The Freedom Flotilla 2 to Gaza : Highlighting Israel’s Crimes

The efforts of the Greek government at the behest of the US, Israel and EU to stop the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 have served to highlight the inhuman oppression and illegal blockade which Israel, with the complicity of those aforementioned nations, perpetrates against the defenceless civilian population of Gaza, half of whom are children.

As Adam Shapiro says:

It seems only the Palestinian people in Gaza must seek their freedom through established humanitarian channels that rely on the whim of their oppressor and the occasional glance of attention from the international community. Being born in Gaza is being born into a life sentence of living in a virtual cage, without fundamental human rights.

The flotilla effort, initiated by the Free Gaza Movement in 2008 when it sailed small fishing ships to Gaza and successfully reached the port of Gaza, is not about humanitarian aid. It is about Palestinian freedom and their rights to access the world as any other people.

And despite the chorus of “the flotilla is not necessary”, reality on the ground shows that it non-violent direct action that has been the only effective power to make change in the lives of Palestinians.

Greece’s offers to deliver the aid aboard the Flotilla vessels is irrelevant, as it is Israel’s illegal blockade which must be challenged. Edith Garwood from Amnesty USA writes:

The blockade does not target specific individuals, but collectively punishes the entire population which contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention. It violates the Gazans’ right to health (including access to clean drinking water and sanitation), education, work, an adequate standard of living and freedom of movement. It violates their basic dignity; their basic human rights.

The blockade is illegal and must end. Period. And Israel, as the occupying power (in effective control of area), is responsible for ending it. Israel is a sophisticated, militarily advanced country that should be able to effectively meet their national security needs without unjustly punishing an entire population

The activists aboard the Tahrir in Greece have released an action plan and a list of demands for Canadians and other supporters to take.

If you are in Sydney, join the Rally outside the Greek Consulate to convince the Greek Government to let the Flotilla sail.

The Star offers a comprehensive update on the state of play with our humanitarian friends on the Canadian Boat to Gaza.

Three others — Torontonian Sandra Ruch, 50, Soha Kneen, 40, of Ottawa, and Aussie Michael Coleman — were released from jail Tuesday but will appear in court Wednesday, facing charges related to a clever getaway plan that ended with Greek commandos taking the ship.

Kneen and Coleman are charged with obstructing the vessel, a relatively minor crime.

Ruch, who lived in Greece for several months preparing for the flotilla, is charged with more serious offences related to sailing without permission. She was not on the boat when it made its run Monday but represents the company that owns the boat.

“They are felony and criminal charges, which I am proud to accept,” said Ruch.’

Meanwhile the French flotilla vessel, Dignite al Karama, continues its voyage to breach Israel’s blockade on Gaza.

The vessel’s passengers include Olivier Besancenot, head of the New Left Party in France, French politician and member of the European Parliament Nicole Kiil-Nilsen, and other well-known French personalities.

In Athens, some activists from the Spanish flotilla vessel, the Guernica, are occupying the Spanish Embassy.

Alejandro Fierro, an activist aboard a Spanish boat, Guernica, that is currently in port in Crete, told Al Jazeera that activists from his boat remained fully committed to going to Gaza.

“We have a few people on the boat now, and they will remain on the boat, in Crete, until they can go to Gaza,” Fierro said, “Some people are going back to Spain, but we are going to continue to keep our boat in Crete, and keep people on the boat, until we can sail to Gaza.”

Some of the members of the Spanish boat are currently occupying the Spanish embassy in Athens, and have hung a Palestinian flag from the balcony of the embassy.

Demonstrators in Athens protest the Greek government’s blocking of the Flotilla at Syntagma Square and in front of the American Embassy.

Meanwhile, 300 French activists prepare to land at Tel Aviv airport with the intent of travelling to Palestine and showing solidarity with the people of Palestine. They will join humanitarians from all over Europe – this is the first ‘flytilla’ and Israel is hysterical about it!

UPDATES

@ibnezra: I clearly spoke to soon. Coast guard is en route according to sources on the ground. Looks like a repeat. #flotilla2
@Soha Kneen We’re free! Got a 30 day suspended sentence for obstruction (aka being kayactivists) in Greek court today!!!! #
@ibnezra: A Greek flagged vessel has apparently set sail for Gaza with the last hours #flotilla #
@ibnezra MV Juliano arriving at first stop. Coast guard is still close. flotilla Broadcasting live at http://ustre.am/zQHM

Juliano ship heads for Gaza“We are at sea,” former Israeli Dror Feiler, one of the organizers, told Ynet. “All roads lead to Gaza. It will be a small but high-quality flotilla.”

Related Links

Following boarding and arrests, Canada boat demands end to Greek interference ‘Today, the activists on board the Tahrir issued a statement to explain their current situation and the action they want Canadians and other supporters to take.’

Freedom Flotilla Live Blog
John Klusmire, Gaza Boat’s U.S. Captain, Released From Custody In Greece
A Pipeline of Injustice: Greek consular official admits that natural gas pipeline drives complicity in Gaza siege
Israel refuses Dutch journalists access
UN says more time needed for flotilla report
FM won’t apologize to Turkey
Turkey holds out for an apology :

Turkey is concerned over some of the clauses in the delayed report, which accuse the state of having ties with the IHH as well as direct involvement in the flotilla.

In addition, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stressed Wednesday that Ankara would continue to demand an apology and compensation for the nine casualties in the May 31 IDF flotilla raid.

Earlier Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he does not believe Israel should offer such an apology. “There are some things I’m willing to discuss and some things I’m not willing to discuss. I will not have an apology harm Israel’s national dignity and I will not see IDF soldiers humiliated,” he said.

But Turkey remains adamant. “We have been saying the same thing since last year. Israel owes an apology and compensation. This is our principled stance on this matter,” he said.

Palestine / Israel Links

Border Guard Officer Shani Sivilya who was charged with abusing a 17 year old Palestinian detainee, aiming a gun to his head and pulling the trigger while saying “death to Arabs” and “Arabs are whores” was convicted Tuesday at the Jerusalem District Court.

The teen is then alleged to have screamed “no, no” after which, when she finished her countdown Sivilya pulled the trigger while yelling “Death to Arabs” and “All Arabs are whores”. During the incident Benishti urged Sivilya to stop, but she refused.

In the revised indictment sheet Sivilya admits to forcefully hitting the minor with her fists, while slapping his head and shoulders. The sides have not reached an agreement over the sentence and the Police Internal Affairs Bureau has made it clear that it will demand a prison sentence.

In response, Sivilya’s attorney Refael Farig said: “I believe that the person convicted in this case was not just Shani Sivilya but all those who enlist 18-year old teens to serve in the Border Guard and put them at the center of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

“Though we haven’t decided upon a specific sentencing in this case, we did agree that the probation service would present a review of the defendant’s case and examine the possibility of closing this case without a criminal conviction.”

Welcome to Palestine – if you can get in : Israel’s threat to deny visitors entry to Palestine is as disturbing as it is shocking. Our protest will be a civil society tsunami
UN: Israel used unnecessary force against protesters on Nakba Day

In its conclusions the secretary general expresses concern about Nakba Day and notes that IDF soldiers “used direct live fire against unarmed demonstrators” who tried to breach the border fence.

Palestinian-American Zionist Ray Hanania Denies Being Removed From ADC Board
Israel’s body transfer debacle likely to damage Palestinian trust
Defend the Boycott Israel 19

‘In response to the brutal attack on the protest in Melbourne, we have decided to launch an all out effort to build a protest on August 27 against Max Brenner inBrisbane. We will launch this campaign at the BDS protest that will take place here this Saturday.’

In a significant legal victory for palestinian solidarity as well as freedom of political speech,

the ASA released a ruling on 5 July 2011, dismissing each and every complaint made by the SAJBD against the advert and instead ruled in favor of the submissions made by SA Artists Against Apartheid. The ASA also refused to provide any sanctions in favor of the SAJBD.

Reggae DJ, “The Admiral”, and member of the SA Artists Against Apartheid collective, welcomed today’s decision:

“The ASA decision is significant due to our own history of Apartheid. The decision sends a clear message to the Zionist lobby that the time has come for an end to the baseless accusations of “discrimination” and “hate speech” whenever criticism of Israel is voiced. Calling Israel an Apartheid state is legitimate because Israel practices Apartheid. The boycott of such an oppressive regime should be supported as it was in our own Anti-Apartheid freedom struggle.”

Israel corrupts British justice. ‘Unfounded claims against Salah were first made by the Zionist media in Britain, which has become an uncritical cheerleader for Israel, and by the Board of Deputies, Britain’s representative body for Jews.’

And the answer to Israel’s crimes? BDS!

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