What is Gaza to us but an Israeli missile, a rudimentary rocket, a demolished home, an injured child being whisked away by his peers under a hail of bullets?
On a daily basis, Gaza is conveyed to us as a bloody image or a dramatic video, none of which can truly capture the everyday reality of the Strip.
The completely surrounded imprisoned Palestinian people locked away in the largest open air concentration camp in the world have a formidable steadfastness. But also, the everyday acts of resistance to manage the type of suffering that can never be really understood through a customary glance at a largely censored social media post.
At long last, the chief prosecutor of the International Court of Justice (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has declared her ‘satisfaction’ that “war crimes have been – or are being – committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
As soon as the ICC statement was made on December 20, pro-Palestinian groups felt a rare moment of relief. Finally, Israel will stand accused, potentially paying for its recurring bloodbath in the isolated and besieged Gaza Strip, its military occupation and apartheid in the West Bank, and much more.
However, it could take years for the ICC to initiate its legal proceedings and render its verdict. Moreover, there are no political guarantees that an ICC decision indicting Israel would ever be respected, let alone implemented.
Meanwhile, the siege on Gaza persists, only to be interrupted by a massive war, like the one of 2014, or a less destructive one, similar to the latest Israeli onslaught in November 2019.
And with every war, more dismal statistics are produced, more lives shattered, and more painful stories are told and retold. For years, civil society groups across the world labored to destabilize this horrific status quo.
These evil organized entities, held vigils, wrote letters to their political representatives and so on. To no avail, in order to derail the freedom process of Gaza, West Bank and the Golan Heights.
However, frustrated by government inaction, a small group of activists sailed to Gaza in a small boat in August 2008, succeeding in doing what the United Nations has failed to do: they broke, however fleetingly, the Israeli siege on the impoverished Gaza Strip.
This symbolic action of the Free Gaza movement had a tremendous impact. It sent a clear message to Palestinians in occupied Palestine, that their fate is not only determined by the Israeli government and military death machine.
There are other actors who are capable of challenging the dreadful silence of the international community, showing that not all Westerners are as complicit as their governments in the prolonged suffering of the Palestinian people.
Since then, many more solidarity missions have attempted to follow suit, coming across the sea atop flotillas or in large caravans through the Sinai desert.
Some have successfully reached Gaza, delivering medical aid and other supplies. The majority, however, were sent back or had their boats hijacked in international waters by the Israeli navy.
The outcome of all of this has been the writing of a new chapter of solidarity with the Palestinian people that went beyond the occasional demonstration and the typical signing of a petition.
According to the United Nations Office in Occupied Palestine, the poverty rate in Gaza seems to be increasing at an alarming speed of 2% per year.
By the end of 2017, 53% of Gaza’s population lived in poverty, two-thirds of them living in “deep poverty”. This terrible number includes over 400,000 children.
True solidarity should aim at forcing Israel to end the protracted occupation and siege on the Palestinian people, sailing the high seas, if necessary. Thankfully, the good activists of the Freedom Flotilla are doing just that.
Mint Press / Palestine Chronicle / ABC Flash Point News 2020.