Gisha nominated for the Human Rights Tulip award

August 28, 2017. Gisha is one of ten nominees for the Human Rights Tulip award for individuals and organizations who promote human rights in innovative ways, given by the Dutch Foreign Ministry. The voting process is open to the public until September 6. Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders will select the winner of the award, choosing from the three candidates to receive the most votes by the public.

The attached image is a portion of a sign that hangs in the hallway of Gisha’s offices, just outside the rooms where our intake coordinators receive calls from Gaza residents wishing to travel to and from the Strip. “Freedom,” it reads, and underneath it are stickers of birds, each with a name and a date. Each sticker of a bird flying free refers to an individual, or family, who, with Gisha’s help, was able to exercise the basic right of freedom of movement, and travel to or from Gaza to visit family, to study or to realize professional goals. Whenever one of our clients travels successfully, another sticker goes on the wall, representing another bird that can fly free, if only for a short while.

Gisha is the only NGO, Israeli or otherwise, that promotes freedom of movement for Gaza; a place where the basic right to travel has been undermined and violated for over a decade. With each passing year, the need and demand for our help increases. The prestigious Tulip Award would bring recognition and visibility to Gisha’s work and also to the dire situation in the Gaza Strip. More importantly, it would allow us to continue promoting freedom of movement and to challenge Israel’s policy, which has stifled Gaza’s economy and isolated Gaza from the West Bank. Even legitimate security challenges don’t justify and can’t explain these measures, which, for over a decade, have prevented nearly two million civilians in Gaza from reaching their full potential and from leading dignified, prosperous lives. They are caught in the middle and deserve our vote of confidence that life can and must be better.

Update:

September 10, 2017. The public voting for the 2017 Human Rights Tulip has now closed. Gisha did not make it to the top three and thus will not be in the final selection to receive the award.

During the public voting process, we were touched to receive support and encouragement from within Israel, Palestine and from around the world. It was an honor for our work to be recognized and to know that so many people stand alongside us. We also know that certain groups waged dedicated, if not disheartening, campaigns to make sure we wouldn’t be eligible for the final selection. Despite these smear campaigns against us, and regardless of the prize, we remain determined that ensuring freedom of movement, and the rights which are dependent on it, is the only way to create a more just and safe region. We wish to express our gratitude for the nomination and support we received, and send felicitations to the finalists.