Freedom Waves to Gaza : End the Blockade by Apartheid Israel

Freedom Wave to GazaWith superb stealth in order to thwart sabotage by Israel which occurred on the last Freedom Flotilla earlier this year and with plans only alluded to in +972 Magazine last week, two Freedom Waves boats are en route to Gaza. They are attempting like 11 fleets before them to break the hideous illegal blockade of land, air and sea that Israel perpetrates as collective punishment on the people of Gaza.

“The Freedom Waves to Gaza emerged from the Freedom Flotilla initiatives,” says Irish Ship to Gaza organiser Fintan Lane from on board the MV Saoirse. “While the Freedom Waves to Gaza will be delivering some much-needed medicines, our primary goal is to help free Palestinians from their inhumane isolation in what is in effect an open air prison.”

Also on board in this civil society to civil society initiative are delegates from Canada, Australia, the US, Greece, Palestine, Poland and Egypt. “We have just entered international waters and hope to reach the shores of Gaza in a couple of days. The only obstacles in our way are Israel’s military, but international public opinion is behind this effort, and so is civil society in Gaza.”

“The Palestinians living in Gaza want solidarity – not charity. They have made it clear to the world that their primary demand is for freedom. While humanitarian aid is helpful, Palestinians are still prisoners with no freedom of movement,” adds Ehab Lotayef, the Canadian boat organizer. “Israel’s illegal blockade prevents not only imports into Gaza, but exports as well. And the blockade prevents Palestinians from moving freely between Gaza and the West Bank, in violation of fundamental human rights.”

From an October 2011 Report from the UN OCHA, some fast facts help explain why it is imperative to challenge and end Israel’s closure of Gaza:

. The population of Gaza is 1.6 million, with over 50% under 18.
. 38% of Gazans live in poverty.
. 26% of the Gazan workforce, including 38% of youths, is unemployed.
. The average wage declined by over 20% in the past six years.
. 54% of Gazans are food insecure and over 75% are aid recipients.
. 35% of Gaza’s farmland and 85% of its fishing waters are totally or partially inaccessible due to Israeli military measures.
. 50-80 million litres of partially treated sewage are dumped in the sea each day.
. Over 90% of the water from the Gaza aquifer is undrinkable.
. 85% of schools in Gaza run on double shifts.
. About one-third of the items in the essential drug list are out of stock.
. Since the beginning of 2010, 64 Palestinian civilians have been killed and 621 injured by Israeli forces; over 60% of casualties occurred in the access-restricted areas. Another 60 civilians were killed and 137 were injured in tunnel-related accidents

The Gaza blockade (through the land, air and sea) is a denial of basic human rights in contravention of international law and amounts to collective punishment. It severely restricts imports and exports, as well as the movement of people in and out of Gaza, and access to agricultural land and fishing waters. Gazans are unable to provide for their families and the quality of infrastructure and vital services has deteriorated.

Israel has now beleaguered the civilian population of Gaza, flaunting international law, for 1604 days.

The MV Saoirse from Ireland, sailing under the US flag, and the Tahrir from Canada carry 27 passengers between them. The humanitarians on the Irish boat include Parliamentarians and famous footballer Trevor Hogan while the Tahrir has several Al Jazeera journalists aboard.

After setting sail under the protection of a Turkish Coast Guard vessel from Fethiye in South West Turkey, the boats are now in international waters and expect to arrive at Gaza on Friday. According to Michael Coleman, Australian representative on the Tahrir:

I went home from the last flotilla feeling quite frustrated, as the ministerial edict that stopped us sailing to Gaza had no basis in law, and almost felt cheated out of doing the most meaningful thing I had ever set my mind to. And I’m hopeful that that won’t happen again, but if it does, it doesn’t deter my determination.

The aims of the flotilla are twofold. While we do have a small amount of aid on board—and that’s one of the goals, is to take aid to the besieged Strip—but the other is public awareness. And we’re well aware that the small amount of aid we have is tokenistic. It’s not going to prevent the suffering of 1.5 million people. Only governments and international institutions can do that. But we, as private citizens, can pressure governments and international institutions to do what is right.

According to Haaretz, the IDF ‘plans to intercept vessels, offer them to dock at Ashdod or port in Egypt’.

Yesterday, Israel brandished its phallic military objects as Netanyahu bellowed for a strike on Iran and more illegal racist Jewish colonies in Occupied East Jerusalem. Deceitfully, Netanyahu claimed support from long dead Gandhi, whom zionists have been wont to attempt to coopt in the past.

‘Talking about Gandhi, he said, “Each of us who knew him knows how deeply engraved Jerusalem was in his soul. It was the center of his being, it towered above all else in his world view.”

Yet Gandhi was no friend of zionism.

“My sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and in the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after their return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?”

The Israeli PM appears oblivious to US signals to Turkey of its favoured diplomatic position – Turkey’s recent promotion to co-chair with the US on the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum and 3 deadly new USMC AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters with which to assault the PKK along with messages of support from the US attest to this. Further, Turkey insisted boat passenger numbers be reduced prior to departure (this report says only 11 on the Tahrir and 10 on the MV Saoirse).

For these reasons, it’s unlikely that Turkey will send its navy to escort the vessels. In early September, in yet another of its ubiquitous bumbling Turkish affairs reports, Haaretz claimed that Turkish naval vessels would accompany future aid ships, relaying that ‘According to the report, Turkish naval vessels will accompany civilian ships carrying aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.’

However, Al Jazeera more reliably reported at the time:

Turkey’s naval forces would escort Turkish humanitarian aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister has said, following Israel’s refusal to apologise for its deadly raid on an aid flotilla heading to the besieged Palestinian territory in May 2010.

“We have humanitarian aid to be sent there. And our humanitarian aid will not be attacked anymore, as happened to the Mavi Marmara,” he told the Al Jazeera on Thursday.

“Turkish warships will be tasked with protecting the Turkish boats bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.”

Please contact your Federal Parliamentarians and Media Representatives and forward them a copy of the Freedom Waves for Gaza Press Release, explaining why it is important that these boats succeed on their mission. Fair sailing and firm hearts, folks!

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Canadian and Irish ships set to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade with Freedom Waves to Gaza
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Related Links

History of Israeli blockade on Gaza
Turkish obstruction on departure outlined by one left behind.
From Tahrir to Gaza: The faces of ‘Freedom Waves’
Gaza flotilla organizers to Haaretz: Plan kept secret until last minute
WEDNESDAY 9:15PM LATEST UPDATE FROM IRISH SHIP
Live time map (password is just the letter ‘a’)
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Voices from the Secret International Flotilla Now Sailing to Gaza
BREAKING: New flotilla en route to Gaza Strip reaches international waters
FreedomWaves to Gaza!
The ABC pushes false info about Turkey’s intentions but reveals the US requested Turkey not to accompany Freedom Waves

Palestine / Israel Links

Olympia Food Co-op fights back against Israel-backed anti-boycott lawsuit
The US abstains on the KP vote, effectively clearing Marange blood diamonds for sale to blood diamond producers like Israel. US sanctions prevent them being traded in the US, but as for US cronies – so the US wants to chair the KP process next year? that should smooth its way when it eases in its AFRICOM scam.
Goldstone walks alone on a bridge to nowhere

Coalition of the Gobbling vs Iraq 1

Cheney visit protestsWith the planned withdrawal of all Danish troops by August 07, the Coalition of the Gobbling will lose another member entirely. Lithuania is considering removing its forces too. Bliar’s concurrent announcement of a reduction in troop numbers by one quarter is greeted with approval from Basrawis. The wily rodent and Bliar spin the troop reduction as success. More likely Bliar can read the writing on the wall and may be looking to avoid further confrontation with an angry local populace which would shred any tattered vestige of a chance he has remaining of claiming justification for the ill-considered Iraqi misadventure. Why were the Brit troops withdrawn and not redeployed to support Doodoo’s surge?

“We welcome any withdrawal of British forces from inside the centre of the city,” said Hakim al-Mayahi, head of the Basra provincial security council, which has had a fractious relationship with the British.

An AFP reporter who visited British forces in Basra and at the airbase last month found both under almost daily mortar attack from militias in the city.

“Iraqi forces in Basra are ready and able to ensure security. Every Basrawi wishes to see all British forces leaving at one time not gradually,” he said.

And Razzaq Nasir, a 58-year-old oil worker, was categoric: “There is no need for them. The British forces in Basra are a big problem for the Iraqi forces and for ordinary Basrawis.”

The Whorestralian prime monster, with the repugnant Lon Cheney visit upon us, sticks with his plans to retain the present level of troops and send more military trainers to Iraq and indicates he is considering more troops for Afghanistan, the central battleground of the Great Game and historical graveyard of empires.

But as British columnist Gwynne Dyer noted, Australian leaders long ago realized that the United States is the only country that might be willing to come to their aid in an emergency. Keeping the White House happy is an Australian priority.“If the United States invaded Mars,” Dyer wrote, “Australia would send a battalion along to guard the supply depot.”

Ugh.

Kevvie presses the political advantage:

KEVIN RUDD: If it’s ok in Mr Howard’s view for the Danes to pull out some 460 troops from Iraq, why is it not ok for 520 Australian troops to be brought home to Australia, some time next year?

Well, mate, maybe little Johnny is thinking of all those lovely barbies at Crawford he’d miss out on in his retirement.

Meanwhile, Prodi resigns when the Italian Senate refuses to back his pro-US foreign policy initiatives.

Rome was plunged into political turmoil after Mr Prodi failed to muster enough Senate votes to approve the continuing commitment to Italian troop deployments in Afghanistan and the expansion of a US military base at Vicenza.

Unfortunately Prodi’s resignation and consequent electoral turmoil may prove a gift to the way out there and round the bend Berlusconi camp if Prodi can’t rally support among the multitudinous factions that adorn Italian Parliament.

Devoid of the belated political nous exhibited by Bliar, Doodoo refuses to get the message that Iraqis really don’t want the United Stupids in their country and haven’t for years. Yet according to Cheney, the Dems won’t be able to prevent Doodoo’s surge.

Iraqi woman, Riverbend, horrified by an alleged coverup of rape by the pseudo-democratic Iraqi government and proposed execution of three Iraqi women, points out the COG was defeated long ago:

And yet, as the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse. Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.”

United Stupids vs Russia 1

With North Korea showing signs of being sorted by the 5 nation tag team, surely Russia isn’t being auditioned as its replacement on the Axis of Evul? Ongoing wars like those vociferously sought by Lon Cheney do require ongoing enemies.

Once again, the United Stupids are aggressing the Russkies despite protestations to the contrary. Do the Stupids really think North Korea would fire ICBMs over Europe when the quick route is in the opposite direction? Why would Iran, which doesn’t even have nuclear arms, fire at the Stupids over northern Europe? The Russkies have read the provocation correctly, and the Stupids must have known they would.

The new line of defence consists of a network of underground rocket silos in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic.

Moscow has also accused Washington of breaking its promise, made after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, not to deploy missiles in Russia’s former satellite states.

Here’s that not-so-subtle pressure from the US we forecast a few posts ago. Russia met this week with China and India.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu, emphasized in a statement that the three-party talks among Russia, India, and China were not directed against any fourth country (Interfax, Xinhua, February 15).

Russian officials sounded even more specific, saying they did not intend to alienate the West. Cooperation among Russia, China, and India is not directed against any other country, and it is definitely not anti-American, said Andrei Kokoshin, head of the CIS affairs committee of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. It also does not amount to an attempt to create a grouping of three major Asian powers, because all three countries advocate the democratization of global politics and the world economy, he said.

However, Moscow made it clear it would not accept the role of energy supplier to the booming economies of China and India. Trilateral economic cooperation should not involve only hydrocarbon supplies from Russia to China and India; it should also involve nuclear power, Kokoshin argued.

The nations also discussed Iran, all three agreeing that:

… the deadlock between the P5+ Germany and Iran can be resolved through dialogue within the ambit of the International Atomic Energy Agency …

“We have a convergence of approach on the Iranian issue.”

Following these talks, and possibly feeling its oats after the affirmation of multi-polarism and reassurance that any attempt by the US to create a war against Iran via the UN Security Council would be resisted by China too, Russia threatened to quit the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty unless the US reneged on its Polish/Czech missile shield plans.

Putin has said he does not trust US claims that the deployment of missile defense components in Europe was intended to counter missile threats from Iran, warning that Russia would take retaliatory actions.

Ivanov has rejected US arguments for deploying an anti-missile defence system in eastern Europe and insisted Russia would not be drawn into a Cold War-style arms race.

He also said Russia would upgrade its own defence systems to make sure its strategic arsenal was not rendered ineffective.”

Hmmm … sounds like some sort of arms race to us.

Nato has its own view.

… what Moscow really wanted was to be included in a European-wide anti-missile system.

“We are already talking to the Russians about co-operating on tactical missile defence for armies in the field,” said a senior Nato diplomat.”

Meanwhile, the Italians are attempting to prosecute the 26 CIA kidnappers of “Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, who disappeared near his mosque in Milan on Feb. 17, 2003, says he was kidnapped. The cleric, known as Abu Omar, was freed this week from jail in Egypt, where he says he was taken and then tortured.”

Fat chance of extraditing them from Doodoo’s clutches. Yet the Italian proceedings will help highlight the prevalence throughout Europe of governments secretly colluding with the US in extraordinary renditions:

European parliamentary committee issued a detailed report into what it said were “at least” 1,245 secret C.I.A. flights in Europe, some of them involving extraordinary renditions. The report, which awaits approval by the Parliament, is particularly sensitive because it suggested forcibly that a number of governments knew of the flights.”