Israel, US declare war on flotilla

Israel and the United States have threatened journalists and human rights campaigners against taking part in a Gaza Strip-bound aid mission.

On Sunday, Oren Helman, director of Israel’s Government Press Office, said joining the Freedom Flotilla II convoy could “lead to participants being denied entry into…Israel for ten years, to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions,” Reuters reported.

The fleet, which includes some 500 activists on board of 10 vessels, would depart for the impoverished enclave on Tuesday.

Tel Aviv claims the fleet would be violating its 2007-present siege of Gaza. The blockade has been depriving the enclave’s 1.5-million Palestinians of food, fuel and other necessities.

Helman called the mission a “provocative and dangerous event, the purpose of which is to undermine Israel’s right to defend itself and to knowingly violate Israeli law.”

The activists are accompanied by at least one reporter for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz named Amira Hass, who is to arrive in Gaza onboard a Canadian vessel known as Tahrir (Liberation).

The Foreign Press Association responded to Tel Aviv’s warning, saying, “The government’s threat to punish journalists covering the Gaza flotilla sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel’s commitment to freedom of the press.”

The United Nations and a number of governments have also warned the flotilla not to set sail.

Washington has called on its nationals to not take part in the protest move.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has branded the move as a ‘provoking act.’ “We do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza,” she has said.

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 26.06.2011)

Gaza-konvooi negeert kabinet, Israel dreigt met journalistenboycot

Ondanks een oproep van het kabinet om niet deel te nemen, vertrekken Nederlanders met een internationaal hulpkonvooi vanuit Griekenland naar de Gazastrook. Israël dreigt buitenlandse journalisten “voor jaren” uit het land te verbannen als zij deelnemen. Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Uri Rosenthal schreef eerder aan de Tweede Kamer al dat het initiatief levert “allerminst een bijdrage aan een oplossing van het Israëlisch-Palestijns conflict”.

Negen doden onder eerder konvooi

Maar een woordvoerder van de actiegroep Nederlands initiatief om de blokkade van Gaza te doorbreken zegt dat de vloot dinsdag vertrekt. “Er is steeds gezegd dat het niet nodig is omdat alles al wordt geregeld, maar er gebeurt niets.”

Nu.nl meldt dat onder de opvarenden journalisten van Trouw, EenVandaag en de Wereldomroep zullen zijn. Israël heeft vandaag fel gereageerd op het dreigende vertrek van het konvooi.

Vandaag noemt de persdienst van de regering de vloot een “gevaarlijke provocatie” en een “internationale schending van de Israëlische wet”. “Ik wil graag aan u en de media die u vertegenwoordigt duidelijk maken dat deelname aan de flottielje een bewuste schending van de Israëlische wet is. Dit kan er toe leiden dat de toegang tot de staat Israël voor tien jaar wordt geweigerd, dat uw spullen in beslag worden genomen en dit kan ook leiden tot andere straffen.”

Een eerste hulpkonvooi werd in mei vorig jaar in internationale wateren aangevallen door de Israëlische marine. Daarbij kwamen negen opvarenden uit Turkije om het leven. Met het nieuwe konvooi, dat tien schepen telt, vaart een tiental Nederlanders mee.

Diverse continenten nemen deel

Minister Rosenthal liet eerder al weten niet te kunnen verhinderen dat Nederlandse schepen of opvarenden meedoen aan wat de actievoerders ‘Freedom Flotilla 2′ noemen. De vloot is een initiatief van organisaties uit Europa, Noord- en Zuid-Amerika, Noord-Afrika, Azië en Australië.

Tien schepen nemen deel aan het konvooi. Onder de opvarenden bevinden zich onder andere journalisten, politici, hulpverleners, kunstenaars en mensenrechtenactivisten. “Mijn persoonlijke verwachting is dat Israël het konvooi omsingelt met marineschepen en dwingt naar een haven te gaan. De mensen aan boord zullen enkele dagen worden ondervraagd om vervolgens te worden vrijgelaten”, zegt de woordvoerder.

(www.stopdebezetting.com / 26.06.2011)

Ireland FM warns Israel against violent interception of Gaza flotilla

Eamon Gilmore reiterates Ireland’s position that Gaza blockade is ‘unjust and counterproductive’ but does not advise Irish nationals to join the flotilla, which includes the Irish boat MV Saoirse.

As the second “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” gets ready to sail this week, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore urged Israel to avoid any repeat of last year’s actions against the convoy, Irish media reported Sunday.

“Israel must exercise all possible restraint and avoid any use of military force if attempting to uphold their naval blockade,” Gilmore, who also holds the post of trade minister, said after meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Dublin Boaz Moda.

“In particular, I would expect that any interception of ships is conducted in a peaceful manner and does not endanger the safety of our citizens or other participants,” he added, reiterating the country’s position that the Gaza blockade was “unjust and counterproductive” and that the violence that marked last year’s flotilla venture was “completely unacceptable and unjustified.”

At the same time, Gilmore said that his words should not be construed as advice to anyone to join the flotilla. “I have made it clear that I cannot advise any Irish national to participate in a venture which potentially brings them into harm’s way through seeking to break a naval blockade,” Gilmore said.

The Foreign Minister’s statements came after he was urged by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) to seek safe passage for the second flotilla, which includes the Irish boat MV Saoirse.



“It is our belief that the member states of the European Union, including Ireland, have failed in their responsibility towards the protected people of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and in particular towards the people of Gaza,” said IPSC chair Freda Hughes in his letter to Gilmore.



Some 25 Irish participants, including former and current members of parliament and the European parliament, trade union leaders and former Irish rugby international player Trevor Hogan are among the passengers expected to set sail on the Saoirse.



They are being joined by ships from Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Canada, the United States, Germany/Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands, which will be carrying medical supplies, letters of support and various equipment.

(www.haaretz.com / 26.06.2011)

Jordanian lifeline buys vessel to carry activists to Gaza

 

 

AMMAN, (PIC)– Wael Al-Saqa, the head of the Jordanian lifeline committee, has announced the purchase of a small ship to the tune of 560000 Euros to carry Jordanian activists to the Gaza Strip as part of the Freedom Flotilla II.

Saqa said, in a press release on Saturday, that the ship would carry 35 Jordanians out of 70 activists from five Arab countries, adding that the ship was registered as “Noor” company.

He said that the ship, which can accommodate up to 200 passengers, would be one of eight ships that compose the Freedom Flotilla II.

He said that 10% of its price was paid and that the council of Jordanian syndicates is to meet on Monday to decide on payment of the remaining 90%.

Saqa said he would attend a meeting for the international committee to end the siege on Gaza on Sunday in Turkey to discuss final preparations for the fleet, scheduled to set sail by the end of June, and names of solidarity activists who would take part in it.

The conferees would also discuss the international stands regarding the humanitarian fleet, he said, noting that the Zionist lobby in Europe was trying to pressure European governments to ban their nationals from participating in the fleet .

(jnoubiyeh.com / 26.06.2011)

To Construct “Museum of Tolerance”, Israel Bulldozes Muslim Historic Cemetery In Jerusalem

Israeli bulldozers started on Saturday at night the destruction of the Ma’man Allah ancient Muslim cemetery, in occupied Jerusalem, as part of the Israeli plan to construct the so-called “Museum of Tolerance” on the cemetery ruins.

Part of the destruction of the Graveyard - Nablus TV
Part of the destruction of the Graveyard – Nablus TV

The Al Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Foundation reported that the attack was initiated at 11 PM on Saturday at night when three huge bulldozers and two smaller ones, and twenty municipality workers, started the destruction of nearly 100 graves in the three remaining areas of the graveyard.

The destruction targeted the eastern side, the western side and the pool of Ma’man Allah, and aims at including the graveyard area, after its destruction, to be part of the so-called “Tolerance Museum” Israel is planning to build.

The work continued until dawn hours; the graves and the stones were loaded in trucks and were taken away.

The cemetery is in West Jerusalem and is considered one of the largest cemeteries in Jerusalem as it stands on an area of 200 Dunams (nearly 90 acres).

Representatives of the Al Aqsa Foundation went to the graveyard and documented the Israeli violation.

Several month ago, the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem, rejected an appeal filed by the foundation against the destruction of the graves.

In August of last year, Israel bulldozed nearly 300 graves after the foundation renovated nearly 1000 graves that were repeated attacked by extremist settlers.

(www.imemc.org / 26.06.2011)

Israel warns media against boarding Gaza flotilla

Israel is threatening to bar international journalists from the country for years if they board ships attempting to breach the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

A flotilla of Gaza-bound ships is due to set sail soon, perhaps this week.

On Sunday, Israel’s Government Press Office issued a statement calling the flotilla “a dangerous provocation” and an “international violation of Israeli law.”

It says participation in the flotilla “is liable to lead to participants being denied entry into the state of Israel for 10 years” and to additional sanctions.

Israel imposed the blockade in 2007, after Hamas overran Gaza.

Israel eased a land blockade after a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last year. The naval blockade remains intact.

(gazatvnews.com / 26.06.2011)

Tweede Gazavloot binnen paar dagen naar Gaza

De tweede Gazavloot vertrekt binnen een paar dagen.

Dat heeft een woordvoerder van de Nederlandse organisaties die meevaren, zondag gemeld.

Onder anderen Stop de Bezetting, Stichting Palestina en het Nederlandse Palestina Komitee zullen onderdeel zijn van de vloot Freedom Flotilla 2, om humanitaire goederen naar de Gazastrook te brengen.

Eerder deed minister Uri Rosenthal (Buitenlandse Zaken) de organisaties een dringend verzoek om niet uit te varen.

 

Korfoe

Het is de bedoeling dat de Nederlandse boot het Griekse eiland Korfoe verlaat, waar het schip in de haven ligt. In totaal varen vijftig activisten mee op de boot, onder wie twaalf Nederlanders. Onder hen bevindt zich het Rotterdamse GroenLinks-raadslid Nourdin el Ouali.

Het uitvaren van het Nederlandse schip kan nog vertraging oplopen doordat op het laatste moment enkele Zwitserse en Duitse actievoerders aan de bemanning zijn toegevoegd. Zij moeten echter eerst een geweldloosheidscursus volgen, stelt de zegsman. Ook varen journalisten mee van EenVandaag en de Wereldomroep.

Dagblad Trouw was van plan een journalist mee te laten varen maar zag daar alsnog vanaf, zo liet hoofdredacteur Willem Schoonen weten. ”De verslaggever had de indruk dat hij teveel onderdeel van de actie zou worden en zijn werk niet meer onafhankelijk kon doen.’’

Klachten

Het is de bedoeling dat de vloot, die in principe bestaat uit twaalf boten, aan het eind van de week verzamelt in internationale wateren. In het weekend willen de schepen de Gazastrook bereiken. Het uitvaren van twee boten die in Athene liggen, is niet zeker nadat de Griekse havenautoriteiten klachten hebben gekregen dat de schepen niet zeewaardig zouden zijn.

De initiatiefnemers van de actie willen met de vloot de ”illegale blokkade van de Gazastrook doorbreken en hulpgoederen afleveren.” Volgens de organisaties is de blokkade in tegenspraak met het internationaal recht. Eind mei 2010 hield de Israëlische marine een eerste humanitaire vloot tegen op de Middellandse Zee. Bij deze actie kwamen negen Turkse activisten om het leven.

(www.nu.nl / 26.06.2011) (Red. : eindelijk een bericht in de Nederlandse media)

Fundamental reforms should be undertaken after elections

BEN AROUS (TAP) – Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) Secretary-General Maya Jribi said that “the post-elections is a period in which fundamental reforms in political, administrative and economic fields should be undertaken.”

“These reforms should be in line with the preservation of the Tunisian citizen’s dignity and guarantee of his rights, away from any ideologies and extremism,” she specified.

Addressing a meeting on Saturday in Rades, governorate of Ben Arous, PDP Secretary-General warned against the continuity of economic stagnation and against insecurity which are direct causes of foreign investments’ drop, rise in unemployment rate and regression of tourism.

As regards the postponement of the National Constituent Assembly’s elections to next October 16, she voiced once more PDP’s rejection of this postponement, recalling the party’s main objectives, notably “the achievement of justice, democracy and well-being for all Tunisians.”

(pdpinfo.org / 25.06.2011)

Arab ship to participate in flotilla to Gaza

Arab ship to participate in flotilla to GazaIn spite of the deadly end of the first trip and the Israeli warning of military intervention to stop it, the international movement for breaking Gaza siege’s plans to send a new freedom flotilla to Gaza is gaining momentum everyday.

The participation in the Freedom Flotilla II is widening and diversifying day after a day despite the pro-Israeli lobby efforts to scare international activists away from joining it.

The latest of these gains is the announcement of the Jordanian Lifeline Committee on Saturday that an Arab-owned ship would participate in the second flotilla.

In statements to reporters, Head of JLC Wael Sakka said that the Committee has signed an agreement to purchase a ship worth 560,000 euros to participate in the flotilla II expected to sail to Gaza Strip from several European ports late this month.

Sakka noted that the ship, which can accommodate about 200 passengers, was bought by Nour Company, founded by Arab shareholders who met in Amman two months ago to discuss the Arab participation in the flotilla to which about activists from 26 Arab and foreign countries will contribute.

The Arab ship will be one of eight ships participating in the fleet, which will also include a cargo ship.
Sakka said that so far 70 Arab activists from five Arab countries confirmed their participation in the risk trip.
“I will participate in the meeting of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza Strip to be held in Turkey Sunday to discuss the preparations for the fleet launch and review the international community stance of the trip,” he said.

Hundreds of people on as many as nine vessels from countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Denmark and Germany are expected to form the flotilla II.

At least nine Turkish activists were killed and scores wounded when Israeli commandos stormed an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip May 2010.

The shipment was an effort by the rights activists to break a stifling Israeli siege on the Palestinian territory, home to 1.6 million people.

The deadly attack has badly harmed relations between Israel and Turkey, which stipulates an Israeli apology for the assault.

Sakka revealed the pro-Israel Zionist lobby in Europe has tried to derail the ships purchase agreements.
“They have also tried to prevent peace activists from participating in the fleet through pressuring their governments which refused to restrict the movement of its citizens,” Sakka disclosed.

He stressed the importance of the fleet in drawing world attention to the issue of the inhumane blockade imposed on 1.6 million Palestinians who are imprisoned the Gaza.

Israel has clamped a siege on the Palestinian coastal enclave since its arch-foe Hamas was voted to power in the 2006 legislative elections.

It further tightened the blockade after Hamas assumed full control of the Strip in 2007, blocking humanitarian aid into the strip.

(gazatvnews.com / 25.06.2011)

Hillary Clinton gives green light for Israeli attack on Gaza flotilla

In comments yesterday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to lay the ground – indeed almost provide a green light – for an Israeli military attack on the upcoming Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which will include the US Boat to Gaza.

Among the passengers aboard the American boat will be 87-year old Kindertransport survivor Hedy Epstein, and author and poet Alice Walker. In all it is expected that about 10 ships, carrying 1000 people from over 20 countries will take part.

Here’s what Clinton said in remarks at the State Department on 23 June:

Well, we do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza. Just this week, the Israeli Government approved a significant commitment to housing in Gaza. There will be construction materials entering Gaza and we think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.

Clinton must know that Gaza is not part of what any country recognizes as “sovereign” Israeli territory, and therefore neither are Gaza’s territorial waters. Any boats entering Gaza’s waters would not in fact be entering “Israeli waters” as Clinton claimed. Clinton also, presuming she is properly briefed rather than misled, must also know that last year Israel attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla when it was in international waters and GPS data showed that it was actually heading away from Israel.

By invoking Israel’s supposed “right to self-defense” against civilian boats trying to reach Gaza, we must understand that Clinton is telling Israel the United States will not stand in the way of another military attack.

And by citing Israel allowing construction materials into Gaza to make the case that the flotilla is “unnecessary” because “aid” can reach the Palestinian people in Gaza, Clinton is engaging in the ultimate obfuscation.

People in Gaza have been reduced to penury and rendered dependent on aid by decades of Israeli occupation, siege and military attacks. The issue is not the delivery of aid but freeing the people by lifting the siege. It is an abhorrent position to suggest – as Clinton seems to – that if people in Gaza receive enough calories or a few building supplies then we should not be concerned about Israel’s siege. The Palestinian people of Gaza are not caged animals for whom sufficient care consists of shoving rations through the bars of their prison.

Israel’s siege is intended as a form of collective punishment and has been declared illegal by the ICRC.

Israel, as The Electronic Intifada reported, is engaging in military drills to intercept this unarmed civilian flotilla. In light of Clinton’s statements, if any blood is spilled it will not only be on Israeli, but also American hands.

Prosecuting flotilla passengers under “material support” laws

Not content with tacitly encouraging Israeli violence, in another alarming development, the State Department has apparently threatened that Americans who board boats to Gaza could be jailed or fined for supporting terrorism. Haaretz reports:

The U.S. State Department said Friday that attempts to break the blockade are “irresponsible and provocative” and that Israel has well-established means of delivering assistance to the Palestinian residents of Gaza. It noted that the territory is run by the militant Hamas group, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and that Americans providing support to it are subject to fines and jail.

In effect, the US now seems to be defining any support for any Palestinians, including a besieged civilian population, as support for Hamas, and therefore support for “terrorism.”

This mirrors its use of such “material support” laws as a pretext to investigate and persecute Palestine solidarity, antiwar, and labor activists exercising their First Amendment rights at home.

(electronicintifada.net / 25.06.2011)