Aid Flotilla volunteers describe their ordeal

•June 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Ebrahim, Cliff and Mohammed Elhaddad at BGling press conference

Ebrahim Musaji, Mohammed Elhaddad and Cliff Hanley at Bristol Gaza Link press conference

Ebrahim Musaji from Bristol Gaza Link and  Cliff Hanley from Palestine Solidarity Campaign, joined a press conference called by BGL to talk about their ordeal onboard the Aid Flotilla to Gaza. They were both onboard the Mavi Marmara  that was attacked by the Israeli military. The attack left 9 people dead and several more injured.

They were trying to deliver 1,000 bags of cement to Gaza, which had been bought thanks to donations from people of Bristol.

At the press conference held in Council House in Bristol Ibrahim described how the first victims were shot dead by soldiers firing from the helicopter above before they had even boarded the boat.

The care worker, who has volunteered for Bristol Gaza Link to provide aid to the Palestinians for four years, said: ”They could not board the ship so some of them started shooting from the helicopter and some of them came down on ropes and jumped on to the top deck.

”There was a state of confusion and panic. There was tear gas, there was loud pops, some of the military were armed with paintball guns, and the helicopter was right on top of the boat.

”I went to the upper deck.  While we were standing there we heard of the first victim.  He was on the right hand of the ship, and somebody was shouting in Turkish but we heard the word, ‘Shaheed’, and that means martyr.

”They brought the body and put it just close to my feet.  He was just taking a picture.  He was not armed or anything.

”He was shot from the helicopter and he was shot right in the head. You could see some of his brain coming out of his head.”

Ibrahim told how crew from an Israeli ship contacted the captain of the Mavi Marmara at 11pm on Sunday evening, instructing them to turn around or ”expect the worst”.

Over the next few hours they saw helicopters, spy drones and two ships circling the area before the attack began at around 4:30am – just as the Muslim passengers began their call to prayer.

Ibrahim, added: ”While we were praying some of the members were screaming, ‘They are coming, they are coming!’. That was when it started.

”On Sunday evening we were told that Monday would be an eventful day.

”But we didn’t know that it would be early hours of Monday morning that these events would happen.”

Nine people on board the ships died, most of them Turkish activists.

Ibrahim described how Bulent Yildirin, a charity worker also on board, removed his white shirt and handed it to another passenger to wave to the Israelis in surrender.  He was also shot dead.

The boat came under Israeli control between 6am and 7am, when an excrutiating process of searching and interrogation began for the remainder of the day.

Ibrahim told how the captain of the boat was forced to hand over control after soldiers held a gun to the head of his one-year-old child, who was on board.

Convoy passengers were were handcuffed with plastic ties, strip-searched, and forced to kneel on the wooden deck in the hot sun without food or water, many without the ability to go to the toilet. Some were gagged and blindfolded.

Cliff Hanley, an artist from Bristol, lifetime peace campaigner, and treasurer of the Bristol Gaza Link, called the treatment ”outright torture”.

He said: ”I would describe this as outright torture.  There was no other word for it.

”The journey took a long time to get to Ashdod (Israeli port).  It was an area designed for far less people than were stuffed in there.

”There was no question of getting water or food.

”In Ashdod a girl said to me, ‘What you have done is illegal.’ Then she took my pen and tossed it away because we were not allowed writing materials.

”And then she passed me on and said, ‘Enjoy’.”

They were taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod where there were further searches and interrogation before all were escorted to Beersheva prison.

They were finally returned to the UK on Sunday.

Despite their ordeal, both men said they would be returning to Gaza on future aid efforts.

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Bristol school sends postcards to Gaza

•November 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Students at the City Academy School in Bristol have been writing POSTCARDS TO GAZA. Today, Monday 30th November, they were handed to the convoy which will deliver them to a school in Gaza. The youngsters also donated boxes of stationery together with sacks of cuddly toys.

Dr Ray Priest, Principal says: “Our young people, of all faiths, have been enthusiastic about the Viva Palestina convoy right from the start. We all feel that no children anywhere should suffer like those in Gaza, Palestine.”


Sakir Yildirim, driver of the truck on the convoy, says “The aim of our convoy is not only to take humanitarian aid to Gaza, but also a message of hope. These postcards are a great way for young people to form links between our two cities. I delighted to be a POSTIE TO PALESTINE!”

Text VIVA to 84424

•November 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Text the word VIVA to 84424.

Network charges will be deducted from a standard donation but no less than £1.90 plus VAT will be paid to BGLA after deductions. Thank you for your support Bristol Gaza Link Assoc.
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Campus visits for Bristol2Gaza Convoy

•November 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

PRESS RELEASE – locals
Tuesday 24th November 2009

The Bristol2Gaza Convoy will be touring College and University Campus sites over the next week. There will be displays and talks for students to awareness about Gaza. Fund-raising events will take place to support the convoy. Staff and Students will have the chance to see the 44 ton truck and other vehicles which will be travelling 5,000 miles taking humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Campus Visits
THURSDAY 26th
12AM – 2 PM. UNIVERSITY OF WEST OF ENGLAND BOWER ASHTON CAMPUS:
Outside the Bar/restaurant area

FRIDAY 27th
11AM – 3 PM UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND FRENCHAY CAMPUS:
At the main bus interchange

In true Bristol tradition, the sides of the truck have been painted with impressive murals. One side shows the people of Bristol people loading aid into the truck and in the distance the people of Gaza eagerly awaiting its arrival. The back of the truck is painted with the cartoon character Handala – the icon of the Palestinian struggle. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naji_al-Ali). On the other side of the truck is a representation of the Palestinian flag mixed with Bristol graffiti street art.


Getting Ready to Roll

Nick Park, of Bristol-based Aardman Animations, has recently given permission for the much-loved characters Wallace & Gromit to be included on the vehicles. This coincides with the 20year celebration of these characters who are strongly associated with Bristol and the local Children’s Hospital.

Banksy has visited Palestine twice and painted political graffiti on the Separation Wall in the West Bank. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_West_Bank_barrier) A selection of these Banksy’s pictures have been included on the truck.

TV coverage see http://www.itv.com/westcountry-east/fullprogramme/ (at around 4.11mins)

Also included are drivers & skilled professionals. The team travelling in the Bristol Convoy includes:-
Sakir Yildirim, HGV driver and a veteran of last February’s Viva Palestina convoy, will drive the truck and lead the contingent
Siamak Alimi, driver and IT coordinator from UWE
Monica Margaret Jones, translator and experienced Middle East traveller
Tony Gratrex, driver and engineer.
Sahida Uddin, a mental-health social-worker.
Cliff Hanley, artist with a specialism on Palestine
A documentary film-maker will travel with the team.
They will be travelling in the truck and an accompanying mini-bus & van. It is planned that they will be joined at the Egyptian border by Mohammed Elhaddad; the second Bristol representative of last February’s convoy and the whole team will cross into Gaza through the notorious Rafah crossing.

The group has been collecting medical aid for some weeks now including:-
Equipment – crutches, walking-sticks, commodes, and wheel-chairs
Medicines – several pallets of medicines donated by local hospitals and organisations
Health products –pallets of toothpaste and other hygiene products
A dental chair and suite of dental equipment

Further medical supplies are needed:-
Renal and Ophthalmic medicines plus Burns-Unit equipment.
Maternity products plus Mother & Baby post-natal supplies
The group also has a list of badly needed general pharmaceuticals from a hospital in Gaza.

More donations still needed include:-
Large quantities of stationary, exercise books, biros, and children’s crayons (for hospital and school use),
Clear plastic sheeting to mend windows and walls,
and Blankets.

More public events are planned for the Bristol2Gaza Convoy:-

SATURDAY 28th November
There will be an information stall in Broadmead outside Tesco-Metro store on Union Street.
From 11-4 the convoy vehicles will drive slowly around the main circuit of Broadmead
accompanied by musicians and street performers and supporters.

MONDAY 30th 12-2pm City Of Bristol College (Ashley Down Campus)

A lunchtime visit to Bristol University Campus is also being planned for next week

Local school children are being encouraged to write “post-cards-to-Gaza” that will be delivered to
a school Gaza and the most colourful can also be glued to the sides of the vehicles.

FRIDAY 4th December
Plans are being drawn up for a major event when the convoy leaves Bristol
Convoy departure 10-11 College Green
Speakers:- MPs Cllrs Choir Multi-faith Trade Union speakers
11-12 March/parade across town

The organisers would like to acknowledge the following donors to the Convoy:-
VOLVO Truck & Bus at Avonmouth who carried out the MOT on the truck at cost price
BIG YELLOW who have been supplying warehouse faculties at their depot in St Phillips
ALL Hospitals and medical personnel who have been involved in collecting, supplying and organising the urgently required aid
The citizens of Bristol who have contributed money and well needed items.

A spokesperson for the Bristol Gaza Link says:-
“Many people throughout Bristol were shocked by the brutal attacks on Gaza last winter. Yet incredibly, even after all that suffering, Gaza is still under a state of siege. The shattered homes and other building can not be repaired because basic building materials aren’t allowed in. Even medicines and other essentials of life are in desperately short supply. Bristol-Gaza Link aims to build people-to-people links between our cities. This convoy is our way of breaking the siege and we want to say a big thank-you to all the people of Bristol for supporting us.”

Tony Benn (former Bristol Labour MP) says:-
“I would like to express my full support for the Viva Palestina convoy which leaves in December. The ongoing siege of Gaza is a crime against humanity, as was the Israeli attack last year. British support for the relief efforts is a contribution to the solution of a human problem. I wish the convoy all success.”

Message from the Red Crescent society in Gaza strip

•November 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Because of frequent power outages, we need the electricity generator continuously and permanently. Electricity generator running all the equipment in the radiology department, laboratory, and dental clinics as well as the emergency unit, elevators, and main comunication devices such as computers and Telephones. We have an old generator needs maintenance and spare parts which are not available because of the seigeon made on Gaza.

Specification of generator: 400 kVA , 480V,60 Hz Engine make and model : Perkins 2206A – E 13TAG2/5 , 3 phase, Price : 59000 US Dolar including Vat. Dimensions and weights: Length : 3500mm . Width: 1110mm . Height : 2158mm and Weight ; 2715 kg.

Posted by Mohamed Elhaddad

North Bristol NHS Trust donates artificial limb components

•November 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Good news. I have just been informed that Bristol Disablement Services Centre (Southmead Hospital) has artificial limb components that they are happy to donate for Gaza. They have “a range of used foot modules, shin tubes, adaptors and possibly some knee joints. They have also offered orthotic foot wear from their stores.

Report by Siamak Alimi

Iqbal Tamimi and Ed Hill at the Friendship Cafe

•November 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The Viva Palestina fundraiser in Gloucester at the Friendship Cafe was excellent last night Iqbal Tamimi – the journalist, writer and poet of Palestinian Mothers – gave an excellent talk in which she related to a rapt audience ‘Israel’s Guinness Book of World Records’ – Film maker Ed Hill gave an incredibly uplifting report on how well bglink was doing and how positively it was being promoted in local corporate media….managed to get him on film explaining how he became an activist for Palestine…perhaps one of the most moving moments for me anyway was when a Viva Palestina Gloucester Convoy driver related how he got roped into driving in the Convoy last year but the experience changed his life. He’s back in the Convoy this year and has become an activist too….a lot of money was raised too for the Convoy – I think I heard about £200…..

See the video reports on BG Link

report by Moira Govan