AS a boarder at Shaftesbury Grammar School 1951to 1958 and at age 14 I was second in proposing the motion ‘law is for the lawyers’, writes retired consultant Doctor David Halpin.

Our new and wonderful headmaster John Brett, his face badly scarred in a tank at Normandy, was encouraging independent thinking, more vital now than ever. Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

And that is what was in the front of my mind during Christmas of 2002 when I decided to charter a ship to Gaza, a strip 25 miles by five miles on the eastern shore of the most beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Presently home, of sorts, to 2.3 million people. 

I said last week that there were 70,000 Palestinians there in the Second World War.

In 1948, three years after the Allied forces with the crucial help of Russia had defeated the most evil Nazis, 250,000 Palestinians fled from Zionist weapons and terror to Gaza by land and sea. 

The other 520,000 fled to Jordan, the Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and a few to Britain and gradually all round our world. 

The Palestinian diaspora is about 10 million people. All these families represented 80per cent of the Palestinian population before the naqba the catastrophe of 1947/8.

The Voyage of the Dove and the Dolphin was announced on January 3 2003 and 28 days later, and after racing thought and action, SS Barbara slipped its moorings from Haldon Quay in Torbay as the day faded. 

It was symbolic that back on that January 3, with so many calls coming in that we had to set up a second phone line, one call was from Andrea. 

She was the daughter of an East Devon farmer and mother of six children with Adli Hammad her husband. His family were refugees in Gaza, and Andrea said ‘he might be able to help’ since he was, as often in Gaza, but traveling freely with a British passport. 

The voyage of the Dove and Dolphin on MV Barbara from Torquay was to Ashdod in Israel. 

The crew was Danish, there were four British passengers and there were 50 tons of flour, cheese, vegetable oil, milk powder and olive oil in the hold. There were also a thousand pounds worth of dressings from Dr Hamami, 1.2 tons of waste carpet wool for weaving, and clothes and blankets.

This journey took place in the first two weeks of February 2003, six weeks before the illegal war on Iraq was unleashed. 

It was a cry for justice in Palestine, a shout against the looming war on Iraq and a demonstration of our common humanity.

This cry, of so many for justice, and for international law, has gone unheeded.

The Palestinian child death toll in Gaza has climbed to 3,457, or more than 40per cent of the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since October 7. 

The population of south-west Britain is 5.7 million and living on 9,200 square miles. 

The population of Israel and the ‘Occupied Territories’ is about 12 million, 10per cent of which as you have read is squeezed into Gaza. 

The land area is almost the same, 8000 square miles. Consider the equivalent of one million West Country people being squeezed into the garrison city of Plymouth and then being bombed viciously, as by the Nazis in the Second World War.

Many more fellow humans will be found eventually from under the rubble