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Aug 18th, 2010

Gaza flotilla – what next?

By JohnnyChatterton

Isreaeli boats before the flotilla attacks

Isreaeli boats before the flotilla attacks

When Israeli forces attacked the Gaza aid flotilla in May, tens of thousands of us came together to demand that the British Government took urgent action. Together we piled on the pressure to try secure an international investigation into the flotilla assault, ensure full accountability for those responsible, and lift the Gaza blockade.

Thousands of us e-mailed David Cameron and Nick Clegg and, to up the pressure even more, we teamed up with Oxfam, CAFOD and lots of other groups to take out full page newspaper adverts (see here).

Together we contributed to a global outcry which put the Israeli government under unprecedented international pressure. In response they made some small changes to the Gaza blockade, allowing more goods to enter. These small steps in the right direction were welcomed but aid agencies like Oxfam warned these were “not enough” and that a full lifting of the blockade is still urgently needed.

In the UK we saw our pressure working too. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, described Gaza as a “prison camp” and appealed to the Israeli Government to allow a free flow of people and humanitarian goods into and out of Gaza.

Initially it looked like the only inquiry into the attacks would be carried our by Israel but with international observers. That too has changed, as Israel will now cooperate with a UN inquiry.

38 Degrees members showed that we can have an impact on international issues, joining people around the world in speaking out against the Gaza flotilla attacks and making sure our own government played a positive role in responding to the crisis. We made a real difference and helped secure changes which will be of some benefit to the people of Gaza.

However, the situation in Gaza is still extremely serious. We’ll need to continue to monitor the situation and be ready to respond again if there’s another opportunity to influence events.

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