On the windy evening of January 4, 2017, 33-year-old Muhammad al-Hissi of Gaza set out with 13 of his brothers, cousins and uncles to make a living the only way they know how: fishing. But he never came home.
The family was spread out in three different boats, with the waves choppy and stiff, when the Israeli Navy appeared on the scene. The 60-ton ship rammed into Muhammad’s wooden boat and crushed it like a rock on an egg. Palestinian fishermen and the Israeli navy searched for Muhammad for three days, but his body was never found. The boat’s electric generator may have dismembered his body.
Muhammad was one of two Palestinian fishermen killed by the Israeli navy in 2017. Four others were injured, 14 were detained and five boats were seized. However, shootings at Gaza fishermen by the Israeli navy are daily occurrences, terrorizing and forcing many to abandon the sea. This pattern is set to continue into the new year, with the recent decision by Israeli officials to restrict Gaza fishermen to six nautical miles instead of the recently allowed nine (only in the southern coast).
To help shine a light on this violation of the right to earn a living this new, short documentary, Six Miles Out—produced by the We Are Not Numbers team in Gaza, with funds from the Solidarity with Gaza Fishers project of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition—features al-Hissi’s brother and cousin, who take us with them for a night of fishing. You will see for yourself just what it’s like when Israeli “hornets” suddenly appear on the scene.
What can you do to help? You can donate to We Are Not Numbers, a Gaza-based youth storytelling project, to keep its work going. You can also visit the Freedom Flotilla website to find out how to support the 2018 sailing to challenge the blockade of Gaza’s seaport.
SkateQilya is a youth empowerment program that uses skateboarding as a tool to teach art, community building and leadership skills to Palestinian girls and boys in the West Bank. Launched in the summer of 2016 as a three-week summer camp, 11 girls and 11 boys, ages 10-16 from the city of Qalqilya and the neighboring village of Jayyous, came together in the first co-ed athletic program in the Northern West Bank.
SkateQilya was founded by Mohammed Othman, a Palestinian human rights activist, Adam Abel, an American artist and filmmaker, and Kenny Reed, a retired American professional skateboarder. Unified by a vision that sport and art are powerful tools for empowering youth, Mohammed, Adam and Kenny have planted the seeds from which a special community has grown.
Support the 2017 Summer Camp
From August 6-26, SkateQilya will provide 30-35 Palestinian students ages 10-16 with a unique summer experience in the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Five days a week, for three weeks, our students will skateboard, take photographs and video, learn conversational English and social media skills, and engage in outdoor community building activities.
Skateboarding is new and captivating; it is the hook. It is both simple to learn and offers infinite opportunities for improvement. In a city and country where hope is a rare commodity, SkateQilya provides its students the ability to:
Release their energy and express themselves creatively.
Feel that they are special and have a sense of place in the world.
Set goals and see tangible results.
Create and participate in their own community through mutual respect and understanding.
Learn to become teachers of their talents in a peer-to-peer learning environment.
Become ambassadors for Palestine.
Read the full details about SkateQilya, summer camp 2017, the program outline, the team, and our future plans on our generosity page.
By the end of June, the Canadian Boat for Gaza, named Tahrir (Arabic for “liberation”) will be sailing with Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human. Thirty delegates from across the country are preparing themselves for a difficult but necessary voyage and we are continuing to work with our international partners to organize and coordinate every aspect of the project. We are also assembling a dedicated group of volunteers across the country who will remain in Canada, supporting the launch of the flotilla, tracking and communicating with the Tahrir once it sets sail and handling media and public actions regionally and nationally.
Some of you (like us) may have heard via media reports that we are the subject of a lawsuit. We wish to inform you that we have not been served notice and that our plans are and will be progressing normally and legally towards our goal of reaching Gaza.
To date, we have raised around $340,000 through generous donations made by you and others like you. Despite recent media claims, we reaffirm that all money raised was donated by Canadian individuals and communities across the country, no government support and no tax benefits either. This is the sign of a true civil society initiative that every contributor believes in, beyond any doubt.
Other than the boat, which is the major expense, there are many large costs associated with a project of this magnitude and sensitivity, such as communications equipment (which needed to be of much higher grade than originally planned to accommodate media needs and operate as efficiently as possible, in the face of Israeli interference), fuel, repairs, safety equipment, etc. We would also like remind you that we bought a bigger boat than was originally planned, allowing more Canadians to participate and more humanitarian aid to be sent to Gaza.
With this we still need another $50,000 to fulfill the project’s needs. We are asking you to continue contributing to the Canadian Boat to Gaza so the Tahrir and its passengers can sail with all the necessary equipment and security devices needed for this difficult trip.
We count on your backing in this final push towards our common goal. The people of Gaza are waiting for us. If you can dig into your pockets one more time, please do. If you haven’t yet, now is the time. In any case, please ask your family, friends and co-workers to donate as well. Donations can be made online at our website at www.tahrir.ca.
About the Canadian Boat for Gaza
The Canadian Boat for Gaza (CBG) is an initiative of Canadian civil society dedicated — through non-violent direct action — to ending Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. We are joined in this campaign by our international partners from Australia, Belgium and Denmark. They are contributing to and will be on board our boat Tahrir.
The CBG is a member of the Freedom Flotilla II, which unites more than twenty similar national initiatives as well as a half-dozen international organizations.
The CBG is a citizen’s initiative which gathers Canadians from all regions. It benefits from the support of nearly 200 civil society organizations in this country and of thousands of people from diverse ethnic, religious, social, professional and political backgrounds, all united by the will to end the illegal and immoral blockade imposed by the Zionist state on 1.5 million civilians living in the Gaza Strip.
The CBG maintains that the Harper government acts against the values and interests of Canada by its uncritical support of the State of Israel, despite Israel’s numerous flagrant violations of international law and of human rights in blockading Gaza.
Faced with the Government of Canada’s irresponsible position, we consider it our duty as citizens to employ all necessary non-violent means to break the Gaza blockade.
Follow the Canadian Boat for Gaza
Visit tahrir.ca for updates on the Canadian Boat for Gaza.
You can also follow the CBG on Twitter at @CanadaBoatGaza and @TahrirCanada. You can also follow co-founder and steering committee member of Independent Jewish Voices and the Canadian Boat to Gaza Dylan Penner, one of the CBG delegates, at @DylanPenner. Flotilla hashtags: #Canada4Gaza, #flotilla2 and #FF2StayHuman.