Davutoglu told reporters on Friday that Israel should apologize, pay compensation to families of the Turkish citizens killed during the boarding of the aid ship and end the embargo on Gaza. Otherwise, the minister stated, relations between Turkey and Israel will not be normalized.
Additionally Davutoglu extended Turkey’s criticism of the apartheid land-thieving entity:
“Israel should decide to be a part of either the problem or the solution,” Davutoglu told reporters. The minister also spoke out against other aspects of Israeli policy, criticizing Israel to for continuing its settlement policy. The minister concluded by emphasizing that Turkey would react positively if Israel pursued a less hawkish foreign policy.
From @leventbasturk: If it doesn’t remain firm on this issue, the new course of Turkish Frgn Pol in ME will be under great suspicion. #
In the US press, Davutoglu’s comments were under-reported, omitting the need for Israel to end its embargo on Gaza.
Zoe Lawlor relates her experiences on the Freedom Waves voyage to Gaza aboard the MV Saoirse and subsequent abduction of crew members by Israel in November 2011.
Freedom Waves to Gaza – Tales of a kidnapping from the MV Saoirse
Freedom waves, freedom rides, freedom marches…. it won’t stop until Palestine is free.
On Wednesday 2nd November 2011 the MV Saoirse and the Tahrir sailed from Turkey to Gaza as part of Freedom Waves to Gaza – the international effort to break the illegal, immoral siege of Gaza and show solidarity with the people there. Although the Tahrir was carrying medical supplies and the Saoirse sports equipment, the aim of the mission was to break the political siege imposed by Israel on the people of Gaza, not as an aid mission.
These are my personal thoughts and recollections and really represent a means for me to put the events into some sort of chronology – it’s less an analysis and more a recounting of events. I would like to preface this by first stressing that the experience of the Saoirse and Tahrir people in Israeli captivity is in no way comparable to what the Palestinian people face daily from the apartheid state. Our brief time in captivity provided a minute snapshot of what Palestinian prisoners experience and I am in no way equating what happened to us with what happens to the Palestinians. The prisoners held in administrative detention were on my mind a lot when we were in prison as the thought of not knowing how long you are to be detained is truly frightening and is the reality for so many Palestinians. We also had the security of knowing that there were family members, friends and loved ones, solidarity initiatives, embassy and other political figures advocating for us and pressuring for our release – our European person’s privilege highlighted in stark contrast to the extremely limited rights of the Palestinian people.
We are not the story – the story is Palestine, the story is Gaza, the story is the Freedom Waves, the story is freedom.
I want to pay tribute to my shipmates, great and brilliant people that they are: Mags O’Brien, Fintan Lane, Hugh Lewis, Trevor Hogan, Chris Andrews, John Hearne, Pat Fitzgerald, John Mallon, Phil McCullough, Billy Smith, Paul Murphy, Felim Egan, Ger Barron and our Captain Zach. We also missed our shipmates from the summer: Gerry MacLochlainn, Charlie McMenamin, Rik Walton, Hussein Hammed and Jim Roche. The shore team were amazing too especially Claudia Saba, Laurence Davis, Ronan O’Dowd, Kev Squires, Raymond Deane, Greg Manahan, Sinéad MacLochlainn and Caoimhe Butterly.
Family, friends and loved ones went through so much and were strong voices for us throughout – I know my brother Gay burned the ear off DFA officials and media outlets, kept my mum and friends informed and was just brilliant.
Other friends gave amazing support, some of it very practical, you know who you are – many thanks a cháirde.
From Wednesday we sailed for two days, extremely happy that despite sabotage and international governmental complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people in June, we were at last on our way to Gaza. The significance of sailing and demonstrating to the people there that they are not isolated, that there are hundreds of thousands of people represented on these ships who stand with them and wish for their freedom was huge to us, we hadn’t given up, we were sailing – on course for Gaza.
The trip was fun, funny and hopeful, interspersed with some shipmates suffering badly from seasickness and very interesting times in the kitchen for the galley slaves, cooking while being fired from side to side is challenging! Sailing alongside the Tahrir was exhilarating and getting close and talking our comrades across the waves was very emotional. Seeing the ships heading to Gaza, flying the Palestinian flag was just beautiful, I can only imagine how amazing the larger flotillas must have been.
On the Thursday evening after dinner we had a refresher meeting about what to do in the event of an Israeli intervention. Shortly after that a ship was spotted on our radar, there were spotter planes in the sky and everyone got ready for an Israeli intervention that evening. When the phone call hadn’t come by the small hours, most of us relaxed and thought we would get through the night safely.
When the sun came up on Friday morning and we were still sailing unimpeded, hopes began to rise that we would get to Gaza. Looking at the Irish flag and the Palestinian flag fluttering on the Saoirse with Gaza in the not too far distance, it all seemed possible. Unfortunately and criminally it was not to be as the Israeli government sent an astonishing amount of force to stop twenty-seven people, armed solely with humanity and solidarity, from reaching Gaza. We were only forty nautical miles away when we were attacked, tantalisingly close. Our ships were surrounded by warships, zodiacs and gunboats, all populated by heavily armed, masked commandos. Our ships were corralled at sea and forced to collide causing much damage to the Saoirse which was taking on water – all of us put on our life jackets. Then the pirates water-cannoned the ships, causing massive electrical damage, almost causing the bridge to go on fire and forcing our coordinator Fintan Lane down the stairs into the front saloon where water was pouring through the closed windows, soaking absolutely everything inside. The Saoirse was then violently boarded with the windows smashed and commandos armed to the teeth boarding and threatening all the people on both ships. The crew on the Tahrir were also assaulted. In the front saloon of the MV Saoirse, Mags O’Brien and myself were held separately from our male colleagues and sat in the dark the entire trip to Ashdod as the lights had been blown by the water cannons – we were accompanied by at least four commandos for the journey, there were many more with the men. The efforts of our crew, especially Pat Fitzgerald the ship’s engineer, to keep us safe and also informed as to everyone’s welfare were incredible.
The commandos attempted to steal the Irish flag that they had removed from the Saoirse but were prevented from doing so. They also tried to put an Israeli flag on the Saoirse’s flagpole but we stopped that and ensured that our ship was not brought into Ashdod flying the apartheid flag. The commandos tried to sing military songs while saluting to each other in the front saloon but were ‘interrupted’ by our visits to the loo – we weren’t listening to that shit. From these actions the efforts to humiliate us are clear to see but thankfully were thwarted, equally obvious were pathetic efforts to capture propaganda footage to be used to paint the interception as not violent – offering us water and trying to film it (we refused), asking us if we were ok and telling us not to worry while pointing guns at our heads.
On shore captivity
Once in Ashdod the groups in both saloons unanimously demanded to see the Irish ambassador and refused to leave the ship. The presence of Paul Murphy, Socialist Party MEP no doubt lent weight to our demands as even for the Israeli government there are limits and they most certainly include the European Parliament. There was a very large group of people in the port waiting to see us dragged from our ship, most of them with film cameras at the ready. (The level of voyeurism that accompanied all of the Israeli encounters was amazing, from multiple, unnecessary searches to constant filming).
Conor Long, the Irish Deputy Head of Mission, came to speak to us and a representative of the Israeli Department of Foreign Affairs was the liaison. We left the Saoirse under protest, stating we had been kidnapped and brought to Israel illegally and refusing to accept any status of illegal entry to the state. We were guaranteed phone calls, no strip searches and refused to accept any physical assistance from the ship – no propaganda opportunities. In Ashdod the Israeli searching machine kicked into action with a vengeance and all of us were taken to temporary cubicles for a ridiculously thorough search of our belongings and the theft of all of our electronic equipment from phones, cameras, satellite phones and also personal items such as notebooks, work swipe cards, money etc.
Having been body searched twice and stripped down to my underwear the second time, I was taken to a prison van where one of my friends was handcuffed and shackled and one handcuffed (John Mallon and Phil McCullough), at the van a security person attempted to search me again, having just brought me from a search, I objected.
From there we were brought to Ofer military prison where we were ‘processed’, fingerprinted, photographed, and asked to sign deportation papers stating we had entered Israel illegally. Some of us were given copies of the papers for this procedure but most were not, the explanation of the process was negligible. Everyone also had an interview with Israeli intelligence who asked us if we were aware of the ‘military’ blockade of Gaza– needless to say we all explained that we were well aware of the illegal and immoral blockade of Gaza.
The next stop on this endless day in Israeli captivity was Givon prison in Ramle and the women went there separate from the men, our group now reduced to five: Mags O’Brien and me from the MV Saoirse and Jihan Hafiz, Kit Kittredge and Karen de Vito from the Tahrir. On arriving in Givon prison we were again searched thoroughly despite having just arrived from a lengthy search process, this time it was filmed and carried out before a large audience, some of our friends had their underwear sniffed. At 4 am I was locked into my cell and about half an hour later my friend and cellmate, Mags, was put in with me. Throughout this process we repeatedly asked for a phone call which we were denied.
During our incarceration in Givon we were denied a phone call and kept incommunicado until Sunday, we were also without books, pens or paper until then. In the women’s wing, as our numbers were smaller than in the men’s, we didn’t have a lot of free association with each other and spent 21 hours and 19 hours locked in on the first two days respectively. We tried to assert our rights as political prisoners and got some concessions but we were less successful than our male colleagues who were very organised. The prison guards were obnoxious, abusive and delighted in asserting whatever power they could over us. They would often refuse to tell us the time, repeatedly lying about it, wouldn’t turn our lights off at night, wouldn’t release us from the cells when it was our ‘out’ time. There were constant attempts to get us to sign the papers stating we had entered Israel illegally, to get us to buy our own tickets home, to threaten us with indefinite detention and there were constant lies – everything we were told was a lie. The guards dehumanised us in their own eyes as best they could, one of them screaming at Karen, Jihan and Kit that we were not human, not Israeli and had no rights. This was a constant among the security personnel we encountered, they hate supporters of Palestine, just less than they hate the Palestinian people.
Guards would burst into the cells in the morning, about 6 am, demanding we stand to be counted- there were usually two women and two men. We explained that if they couldn’t count two people locked in a cell while they were lying down, then that was their problem. There was a stream of disinformation from the prison people all the time, from lying about the time, to what the others were doing, to the timing of our release. We staged a protest in the corridor and refused to re-enter our cells unless we were guaranteed more time outside and free association with just the five of us. The prison commander came and the ‘rules’ were relaxed somewhat and we had more time in the air and the dreaded corridor – all better than the cells. Small victories, they seemed bloody huge at the time…
On a personal level, being with our sisters from the Tahrir and with Mags was a great experience and we got to know each other well, shared stories and laughs and planned more flotillas and BDS actions! Every time we got to meet with our friends in the male wing was a huge bonus and seeing them and their strength kept us going. From Monday, when our US and Canadian colleagues left, it was just Mags and me on our wing and while we felt more vulnerable and isolated, we kept each other going and never had a cross word, it was great solidarity and a little sanity, more insanity!
‘Court’ Part 2
A judge visited the prison and left shaking having been through individual meetings with each of the men. When we met him the following day, he seemed resigned to his fate! He admitted to me that we hadn’t been treated in accordance with Israeli law, that we hadn’t received our full rights, hadn’t been given a copy of our deportation orders, that we should have been given both phone calls and access to phone cards. When pressed as to where the decision for this treatment came from, the judge first tried to blame the prison governor and then the Ministry of the Interior or the Department of Foreign Affairs – he conceded that “some procedures were not followed” but insisted that “technically” it was all the same thing – I insisted that “actually” it wasn’t and also queried the situation regarding the location and legitimacy of many of the ‘legal processes’ that took place in the corridors of the prison. The judge was also unable to explain why he didn’t recognise international law.
The Ben Gurion Vortex
On Wednesday 9th November we were called to leave Givon prison and seven of us were put on a bus to a detention centre inside Ben Gurion airport complex, via a trip to a high security check in the airport where one of our friends was handcuffed for sitting on the same side of the room as us. I was elated to be leaving the prison, delighted to be reunited with some of my shipmates and looking forward to meeting the other seven later that night. The detention centre was worse than the prison with the staff there displaying even more sadistic tendencies than those in Givon had. We were again separated by gender and put into a cell with six other women and no water. When I banged on the door to ask for water and to get some air, one of the guards came to the window, shouting and banging his head off it – he perfectly set the tone for the remainder of our captivity – rotten and aggressive.
On Thursday morning Mags and I were brought to the airport to allegedly board a flight home, we were brought to the main terminal where I was taken for another search despite having been in Israeli captivity since the previous Friday and having to sleep in my clothes as my belongings were now ‘secure’. We then entered a twilight zone that was to last the whole day, driving randomly around the airport with our guards either not knowing, or pretending not to know, where to bring us. We were eventually brought to our plane but not allowed to board and were brought back to the detention centre while being told to stop protesting or we would stay in Israel “forever”. Our five friends were at the detention centre as were the Irish Ambassador and Deputy Head of Mission, all of whom were infuriated by the fact that we were not on a flight home. The guys were not even released from their cells or brought to the airport so there was clearly no intention to get us on that flight. At this point we were able to make only our second call home in seven days to let our loved ones know that we would not be home as expected. With much wrangling and many phone calls by the ambassador and deputy, the seven of us were organised for a flight to Frankfurt that afternoon, we were vouched for by the Irish ambassador, and the German and Polish embassies contacted the airline too. We were getting anxious about departure time but were assured that there would be time as there would be no further searches, then we were loaded into segregated prison vans and taken to the plane. There the main guard went on board with all of our documents and then we were driven away from the plane and up to the main terminal where Fintan Lane and I were taken off for another search. I was furious at this point and knew we would never get on that flight, especially as the search was so slow and there was no van waiting when we came out after it. When we were eventually put in another van, we were driven to near where the planes were and then turned around and driven away, we repeatedly asked where we were being taken to but they ignored us, saying only there was a passport problem. This was the time I was most worried as we were separated from the rest of the group and didn’t know where we were going. After some aimless driving around, we were brought again to the detention centre where the furious DFA people met us and attempted to get us on another flight. The guards in the detention centre refused to let them see our passports and treated the Irish officials with contempt, as they had with the Irish government with all the messing around regarding flights. Flights to Istanbul were organised finally and then we were told to run, get our bags and go to the airport again. When we got to the van to go to the airport one minute later we were told it was too late and we had needed to check in three hours previously – comical, groundhog day, malicious mind games stuff. Some sense prevailed in the centre and a call was made and we were brought to the airport in the same van as Hassan Ghani, one of our colleagues from the Tahrir. On our way out, we met the second seven of our friends – heading in to spend a night in that horrible place. Only when the flight took off did I believe I was out of Israel, which I never wanted to visit in the first place.
Twelve hours in Istanbul airport and then HOME.
Some final observations:
For me the most important aspect of this leg of the Irish Ship to Gaza, Freedom Flotilla 2 campaign was that we did sail and we refused to accept the crimes being perpetrated on the people of Gaza by Israel and that another year didn’t pass without people at least getting on the water. We didn’t reach the shores of Gaza but we got close and demonstrated our love and solidarity for the Palestinian people, also our immense respect and admiration for their incredible sumoud.
Civil society is key to ending Israeli apartheid – Palestinian civil society leads and the international solidarity movements follow. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign is vital to delegitimising the Israeli regime’s crimes against the Palestinian people. All efforts to end complicity with this regime have to be supported – boycott all Israeli goods, ensure no artist performs there without huge protest, work to end EU funding for collaboration with Israeli research projects, highlight the importance of Israeli blood diamonds to the economy and to funding war crimes against the Palestinian people.
The security apparatus employed by the Israeli state is staggering, the sheer numbers of people employed to police and enforce apartheid are huge. The amount of searches reflects the matrix of control they try to impose and for every searcher, there are at least five observers.
While Irish embassy staff in Israel did a lot to help us, especially on the Thursday when they went all out to assist us to get home, it is profoundly depressing and disenfranchising for our government not to have called for our immediate release. I have no doubt that had another state kidnapped fourteen Irish citizens in international waters, illegally brought them to that state and then imprisoned them, the Táiniste would have called for their release – in our case he didn’t.
The clichés are sometimes true, small numbers of people can take on oppression – the reaction where the Israeli navy had to send gunboats, warships, massive weaponry to stop twenty-seven people is testament to that. Israeli pirates won’t stop us, their jails won’t break us. We will sail again to Gaza.
The inspiring resilience and resistance that the Palestinian people have displayed since the Nakba of 1948 is what moves people all over the world to act and to support them in their hundreds of thousands. No militarised, aggressive, apartheid state can stop the Freedom Waves and waves of love for Palestine. We’ll keep sailing, marching, freedom fighting until Palestine is free- they can do it, why can’t we? I’ve been trying to get to Gaza for years, I’ll get there yet.
Freedom waves, freedom rides, freedom marches…. it won’t stop until Palestine is free.
Fintan Lane and Zoe Lawlor, who were among a group of 14 Irish activists arrested last week while trying to break the blockade of Gaza, speak about their time in detention in Israel after arriving at Dublin airport today.
For Michael Coleman … Michael, try not to be deterred by the rogue regime that illegally detains you. They kidnapped you and your comrades because they fear the growing moral outrage of the world; all criminal regimes harbour this dread of a known truth. Be assured the great majority of humanity is with you in spirit; I personally am grateful to you for what you have done and for your courage. All power to you.
“It began with Israeli forces hosing down the boats with high pressure hoses and pointing guns at the passengers through the windows,” Lane, who was onboard the Saoirse, said. “I was hosed down the stairs of the boat. Windows were smashed and the bridge of the boat nearly caught fire.”
From FB: Zoe Lawlor phoned home this Sunday morning and both she and Mags O’Brien are in good spirits and looking forward to getting home very much. They also asked us all to put as much pressure on the Dept of foreign affairs as possible.
UPDATE SUNDAY NOV 6 EVENING
Confirmed that the two Irish women hostages are being held in Givon prison.
“There are 21 passengers detained who refused to be expelled immediately and are engaged in proceedings against their deportation before an Israeli judge,” interior ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP. … ‘She said the remaining 21 people were still being held at a detention facility in Ramla near Tel Aviv, after questioning by immigration authorities.’
4 easy ways you can help illegally detained Australian #FreedomWaves to Gaza delegate Michael Coleman (please RT!) – is.gd/fda1ky
“We have just spoken to Michael’s father who has just had a call from Michael.
He was supposed to have a 3 minute call but was cut off after a minute. He reported that 30 armed men forcibly boarded the Tahrir. He and others were assaulted on the boat and again when they were forcibly taken off the boat against their will into Israel.
He has not signed and will not sign any deportation order or ‘admission’ that he entered Israel illegally. He expects to be deported 72 hours after ‘the process’ began.’
‘But it is understood activists have refused to sign deportation orders as they were brought to Israel against their will.
They include Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy, former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews, Siptu official Mags O’Brien, artist Felim Egan, People Before Profit councillor Hugh Lewis, Sinn Féin councillors Pat Fitzgerald and John Hearne, and Zoe Lawlor, who teaches at the University of Limerick.’
‘Claudia Saba, spokeswoman, said there has been no contact from anyone onboard since it was hijacked, apart from a single text message from Mr Hogan’s mobile phone.
“Once again, as with the flotilla of June 2010, Israel has managed to gain a monopoly on the narrative of what happened when the Gaza-bound boats were hijacked by Israel at sea,” she said.
“The footage released by Israel of the boarding of the boats is vague and lacking in detail.
“Since we have no direct contact with our fellow citizens, and since they are not allowed to communicate with the outside world, we do not know exactly what happened or how those aboard were treated.”
Campaigners called on the Government to suspend Israel from the Euromed Agreement, end all arms trade with Israel and take steps to ensure no Irish state-funded institution engages in any cultural, academic, or economic cooperation with the state of Israel or its associated institutions.’
More update on the recalcitrant Occupy Wall Street mob who have failed to make the connections between racism, imperialism, neoliberalism, capitalism and zionism. :
‘The tweet was erased because there was discussion about how it was not appropriate to address this issue on these large public social media accounts until we had agreement from the group on our exact stance on these kinds of international conflicts.’ http://mondoweiss.net/2011/11/occupy-wall-street-responds-to-controversy-over-gaza-flotilla.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
As thought the NYT doesn’t shill for imperial interests: ‘In the wake of the #OCCUPYWALLSTREET movement, the New York Times has twice taken a swipe at Adbusters magazine, originators of the event. David Brooks led the charge in his October 10 column, The Milquetoast Radicals, falsely accusing us of being anti-Jewish. ‘
Congratulations, Occupy Boston, for having the humanity to extend the 99% to encompass oppressed Palestinian people who suffer because of the Israeli apartheid regime, zionist hegemony which strides arm in arm with US imperial hegemony. Freedom Waves and BDS are unstoppable and they are the Occupy movement’s natural ideological partners, not racist zionism and US elites.
‘Although Michael and I (among others) were transported in handcuffs and leg shackles, let me stress that we are neither criminals nor illegal immigrants but rather political prisoners of the apartheid state of Israel. Four from the Tahrir are imprisoned with 12 Irish comrades from the Saoirse, who have more experience with such issues. The four of us, Ehab and I (Cdn), Michael (Aus) and Hassan (UK) have joined with the Irish in their political prisoners’ committee in order to press our collective demands:
Association in the block – i.e. open cells
adequate writing and reading material
free communication with outside world – i.e. regular phone calls
information about shipmate women held at same prison’
We add one Tahrir-specific demand: that Israeli state recognize the professional status of Democracy Now journalist Jihan Hafiz in accordance with her credentials from the US government. All political incarceration is unjust but let me stress that in duration and conditions, our situation pales in comparison to the plight of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners and to the open air prison of Gaza.
If you have energy to devote to solidarity actions in the coming days, please concentrate on them. We must get Tahrir back and hope Freedom Waves continue.
Free Majd Kayyal! Free all political prisoners! Free Gaza! Free Palestine!
Anishnabe-debuewin, restons humaine, stay human, in love and struggle,
“We have had one call from DFAT. That is all. Michael has not been able to contact us. We have support from the organisers here and around the world but not from our Government.”
We understand that the delegates were asked to sign deportation papers testifying that they entered Israel illegally and waive their right to a court hearing. They were brought into Israel against their will; therefore they have refused to sign those papers. We also understand that this peaceful resistance is what is leading to ongoing punishment and communication restrictions.
Yesterday, the “Australia Foreign Affairs Department said it was trying to arrange a consular visit to Michael Coleman, 35, from the state of New South Wales.”
The Derry Friends of Palestine received a phonecall from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams office at about 10PM Irish Time last night (Friday). We were then advised that their office had been in touch with the Israeli authorities who were holding Belfast passengers John Mallon and Phil McCullough.
They were told both men were in custody and in good spirits. That they and the other passengers were believed to be in good physical condition. We were told they will be taken to court and charged with illegally entering Israel, if they agree to this “crime” and accept the charge they can go home immediately with voluntary deportation, if they refuse the criminal charge then they will be given a lawyer to appeal and ultimately be forcibly deported within 72 hours. The Israeli diplomat informed Mr Adams office that we could expect John Mallon home most likely on Tuesday.
We were told John was very concerned that people back home would be worrying, especially his 7 children and family members. So they were all overjoyed when the news came through last night about their Dad.
We can also confirm that Phil McCullough’s family has had a phonecall from the Irish Consulate just this morning (Saturday) And that Phil is in good spirits and, like the others, will be taken before the courts soon.
All passengers are being refused direct contact with family members; however, we can expect them to be back in Ireland most likely on Tuesday.
There’s two other big stories on the apartheid entity out today –
“This report reveals significant evidence arousing the suspicion that many doctors ignore the complaints of their patients; that they allow Israeli Security Agency interrogators to use torture; approve the use of forbidden interrogation methods and the ill-treatment of helpless detainees; and conceal information, thereby allowing total immunity for the torturers.”
The legal apparatus of the Israeli military system does not endeavor to protect Palestinian children’s rights; the military courts, under which children from the OPT are tried, lack comprehensive fair trial and juvenile justice standards. In September 2009, Israel established the Military Juvenile Court, but the situation on the ground remains essentially unchanged. On September 27, 2011, the Israeli military authorities raised the age of majority in the military courts to 18 years old. Until this time, the age had been officially set at 16, which directly defied the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, in practice, children as young as 12 have been and continue to be tried in military courts, with those 14 years of age often being tried as adults.
As of the Second Intifada (which began in September 2000), Israel began to employ administrative detention against children. Since this time the arrest and detention of children has grown more rampant and systemic, with around 700 children detained each year, and frequently held with adults in detention. The most common charge is stone throwing. At the time of this writing, 164 Palestinian children are in Israeli detention, 35 of whom are between the ages of 12 and 15.
In addition to regularly suffering abuse and torture similar to that of adult prisoners (beatings, blindfolding, being painfully shackled, position abuse, solitary confinement, electric shocks, threats of sexual assault, coercion into signing documents in Hebrew despite being unable to read them), children in detention are routinely subjected to tactics designed to exploit their age and intimidate them into confessions. These illegally obtained admissions are often used as evidence in the military courts. In the overwhelming majority of cases before these courts, children are denied bail and ordered to remain in detention until the end of the legal process. Credible allegations of ill-treatment and torture are not investigated.
As I’ve tweeted, the thing about waves is that they keep on coming, until the rubbish of Israeli apartheid and oppression is washed away. The most recent wave of humanitarian passengers from the seized Tahrir and MV Saoirse are now in custody at Ashdod port, incommunicado for several hours.
Michael Coleman, Australian delegate on the Tahrir, left a pre-recorded message in the event of his capture.
Before the Israeli pirates boarded the two vessels, they sprayed them fiercely with water cannons. UN Human Rights Council independent investigation of the Israel’s May 2010 flotilla attack declared Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza illegal. Further, as Ali Abunimah tweeted: “Israel claims Gaza waters are “closed military zone” but that it “withdrew” from Gaza in 2005. Which is it liars?”
Israel’s blockade was not broken on this 12th flotilla attempt, yet the waves will keep rolling over Israel’s apartheid and oppression in solidarity with the people of Palestine until it ends.
Here’s some resources for action to support Aussie delegate Michael Coleman and the other #FreedomWaves activists while they are held captive by the Israeli brigands.
remained in costudy and are slated to board flights back to their home countries over the next few days.
The other six passengers were released, including 2 Greek crew members, an Egyptian citizen that was returned to Egypt and two reporters, American and Spanish, who were released under limiting conditions and commited to leave Israel on Sunday.
“Who are we?” an Occupy Sydney spokeswoman asked the crowd.
“We are the workers, we are the indebted, we are the immigrants and the indigenous. We are homeless, we are the students, we are the unemployed, we are the under-represented people of the world. We are the 99 per cent. We are Occupy Sydney.”
Speaking at yesterday’s event, Palestinian refugee Leila Khaled drew parallels between South Africa’s apartheid regime and her own experiences in Palestine.
“I am optimistic, because in South Africa there was an apartheid regime and you ended your struggle with the support of the international community,” she said.
“I remember at school, rallying, demonstrating and calling for freedom in South Africa. I was brought up saying ‘when South Africa is free, Palestine will be free’.”
Khaled also called for the international community to boycott Israel.
Other issues discussed by the panel included the recent decision by countries such as the US to block funding to Unesco for accepting Palestine as a member country. Israel has also said it will block funding to the organisation.
US money accounts for nearly a quarter of Unesco’s funding.
Sourani, meanwhile, said this showed in a “clear-cut way that the US is providing full and clear diplomatic immunity to Israel”.
‘Four Knesset members have withdrawn their support for a private member’s bill that would subordinate democratic rule to Israel’s Jewish identity. Three of the MKs – Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor ) and Kadima’s Doron Avital and Shlomo Molla – have already formally removed their signatures from the draft for the new Basic Law. MK Nachman Shai (Kadima ) said he will remove his within a few days. ‘
“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.”
. 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.
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’.
“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?”
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.’
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.”
Balad Party MK, Palestinian Haneen Zoabi, has been suspended from Knesset discussions till the end of the summer session in fascist Israel’s latest move to punish those who speak out against its injustices. The Kafkesque Knesset ‘Ethics’ Committee decided upon this action, which Haneen will appeal.
Ms Zoabi, a vociferous critic of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara, attracting fury in Israel. She was branded a traitor by colleagues and stripped of some parliamentary privileges. But the latest move to sanction her demonstrates the extent to which the flotilla affair still rankles in Israel. The Knesset’s ethics committee voted to bar Ms Zoabi from parliamentary debates until the current session ends next month, declaring that her actions had “harmed national security and were inconsistent with the legitimate conduct of a lawmaker”.
“This was not an Ethics Committee decision, it was the decision of an automatic racist, right-wing majority in this committee. Therefore, it was a completely political decision.”
“Who decides what is politically legitimate? The right-wing majority that makes up the government? A political majority? Then what is the meaning of my immunity, which is meant to protect me from the tyranny of the majority?”.
“I upheld my human, moral and political obligation by participating in the struggle to break the illegitimate and inhumane blockade on Gaza”.
At Nabi Saleh demonstrations against the illegal Israeli occupation, Nariman Tamimi films and documents along with providing medical aid to those whom the Israeli occupation forces injure:
Definitely, the protests have caused a lot of awareness and the evidence is that we have Palestinian youth coming from different districts in the West Bank who are committed to going to Nabi Saleh every week. Activists from Israel and the international community are part of the popular resistance that is key to forming the awareness that leads others to denounce Israel as an occupying force and a military state, which is why our war is against the media.
It is a good sign to see more and more people getting convinced and exposing Israel’s crimes and atrocities in a way in which the world can understand them. This current resistance is inclusive of all the members of society, much like the first intifada, which was a true popular uprising, and I do believe that the current protests will spread because of their result of undermining the state of Israel and attracting international responses. The more that increases, the better it is for us.
Meanwhile, the French vessel, Dignite-Al Karame, with 10 human rights activists on board prepares to face the Israeli forces at sea, on its attempt to break the illegal Israeli blockade on Gaza.
Thomas Sommer-Houdeville, a French national and flotilla spokesperson, said Sunday the boat was carrying a message of peace, hope and solidarity with the people in Gaza. He hoped the Israeli Navy would not intercept the boat and let it complete its civic mission. He believes that the boat must get near as possible to the destination, as it represents the “determination and will” of the people who were on board other boats and all those who have been involved in raising awareness about the blockade on Gaza.
Ali Abunimah: “The difference now between us and zionists … is that we can put forth a positive vision based on universal values without betraying any Palestinian rights. Our vision is rooted in one that views all human beings as equal. Their vision is rooted in one that sees some human beings as garbage.”
‘I expected that activists will challenge the anti-Boycott law and chant for BDS or call for Settlement boycott as well as chanting for a Palestinian state, I was wrong. It turned out to be a march organized by Zionist leftists calling for a legitimate Palestinian state next to the state of Israel.’
We urge our South African peers to boycott and challenge this intended tour of South African universities in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, which we view as a part of a campaign launched to whitewash the crimes of Israel’s apartheid policies.
‘“I just hope we can shift public opinion in Australia and that [the government and media] stop being so apologetic towards Israel. My detention in Greece got more news in Greece than it did here — where criticism of Israel seems to be ‘off limits’ to a lot of the media.
“I spent two to three months in Nablus, in the Occupied West bank in 2008-2009. I received a lot of support [for the flotilla protest] from my friends in Nablus. They and the people of Gaza don’t want hand-outs: they just want their freedom.”’
13th July – and yes, still in prison – UK citizen Pippa Bartolotti writes on her stint at the Israel entity’s request in Givon prison for the terrible crime of wanting to visit the West Bank :
Why does my government allow me to be held for 5 days without papers, or explanation, or charges?
Why does my country accept Israel as a sovereign state when it has no borders?
Why does the UK and EU give Israel special rights when its Human Rights position is untenable?
Why can Israel sing in the Eurovision Song Contest and take part in UEFA football champioships whilst being an apartheid state?
Why are British police ordered to act on Israeli paranoia and lies and interrogate British citizens before they go to Israel?
Why were the British the last to leave Givon prison?
Why did the British Consul allow our conversations to be recorded?
Why does the British Consul in Israel say that no visitors are allowed to visit the West Bank, when the FCO website says no such thing?
Why does the British Government collude in the inhumane and cruel treatment of the Palestinians?
‘The Home Office listed as another example of “unacceptable behavior” an interview with MEMO in which Salah advocated the Palestinian right of return and the boycott divestment and sanctions movement’.