Nicosia, Cyprus – In June 2007, an Islamic Hamas regime took over Gaza and declared total war against Israel, with the stated aim of liberating all of Palestine, the way in which the Hamas refers to any and all land ruled by the Jewish state.

With Gaza receiving increasing amounts of military supplies from Iran via small boats landing on Gaza coastline, the Israeli navy imposed an embargo of goods coming into Gaza.

Israel, instead, oversees goods and services for humanitarian needs to reach Gaza, by allowing specified supervised land crossings for supplies to Gaza, all of which can be crossed by Israeli security guards..

On Monday, a movement known as FreeGaza.org held a press conference in Nicosia which announced that a group of 40 people from all over the world would board two small boats to travel by sea to Gaza, to “break the siege” that Israel has placed upon Gaza.

The boats will probably leave on Friday, on the day designated by Hamas as “international Palestine solidarity day.”

The press conference led with an opening statement by an Israeli American Jerusalem resident, Jeff Halper, who alleged that Israel was behaving in defiance of international law by closing shipping lanes to Gaza.

Mr. Monir Deeb, a native of Gaza who lives in Los Angeles, explained to the media that he was getting aboard these boats in order to reunite with his siblings in Gaza.

Mr. Deeb described Gaza as a “peaceful community under Israeli military siege” and said that this small convoy was meant to deliver a message to Israel to stop the siege of Gaza.

The Bulletin asked Mr. Deeb about tens of armed Gaza militias which have fired thousands of missiles over the past eight years against Israeli civilian communities that surround Gaza and that the Hamas government is using this period of a cease-fire to regroup and to train for the next attack on Israel.

Mr. Deeb said that he “could not relate to this question,” since it was “political,” and since his concern was “only humanitarian” in nature.

The convener of the FreeGaza.org press conference, however, Ms. Greta Berlin, an American woman who was formerly married to a Palestinian whose family was dislocated from Safed in Northern Israel during the 1948 war, explained an aspect of their humanitarian mission which was that they were set to supply 9,000 hearing aids for Palestinian children who were suffering hear loss at a young age, ” due to Israeli missile attacks on Gaza.”

The Bulletin asked Ms. Berlin if it were not the case that the missile attacks that she had just described in their intensity were fired by Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli targets, Ms. Berlin would not comment on that possibility.

Meanwhile, although Ms. Berlin said several times to the media that the purposes of the voyage to Gaza was not political, the press statement issued by FreeGaza.org touched every political button possible.

FreeGaza.org also stated very clearly that it strongly condemns Israel for not allowing “refugees and their descendants the right to return home” to the villages that have since been resettled by Israel after the 1948 war. Furthermore, the FreeGaza.org press statement decried “Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine,” laying aside any pretensions that the group only favored Israel’s full withdrawal from Gaza.

Ms. Berlin reported that the operation to bring two boats into Gaza as fully independent of any unknown of foreign entities. Ms. Berlin mentioned that FreeGaza.org had already raised $210,000 of the total budget needed more than $300,000 for the boats.

However, on July 31, the Palestine Information Center issued a press release in which it stated that a member of the Lebanese Parliament had confirmed to Hamas leader Abu Marzook in Cairo that the boats had been provided by Palestinian popular committees by the Hamas. That would mean, in effect, that FreeGaza.org received two sources of support for its work – from American Jewish groups and from the Palestinian popular committees, which are run by Hamas.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.