Israel's announcement today that it is "allowing between 210 and 220" trucks into Gaza with humanitarian aid is a direct response to the pressure that the upcoming Freedom Flotilla II is creating. Since July 2007, Israel has kept the number of allowed trucks at 25% of what the pre-blockade numbers were and of what is required by Gaza residents. To date, Israel has not responded to calls by human rights organizations or the UN to increase the numbers. Only as a result of the mounting pressure from the Freedom Flotilla has Israel altered its policy. However, today's allowance still falls 35% short of what is needed in Gaza.
Letting in more trucks is not enough. More trucks with food and medicine are only meant to give the appearance of an open Gaza. More trucks does not mean freedom; more trucks does not mean rebuilding the hundreds of homes and buildings that the Israeli military destroyed during Operation Cast Lead (only 12 of the trucks being allowed in contain construction material for UN projects); more trucks does not mean Gaza is not occupied and its residents subjected to collective punishment; more trucks does not mean that Israel has ended its cruel blockade; more trucks does not mean that Palestinians are any less imprisoned.
More trucks do, however, mean that Israeli farmers and merchants make money off the occupation. as most international agencies bringing aid into Gaza are forced to buy their supplies from Israel.
Freedom Flotilla II will sail at the end of June to press Israel and the international community to end the occupation of Palestine and to ensure freedom for Palestinians – just as any other people in the world have the right to be free. Instead of pressuring countries to stand in our way, or coming up with ways to bribe governments to stop our ships, the UN, the United States and the rest of the international community should recognize the power of this non-violent civilian effort to pressure Israel to change its policy. With Israel's change in policy after Freedom Flotilla I, and now these moves to pre-empt our flotilla, it seems we are succeeding where the international community continues to fail.