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article imageOp-Ed: Israeli attack destroys Gaza Ark

By Ken Hanly     Jul 28, 2014 in World
Gaza - The Gaza Ark project has been in the making for more than a year. The Ark was being built in Gaza and was to deliver goods and passengers to other ports in order to challenge the Israeli blockade by sailing out of Gaza.
Earlier attempts to break the blockade were blocked. On May 31 of 2010 Israeli commandos boarded ships of a flotilla and on one ship nine activists who resisted were killed and a tenth died of his wounds earlier this year. Although the ships were carrying medical and construction material and other aid, they were diverted to an Israeli port and not allowed to continue to Gaza.
Project Gaza Ark intended to build a ship in Gaza itself thus providing some employment for a few Gazans. If successful it would have marked the first time that goods would have been exported by sea from Gaza since 1994. The Gaza Ark organizers raised about $300,000 towards the project.
On April 29th 2014 at a little before 4 a.m. local time the Ark was partially sunk by a large explosion. No one was injured. Shortly before the explosion, the guard, Mustafa Awad, received an anonymous phone call telling him that he should leave the boat right away because it was going to be blown up.
The boat was in Gaza port and was to be ready to put to sea in June. The boat was to be filled with local products paid for in advance by buyers throughout the world. Unlike the incoming boats that challenged the blockade Israel could not claim that they had to stop the Ark for security reasons.
David Heap of the Gaza Ark Steering Committee said: “This is a reckless and violent attack not only on a boat, but on thousands of supporters and donors worldwide. We are closely following the police investigation of the attack and hope to know soon if the boat can be repaired.” Another Steering Committee member Robert Naiman said: “What is certain is that we remain committed to continue challenging the blockade by any peaceful means available until it is lifted permanently. Hope and justice are unsinkable.”
The partially sunk Ark was pulled on shore. Repairs were going well and the group was planning to set sail in September. However, the Israeli Operation Protective Edge intervened. On Friday July 11, the Ark suffered a direct hit from a shell fired by an Israeli naval vessel. The shell not only badly damaged the boat but started a fire that eventually completely destroyed it as fire brigades could not reach the boat because of continuous shelling of the port.
Ehab Lotayef a member of the Gaza Ark steering committee observed: The loss of Gaza's Ark pales in comparison to the loss of life and injuries the people are facing in Gaza. If we can sacrifice a dozen boats to save one child's life we would without hesitation. But Israel obviously thought Gaza's Ark was very valuable and targeted it specifically. Lotayef claims that the Ark was a peaceful project that would expose Israel's lies and that is why it had to be killed. Netanyahu made sure that task at least has already been completed.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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