Keeping the Canadian Boat to Gaza’s promise: Freedom Waves are just beginning

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The status of the authors of this article and the others from the Tahrir and the Saoirse is currently unknown. There has been no contact since they were taken into custody by the Israeli navy early Friday. A Vancouver-based colleague of the crew was told "your delegates are being interrogated" by a conservative Israeli journalist, with no further explanation offered.

A few months ago, the Greek government acted at the behest of Israel to help enforce its illegal and unjust blockade of Gaza. Freedom Flotilla II was blocked, and the closure of Gaza was extended all the way to the shores of Europe.

We promised then to look for other means and new opportunities to sail to Gaza. We promised not to be deterred by the heavy-handed ways that Israel maintains its blockade of Gaza. We promised to keep working, in memory of those who were massacred on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010, and in solidarity with the Palestinians who suffer brutality and deprivation every single day.

This week we have kept our promise, beginning the Freedom Waves to Gaza with a "surprise flotilla" consisting of the Tahrir, a Canadian boat with international partners, and the Saoirse from Ireland. To keep our promise we had to remain silent about our specific plans, to avoid Israeli sabotage and political interference.

Whatever the Israeli Occupation Forces do to us, this flotilla marks the launching of the Freedom Waves. It is the continuation of many efforts over the years to bring the plight of Gaza and Palestine to the world's attention. We will keep coming again and again, until the closure of Gaza is ended and Palestinians have been able to achieve liberation and justice.

No amount of violence, oppression and bullying can kill an idea and a cause whose time has come. And it is long past time already for liberation to come to Gaza and all of Palestine.

Everything we have done, since the very beginning of the flotilla movement, has been in response to the wishes and calls for solidarity by the Palestinian people.

Earlier this year, a number of civil society and popular organizations issued a statement to the world: "We the Palestinians of the besieged Gaza Strip, are calling on the world: enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting -- the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip must end. While attention is focused on the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN, do not forget that the blockade and the suffering continue in Gaza."

We, as the Canadian Boat to Gaza, are determined to continue our solidarity efforts with the people suffering under blockade and occupation. Our own governments and the so-called "international community" have failed Gaza and all of Palestine, and that is why we feel that we must act.

We are not the first flotilla, and we will not be the last. No matter the massacres, the threats, the harassments and the propaganda that Israel deploys, Freedom Waves will continue until the blockade of Gaza is lifted.

Whatever nonsensical lies Israel tries to tell, the whole world knows that this is a non-violent, people-to-people act of solidarity. Israel and its apologists fear us precisely because they know we are unarmed, or rather that we are armed only with medicine and letters of support.

There can be no justification for the way our boats were boarded and we were detained. The Tahrir was intercepted in international waters -- this amounts to state piracy. Massive military might was deployed to attack our right to safe passage, denying the people of Palestine's right to control their own borders.

We are now forcibly being held in Israel. What we are enduring -- detention and the denial of our right to freely travel -- is just a small taste of what Palestinians endure every day living under the blockade and occupation.

Expect us. Again and again. The Freedom Waves are just beginning.

David Heap and Ehab Lotayef are steering committee members of the Canadian Boat to Gaza, and are among the dozen delegates and journalists on board the Tahrir currently detained by Israel. Rallies are taking place across Canada today demanding their immediate safe release. For more information visit

This opinion article has been simultaneously published in The Georgia Straight


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