Urbana Resident Prepares for Humanitarian Trip to Gaza Strip

May 31, 2011

Today marks the one-year anniversary of a raid led by Israeli marines that claimed the lives of nine Turkish activists attempting to bring aid to the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government has maintained a naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip since 2007, citing concerns that whatever is sent to the Palestinian territory could be used by Hamas to attack Israel.

About 10 flotillas will attempt to bring another round of aid to Gaza in June. One of those vessels will include Urbana resident Robert Naiman, who is with the advocacy group, Just Foreign Policy.

"While there is real physical suffering that's coming to Palestinians in Gaza under the blockade, like being for example prevented from accessing medical care in Jerusalem," Naiman said. "There is a feeling of isolation and that the world doesn't care about us, and that we want to counteract."

Naiman said while many of the vessels will carry humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, he said there are restrictions on what Americans can bring to the Gaza Strip since Hamas is seen as a terrorist organization. For his part, Naiman is bringing a comic book illustrating examples of non-violent resistance in American history.

"This comic book has been translated into Arabic, and starting in 2009 was distributed in places like Egypt, so that some of the people who were in Tahrir Square were aware of this story of Martin Luther King and the successful non-violent struggle against segregation in the United States," he explained.

He said the comic book is relevant following recent examples non-violent efforts that have successfully overthrown the governments of Tunisia and Egypt.

Israel has vowed to stop any attempt to breach its sea blockade of Gaza.

Story source: WILL