I probably shouldn’t be complaining about my long day — the people on Freedom Waves are having a much longer one. Today was probably the wettest day in Gaza I’ve experienced in the three weeks I’ve been here and definitely the coldest. It started pouring rain a couple of hours ago and all we could talk about was the people on the flotilla, how the must be freezing in Ashdod at the moment after being drenched in the waterfall of Israeli water canons.
I stayed up later than I should have last night, following the latest developments of the boats on Twitter. I eventually went to sleep, dreaming of tweets saying the boats were safe, that they hadn’t been stopped, that it was okay to keep sleeping. When I awoke, it was off to the big welcome hosted by the Palestine Fishing and Marine Sport Association. Israel hadn’t stopped the boats yet and people were daring to hope. Only 80 nautical miles away! The president of the Association, Mahfouz, wanted to know the exact speed they were going so he could calculate the arrival time. The speed of the boats wasn’t being tweeted. And would they really arrive?
After the press conference we boarded a boat and sailed around the harbor singing Palestinian songs like Unadikum while people waved Palestinian flags and held up signs in Arabic and English. (For photos check out palsolidarity.org shortly). If you don’t know Unadikum, the lyrics can be found here.
The water was extremely choppy, even inside the harbor, so I can only imagine what it was like for those on the mini-flotilla attacked out on the high seas. Needless to say, they never made it. They feel very close — Ashdod is only about 20 miles from Gaza, but an illegal blockade divides us. Israel claims Gaza is no longer occupied. If that’s true, then why is it every time I look up,
I see their drones, when I go out to sea I see their warships, when I pick olives in the north I see their tanks and jeeps, and when I walk east I feel their bullets pass my ear?