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UPDATE: Delta/Richmond chapter opposes Gaza blockade

The Delta/Richmond chapter of the Council of Canadians is hosting a social evening and fundraiser on February 25 against the blockade of Gaza. The promotional information notes that, “Kevin Neish will report on his experience as a volunteer on the humanitarian ship Mavi Marmara, and his arrest after the May 31, 2010 Israeli attack on the ship and the murder of nine civilians bringing aid to the blockaded people of Gaza. …He plans to be on the Canadian boat set to join the international humanitarian flotilla heading to Gaza again this spring.”

After the attack last year, the Toronto Star reported, “The United Nations condemned violence against civilians in international waters. United Nations officials responsible for aid in Gaza said: ‘We are shocked by reports of killings and injuries of people on board boats carrying supplies for Gaza, apparently in international waters. We condemn the violence and call for it to stop. Such tragedies are entirely avoidable if Israel heeds the repeated calls of the international community to end its counterproductive and unacceptable blockade of Gaza.’”

At the same time, Amnesty International Canada stated, “It is imperative that Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza without delay, as it is a form of collective punishment in contravention of international law and primarily affects the most vulnerable among the population.”

Additionally, in 2009, “Amnesty International accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.” Amnesty International stated that, “In the Gaza Strip, 90 to 95 per cent of the water from its only water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Yet, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza. …Stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached crisis point. To cope with water shortages and lack of network supplies many Palestinians have to purchase water, of often dubious quality, from mobile water tankers at a much higher price.”

Israel abstained from the vote recognizing the human right to water and sanitation at the historic United Nations General Assembly session this past July. Palestine is a not a United Nations member state, it is a ‘non-member entity’ with observer status, so it could not vote on this resolution.

Canadian civil society – including the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the New Democratic Party, Amnesty International, Avaaz.org, and Greenpeace – expressed concern about the attack on the flotilla and the ongoing blockade of Gaza. For their statements, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3727.

More on the Delta/Richmond chapter event at http://canadaboatgaza.org/cms/sites/cbg/en/events/view/11-02-25/Social_Evening_and_Fundraiser_to_Help_Break_the_Illegal_Siege_of_Gaza_with_guest_speaker_Kevin_Neish.aspx.