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Home arrow Blog arrow May 2010 arrow May 28, 2010

May 28, 2010
May 28, 2010: From US Army Colonel and A Policy Brief: All About Gaza UPDATED @ END 11:30 AM


Click here to visit Free Gaza website



Break the Israeli Siege of Gaza or Attack at Sea, Detention Camps and Deportation-

               What will it be and What Will YOU Do About it?

                                     By Ann Wright


By the time you read this, we will be on the high seas of the Mediterranean (we hope the seas will not be too high).


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.


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, 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.


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

 


Why is Israel afraid of a few boats?


Palestine Center Brief No. 201 (27 May 2010)
This originally appeared as an article at Foreignpolicy.com.


Policy Brief

By Yousef Munayyer
 

Hundreds of activists are on their way to the blockaded Gaza strip via a "flotilla" of boats carrying humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, which are badly lacking in the impoverished Palestinian territory.

Israel has promised to intercept the good-willed boats and arrest and deport the activists. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has exerted great effort in the past few days to convince onlookers to this confrontation on the high seas that the activists carrying humanitarian goods are terrorist sympathizers, and that everything is just fine and dandy in the Gaza Strip. The ministry has portrayed Israel (the country enforcing the blockade of Gaza's ports) as a benevolent victim, who despite the threat from Gaza's Hamas government is still caring for the civilian population.

There comes a point when an oppressive regime's propaganda crosses a threshold from mere lies to utter lunacy so extreme, in fact, that objective onlookers find it almost comical. This point came yesterday when the Government Press Office disseminated a link to a Gaza restaurant which appears to be luxurious. So what Israel is essentially saying is: "There you have it. There is a website for a restaurant with cloth napkins in Gaza. How can there be any problems?"

The reality is, of course, that the situation in Gaza is very dire. A slew of reports from human rights organizations attest to the hardships faced by most Palestinians in Gaza. In the densely populated strip where 80 percent of the population are refugees, a similar percentage relies on international aid organizations for daily sustenance. That number was only ten percent a decade ago. That's how bad things have become. Malnutrition in children has reached ten percent and critical medicines are not available, according to the World Health Organization.

But no one is starving to death in Gaza--at least not suddenly. A tunnel industry has evolved and become the main supplier for most goods. That's all part of the plan. Israel seeks to squeeze the strip to the point of near catastrophe, bad enough to make people suffer, but just short of having to take responsibility for it. It's a form of torture kind of like water-boarding under the Bush administration: the objective is to bring the subject to the edge and break his will, but not kill him (lest they be charged with murder). But just because Gaza's civilian population has managed to keep its collective head above water doesn't mean things should be this way.

Like life in most prisons, if you "know a guy," anything is available for a price. Generators, for example, are in high demand because of the shortages of electricity. The shortages are due to the destruction of Gaza's only power plant in 2006 by Israeli jets. Since then, Israel has never permitted the full reconstruction of the power plant, forcing perpetual dependence of Gaza on Israel and Egypt, who take an eye-dropper approach to supplying Gaza with electricity. But even though generators smuggled through Gaza's tunnels provide some light, there is also a dark and often unheard downside that comes with them: explosions and fires. Several reports in the past few years of civilians being killed or maimed from overworked and exploding generators have become common. These are just some of the siege-related causalities we do not hear about.

The 10,000 tons of supplies aboard the Gaza aid ships are a drop in the bucket for what Gaza really needs. Israel's spokesmen have pointed out that they have permitted the entry of supplies in the past and argued that the aid boats are unnecessary. The reality is that aid which Israel does permit into Gaza is purchased by Palestinians, vetted and often rejected or held up for months. Israel has calculated the precise minimum necessary caloric intake for Palestinians in Gaza, and has often rejected things like pasta, lentils and coffee. So it's easy to understand why international humanitarian organizations and the activists aboard the aid boats are not about to trust the welfare of Gaza's civilians to Israel's benevolence.

The aid boats will have a far greater impact, however, than the 10,000 tons of aid they are bringing to Gaza. The aid boats compel us to have this discussion, a discussion that Israel desperately wants to avoid at a time when its international reputation has never been lower.

Hundreds of unarmed civilians carrying humanitarian aid are approaching a blockaded piece of land where 1.5 million civilians suffer from a life of uncertainty and despair, and Israel is going to stop them. While much of the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been on the settlements, the failed peace process and the long-awaited restart of talks about talks, Gaza has been forgotten. To their credit, the few hundred non-violent activists-turned-sailors have found a way to maximize their power as individuals to force one of the world's most powerful regimes into a corner. Whether the boats make it to Gaza or not, this is a tremendous victory for civil society in international affairs.

Headlines and stories covering this confrontation at sea will shift the focus back to Gaza, even if only for a few hours. For Israel, Gaza is the tortured and famished step-child it locks in the basement when visitors arrive, and the activists on these boats seek to expose what Israel is doing in the strip: imposing a draconian siege to collectively punish civilians for political aims.

Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of the Palestine Center. This policy brief may be used without permission but with proper attribution.

The views in this brief are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.


 

The Palestine Center is an independent think-tank committed to communicating reliable and objective information about the Palestinian political experience to American policy makers, journalists, students and the general public. Established in 1991, it is the educational program of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development.


The Palestine Center brings together people and resources within the American and Palestinian communities to educate about Palestine and the Palestinian people's ongoing quest for sovereignty on their land, civil and political rights and an end to Israeli occupation. The need for an organization such as The Palestine Center can be found in the effects of the economic, cultural and political oppression Palestinians have endured and which continues on a daily basis in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the surrounding refugee camps and for Palestinians world-wide as they struggle to retain their homeland.

 


Click here to visit Free Gaza website




BOLD emphasis is mine in this AP report:

Israeli commandos to block Gaza activists

   
 
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