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Free Gaza! Free Palestine!


Lalit members Alain Ah-Vee and I have participated in four solidarity actions in/near Palestine. When I went to Palestine in 2004 and 2005, I witnessed with my own eyes the horror of living under occupation. I witnessed how it is a heroic feat for Palestinian people to get through the Israeli military checkpoints on Palestinian territory: to go to work, to visit relatives, for sick people to go to hospital, to attend a wedding, for farmers to cultivate their own land, for children to go to school. Alain Ah-Vee and I both witnessed how olive plantations of Palestinian farmers were destroyed by the Israeli military. We saw with our own eyes how the Israeli State uses its own citizens as cannon fodder sending them to "colonise" Palestinian land then sending its army to supposedly "protect" them. People in Palestine asked us international volunteers to tell everyone in the world the about the horror of military occupation. "Tell them what our life is like. Tell them to make their governments stop this atrocity" they said. This is what we Lalit members Alain Ah-Vee and I as the rest of internationals there, started doing.

International support against Israeli military occupation of Palestine grows as international movements and actions strengthen. Last year, I, as a Lalit member went to Cairo for the march to break the siege on Gaza. Since June 2007, Israel has intensified its blockade of Gaza. Everyone remembers how the Israeli State bombarded Gaza for 22 days over the New Year in 2008-09. Since then, Israel has continued to block all the borders between Gaza and the outside world transforming Gaza itself into one big prison. So there is barely any food, medical supplies, and building material for reconstruction after the destruction that the mostly-US-supplied arms have wrought. 80% of people depend on humanitarian aid to survive in Gaza. Last year, the Egyptian government cow-towing to the Israeli State closed off the Rafah border crossing to stop the march of 1,500 delegates from 40 countries from entering Gaza.

With experience, the international movement becomes more inventive and determined in the struggle to liberate Palestine. This time round, a flotilla of ships with some 750 international volunteers from 40 countries (including MP`s and a Nobel prize-winner) took a sea route to Gaza taking food, medical supplies, cement there. How did the Israeli State react? It attacked the ships on international waters, beating, shooting and hooding ship passengers and murdered 9 people. It hijacked humanitarian aid ships and kidnapped passengers. It did this, knowing that the whole world was watching.

This barbarous act triggered protests worldwide. Egypt, however much it habitually cow-tows, had to condemn the Israeli State and open up the Rafah border. Nicaragua broke diplomatic relations with Israel, South Africa recalled its ambassador in Israel in protest and Israeli ambassadors in a number of European countries were summoned. The Israeli State has been exposed as a bandit State worldwide. More and more people in the world and also in Israel are posing questions: Why this act of piracy? Why is the Israeli State opposing an independent UN inquiry if it has nothing to hide? Why does the US continue to prop up this bandit State? The myth of the Israeli State supposedly acting to "protect the security of its citizens" is crumbling.

The international movement to break the siege and liberate Palestine grows, and we in Lalit are part of it. Militants the world over are intensifying "Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions" (BDS) campaigns to stop the Israeli military occupation. And another flotilla is in preparation.

Ragini Kistnasamy