Free Gaza Damage

When the aid is not controlled by Israel in a media staged delivery, this is what the IDF do-
dignity-damage

Previously. Pics from The Daily -friggin’- Mail!

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Free Gaza Ship Makes Safe Harbour In Lebanon

Also BBC footage here.

(Lebanon, Tuesday 30 December)
Today the Free Gaza ship “Dignity” carefully made its way to safe harbor in Tyre, Lebanon’s southern-most port city after receiving serious structural damage when Israeli warships rammed its bow and the port side, Waiting to greet the passengers and crew were thousands of Lebanese who came out to show their solidarity with this attempt to deliver volunteer doctors and desperately needed medical supplies to war-ravaged Gaza. The Lebanese government has pledged to provide a forensic analysis of what happened in the dark morning, when Israel rammed the mercy ship in international waters, and put the people on board in danger of losing their lives.

The Dignity was on a mission of mercy to besieged Gaza, and was attacked by the Israeli Navy at approximately 6am (UST) in international waters, roughly 90 miles off the coast of Gaza. Several Israeli warships surrounded the small, human rights boat, firing live ammunition around it, then intentionally ramming it three times. According to ship’s captain Denis Healy, the Israeli attack came, “”without any warning, or any provocation.”

Caoimhe Butterly, an organizer with the Free Gaza Movement, stated that, “The gunboats gave us no warning. They came up out of the darkness firing flares and flashing huge floodlights into our faces. We were so shocked that at first we didn’t react. We knew we were well within international waters and supposedly safe from attack. They rammed us three times, hitting the side of the boat hard. We began taking on water and, for a few minutes, we all feared for our lives. After they rammed us, they started screaming at us as we were frantically getting the lifeboats ready and putting on our life jackets. They kept yelling that if we didn’t turn back they would shoot us.”

Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, was traveling to Gaza aboard the Dignity in order to assess the impact of Israel’s military onslaught against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. According to McKinney, “Israeli patrol boats…tracked us for about 30 minutes…and then all of a sudden they rammed us approximately three times, twice in the front and once in the side…the Israelis indicated that [they felt] we were involved in terrorist activities.”

The Dignity departed from Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7pm (UST) on Monday 29 December with a cargo of over 3 tons of desperately needed medical supplies donated to Gaza by the people of Cyprus. Three surgeons were also aboard, traveling to Gaza to volunteer in overwhelmed hospitals and clinics. Cypriot Port authorities searched the ship before it left, and its passenger list was made public.

Israel’s deplorable attack on the unarmed Dignity is a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states, “the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes.”

Delivering doctors and urgently needed medical supplies to civilians is just such a “peaceful purpose.” Deliberately ramming a mercy ship and endangering its passengers is an act of terrorism.

“This despicable action by the Israeli military is not going to stop us. We are going back again and again and again until the people of Gaza are free,” emphasized Free Gaza organizer, Ramzi Kysia.

Israeli Navy Rams FreeGaza Ship In International Waters

www.freegaza.org

On Tuesday, December 30, at 5 a.m., several Israeli gunboats intercepted the Dignity as she was heading on a mission of mercy to Gaza. One gunboat rammed into the boat on the port bow side, heavily damaging her. The reports from the passengers and journalists on board is that she is taking on water and appears to have engine problems. When attacked, the Dignity was clearly in international waters, 90 miles off the coast of Gaza.

The gunboats also fired their machine guns into the water in an attempt to stop the mercy ship from getting to Gaza.

As the boat limps toward Lebanon, passengers have been in contact with the Lebanese government who have said the captain has permission to dock and are willing lend assistance if needed. Cyprus sea rescue has also been in touch, and has offered assistance as well. The Dignity clearly flies the flag of Gibraltar, is piloted by an English captain and has a passenger manifest that includes Representative Cynthia McKinney from the U.S. The attack was filmed by the journalists, and the crew and passengers will report on Israel’s crime at sea once they arrive in Lebanon.

On board the boat are doctors traveling to this impoverished slice of the Mediterranean to provide badly-needed relief at the hospitals there.  The crew and passengers were also hoping to take wounded out for treatment, since the hospitals are not coping. In addition, the Dignity was carrying 3 tons of medical supplies at the request of the doctors in Gaza.

The three physicans on board who were sailing to Gaza are: Dr. Halpin (UK), an experienced orthopaedic surgeon, medical professor, and ship’s captain. He has organized humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza on several occasions with the Dove and Dolphin. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics. Dr. Mohamed Issa (Germany), a pediatric surgeon from Germany is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics. Dr. Elena Theoharous (Cyprus), MP Dr. Theoharous is a surgeon and a Member of the Cypriot Parliament. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict, assist with humanitarian relief efforts, and volunteer in hospitals.

Yet Israel thumbs its nose in the face of maritime law by attacking a human rights boat in international waters and has put all of these human rights observers at risk. At no time was the Dignity ever close to Israeli waters. They clearly identified themselves and the Israeli attack was willful and criminal.

The Dignity is still in international waters, 40 miles off Haifa. Everybody on board is safe at the moment as the boat slowly makes its way to safety in Lebanon.

Update: (11.50 am UTC/GMT) Al Jazeera Arabic and English both reported that they are on their way to Lebanon. According to Al Jazeera Arabic live, they will be greeted by UNIFIL and the Lebanese Navy in 15 minutes. They should arrive in Tyre/Sour in one hour. The Lebanese President gave orders to meet the boat and to offer it all assistance. Several MPs from the area are there to meet them. There will be a public meeting (demonstration) to greet them in Tyre. There is a hotel in Tyre that is booked for them to rest.

I’d love to hear how some pro-war pice of shit justifies attacking a boat delivering medical aid, no really, feel free to make a dick of yourself and line up with war crimes, history is full of such rationalisations of evil.

Free Gaza Dignity Crew List

The Dignity has left Cyprus & should arrive in Gaza tomorrow around 10am (local). Check the website for updates, www.freegaza.org Israel has declared Gaza a ‘closed military zone’, making sure no one can witness the atrocities. Our boat is going to challenge that closure.

This morning, six little girls in one family were murdered as they stood in front of their house. Israel says they don’t target civilians. They do.

The passenger list is below and includes Cynthia McKinney, a journalist from CNN and three physicians who will stay in Gaza to assist the overworked doctors there. We will also be sending out the list of medicines on board.

(UK) Denis Healey, Captain
Captain of the Dignity, Denis has been involved with boats for 45 years, beginning with small fishing boats in Portsmouth. He learned to sail while atschool and has been part of the sea ever since. He’s a certified yachtmaster and has also worked on heavy marine equipment from yachts to large dredgers. This is his fourth trip to Gaza.

(Greece) Giorgios Klontzas, Relief Captain
Cpt. Klontzas is an experienced sailor and human rights activist. This will be his fourth trip to Gaza.

(Greece) Nikolas Bolos, First Mate
Nikolas is a chemical engineer and human rights activist. He has served as a crewmember on several Free Gaza voyages, including the first one in August.

(Jordan) Othman Abu Falah
Othman is a senior producer with Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

(USA) Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia is a former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, and the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict.

(Australia) Renee Bowyer
Renee is a schoolteacher and human rights activist. She will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.

(Ireland) Caoimhe Butterly
Caoimhe is a reknowned human rights activist and Gaza Coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement. She will be remaining in Gaza to do human rights monitoring, assist with relief efforts, and work on project development with Free Gaza.

(Cyprus) Ekaterini Christodulou
Ekaterini is a well-known and respected freelance journalist in Cyprus. She is traveling to Gaza to report on the conflict.

(Sudan) Sami El-Haj
Sami is a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, and head of the human rights section at Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

(UK) Dr. David Halpin
Dr. Halpin is an experienced orthopaedic surgeon, medical professor, and ship’s captain. He has organized humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza on several occasions with the Dove and Dolphin. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics.

(Germany) Dr. Mohamed Issa
Dr. Issa is a pediatric surgeon from Germany. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics.

(Cyprus) Dr. Elena Theoharous, MP
Dr. Theoharous is a surgeon and a Member of the Cypriot Parliament. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict, assist with humanitarian relief efforts, and volunteer in hospitals.

(UK/Tunisia) Fathi Jaouadi
Fathi is a television producer and human rights activist. He will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.

(Cyprus) Martha Paisi
Martha is a senior research fellow and experienced human rights activist. She is traveling to Gaza to do human rights work and to assist with humanitarian relief efforts.

(UK) Karl Penhaul
Karl Penhaul is a video correspondent for CNN, based out of Bogotá, Colombia. Appointed to this position in February 2004, he covers breaking news around the world utilizing CNN’s new laptop-based ‘Digital Newsgathering’ system. He is traveling to Gaza to report on the ongoing conflict.

(Iraq) Thaer Shaker
Thaer is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.

Free Gaza Completes Fifth Voyage

www.freegaza.org

(Gaza Port, Gaza, 20 December 2008)  The DIGNITY pulled into Gaza Port at 8:00 am today after the Israeli Navy threatened to board them and take the two Israelis off the boat.  “We know you have Israelis on board, so either turn back, or we will board and take them off,” said the voice on the radio.

“We are going to Gaza,” Huwaida Arraf, the delegation leader, replied.

Neta Golan, one of the Israelis on board and a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement stated, “Countries that commit crimes against humanity often hide those crimes from their own people. Israel is doing exactly that, by not allowing Israelis to come in to witness what they are doing in our name.”

The Dignity also carries two envoys from the Eid Charity in Qatar who are going to Gaza to assess the tragedy there. They will go back with concrete proposals on what they can do to help alleviate Israel’s collective punishment of the 1.5 Palestinians.

“This is just the beginning. We are delighted that we are finally able to see the shores of Gaza and be the first Arab envoys to arrive.  We will see how we can work together to help relieve this terrible situation in Gaza,” said Alaze Al-Qahtani.

This is the fifth voyage for the Free Gaza movement. “Everyone said it couldn’t be done, that we would never be able to get to Gaza. But we have now arrived for the fifth time. Now, other ships, especially cargo ships, need to follow in our wake,” said Darlene Wallach, one of the internationals kidnapped from a Palestinian fishing boat by the Israeli navy on l8 November.

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Israel Blocks Aid Ship

The Israeli navy today prevented a Libyan ship carrying 3,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid for Palestinians from docking in Gaza.

The al-Marwa, carrying food, blankets and powdered milk, attempted to challenge Israel’s tight economic blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has worsened in recent weeks.

But as the ship approached Gazan water at dawn, an Israeli naval ship ordered it to turn back. The al-Marwa headed south and has reportedly docked at al-Arish, an Egyptian port in the northern Sinai just south of Gaza.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said there was no physical contact with the ship but it was ordered back by radio. “This is a policy we have had for a long time: if somebody wants to bring in humanitarian aid they can do it through the border with Egypt or the Israeli passages into Gaza,” said the spokesman, Andy David.

However as he full well knows Israel have closed their crossings and Egypt likewise is not keen on an open border allowing aid through. It sounds nice and spokesman-y but it’s a bald faced lie that aid can easily reach Gaza by those means. So while FreeGaza got through, Israel didn’t want a pr disaster and the aid they carried was only a small amount, they are keeping the blockade in place. Israel is allowed to stop ships passing through Gaza’s territorial waters, no one enforces international laws and rights for the Palestinians in Gaza. Seige accomplished.

Besieged Gaza

The FreeGaza movement yesterday offered to help deliver aid to Gaza by sea, details posted here. No sooner had that come out than the IDF ramped up their aggression on Palestinian fishing boats taking them into custody and arresting human rights monitors. The message was simple and obvious- the Free Gaza movement have slipped by a few times, but if you threaten to significantly mitigate the blockade of Gaza we will attack. Then today tanks entered Gaza, Jewssansfrontieres observes Israel is ending the truce. The attacks on Gaza and siege have met some small resistance there has been sporadic rocket fire which in turn is used by Israel and it’s hapless yes men & women in our governments to justify their blockade and refusal to acknowledge the elected Hamas. However the battle as such is very one sided-

The latest fighting began two weeks ago and there is now a near-daily cycle of mortar attacks on southern Israeli towns and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. At least 17 Palestinians have died, and several Israelis have been wounded.

What will this new phase entail, they are replacing the commander of the Gaza garrison-

Israel is installing its new Gaza commander after a brief delay. The handover was to have taken place last week. But it was put off because fighting between Israel and Gaza militants threatened a 5-month-old truce. Violence continues. But the military announced that Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg would take over the Gaza command on Wednesday. He replaces Brig. Gen. Moshe Tamir, who has commanded the Gaza division for two years.

The truce was broken by Israel-

(Nov 5th) Israeli forces on Tuesday night attacked the Gaza Strip for the first time since June [sic], when the government agreed a ceasefire with the Islamist Hamas group that controls the territory. The raid killed six Hamas militants, including two senior field commander.

One thing most agree on is this is part of affecting upcoming talks or, more broadly as The Heathlander posits-

While Hamas has an interest in continuing the truce, the difficulty of keeping the other factions in line while retaining political credibility makes it impossible to maintain indefinitely under conditions of “virtual siege” in which the wider population sees “few dividends from the ceasefire”. Whether Israel wants the truce to continue is less clear. The ruling Kadima party will not want a sustained resumption of hostilities prior to the February elections, and in any case the government is quite content with the status quo of a besieged, isolated and quiet Gaza, which leaves it free to annexe and dismember the West Bank without fear of even minimal resistance. On the other hand, Israel is determined to prevent Hamas from establishing and taking credit for stability in Gaza, fearing that the international community – and a future Obama administration in particular – might be tempted to end the current policy of isolation and begin diplomatic engagement with it.

The IDF chief is to attend NATO talks-

The Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, traveled to Brussels for two days to participate in the NATO Chiefs of Defense Conference that will take place tomorrow.

The Chief of the General Staff will address the NATO forum, and hold meetings with NATO member states Chiefs of Defense, along with NATO and EU senior officials. At the meetings, the Chief of Staff will speak about the various threats to the State of Israel, the strategic challenges in the Middle East and the rise of Global Terrorism, as well as the need for increased co-operation between Israel and NATO members in order to confront the shared threats such as global terrorism.

Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will hold meetings with his American colleague, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michel Mullen, and the two will discuss professional relations between their armies and the security situation in the Middle East. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will then hold meetings with other chiefs of staff from countries including Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, Spain, France and Poland.

During his short visit to Brussels, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will also meet senior staff of the Israeli Embassy.

The Chief of Staff will be accompanied by the Head of the International Military Cooperation Department of the Planning Directorate, the Head of the Chief of Staff Office and the Israeli Defense Attach to NATO.

All of this cannot spell good news for the people in Gaza, which remains the one great humanitarian crisis many turn a blind eye to, too complex for them, not because other crises are that much simpler but they just approach them as such and there is not a powerful lobby putting one sided views into their cultural landscape. But this UN request would be at home about Tibet, Burma, Darfur, Congo-

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Israeli PM Ehud Olmert he is deeply concerned about humanitarian conditions in the blockaded Gaza Strip. In a telephone call, he urged Mr Olmert to ease the delivery of aid to the territory, Mr Ban’s office said.

Israel imposed the blockade on the Gaza Strip two weeks ago amid fresh violence between militants and Israeli troops. On Tuesday, the UN’s top human rights official said the restrictions deprived Palestinians of “basic human rights”.

Mr Ban’s office said he had expressed his “deep concern over the consequences of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza”. The statement said he asked for the freer movement of humanitarian supplies into Gaza and also of “concerned United Nations personnel”.

Hamas is no one’s ideal of a negotiating partner but here’s the news- we don’t live in a perfect world, so get talking. Of course to the hard line zionists not talking is simply a tactic to help their project, to continue ethnic cleansing and the colonisation of Palestine. Is this activity to improve their starting position for talks on the slight chance Obama actually does something other than exactly what the Likudniks want? (Also I am a little confused why Israel is chatting up NATO, is it the same reason they are in the Eurovision song contest, which I really don’t understand, I mean I liked Dana International, but if they compete why not the rest of the region and then why call it Eurovision?) The price of Israel as a footprint/lilly pad of Atlanticist power in the oil rich middle east is the death of Palestinians and co-option into the zionist project, are they just bringing NATO up to speed on the latest wheezes to pull that off?

Which returns me to where we began, the FreeGaza offer, here it is again-

The Free Gaza Movement today issued this open letter to all organizations delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s closure of its land borders with Gaza, and Egypt’s submission to Israeli pressure to close the Rafah border is a humanitarian disaster for 1.5 million Palestinians. The United Nations announced last Thursday that inside Gaza it had run out of the food essentials to supply 750,000 desperately needy citizens. “This has become a blockade against the United Nations itself,” a spokesman said.

The Free Gaza Movement now has an inspection procedure in place in Cyprus to ensure the boat and contents comply with international regulations. In addition, we publish information about our passengers and cargo that ensures nothing and no one harmful is on board. Israel has shown itself willing to accept such assurances from us.

We are available to assist interested parties and to offer our services. Please contact one or more of the people listed on this release.

CONTACT:
Greta Berlin, France +33 49 34 24 309
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Jerusalem +972 547 366 393
Osama Qashoo, U.K. +44 78 33 38 16 60
Paul Larudee, U.S. +1 510 236 5338

www.freegaza.org

Here is the map-

gaza smallmap

Gaza have their own sovereign coastline, the IDF patrol it and attack fishermen and stop it being used for regular shipping, Egypt are rubbish too. FreeGaza have broken the blockade, certainly a significant ship with aid would face a greater resistance from the Israeli authorities, but could they get away with piracy and seizing a ship full of verified aid before the global media’s gaze?

www.freegaza.org

PS. Update-

(IPS) – Israel has imposed a virtual news blackout on the Gaza Strip. For the last ten days no foreign journalists have been able to enter the besieged territory to report on the escalating humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s complete closure of Gaza’s borders for the last two weeks.

Steve Gutkin, the AP bureau chief in Jerusalem and head of Israel’s Foreign Press Association, said that he personally “knows of no foreign journalist that has been allowed into Gaza in the last week.”

Gutkin said that “while Israel has barred foreign press from entering Gaza in the past, the length of the current ban makes it unprecedented.” He added that he has received no “plausible or acceptable” explanation for the ban from the Israeli government.

AP has relied on reports from two of its journalists who were able to enter Gaza days before the closure began and are currently stuck there.

A delegation of European Union parliamentarians was also prevented from entering Gaza to assess the situation on the ground and to hold talks with Hamas leaders. They subsequently broke the naval siege of Gaza by entering the coast’s territorial waters from Cyprus by boat, defying the Israeli navy.

During talks held with Hamas, the EU parliamentarians were able to get a historic commitment from the Islamic organisation to recognise Israel’s right to exist within the internationally recognised 1967 borders. Hamas further offered a long-term ceasefire in return for Israel legitimising Palestinian rights.

Israel also prevented 20 European Union consul-generals from entering Gaza on Thursday. On Sunday Israeli border police prevented 15 trucks loaded with medication from entering the Gaza Strip.

Send Aid To Gaza By Sea

The Free Gaza Movement today issued this open letter to all organizations delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s closure of its land borders with Gaza, and Egypt’s submission to Israeli pressure to close the Rafah border is a humanitarian disaster for 1.5 million Palestinians. The United Nations announced last Thursday that inside Gaza it had run out of the food essentials to supply 750,000 desperately needy citizens. “This has become a blockade against the United Nations itself,” a spokesman said.

The Free Gaza Movement now has an inspection procedure in place in Cyprus to ensure the boat and contents comply with international regulations. In addition, we publish information about our passengers and cargo that ensures nothing and no one harmful is on board. Israel has shown itself willing to accept such assurances from us.

We are available to assist interested parties and to offer our services. Please contact one or more of the people listed on this release.

CONTACT:
Greta Berlin, France +33 49 34 24 309
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Jerusalem +972 547 366 393
Osama Qashoo, U.K. +44 78 33 38 16 60
Paul Larudee, U.S. +1 510 236 5338

www.freegaza.org

Free Gaza, 3rd Succesful Voyage

freegaza.org

Larnaca: The DIGNITY pulled into Gaza at 9:15 a.m. Gaza time after an uneventful trip from Larnaca, Cyprus. The 23 passengers and crew on board were tired but ecstatic that they had arrived. The 11 members of the European Parliament who had originally been denied entrance through the Rafah border had made the crossing by sea courtesy of the Free Gaza Movement’s blockade-busting boat, the third trip for this human rights organization

“I am here to assess the humanitarian situation in Gaza, especially the medical situation. We have medicine and some medical equipment to deliver.” said Baroness Jenny Tonge, one of the Parliamentarians. “What Israel does is outrageous when it breaks all international laws. No other country is able to get away with what Israel does.”

In addition to delivering medical equipment and supplies, the DIGNITY carried mail from friends and family around the world addressed to Gaza residents.  This is the first time in many years that mail has reached Palestine without passing through Israeli hands.

The brilliant Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, was also on board.  Watching the passengers disembark, we could see the joy in her face as she came home to Gaza, having been denied entrance for two years.

Just before arriving in the waters of Gaza, an Israeli naval gunboat approached, cutting across the bow of the boat, then falling back and tracking it for about an hour. Finally, the gunboat radioed the DIGNITY and asked who they were and where they were going.

After Huwaida Arraf responded, the gunboat asked for the passenger list. “Our passengers are listed on our Free Gaza website for everyone to see,” replied Ms. Arraf, “You’re welcome to visit it any time. And… while you’re there, feel free to make a donation.”

After a pause, then a laugh, the voice on the other end said, “Have a nice day” and left the DIGNITY to glide into the port of Gaza to cheering crowds and a packed agenda for the Parliamentarians.

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FreeGaza- They Done it Again

freegaza.org LARNACA – The Free Gaza Movement is delighted to announce that their third boat, the SS Dignity carrying 27 crew and passengers arrived in Gaza at 8:10 Gaza time, in spite of Israeli threats to stop them. In the pouring rain, the boat pulled into port amid cheers from the people of Gaza and tears from the passengers.

David Schermerhorn, one of the crew members called an hour before the boat entered the waters of Gaza and said, “There is a rainbow stretching across the Mediterranean from where we are right now.”

Yesterday, The Israel Navy said they would stop the stop our vessel once it reached Israel’s territorial waters. Apparently to save face, they said they would harm our boat, arrest us and tow us IF we entered Israeli waters. The problem for Israel is that the SS Dignity had no intention of getting anywhere near those waters.

One of the organizers, Huwaida Arraf cheered, “Once again we’ve been able to defy an unjust and illegal policy while the rest of the world is too intimidated to do anything. Our small boat is a huge cry to the international community to follow in our footsteps and open a lifeline to the people of Gaza.”

For the second time, the Free Gaza Movement has demonstrated that the might of the Israeli navy is no match for a small boat of human rights activists determined to call to the attention of the world the occupation of the people of Gaza.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council added, “Despite the injustice against the Palestinian people, we believe in justice and will keep on trying to break Israel’s siege. The occupation has divided the Palestinians, but our nonviolent resistance has united us.”

Osama Qashoo, one of the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement, overjoyed for the second time in three months, “We are all capable of leading a nonviolent and effective movement to end the Israeli Apartheid and expose the injustice that has been meted out to the Palestinians. We in the FG movement have provided the new dictionary, it’s up to the Palestinians and the Israelis and the Internationals to add the words.”

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Free Gaza Ahoy!

They’re doing it again, the SS Dignity is about to sail-

Please come and say ‘farewell’ to the passengers and crew who are leaving for Gaza to, once again, break the blockade and challenge Israel’s claim that they no longer occupy 1.5 million Palestinians.

The media is invited to come into the port Tuesday, October 28 at 15:00 (3:00 pm) to interview the people on board and take pictures of the boat leaving.

Contact details here.

Predictably the Israeli government have launched a pre-emptive ‘warning’

Israel plans to interdict a boatfull of far-left wing protesters if it crosses into Israeli territorial waters on its way to Gaza to “break” Israel’s blockade, senior government officials said Monday. The Free Gaza movement is planning to set sail Tuesday from Cyprus to Gaza, for the second such demonstration since August. Israel, eager to avoid a well-publicized incident on the high seas and believing the protesters were just seeking a provocation, allowed the protesters in two boats to make their way to Gaza then, but has no plans to tolerate a repeat performance this time, the officials said.

‘far-left wing protesters’? Can you feel the Fox News-ism, will John McCain  or Bill O’Reilly pop up and call them Marxists next? So just what rabble are on board this boat-

26 passengers from 12 countries, including Palestine and Israel. On board is Mairead Maguire, the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Mustapha Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and several other doctors from Europe. Gideon Sprio, an Israeli journalist and long-time activist against the Israeli occupation is also coming.

Doctors, a Nobel Prize winner, a Palestinian politician, a journalist!!! Saints preserve us!

The 27 unarmed civilians sailing aboard the SS Dignity represent 13 different countries. We are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and human rights advocates. We are Christians, Muslims, Jews, and agnostics.

Shit, the Saints can’t help, they’ve got agnostics! And what devilry do they bring with them?

We are carrying 6 cubic meters of urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport. There will be a total of 26 passengers and crew on board, among them several physicians.  Our boat and cargo will also have received security clearance from the Port Authorities in Cyprus before we depart.

We will be sailing from Cypriot waters into international waters, then directly into the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip without entering or nearing Israeli territorial waters.

Run for the hills! It’s that most deadly of adversaries- humanitarians! And when I say adversaries, they have invited top Israeli ministers-

We invited Aharon Abramovitz, Minister of Foreign Affairs and/or Ehud Barak, Minister of Defense, to join the voyage to witness first hand the devastating effects of Israel’s illegal policies on the occupied civilian population of the Gaza Strip (Please leave your weapons at home, we are nonviolent).

Which is quite friendly for a gang of far-left wing protesters with their sinister plot to deliver medicine to people, via their own coastline! The cheek!

Bon Voyage to the SS Dignity, www.freegaza.org for more.

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Bomb Threats Made Against Second Free Gaza Voyage

Yes, they are going again-

Doctors and lawyers are going to Gaza at the request of the people of Gaza to assess the medical tragedy there and to talk to the people. We are also delivering six cubic meters of badly-needed medical supplies for the children of Gaza.

The passengers on board include:
– 5 physicians from 4 countries
– human rights lawyers and monitors
– Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Israeli Knesset
– Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
– Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work in Belfast

Tonight via email-

I was sitting in the hotel lobby talking to some of the new passengers who are leaving for Gaza sometime in the next few days, when my Cyprus phone rang. “There is a bomb on the boat.” The caller said. “There are two bombs on the boat, and the boat will blow up when you leave.” Then he started to laugh. If I’d had the presence of mind to answer, I would have asked him how he knew which boat we were taking since WE don’t know, but, like most obscene phone calls, the caller catches you off-guard, and the only answers seen to be after the fact.

<…>

The 35-mile coast of Gaza is the only piece of  the Mediterranean under occupation by a foreign military force except for the Northern coast of Cyrpus, which has been occupied by Turkey since 1974. It’s why the Cypriots are so helpful for this project, and it could never have been accommplished without them. They understand military occupation. On a hillside overlooking Nicosia is a huge sign that says, “Isn’t it great to be a Turk!” You can see the sign for miles, larger than the Hollywood sign.

Like the sickening sign on the checkpoint outside Bethlehem that says, “Peace be with you” in three languages, these  signs  are finger-in-your-eye jeers from an occupier. And so, like any occupier, the thugs that follow them decide to threaten the people who challenge. The phone call today will be one of many. We got them the last time, threatening to kill us, telling us that mines were planted outside of Gaza, saying that the boats would be sabotaged.

But, like the last time, we will still go. And we will put Israel on notice that any harm that comes to the 22 people who are on this boat, the boat itself, or the people waiting for us will be because Israel doesn’t know how to confront peaceful protest with anything except intimidation.

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“When the internationals leave Gaza, you will all be made to pay.”

For photos of the damage, see:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/sets/72157607231701711/

(GAZA COASTAL WATERS) 10th September 2008 – An Israeli military gunboat rammed an unarmed Palestinian fishing vessel today at high speeds. The gunboat smashed through the upper hull of the fishing boat, careened over the top, and landed on the other side. Extensive damage was caused by the impact to the fishing boat. The hull was badly damaged, and virtually the entire deck area, all the equipment on it, and the canopy above the deck were severely damaged. Unusually, all of the crew happened to be in the cabin or at the fore at the time. Had they been on deck they would have had little chance of survival. Via a megaphone, the Israeli military aboard the gunboat then made the threat that: “When the internationals leave Gaza, you will all be made to pay.” Human rights observers from the International Solidarity Movement and from the Free Gaza Movement have recently been accompanying Gazan Fishermen during their work. The fishermen are constantly harassed, threatened and attacked by the State of Israel, in flagrant violation of international law and maritime law. Israel has been attempting to impose an illegal “no-go” area 6 miles off Gaza’s coast through employment of lethal force against unarmed fishing boats. However, and this is not unusual, today’s attack happened within the so-called “permitted” 6-mile area. The ISM regards the project of accompanying unarmed Palestinian fishermen as a long term commitment. Some of the human rights observers currently undertaking this work are long-term volunteers who will be in Gaza for the indefinite future. More long-term volunteers are expected to bolster their number within the next few weeks.

Please TAKE ACTION and CALL: The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs tel: +972 2 530 3111 fax: +972 2 530 3367 Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations tel: +1 212 499 5510 fax: +1 212 499 5515

DEMAND that Israel stop using deadly force to intimidate unarmed Palestinian fishermen operating within Gaza’s coastal waters!

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When The Cat’s Away

The Israeli authorities and its military have shown that when the glare of publicity is upon them they will attempt some face saving and react in a less belligerent manner than usual, however once the media moves on they counter attack spitefully. The Free Gaza activists who stayed are now trapped in Gaza, being refused exit permits, once again some publicity is building in the case of Lauren Booth because she is Tony Blair’s sister in law, so far both Israel and Egypt have refused her exit. Also the activists that have gone out fishing with Palestinians boats had warning shots fired at them-

One of the warships positioned at a distance less than 200 metres alongside of our fishing boat, opened fire in our direction at least 4 times during the day. It was intimidating fire directed into the water, but some bursts almost touched the hull of our boat. A cannon shot almost reached us. Making attempt of obtaining a radio contact was useless. Soldiers on the Israeli warship ordered, with the use of megaphones, the area evacuation. And after that they were shooting. Sometimes they were shooting before having ordered. Once they shooted to our fishing nets and tried to damaged it sailing directly on them. Unfortunately our big mistake was not having with us neither cameras nor video cameras that, together with megaphones to be used exactly like they do, I consider essential for our next fishing missions.

but intentional pressure in response cooled them out but Gazan fishermen without activist with them were attacked-

The Israeli naval vessels shot and wounded today two Palestinian fishermen, while on board fishing on the northern Gaza coast of Sudaniya. Medical sources reported that Hussam Assultan, 32, was hit in head and that his injury was described as critical, while Mohammad Ani Assultan, 19, was hit with shrapnel onto his body.

This avoidance of public scrutiny has also informed how they have treated Salam Amira who videoed IDF soldiers abusing a Palestinian man, once the video was out a few conciliatory statements were made but not much actual punishment and now her home is under constant attack by the IDF-

“Since my video was shown, the soldiers shoot at our house all the time,” she said. The shattered and cracked windows at the front of the building confirm her story. “When we leave the windows open, they fire tear gas inside too.”

Her home looks out over the Israeli road block guarding the only entrance to the village of Nilin, located just inside the West Bank midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It was here that a bound Ashraf Abu Rahma, 27, was shot in the foot in July with a rubber bullet under orders from an Israeli regiment commander.

The treatment of the family stands in stark contrast to the leniency shown to the soldier and his commander involved in that incident. B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, has accused the Israeli army of seeking “revenge” for the girl’s role in exposing the actions of its armed forces in the West Bank.

Personally this reminds me of what happened to a family member who’s ex-partner took to all day drinking and hanging out with the local hoodlum, at night they would ‘vist’ tyres would be slashed, property damaged, threats shouted and violent assaults visited upon a lone woman in front of her children. In the day, they would deny all knowledge and without evidence -video for example- the police were not interested, after all the local thug was already waiting for a trial on various burglaries and violent offences so to the police- why bother, we’ve got him anyway- with a generous helping of– it’s a domestic. For the ex-partner he now professes to remember nothing, ‘I was drunk‘. Maybe they should use that in an ad for booze. Now that’s a personal anecdote of cowardly furtive violence (stop snoring), I don’t expect a county calling itself ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ (!) to act like drunken thugs intimidating trapped civilians when they think no one is watching. But I do believe it exists on a continuum of violence, hatred and ‘othering’. And as the saying goes the real test of who you are, of integrity and character is what you do when no one else is watching. Along with the belief that really there is no such thing as civilians, war must be total and militaries are surrogate families for those who need rigid hierarchies, adventure, dominance and violence, it becomes very problematic when a country processes it’s entire population through that system. I don’t think any garrison state has ever prospered for long, it might make for a retarded comic strip movie but as a plan for a nation’s future it is disastrous.

Posted in Human Rights, Imperialism, Media, Militarism. Tags: , . Comments Off on When The Cat’s Away

Israeli Navy Fire Over Free Gaza Activists & Fishing Boats

A number of the Free Gaza activists stayed in Gaza to do international solidarity work particularly to help fishermen work in Gaza’s territorial waters. Israel took the decision to let the Free Gaza boats through, probably in part for PR concerns. Now that trip is finished the remaining activists are going out to sea with Palestinian fishing boats but alas with the media event over the IDF are resorting to their more usual procedures and trying to stop the fishing boats by intimidation-

1 September 2008 – Israeli Naval vessels are currently firing on unamrmed Palestinian fishing boats and international human rights workers off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The fishing boats are several miles off the coast of Gaza City, in Palestinian territorial waters. As of 11am (4am EST) no one had been injured, but live ammunition is still being fired in the direction of the civilian boats.
The unarmed boats went to sea at dawn this morning, in an attempt to fish in their own water. Six international human rights workers from five different countries accompanied the fishermen in the hopes that their presence would deter the Israeli military from firing on the fishermen. In the past the Israeli military has shot and killed unarmed Palestinian fishermen for trying to fish in their own waters.
Accompanying the fishermen are:
Vittorio Arrigoni, Italy
Georgios Karatzas, Greece
Adam Qvist, Denmark
Andrew Muncie, Scotland
Donna Wallach, USA
Darlene Wallach, USA

PLEASE INFORM THE MEDIA IMMEDIATELY, CALL YOUR EMBASSIES IN TEL AVIV, AND CALL THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT. TELL THEM TO STOP FIRING UPON UNARMED FISHERMEN AND UNARMED HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORS.
CALL:
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel. +972 2 530 3111
The British Embassy in Tel Aviv
+972 3 725 1222
The US Embassy in Tel Aviv
+972 2 625 5755

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