Compilation by Noor al Haqiqa
It may seem odd to give a recap of the horror that is Gaza today, but it seems far too long since the eyes of the world have focused on the plight of the Palestinian people; it has been continuously deteriorating while our eyes and efforts have been elsewhere in our international struggles with the banking elite and their ilk.
The overall war against collective humanity is indeed international; however, Palestine and its brave resilient people are taking it directly on the chin for us all. We, the international community, owe it to these folks, and any other person oppressed by this juggernaut, to do what we can to help.
I am more than guilty of letting myself be distracted from the happenings in Palestine. If no one has noticed, and how can they have not, the attacks against us all have intensified greatly on all fronts ~ environmental, illnesses, poisoning, weaponry, financial, ad nauseum. Along with the intent to breaking our cumulative human spirits, there is also the goal of wearing us all out so that we cannot keep up with things. And so they continue oozing their black miasma around the globe.
To kick things off, get the mood set, an inspirational video to get you moving.
Turkish cruise ship Mavi Marmara, carrying pro-Palestinian activists and humanitarian aid to Gaza on May 22. The ship, sponsored by Turkey's Islamic and pro-Palestinian rights group, The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), will join an aid flotilla aiming to break Gaza blockade.~Emrah Dalkaya/Reuters
This weekend, 9 civilian boats carrying 700 human rights workers from 40 countries and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid will attempt to do just that: break through the Israel’s illegal military blockade on the Gaza Strip in non-violent direct action.
In response, the Israeli government has threatened to send out ‘half’ of its Naval forces to violently stop our flotilla, and they have engaged in a deceitful campaign of misinformation regarding our mission.
Israel claims that there is no ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Every international aid organization working in Gaza has documented this crisis in stark detail. Just released earlier this week, Amnesty International’s Annual Human Rights Report stated that Israeli’s siege on Gaza has “deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law.”
Israel claims that its blockade is directed simply at the Hamas government in Gaza, and is limited to so-called ’security’ items. Yet When U.S. Senator John Kerry visited Gaza last year, he was shocked to discover that the Israeli blockade included staple food items such as lentils, macaroni and tomato paste.
Furthermore, Gisha, the Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, has documented numerous official Israeli government statements that the blockade is intended to put ‘pressure’ on Gaza’s population, and collective punishment of civilians is an illegal act under international law.
Israel is serious about bombing Gaza back to the cave days. These people now inhabit caves and are probably safer than those in the cities during the war times. These are among those who need the help carried on the flotilla.
Israel claims that if we wish to send aid to Gaza, all we need do is go through ‘official channels,’ give the aid to them and they will deliver it. This statement is both ridiculous and offensive. Their blockade, their ‘official channels,’ is what is directly causing the humanitarian crisis in the first place.
According to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter: “Palestinians in Gaza are being actually ’starved to death,’ receiving fewer calories per day than people in the poorest parts of Africa. This is an atrocity that is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza. It is a crime… an abomination that this is allowed to go on. Tragically, the international community at large ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are treated more like animals than human beings.”
Israel claims that we refused to deliver a letter and package from POW Gilad Shalit’s father. This is a blatant lie. We were first contacted by lawyers representing Shalit’s family Wednesday evening, just hours before we were set to depart from Greece.
Gilad Shalit is, to Israeli leaders, no more than a tool in their arsenal. He is being well cared for by Hamas and, other than missing family, in good health and mind according to the film released last year. We speak of ONE prisoner as compared to thousands of imprisoned Palestinian adults and children.
Irish Senator Mark Daly (Kerry), one of 35 parliamentarians joining our flotilla, agreed to carry any letter and to attempt to deliver it to Shalit or, if that request was denied, deliver it to officials in the Hamas government. As of this writing, the lawyers have not responded to Sen. Daly, electing instead to attempt to smear us in the Israeli press.
We have always called for the release of all political prisoners in this conflict, including the 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails, among them hundreds of child prisoners.
Life in a cave.
Most despicably of all, Israel claims that we are violating international law by sailing unarmed ships carrying humanitarian aid to a people desperately in need. These claims only demonstrate how degenerate the political discourse in Israel has become.
Despite its high profile pullout of illegal settlements and military presence from Gaza in August~September 2005, Israel maintains “effective control” over the Gaza Strip and therefore remains an occupying force with certain obligations.
Among Israel’s most fundamental obligations as an occupying power is to provide for the welfare of the Palestinian civilian population. An occupying force has a duty to ensure the food and medical supplies of the population, as well as maintain hospitals and other medical services, “to the fullest extent of the means available to it” (G IV, arts. 55, 56).
This includes protecting civilian hospitals, medical personnel, and the wounded and sick. In addition, a fundamental principle of International Humanitarian Law, as well as of the domestic laws of civilized nations, is that collective punishment against a civilian population is forbidden (G IV, art. 33).
Israel has grossly abused its authority as an occupying power, not only neglecting to provide for the welfare of the Palestinian civilian population, but instituting policies designed to collectively punish the Palestinians of Gaza.
From fuel and electricity cuts that hinder the proper functioning of hospitals, to the deliberate obstruction of humanitarian aid delivery through Israeli-controlled borders, Israel’s policies towards the Gaza Strip have turned Gaza into a man-made humanitarian disaster.
Tea time in the cave.
The dire situation that currently exists in Gaza is therefore a result of deliberate policies by Israel designed to punish the people of Gaza. In order to address the calamitous conditions imposed upon the people, one must work to change the policies causing the crisis.
The United Nations has referred to Israel’s near hermetic closure of Gaza as “collective punishment,” strictly prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. All nations signatory to the Convention have an obligation to ensure respect for its provisions.
Pleasures are few, simple, thoroughly enjoyed.
Given the continuing and sustained failure of the international community to enforce its own laws and protect the people of Gaza, we strongly believe that we all, as citizens of the world, have a moral obligation to directly intervene in acts of nonviolent civil resistance to uphold international principles.
Israeli threats and intimidation will not deter us. We will sail to Gaza again and again and again, until this siege is forever ended and the Palestinian people have free access to the world.
TO TRAVEL WITH THIS FLOTILLA FROM INSIDE THE CAPTAIN'S DECK, PLEASE GO TO THIS SITE. EVERYTHING IS FILMED AS IT HAPPENS. THIS IS THE NEXT BEST THING TO BEING THERE WITH THESE HUMANITARIANS.
1. Amnesty International, Annual Human Rights Report (26 May 2010); http://thereport.amnesty.org
2. “The pasta, paper and hearing aids that could threaten Israeli security,” The Independent (2 March 2009)
3. “Restrictions on the transfer of goods to Gaza: Obstruction and obfuscation,” Gisha (January 2010)
4. “Carter calls Gaza blockade ‘a crime and atrocity,” Haaretz (17 April 2008), http://www.haaretz.com/news/carter-calls-gaza-blockade-a-crime-and-atrocity-1.244176
5. “Gaza aid convoy refuses to deliver package to Gilad Shalit,” Haaretz (27 May 2010)“
6. Comprehensive Report on Status of Palestinian Political Prisoners,” Sumoud (June 2004); Palestinian Children Political Prisoners, Addameer, http://www.addameer.org/detention/children.html
7. Article 42 of the Hague Regulations stipulates, a “territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army,” and that the occupation extends “to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.”
Similarly, in the Hostage Case, the Nuremburg Tribunal held that, “the test for application of the legal regime of occupation is not whether the occupying power fails to exercise effective control over the territory, but whether it has the ability to exercise such power.”
Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, like those in the West Bank, continue to be subject to Israeli control. For example, Israel controls Gaza’s air space, territorial waters, and all border crossings. Palestinians in Gaza require Israel’s consent to travel to and from Gaza, to take their goods to Palestinian and foreign markets, to acquire food and medicine, and to access water and electricity.
Without Israel’s permission, the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot perform such basic functions of government as providing social, health, security and utility services, developing the Palestinian economy and allocating resources.
8. John Holmes, Briefing to the U Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, 27 January 2009.
9. Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949, Article I stating, “The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.”
See also, Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion, I. C. J. Reports 2004, p. 136 at 138; http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf.
DETENTION CAMPS AND DEPORTATION
By Ann Wright
27 May, 2010
Our two U.S. flagged Free Gaza boats, will join two other passenger ships, a 600 passenger ship from Turkey sponsored by the Turkish humanitarian organization, Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH) and a 50 passenger ship from Athens sponsored by the European Campaign Against the Siege and the Greek/Swedish Ships to Gaza campaign, to sail to the shores of Gaza to break the Israeli naval blockade of the 1.5 million citizens in Gaza.
Four cargo ships from Ireland, Greece, Algeria and Turkey, will carry a total of 10,000 tons or 2 million pounds of construction materials for the housing of 50,000 made homeless during the 22 day Israeli attack on Gaza that killed 1440 Palestinians and wounded 5,000.
The only construction in Gaza has been these mud homes, which while quite lovely and good in the climate, are not made for flooding and long term use. One can only admire such resilience and tenacity to survive under this draconian siege.
Many of us would like to see our boat renamed "The Audacity of Hope" as that is what we want to see from the Obama administration ~ courage to challenge the Israeli government on the siege of Gaza.
It would be a really brave, bold move as every U.S. presidential administration since the formation of the State of Israeli in 1948 has blindly given free-rein to Israel in whatever actions it wishes to undertake no matter if the actions are a violation of international law. The carte blanche given to Israel by the United States has been dangerous for Israel's national security as well as for the national security of the United States.
Probable reaction of Israeli Navy Ships-Bow shots, ramming or boarding
In less than 48 hours, the Israeli Navy will probably fire U.S. made ammunition and rockets in international waters over the bows of two U.S. flagged boats and one Greek boat with U.S. citizens aboard as well as citizens from 13 other countries and over the bows of the Turkish 600 passenger ship.
Ironically, on one passenger ship will be Joe Meaders, a U.S. citizen who is a survivor of the Israeli air and naval attack on a United States Navy ship, the USS Liberty, in 1967 killed 34 U.S. sailors and wounded 173. The Israeli government has never acknowledged, much less apologized for, the deaths of these sailors, nor the destruction of the USS Liberty.
According to Israeli media (http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=176491), the Israeli military is preparing for our arrival off the shores of Gaza. The Israeli navy has been practicing its plan for preventing us from docking in Gaza, a plan that probably includes demanding by radio that the ships change course away from Gaza, firing weapons in front of the ships, ramming the ships and sending well-armed boarding parties onto the ships.
Israelis prepare a detention camp
As our 8 ship flotilla prepares to depart Greece and Turkey to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, the Israeli military is preparing a detention camp for the flotilla's 700 delegates from 20 countries who are passengers on four of the ships.
Those passengers include Hedy Epstein, an 85 year old holocaust survivor, Parliamentarians from Germany and Ireland, two former diplomats from the United States, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, authors, journalists, activists, businesspersons and clergy.
My goodness, a veritable Who's Who of ne'er-do-well evil doers!
Additionally, the military has identified a warehouse in the Ashelod area, just over Gaza's northern border that will be used to detain the 700 passengers on the 8 ships.
Taking a page from the New York City police who put over 1500 persons into a filthy, unclean warehouse on a pier in New York City during the 2004 Republican convention, the Israeli government no doubt will make the surroundings as difficult as possible for us.
The Israeli government has extensive experience in warehousing dissent, as over 10,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails and prisons, including juveniles who are arrested regularly in nighttime raids in villages of the West Bank.
20 passengers on the May, 2009 Free Gaza boat trying to break the siege were imprisoned for 10 days before they were deported from Israel. They included Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
Wish us luck as we challenge the Israeli, Egyptian, European Union and United State's unlawful siege and collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza!
What will you do to help break the siege of Gaza?
About the Author:
Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. Wright made three trips to Gaza in 2009 and helped organize the Gaza Freedom March that in December, 2009 brought 1350 persons from 44 countries to Cairo, Egypt in an attempt to break the siege of Gaza. She is the co-author of the book "Dissent: Voices of Conscience." (www.voicesofconscience.com)
Fate of Gaza flotilla remains vague
By YAAKOV KATZ AND HERB KEINON 05/26/2010 05:24
While the navy is preparing to stop nine international aid ships that will try to reach the Gaza Strip later this week, the military is still waiting to receive a final order of what to do from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
In the past, Israel has threatened, like it is now, to stop activists’ vessels from reaching the Gaza Port but then allowed them through the IDF blockade. Netanyahu has made no comment on the matter, remaining purposely vague to keep the organizers guessing as to Israel’s true intentions.
Israel prepares for protest flotilla
'Most Cast Lead damage not repaired'
Though vague on whether the ships will be allowed to arrive, government spokesmen are unequivocal in stating that what interests the organizers are not human rights in Gaza, but rather bashing Israel.
The vessels, carrying 10,000 tons of cargo and some 550 pro-Palestinian activists, will probably reach the coastal waters of Gaza by Friday or Saturday, Dror Feiler, one of the organizers, said by satellite phone from aboard the Swedish-Greek ship Sofia.
The ships set sail from Ireland, Sweden, Turkey and Greece, Feiler said. Some are carrying television crews that plan to broadcast live any confrontation between the IDF and the activists.
“This is not going to look good on television,” said the 58-year-old Feiler, who was born in Tel Aviv and has lived in Stockholm since 1973. He served in the IDF Paratroopers Brigade and refused to serve in the territories in 1970 as one of the first “refuseniks.”
“We’re on a peaceful mission to help end the misery of the people in Gaza and it’s going to be very ugly if Israeli soldiers try to take over our ships,” he said.
In January 2004, Feiler‘s artwork “Snow White and The Madness of Truth” was vandalized by then-Israeli ambassador to Sweden Zvi Mazel. Mazel said it was anti-Semitic.
Feiler is now the chairman of the Swedish organization Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace and the European organization European Jews for a Just Peace.
The navy is preparing an operational plan to stop the ships.
In addition, the IDF has established a task force together with the Israel Police, the Foreign Ministry and the Prisons Service to coordinate efforts to stop the flotilla and manage the media fallout.
The ministry and Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories have in recent days launched a media campaign to stress that the supplies the ships are carrying are unnecessary and that Israel ~ together with various international organizations ~ already transfers these supplies to Gaza via land crossings.
The police and the Prisons Service will be on standby to deal with the arrest of the activists, if that becomes necessary.
One official pointed out that the flotilla, billed as an effort to bring humanitarian supplies into Gaza, comes after the Financial Times, in a story it ran on Monday, wrote that the 200 to 300 smuggling tunnels from Egypt into Gaza “have become so efficient that shops all over Gaza are bursting with goods.”
According to the FT report, “Branded products such as Coca-Cola, Nescafé, Snickers and Heinz ketchup ~ long absent as a result of the Israeli blockade ~ are both cheap and widely available. However, the tunnel operators have also flooded Gaza with Korean refrigerators, German food mixers and Chinese air conditioning units. Tunnel operators and traders alike complain of a saturated market ~ and falling prices.”
Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said, “These people call themselves human rights activist, but they are the opposite. They have nothing whatsoever to say about the human rights of Israeli civilians who have been on the receiving end of Hamas rockets for years.They have nothing whatsoever to say about the human rights of Palestinians who live in Gaza under the jackboots of the Hamas regime that oppresses women, Christians, and gays ~ a regime that has brutally suppressed all political opposition, destroyed independent media, closed down Internet cafes, and has even made it illegal for a male hairdresser to cut the hair of a woman.”
Regev pointed out that in the past the leaders of this movement have come to Gaza and “eagerly had their photographs taken with Hamas leaders. Some human rights activists,” he said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that the land crossings were more than capable of meeting Gaza’s needs.
According to Palmor, 15,000 tons of supplies enter Gaza each week, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, milk powder, baby food, wheat and other staples. In addition, he said, building materials are allowed in when monitored by international organizations that ensure that the materials will not be commandeered by Hamas for the fortification of bunkers.
Palmor said the organizers of the flotilla are aware that land crossings remain the most efficient way of transferring goods. But, he said, “they are less interested in bringing in aid than in promoting their radical agenda, playing into the hands of Hamas provocations. While they have wrapped themselves in a humanitarian cloak, they are engaging in political propaganda and not in pro-Palestinian aid.”
Bloomberg News contributed to this report.