Press Release 24 August 2008

Scottish Friends of Palestine welcomes the recent arrival in Gaza of SS Liberty and SS Free Gaza together with their cargo of humanitarian aid. Not only did the volunteers survive a stormy crossing, the loss of all electronic communication including navigation (for which Israel denies, as Israel always does, any culpability in the jamming of the boats’ electronic systems) but they faced down a determined rogue state which has shown no mercy when it comes dealing with those who defy its diktats. It is the state which has the unenviable reputation of being the first democracy to shoot down a civilian airliner, together with its passengers. And of course, if you are Palestinian, it is the state which regards you as a “legitimate” target, to be eliminated along with your rights.

Scottish Friends of Palestine congratulates those who put the hard work into a venture which has broken the inexcusable and totally inhumane siege imposed on the residents of the Gaza Strip by the state of Israel – with the consent of the United States and the European Union. In making a stand against the state of Israel, they have exposed the cowardice of the international community when it comes to dealing with the state of Israel and its gross violation of human rights. If their determination and resolve was mirrored in the international sphere, the world and Israel/Palestine would be a far different place.

Scottish Friends of Palestine hope that the humanitarian mission will not end here. Within the Gaza Strip there are many Palestinian residents who require medical assistance unavailable within this blockaded strip of land, the world’s largest concentration camp. These patients are denied permission to leave the Gaza Strip, to seek medical attention elsewhere and many have died as a consequence. What better way to expose the sham of a state which constantly seeks the world’s approbation than to give hope to its most vulnerable victims? If the Israeli state continues to refuse permission for the chronically sick to receive medical attention out with the Gaza Strip, then SS Liberty and SS Free Gaza should consider evacuating these patients for treatment.

Scottish Friends of Palestine is a firm advocate of the total boycott of all Israeli institutions, academic and cultural bodies and Israeli products – until as such times that the Israeli state ceases to boycott the rights of the Palestinian people, and international law as it pertains to the Palestinian people.

Hugh Humphries


Scottish Friends of Palestine

Scottish Friends of Palestine was formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the subsequent attacks on the Palestinian refugee communities. It is an independent organisation with no political or religious affiliations. SFoP supports the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty and the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. These rights have all been acknowledged by the United Nations.

SFoP campaigns for immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from all territories illegally occupied, including East Jerusalem. We work for educational, social and cultural links between the Scottish and Palestinian peoples.

Relevant information

GAZA (23 August 2008) – Two small boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty, successfully landed in Gaza early this evening, breaking the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The boats were crewed by a determined group of international human rights workers from the Free Gaza Movement. They had spent two years organizing the effort, raising money by giving small presentations at churches, mosques, synagogues, and in the homes of family, friends, and supporters.

They left Cyprus on Thursday morning, sailing over 350 km through choppy seas. They made the journey despite threats that the Israeli government would use force to stop them. They continued sailing although they lost almost all communications and navigation systems due to outside jamming by some unknown party. They arrived in Gaza to the cheers and joyful tears of hundreds of Palestinians who came out to the beaches to welcome them.

Two small boats, 42 determined human rights workers, one simple message: “The world has not forgotten the people of this land. Today, we are all from Gaza.”

Tonight, the cheering will be heard as far away as Tel Aviv and Washington D.C.

Quotes for publication

“We recognize that we’re two, humble boats, but what we’ve accomplished is to show that average people from around the world can mobilize to create change. We do not have to stay silent in the face of injustice. Reaching Gaza today, there is such a sense of hope, and hope is what mobilizes people everywhere.”   Huwaida Arraf.

Huwaida is Palestinian-American, and also a citizen of Israel. She’s a human rights activist and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. In 2007 she received her Juris Doctor from American University in Washington D.C. Currently she teaches Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. Huwaida sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Liberty.

“We’re the first ones in 41 years to enter Gaza freely – but we won’t be the last. We welcome the world to join us and see what we’re seeing.”

Paul Larudee, Ph.D.

Paul is a cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement and a San Francisco Bay Area activist on the issue of justice in Palestine. He sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Liberty.

“What we’ve done shows that people can do what governments should have done. If people stand up against injustice, we can truly be the conscience of the world.” Jeff Halper, Ph.D.

Jeff is an Israeli professor of anthropology and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a non-violent Israeli peace and human rights organization that resists the Israeli occupation on the ground. In 2006, the American Friends Service Committee nominated Jeff to receive the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize with Palestinian intellectual and activist Ghassan Andoni. Jeff sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Free Gaza.

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