On Thurdasy 20th November the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative organised a protest at Erez crossing, in which tens of youth marched carrying Palestinian flags and banners demanding the release of the 3 ISM activists (Andrew Muncie, 34, from Scotland, Darlene Wallach, 57, from USA and Vittorio Arrigoni, 33, from Italy). Along with 15 Palestinian fishermen, and their 3 fishing vessels, the solidarity activists were kidnapped by Israeli soldiers on November 18, while fishing at about 7 miles off shore of central Gaza Strip city, Deir Al Balah.
Although the Palestinian fishermen were released in the early hours of November 19, the 3 human rights observers are still incarcerated in the Israeli Massiyahu prison, in Lida. As of the morning of November 21, the three began a hunger strike to demand the immediate return of the 3 fishing vessels –undamaged– to their rightful owners in Gaza.
The Palestinian demonstrators were joined by ISM and Free Gaza Movement (FGM) activists. A relative of the kidnapped fishermen also participated, explaining the difficult situation for the fifteen families and their extended relatives, as well as the hundreds of workers and buyers who depend on the stolen fishing boats for their livelihood. Especially during this period while the siege has created an unimaginable humanitarian disaster, this loss of sea livelihood is catastrophic.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees has announced that it would be forced to suspend its financial assistance to refugees in the Gaza Strip due to the lack of Israeli currency in Gaza banks. The ongoing Israeli blockade could cause “a real food disaster” as the absence of feed and fuel starves farm animals, according to a statement of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture.
The international activists reminded the media that apart from their colleagues there are over eleven thousand Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails.
Members of the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative expressed their solidarity for the 3 imprisoned ISM activists who had previously joined them in several actions during the Olive Harvest Campaign, accompanying Palestinian farmers to their olive groves, close to the Green Line, in an area where the IOF is trying to implement a ‘buffer zone’. The protesters were chanting the names of the ISMers and singing their favourite song ‘Unadikum’ (I call to you all).
‘I call to you all:
I take your hand and hold it tightly.
I kiss the ground on which you place your feet.
I know that for you I would give my life.
My life I would give for you.
I offer you the light of my eyes,
The fire of my heart:
For this pain that I suffer
Is only a small part of your pain.
I never have sold my country
And I have been willing to serve,
To face the invader with steadfastness and courage,
An orphan willing to die.
Carrying my people on my shoulders,
You will see my flag raised high,
And a mountain clothed in the green of the olive branch
For those who will come after.