent, our infrastructure is in shambles, and our children cannot imagine a day when they will know freedom.
Your offer to deliver the cargo of the Freedom Flotilla entrenches the notion that humanitarian aid will solve our problems and is a weak attempt to disguise your complicity in Israel’s blockade.
We are so sorry not to accept your charity. The organizers and participants of the Freedom Flotilla recognize that our plight is not about humanitarian aid; it is about our human rights. They carry with them something more important than aid; they carry hope, love, solidarity and respect. Your offer to collude with our oppressors to deliver aid to us is totally REJECTED.
While it is clear that you have been under enormous political pressure to comply with the will of the Israeli regime, to collaborate with Israel in violating international law and legitimizing the siege, we refuse to accept your breadcrumbs. We crave freedom, dignity and the ability to make choices in our daily lives. We urge you to immediately reconsider and to let the Freedom Flotilla sail.
Finally, we recognize the historical relations between our people and your country’s support for our legitimate rights. With this history in mind and your previous acknowledgement of the freedoms denied to us, we are calling on you to allow the freedom flotilla boats to leave for Gaza, thus challenging Israel’s illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip and illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
Palestinian Network of NGOs (PNGO)
(representing over 60 non-governmental organizations in Gaza www.pngoportal.net)
Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza
General Society for Rehabilitation
Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children
Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth
Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah
Rafah Olympia City Sisters
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya Camp
Ajyal Association, Gaza
Al Karmel Centre, Nuseirat
Local Initiative, Beit Hanoun
Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Middle East Children’s Alliance – Gaza office
Alshomoa Club for Women
General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Health Services Workers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
General Union of Palestinian Syndicates
General Union of Palestinian Women
Palestinian Congregation for Lawyers
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Union of Health Work Committees
Union of Synergies—Women Unit
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime
Palestine Sailing Federation
Fishing and Marine Sports Association
Palestinian Women Committees
Progressive Students’ Union