Humanitarian Flotilla Vs Evil Navy by Gilad Atzmon
Haaretz reports today that Israel will attempt to block the humanitarian Freedom Flotilla heading toward Gaza. However, according to the Israeli paper, the humanitarian cargo would then be unloaded, inspected and sent to Gaza overland via the United Nations.
Freedom Flotilla of Aid expected to reach Gaza within 48 hours despite threats from Israeli Navy
Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Press Release, 27th May 2010
The Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, which includes 11 Irish people, expects to arrive at its destination within 48 hours despite Israel’s vow to block the mission from delivering much-needed aid to the beleaguered coastal strip. A forum of seven senior Israeli ministers who met on Wednesday 26th May have decided that the Israeli Navy will enforce a twenty mile exclusion zone around Gaza and will arrest all 800 crew and passengers taking part in the Freedom Flotilla should they pursue their mission to break the ongoing siege of Gaza.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) wishes to express its solidarity with the ‘Freedom Flotilla’, consisting of nine ships, that is currently attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Among the ships heading towards Gaza is the 1,200 tonne Irish cargo ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, which is owned by the Free Gaza Movement. The ship is carrying a cargo of cement and other vital reconstruction materials for the people of Gaza.
Israel has vowed to block the Freedom Flotilla from docking in Gaza. After a hearing from defence officials Israel’s ministerial forum decided on Wednesday not to let the ships dock, but to offer to unload the cargo, inspect it and send it to Gaza via the United Nations. The ministers decided that the ships would be directed to Ashdod by force if necessary. The activists would be arrested and expelled from the country.
Speaking on behalf of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Dr Fintan Lane (IPSC Media Officer and a ‘Freedom Flotilla’ participant) said: “The siege of Gaza has created a humanitarian and political crisis that cannot be ignored. We are determined to break Israel’s blockade and will not be intimidated. The people of Gaza have a right to access to the outside world and the right to determine their own future.”
Dr Lane continued: “The siege of Gaza is a collective punishment against the Palestinian people because they dared to resist Israeli apartheid rule. The suffering that Israel is causing is an outrage and the international community must stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Direct action is entirely appropriate and we intend to make it clear that we stand with the Palestinian resistance to oppression and apartheid. We are not neutral in this struggle for human rights and self-determination.”
Aengus O’Snodaigh TD who is also a participant said, “We will not allow our flotilla to be divided. We will stay with our cargo ships – they are the core of the flotilla carrying essential construction materials denied entry into Gaza – cement and steel. This action is not a symbolic gesture but a concrete intervention to allow the people of Gaza to rebuild their lives with dignity.”
In addition to the involvement of the MV Rachel Corrie, a number of Irish politicians and human rights activists will be participating in the flotilla as crew and as passengers. The Irish participants in the flotilla are Denis Halliday (Dublin), Caoimhe Butterly (Dublin/Cork), Chris Andrews TD (Dublin), Fintan Lane (Cork/Dublin), Mairead Maguire (Belfast), Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD (Dublin), Senator Mark Daly (Kerry) and Fiachra Ó Luain (Donegal). The Irish crew members on the MV Rachel Corrie are Derek Graham (Mayo), Jenny Graham (Mayo) and Shane Dillon (Dublin). For further biographical information on the Irish participants, please go to the end of this press release. The participants include members of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Free Gaza Movement.
PRESS RELEASE ENDS
The latest in today’s Yediot Aharonot:
– Except for the Naval Commandos, you should expect on the Gaza boats “Massada”, the special anti-riot unit of the Israeli Prison Authority. They were given a special permission to operate outside the borders of Israel and against people who are not (yet) prisoners.
– The Navy might start “Operation Sky Winds” already tonight, they might want to catch the different boats separately, before they all assemble.
= There will be used electronioc masking devices to prevent broacasts of the confrontation (as could be expecteed – I hope you have some counter-measres)
– Netahyahu who is going off to France, Canada and the US has given authorisation. He feels that he has “defeated Obama” (that is the headline in “Ma’ariv”) becasue he gort an invitation to a meeting in the White House which would be frielier than the one two months ago, and therefore he feels that he can do whatever he wants.
– The anti-Turkish propganda line is intensified. Alex Fishman, military commentator of “Yediot Aharonot” who is an unofficial spekesperson for the Israeli Army, says today that this is not really a continuation of the earlier Gaza boats, this is a Turkish plot to open a regular shipping line to Gaza and deprive Israel and Egypt of the monopoly of controlling access to Gaza. If this flottila is let through, Israel might as well give up the siege altogether. “This is not about 500 wheelchirs to Gaza, this is about the effective re-establishment of Turkish Imperial Power”. He says that many of the people on the boats are idelaistic if miguided, and if it was only them it might have been advisable to let them through. But this is quite different, the Turkish govrnment is involved, it is an Islamic government so this is not just a Turkish plot but an Islamic one (there is a reference to the head of the Islamic movement in Israel, Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, being present when the Turkish boats dpearted from Istanbul). Of course when faced with such an Islamic plot, there is choice but to use force. “Putting Gaza under siege might not be the best policy, but it is the policy which we decided upon and we cannot let the Turks change it for us” (very interesting that Fishman is writing that, as I said he is close to the supreme command of the Israeli Armed Forces and they often use him to air their views).
– The conclusion of Fishman “We have already lost the PR battle (the title of his commentary is “We have already lost”). Since the boats must be stopped anyway, the Navy should try to do is as quickly as possible, to reduce the length of the unfriendly footage.
– There is a good interviw from onboard with Dror Feiler “we don’t want a confrontation with the IDF, but we are determined to get through, and will resist passively, it will not look good for soldiers to confiscate wheelchairs” and that morale on the boats is high and people are singing. Dror is really doing good work, avoiding very radical statments (no need for them, the whole action is radical enough in itself) and conveying just the right tone.
– The special detetion center seems to be within the Post of Ashdod. The police is worried that leftists will arrive from all over the country and make trouble, it is up to us here to make their fears come true.
– They will want to expell the international activists from the country as soon as possible, and are worried that the activists have already made contact with Israeli lawyers and will try to hold this up through the courts. No mention here of Palestinians, which day before yesterday were mentioned as also possibly arriving in this detention center. Palestinians may stay imprisoned much longer.
These are the highlights, you get a headline on the front page and the whole of Page 2 and 3.
Bye for now, good luck
MARK LAVIE Associated Press Writer
May 26, 2010 | 11:30 p.m.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s navy will stop a flotilla heading for Gaza with 10,000 tons of supplies and pro-Palestinian activists intent on breaking a three-year blockade of Gaza, officials said Wednesday, in the first definitive Israeli pledge to stop the boats.
The officials said if the flotilla of eight ships does not turn back, the boats will be hauled to an Israeli port, the activists sent back to their countries and the supplies transferred to Gaza by land.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity according to military rules.
The flotilla is expected to approach Gaza over the weekend. Organizers say they are hauling supplies including building materials that are not allowed into the territory because of the blockade. Greta Berlin, one of the organizers, said the cargo ships are carrying cement, prefab homes, lumber, window frames, paper for printing school books, children’s toys, a full dentist’s office, electric wheelchairs and high-end medical equipment.
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Among the passengers are lawmakers from a dozen European countries, a Holocaust survivor in her 80s, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a retired U.S. army colonel, Berlin said.
Israel and Egypt cordoned off the territory three years ago after the Islamic militant Hamas overran the territory. Despite the blockade, Israel allows in what it classifies as “humanitarian supplies” and claims there is no crisis of shortages in Gaza. Israel charges the flotilla is a propaganda exercise.
After letting a few boats reach Gaza, the Israelis have intercepted several since December 2008, following the same procedure the officials outlined in their plans for the current attempt.
The officials indicated they were aware of the potential public relations fiasco that would follow a violent confrontation on the high seas between heavily armed Israeli sailors and civilian activists, saying the navy commander instructed his forces to “operate with the utmost sensitivity and not be drawn into needless provocations.”
They said the boat crews would be warned several times as they approach Gaza, but Israeli forces would board them and take control if necessary.
About the Freedom Flotilla, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Chair