Victoria resident heads to Gaza to be human shield for Palestinians

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Kevin Neish is scheduled to board a plane for the Mediterranean on Friday (May 21). But it’s not a vacation the 53-year-old Victoria resident is taking.

      Neish told the Straight that he doesn’t know when he’s going to be able to return home, and that he’ll be working overseas as a human shield. He’s volunteering with the Free Gaza Movement, which has plans in motion to sail a small fleet of ships to the Gaza Strip.

      “I’m looking forward to at least a month, but they’ve warned me, numerous times, that I could be there for many months,” he said in a telephone interview. “They’ve warned me that if I get in—once I get off the ship and the ship leaves—they don’t know when they’re ever going to get back to pick me up.”

      The flotilla will consist of eight boats carrying as many as 600 people, Neish said. The ships will be carrying supplies for construction, education, and medical needs.

      “Some people might think that the Israeli government has left Gaza but they haven’t,” Neish explained. “They control the borders.”

      He claimed that Israeli forces are only letting very limited amounts of supplies into the Gaza Strip, an observation that is backed by the United Nations and reputable media outlets.

      In January 2006, Hamas won parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories. Since then, Israel has enforced a blockade around Gaza, restricting the movement of goods, according to UN reports. In December 2008, Israel launched an assault on the Gaza Strip, killing 1,100 to 1,400 Palestinians. Thirteen Israelis also died in the conflict.

      Since then, Israel’s blockade has remained in place and significantly limited reconstruction efforts in Gaza, according outlets such as BBC News.

      Neish said that it is possible the convoy he is sailing with will be intercepted by the Israeli navy, and that the group could already be infiltrated by members of the Israel Defense Forces.

      “I am sure that within the 600 people, there is going to be spies and provocateurs,” he emphasized. “It is guaranteed.”

      But assuming the flotilla makes it to the territory, Neish continued, there will be large solidarity events in Gaza City, after which most members of the Free Gaza mission will return home.

      The handful of volunteers that Neish is staying behind with will then get to work on such projects as rebuilding a well in Rafah. They’ll also simply be accompanying Palestinians working close to the Israeli border, hoping that the presence of westerners reduces the dangers of working in such areas.

      Neish described his plans calmly, but noted that it is very similar work to what Rachel Corrie was doing in 2003. Corrie, an American citizen, was killed by an IDF bulldozer while attempting to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes.

      In January 2009, Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American Christian and prominent activist, sailed with a Free Gaza mission in an attempt to deliver supplies to the Gaza Strip.

      You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at



      Critically thinking Leftist

      May 20, 2010 at 6:14pm

      1. Hamas fire rockets into Israel, deliberately targetting and killing civilians in an act of "jihad" against "infidels".
      2. Israel considers responses.
      3. Idiots from overseas who've never thought critically about the situation, and who oversimplify it to be completely one-sided, flock in to become "human shields", protecting the militants which Israel tries to carefully, discriminately target.
      4. Said idiots are killed.
      5. Hamas and overseas idiots then portray Israel as evil.


      Jen Mason

      May 20, 2010 at 8:51pm

      Kevin Neish is a brave man. The world needs more people like him.

      Siding with Islamists

      May 21, 2010 at 5:58am

      He's going to be a human shield for people who would kill his family if given the chance, and subjugate his daughters in the name of religion.


      May 21, 2010 at 9:55am

      Critically thinking leftist.

      For your edification:
      Attacks with homemade rockets from the illegally occupied Gaza Strip began in 2001 and took their first Israeli victim in 2004. Since then, there had been 14 Israeli deaths prior to Israel’s massive land, air and sea 22 day assault against the caged and defenceless inhabitants of the Gaza Strip which began on 27 December 2008 (Operation Cast Lead.) While tragic, hardly comparable to the 1,700 Gaza Strip Palestinians, including many innocent bystanders, women and children, killed by Israel during the same period (2001-2008.) During Operation Cast Lead Israel killed an additional 1,417 Gazans, including 926 civilians, of whom 313 were children and 121 were women, along with 255 civil police officers (traffic police.) Israel suffered 13 dead, including three civilians from rocket fire and three soldiers killed in a friendly-fire incident.

      In violation of the terms of the 17 June 2008 cease-fire agreement with Hamas, Israel permitted only 20% of the amount of essentials agreed to into the Gaza Strip which led to sporadic rocket fire into Israel (causing no casualties) by Islamic Jihad and Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades, not Hamas, which attempted to stop the rockets. On November 4 – the day of the U.S. presidential election - Israel crossed the border and killed six Palestinians. Hamas responded with rocket fire but at the same time offered to extend the June 17 truce if Israel would abide by its terms. Israel refused. Hamas rocket fire resumed and although no Israeli was killed, it was used by Israel as a justification for Operation Cast Lead.


      May 21, 2010 at 4:46pm

      This screams of "bad idea bad idea"

      You know what the funniest thing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is? No sanctions will ever be brought about against Israel specifically because the US is its closest ally, China and India are some of its biggest customers, and most of Europe is like "meh".

      I wonder how long until this site is painted and noted.