Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hawaii and Palestine are the same

Activists to launch Aloha Palestine! and provide regular ferry service to Gaza

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Members of the original Free Gaza ships have announced the establishment of Aloha Palestine, a passenger shipping service running between Palestine and Cyprus on a regularly scheduled route. Original crew members Lauren Booth and Ken O’Keefe have spearheaded the project.

Designed as a not-for-profit company, Aloha Palestine will seek to repeat and build upon the success of the Free Gaza campaign, which landed the first international vessels in the Gaza City port in 41 years. According to the first press release from Aloha Palestine, the mission statement of the new organization will be to “reflect the common values of hospitality, generosity and desire for a just peace that are found both in Hawaii and Palestine…the exceptional spirit of welcome, of ‘Fadal’...

It is an invitation to all who come in peace, to become not just friends, but family. ”The organization will offer a passenger service between Gaza and Cyprus, as well as helping to ensure the safe passage of students and patients out of the area, and medications into the Strip. As with the first voyage, the priority of each journey will be humanitarian. The project is currently fundraising and hopes to secure 750,000 British pounds in order to purchase a ferry to run the service. The boat will have the capacity to carry 200-250 individuals. The group is looking to raise additional funds to provide service and a crew for the vessel, as well as registration feels and legal costs. The group has stated that after the initial start-up costs that they hope the ship will be able to pay for its self after a few years.

Once the service becomes regular non-humanitarian passengers will be asked to pay a fee for their ticket in order to subsidize the travel of in-need Gazans. Aloha Palestine will also transport impartial, professionally trained international observers to Gaza who will document abuses of Palestinian human rights whilst working hard to see that these are once again respected. As an “act of good faith," Aloha Palestine proposed that international observers are also sent into Israel, to document the affect of the ongoing crisis in Israeli areas. In order to be registered as a ferry service in Cyprus the organization pledged to the government to comply with rules of territorial and international law. In their statement Aloha Palestine indicated that they “fully respect this position.” Their statement also added that no weapons will ever be allowed onto their vessels, and that they will not “transport any persons without lawful verification of their identity including the correct travel documents as required by foreign governments.”


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