Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 19

By Yvonne Ridley

I have been at sea now for more than 24 hours since the Free Gaza sailed from the last of the Greek island ports en route for Cyprus.

Life on board is beginning to test us all now but morale is still very high and our bonds as a team are growing stronger.

We probably all pong since there are no shower or bathing facilities on board and I haven’t had a good scrub for three days at least.

There are a couple of toilets, but I’m feeling slightly queasy at the moment so we’ll skip those details.

Living conditions as you’ve probably gathered are very basic and below decks is so hot and humid that most of us prefer to sleep on deck.

It is amazing how the body can adapt to a hard deck and the roll of the sea, but when you are so tired sleeping comes easy.

Meals are communal affairs, standing around the midship talking about a variety of subjects although Gaza is never very far away.

Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has assumed the role of ship’s chef and I step in as her able assistant … eat your heart out ‘Kitchen goddess’ Nigella Lawson!

Most of the food suits the dietary needs of the vegan and vegetarians on board, all very simple and healthy, but I have to admit I am craving for some halal steak or lamb chops and film-maker Aki Nawaz says he’s dreaming of chicken!

Today we had a tactical meeting covering a variety of “what if” scenarios with a veteran campaigner of the International Solidarity Movement which was founded in 2001 to act in support of Palestinian non-violent resistance.

There’s a few ISM people on board from across Europe as well a retired American film producer and executive. And there’s myself and Aki Nawaz who are capturing all the excitement as well as the mundane to make a documentary of the mission for Press TV.

Just to remind you, our mission is to smash the medieval siege of Gaza using two boats called the SS Liberty and the Free Gaza.

By tomorrow morning (Wednesday) we should have reached Cyprus to pick up the rest of the international activists including Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein and co-organiser Greta Berlin who make up the Free Gaza Movement.

I can’t wait for when we are all reunited and finally put to sea for Palestinian waters.

I told you yesterday how Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has acknowledged that our mission is peaceful but has said we should handover any humanitarian aid for Israel to distribute.

Well Ms Livni, I don’t think we can trust you dear.

News has just reached me that the Scottish delegation which had a lorry load of aid for Gaza has been forced to turn back … after being detained at the Rafah Border for more than a month.

Quite frankly Ms Livni, speaking for myself now, you disgust me. Tell me why you and your government refused to let in medical aid bought by the good people of Scotland?

Your weasel words reveal you to be a liar of the worst kind – one without heart or compassion for the children of Gaza. You are a woman of straw and can not be trusted.

I thought your type had been dealt with at Nuremberg after the Second World War.

And yet today, to the eternal shame of the rest of the world, Ms Livni and her Zionist colleagues are overseeing the slow genocide of the Palestinians.

Probably just as well you did not accept the Free Gaza invitation to join our peace mission – I couldn’t have stood the smell of burning sulphur!

* More information about the FGM can be found on the website

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