Posts Tagged ‘Freedom Flotilla’

Israel: Drohkulisse steht

Montag, Juni 27th, 2011

Netanyahu: Israel will not allow flotilla to breach Gaza naval blockade

Security officials inform cabinet that they have no information indicating that anyone affiliated with a terror group is planning to take part in the flotilla.

By Anshel Pfeffer, Danna Harman and Barak Ravid

Israel will not allow any ships to breach its blockade of the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his inner cabinet yesterday, during a discussion of the Gaza-bound flotilla expected to set sail tomorrow.

Security officials and Foreign Ministry representatives informed the cabinet that Israel has no information indicating that terrorists or anyone affiliated with a terror group is planning to take part in the flotilla, said a government source. Nonetheless, there may be clashes between Israeli forces and some Arab activists aboard the ships.

Senior ministers will meet again today to continue discussing the flotilla.

“The critical mass of participants will include human rights activists from European Union countries, Canada and the United States,” said a senior security official.

Some 10 ships are planning to set sail tomorrow in an attempt to breach Israel’s blockade of the Strip. The government and army are hoping the ships will stop on their own, possibly early Thursday, and that the Israel Navy will not have to board them, a move that would not be well received in the world.

Some 500 people are expected to be aboard the flotilla, which will include six or seven ships currently docked in Greece; it is unclear when they will sail. The Greek authorities have been asked by Israel and the United States to hold up the flotilla as long as possible. Assuming the ships do sail from Greece, they will meet up with two or three that have already set sail from Spain and France, and continue toward the Gaza coast.

The announcement two weeks ago from the Turkish group IHH that it will not take part in the flotilla has changed the security establishment’s views regarding the anticipated resistance. IHH members violently resisted the naval takeover of the Mavi Marmara in the flotilla of May 2010, and nine of them were killed in the clashes. In addition, since the Mavi Marmara won’t be part of this flotilla, only smaller ships will be involved, increasing the likelihood that Israel will not have to board them to force them to turn back.

Cabinet ministers were told yesterday that after IHH announced that the Mavi Marmara would not be in the flotilla, there was less reason for concern about possible violent confrontations.

Government and defense sources said the fact that most, if not all, the flotilla participants will be European peace activists presumably not interested in violence will present a “more difficult public diplomacy challenge,” and Israel wants to avoid clashes with the activists.

In contrast to the decision last year to deploy naval commandos onboard the ships when they ignored Israeli warnings not to continue to Gaza – this year Israel will try other methods to stop the ships and direct them toward Egypt’s El Arish port.

The navy has, however, trained for scenarios involving violent resistance and forcible takeover of the ships, but this is considered a last resort. In such a case, the ships and passengers will be brought to a special security area at Ashdod Port.

The IDF is preparing for all possible scenarios,” the army spokesman said.

Flotilla organizers have been informed that if they dock first at Ashdod, Israel will bring the humanitarian aid directly to Gaza, a government source in Jerusalem said.

Israel has also talked in recent days with the interim government in Egypt, which has agreed to allow the ships to unload goods in El Arish, from where they would be sent to Gaza.”

 

(Quelle: Haaretz.com)

Siehe auch:

Israel: “Journalists Onboard Freedom Flotilla Will Not Be Allowed Into Israel”

Griechenland: Einschüchterungsversuche

Montag, Juni 27th, 2011

“Is Greece Being Blackmailed to Put the Brakes on Gaza Flotilla?

By Medea Benjamin

The 50 passengers and crew on the U.S. boat to Gaza have converged in Athens, Greece, ready to head out to sea to join an international fleet of ships that will challenge the Israeli-imposed naval blockade of Gaza. But on Thursday, June 23, when the boat was scheduled to leave its port outside Athens and move closer to an international meeting point, the boat’s owner was suddenly served with a complaint by an unknown individual that the boat was not seaworthy. The captain, convinced that the complaint was bogus, was nevertheless told by Greek authorities that he could not set sail until they did a thorough inspection.

Also on Thursday, Greek port authorities issued an unusual warning to all ship captains to steer clear of the coordinates that correspond with Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. The advisory said there will be continuous electronic surveillance of the region to “record the movements of ships that will possibly participate in such an action.”

It appears that the Greek government is bowing to intense pressure from the Israelis—and possibly the U.S. government—to try to block the flotilla. The American passengers on the U.S. boat, called The Audacity of Hope, are pushing the Greek government to do a quick inspection, as they are convinced the ship would pass muster. “The boat we are leasing for this journey has been worked on for months by qualified technicians and is ready to sail,” said organizer and passenger Ann Wright. “We do not believe it needs to be re-inspected, but we are open to the Greek authorities doing this quickly so that there will be no further delays.”

The move to block the U.S. boat is just the latest in a flurry of recent activity designed to thwart the flotilla. Israel has publicly stated that it is pressuring countries around the world to stop their citizens from participating. Its pressure on the Turkish government was so intense that the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, the same ship that was so violently attacked last year, recently announced that it would not be joining the flotilla.

Several boats in the international flotilla are now docked in Greece. To its credit, the Greek government has taken a position that the blockade on Gaza must be lifted and many people in the government are sympathetic to the aims of the flotilla. But Greece is being battered by a severe economic crisis that has wreaked havoc within the government itself. The passengers speculate that Israel, which has extensive trade and investment ties with Greece, is callously taking advantage of the economic hardship the Greek people are experiencing right now to put the screws on the Greek government.

They also see the hidden hand of the United States behind this, as the Obama administration has been publicly railing against the flotilla, calling it a “provocative act” against Israel and issuing harsh travel warnings to Americans against any attempts to reach Gaza by boat. The U.S. passengers speculate that the Obama Administration is using economic blackmail on the Greek government. Greece’s economic and political crisis is a result of extreme austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the largely U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF). The United States may well be using its leverage at the IMF over the implementation of an ongoing bailout of European banks with massive Greek debts to compel the Greek government to block the U.S. boat.

“Greece is not going to be able to meet the targets that it is pledging to the IMF and the European authorities. In this situation the IMF and therefore the U.S. government will have enormous leverage because these institutions will decide what will be acceptable benchmarks for Greece to receive future tranches of IMF/EU funding,” said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC.

Passengers on the U.S. boat are asking Greek government officials to clarify the situation. “Is our boat being blocked from leaving Greece because of an anonymous request of a private citizen concerning the seaworthiness of the ship, a situation could be easily dealt with by a quick inspection, or is this a political decision by the Greek government in response to economic pressure?,” asked passenger and political analyst Robert Naiman.

In any event, the flotilla participants remain determined to set sail. “We have overcome many roadblocks along the way and we will overcome this one as well,” said passenger and CODEPINK organizer Ridgely Fuller. “We might not have the economic clout of the U.S. and Israeli governments, but we have morality and the support of the Greek people on our side.”

 

(Quelle: AlterNet.)

Israel/Palästina: Für Gaza, aber nicht gegen Israel

Donnerstag, Juni 23rd, 2011

“For Gaza, but not against Israel / Chicago Sun-Times

By ESTHER CEPEDA

In a few days, slightly more than a year since a flotilla of ships attempted to breech Israel”s naval blockade to call attention to the plight of the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 50 passengers, including three from the Chicago area, will sail to the Gaza Strip on a boat named “The Audacity of Hope.” As part of the second international “freedom flotilla,” they’ll attempt the same feat to deliver humanitarian aid in the form of letters of support and friendship.

If you recall the ruckus last year”s attempt raised, you’ll understand what danger these 50 activists — including Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Color Purple” Alice Walker, author and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, and Tony-nominated actress Kathy Chalfant — are facing.

The flotilla’s main ship, the Mavi Marmara, was raided, leaving nine humanitarian activists, including one U.S. citizen, dead. The international uproar continues over whether Israeli forces were right to act as they did when boarding the ship.

In the year since that incident, the international and U.S. debate about Middle East politics has been reduced to sound bytes about who is “for” and who is “against” Israel.

“I think when you frame it in terms of this being a human rights issue, of believing the Palestinians have a right to live in dignity without an army imposing restrictions on them, you see we’re not against Israel. We’re really just asking Israel to uphold human rights and international law,” says 22-year-old Logan Square resident Max Suchan, who will be on The Audacity of Hope. He works with Palestine Solidarity Project, a Palestinian-led initiative that organizes unarmed resistance to the occupation.

Suchan told me that one-quarter of the activists setting sail from Greece this week are practicing Jews who, like the other passengers, are critical of Israel”s policies, much as many Americans are critical of some U.S. foreign policies.

Robert Naiman, policy director of Just Foreign Policy, a U.S. foreign policy reform organization, told me that though politics are inextricably linked with this voyage that he’ll be on, “our main concern is simply to raise the profile of the blockade and increase pressure on the U.S. to end the blockade.”

Naiman, an Elmhurst native and current resident of Champaign-Urbana, told me the focus is firmly on “the 1.5 million Gazans who can’t travel, freely work, study or access medical care. They”re prevented from exporting goods, from importing medical supplies; farmers are prevented farming land and fishermen from fishing.”

“As far as being accused of being anti-Israel, we just reject the idea the blockade is premised on: that it’s an economic warfare against Hamas,” Naiman said, referring to the political party that governs the Gaza Strip and is widely recognized as a terrorist organization. “But to believe that all these restrictions on Palestinians are justified you have to erase any distinction between Hamas and the 1.5 million human beings who have nothing to do with Hamas but are living under restrictions.”

Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly, a lifelong Chicagoan and current Andersonville resident, told me she wants the American people, and Chicagoans, to take ownership of our collective role in the Gaza Strip residents’ plight.

“Many people aren’t aware of the very definite connection between the U.S. and Israel’s capacity both to impose the siege and back it up with formidable weapons,” Kelly told me as she prepared for the passage. “Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Caterpillar — these are major companies selling huge weapons systems to the Israeli government and that’s why it takes the stance of no negotiation with Hamas. The U.S. gives the Israeli military $3 billion in foreign military aid every year and the people in Gaza have the right to ask the U.S. ‘How can you keep doing this?’ ”

Those questions will surely come back to the forefront in the coming days. The Audacity of Hope”s passengers are set to arrive in Greece Tuesday and set sail a few days later. No one knows how they”ll fare in the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli military forces have vowed to let no ships cross into Gaza, but one thing is certain: Chicago and the whole world will be watching.”

 

(Quelle: Voices for Creative Nonviolence.)

Palästina/Gaza: Nobelpreisträgerinnen appellieren an Ban Ki-Moon

Freitag, Juni 17th, 2011

“Laureates To Ban Ki-Moon: Safe Passage For Gaza Flotilla

 

 

Four women Nobel Peace Laureates have sent an open letter calling on United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to support the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II. The flotilla will be bringing much-needed humanitarian supplies to the people of Gaza in late June.

Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, and Rigoberta Menchú Tum have asked the Secretary General to “support the people of Gaza with two key actions.  First, by appointing a representative to inspect and seal the cargo of the boats of the Freedom Flotilla II—thus assuring the Israeli government that the boats are carrying humanitarian supplies…” and to “call on all governments to support the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II.”

Download the open letter here or read the full text below.

Ki-moon has failed to make efforts to dissuade UN member governments from stopping delivery of this humanitarian aid to Gaza. These legitimate humanitarian initiatives have been undertaken by civil society in an effort to help ease the suffering of the people of Gaza as they face humanitarian crises of devastating scale. The Laureates are urging the Secretary General to use his authority to encourage international support for these initiatives, and to ask Israel not to use force against the flotilla.


June 10, 2011

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations
New York, NY 10017 USA

RE: Inspection and sealing of Freedom Flotilla II cargo

Dear Mr. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

We are writing to urge you to use your good offices in support of the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza.

In our view, you can support the people of Gaza with two key actions. First, by appointing a representative to inspect and seal the cargo of the boats of the Freedom Flotilla II—thus assuring the Israeli government that the boats are carrying humanitarian supplies such as toys, medical supplies, cement and educational materials. Equally important, we strongly urge you to use your authority to call on all governments to support the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II. We are disappointed to learn of your recent efforts to persuade member governments from stopping the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza on the Freedom Flotilla II. We urge you to reconsider and instead encourage member states to lend support and ask Israel not to use force against legitimate humanitarian initiatives undertaken by civil society to help ease the suffering of the people of Gaza who are facing a humanitarian crisis of devastating scale.

The Freedom Flotilla II, organized by 14 national groups and international coalitions and carrying approximately 1500 ‘freedom riders,’ is set to sail to Gaza this month. Sailing in the spirit of promoting human rights, prosperity, and social responsibility, the aim of the Flotilla is to alleviate the humanitarian crisis faced by the citizens of Gaza.

The blockade in Gaza is clearly having a harmful impact on the people of Gaza, and indeed UNDP and other agencies report high levels of malnutrition and other disturbing health problems. According to a report by the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, the level of “abject poverty” among the Palestinians of Gaza has tripled since the imposition of the blockade, with 61 % of households not having enough food. The blockade has crippled the Gaza economy and destroyed Palestinians’ livelihoods and homes.

We believe our requests to you are in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 1860 of January 2009 as well as the 2010 UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on the attack on Freedom Flotilla I, which are calling for a lift of the blockade to allow humanitarian assistance. We urge you to do all you can to support this nonviolent international humanitarian effort, to provide UN representatives to inspect and seal the cargo, and to appeal to all governments to allow safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your positive response.

Sincerely,
Mairead Maguire (1976)
Rigoberta Menchu Tum (1992)
Jody Williams (1997)
Shirin Ebadi (2003) “


What you can do:

    Stay informed about what is happening with the flotilla through organizations like Free Gaza, Gaza Freedom March and the Canadian Boat to Gaza.

    ● Follow Free Gaza Movement and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation on Facebook.

    ● Follow Free Gaza Movement and Gaza Freedom March on Twitter.

    ● Spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and/or word of mouth.

    Ask the United Nations to work with the international community to assemble support for the flotilla and stop any actions designed to interfere with its safe passage. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon can be reached at sg@un.org.

 

(Quelle: Nobel Women’s Initiative.)

Palästina: Freedom Flotilla segelt im Juni los

Dienstag, Mai 10th, 2011

“Freedom Flotilla 2 to sail in late June to Gaza

Press Statement
Freedom Flotilla II

Paris. France

The international steering committee of Freedom Flotilla II just concluded its planning meeting in Paris, a few weeks before the scheduled departure of the flotilla to Gaza.

Freedom Flotilla II will leave during the third week of June, with ships departing from various European ports including Marseilles. We’re very pleased to announce the recent addition of a Swiss-German boat to the flotilla. In July 2010 Germany’s Bundestag passed a resolution calling for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

A number of our respective governments have said the same. The UN Human Rights Committee Fact Finding Mission into the 2010 flotilla attack found Israeli’s blockade on Gaza to be unlawful. The International Committee of the Red Cross has said that Israel must end its illegal closure of Gaza.

Yet Israel continues to disregard international law and ignore the will of the international community. Without any strong diplomatic action being taken to enforce international law and defend the human rights of the Palestinian people, the flotilla must sail and other international initiatives to end Israel’s impunity are called for.

We are encouraged by the reported decision of the new Egyptian government to open the Rafah crossing. But just as Egyptians stayed in Tahrir Square, accepting nothing less than the departure of the former regime, so too we must accept nothing less than a full end of the illegal blockade of Gaza and all forms of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

In one week, Palestinians will mark 63 years since the Nakba and the beginning of the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homes. Next month will mark 44 years since the onset of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. And July will mark 44 years since the near hermetic closure of Gaza. The question is no longer why we are sailing to break the blockade, but why is it taking the international community so long to act. We call on the community of states and people around the world to uphold international law in Palestine, and support the Freedom Flotilla.

Tomorrow, members of the Steering Committee will head to Strasbourg for meetings with European Parliament members to discuss details of the flotilla and their active support. From now until we sail members of the flotilla will be meeting their government officials, the UN and other international organisations to gain support for this global civil society action to end Israel’s criminal blockade of Gaza.

Freedom Flotilla II”

 

(Quelle: Gaza TV News.)

Israel/Palästina: Hilfsflotte voraus!

Mittwoch, Mai 4th, 2011

Bringing the world's solidarity to Gaza

Kevin Ovenden, a leader of the Viva Palestina effort to break the siege of Gaza, looks at the context for the new solidarity initiatives that will be launched this month

Protesters in Los Angeles march in solidarity with the people of Palestine (David Rapkin | SW)

A SECOND, larger aid flotilla is due to sail towards Gaza at the end of May, around the anniversary of Israel’s murderous attack on the Mavi Marmara on May 31 last year, in which Israeli commandoes shot dead nine Turkish activists.

Freedom Flotilla 2 is set to be more than twice the size of the first mission, which had six ships. It will comprise hundreds of activists from dozens of countries, east and west. It takes place as unprecedented radical change sweeps the Arab region.

The attack on the Mavi Marmara in international waters was a turning point in the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Far from intimidating efforts to end the siege on Gaza and support the Palestinian struggle, Israel’s massacre spurred them on and amplified the calls to isolate apartheid Israel through boycott, divestment and sanctions. Five months after the Mavi Marmara attack, Viva Palestina entered Gaza with a land convoy through the Rafah crossing controlled by Egypt. For the first time, we were able to take in all of our 137 vehicles and aid.

Support for the new flotilla is broader than last year, and the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is desperate to stop it.

In March, Netanyahu summoned European ambassadors in Tel Aviv and told them that the flotilla had “to be stopped.” The U.S. government and Britain have joined Israel in launching a diplomatic offensive at the UN designed to block the flotilla. Israeli media reports that Mossad and military intelligence have been ordered to spy on left-wing organizations in the West as part of the huge effort to stop the ships. Pro-Israeli propagandists are at full tilt attempting to smear the flotilla as a puppet for al-Qaeda or violent jihadism. Netanyahu has refused to rule out a repeat of last year’s massacre.

But the threats are more a sign of the isolation of Israel than of its strength. Despite closer relations with the government of Greece over the last two years, Israel has so far failed to secure Greek cooperation in halting the flotilla.

Israel’s appeals to the Turkish government, which faces an election on June 12, have also been spurned. The attack on the Mavi Marmara united broad sections of Turkish society against Israel, further undermining what had been a strategically central alliance between the two states under the aegis of the U.S. for decades.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

CRUCIALLY, THIS mission to Gaza takes place in profoundly different regional circumstances than in 2010.

Last year, Israel could look to its borders and see two friendly regimes–in Egypt and in Jordan–which were full partners in the suppression of the Palestinians. In a third state, Lebanon, there was the government of Saad Hariri, pro-American and hostile to the national resistance movement led by Hezbollah, which inflicted a military defeat on Israel when it invaded the country in the summer of 2006. On the fourth border was Syria, whose regime was opposed to Israel, but at least a known quantity.

Now, Hariri is out and the national resistance forces in Lebanon are in a stronger position. The Syrian regime faces a raging uprising, but neither the U.S. nor Israel are sure that what might emerge will be amenable to their interests. The Jordanian monarchy faces demands for far-reaching reform and renewed activism, including from the two-thirds of its population that isn’t Palestinian.

Above all, Israel’s key ally–without whom the siege on the people of Gaza could not have been maintained–Hosni Mubarak has fallen to the most important revolution in the Arab region thus far. There is now mounting pressure in Egypt to change the 34-year policy of collaboration with Israel.

The issue of Palestine was a cornerstone of the decade-long political renaissance that preceded the eruption in Tahrir Square this year. The first political space for many years carved out under the Mubarak dictatorship was 10 years ago when students and young people took to the streets in support of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in Palestine. The sense of national shame that Mubarak closed the Rafah border just as Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on the people of Gaza starting in December 2008 increased the discontent at domestic repression and immiseration.

Thus, even the transitional military regime in Cairo is feeling the pressure to end the siege on Gaza. Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Arabi told the BBC early in April, “We have made it very clear from the beginning of this government that has now been in power for about six weeks, that we are turning a new page in our foreign relations. We are reviewing all our major interests in foreign policy.”

There are demands both to open the Rafah crossing fully and to end the sale of natural gas to Israel at heavily subsidized prices. The government and mainstream opposition forces have declared that they will respect the Camp David peace treaty with Israel. But there is considerable room for maneuver for any Egyptian government to respond to pressure to support the Palestinians without formally rescinding Camp David. As Max Rodenbeck, chief Middle East writer for The Economist, says:

Almost anyone, whether it’s a pro-Western liberal, or some sort of Islamist representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, will want to make Egypt more independent and readopt the role of strong regional player. I imagine we will see a little bit of distancing from the U.S., probably more chill in the Egypt-Israel relationship.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

THE YOUTH-led Arab revolutionary wave is also having an impact in Palestine itself–in Gaza, in the West Bank and in pre-1948 Palestine. Tens of thousands of young people have taken to the streets demanding national unity forged in the spirit of the new politics born in the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Their ire has been particularly focused at the corrupted administration on Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. He in turn has felt forced to engage more seriously, with moves towards reconciliation with Hamas, which won Palestinian elections in 2006, but was targeted by Israel and the U.S. with the siege of Gaza.

The dependence of Abbas’ regime on the U.S. and Israel remains acute. But in a further sign of vulnerability, Israel and its propagandists, such as American Israel Political Action Committee, are warning that they can no longer rely on Abbas, rehearsing the line of 10 years ago that “Israel does not have a partner for peace.”

Many questions remain. Certainly, both the U.S. and Israel are attempting to regain the initiative following the blow they suffered with the fall of Mubarak. They want to carve out from the Arab upsurge a process designed to transform it into pro-Western regime change, which will bring to power governments that will normalize relations with Israel.

So Israeli President Shimon Peres recently adopted a different tack from Netanyahu, who cleaved to Mubarak up to the last minute. Peres wrote that he was in favor of the “Arab spring”–Israeli political leaders prefer not to use the word revolution–and of democracy in the Middle East. By democracy, he meant liberal capitalism and states that would accept Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians.

But pulling that off–through military intervention directly in Libya, by the use of proxy forces against pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain and by cohering pro-Western forces across the region–is fraught with difficulties, because the main driving force of the upheaval is in opposition to Western and Israeli interests.

In Egypt, just 14 percent of the population has a positive view of the U.S., and fewer still of Israel. The U.S. dilemma is that its attempts to pose as a friend of the popular Arab movements are hamstrung by its craven support for Israel. The U.S. recently wielded its veto yet again at the UN to block a resolution condemning illegal settlement building.

It is into this mix that the flotilla is sailing. It was already apparent last year that the context for solidarity with the Palestinians was changing. Not only was there a wider base for the movement in the West, as Israel frittered away its ideological and political capital, but there were also signs of growing activism within the Arab region.

Events now have vindicated the strategic view that to be most effective, the Palestinian solidarity movement should connect with wider social and political forces in the Middle East. Support for the flotilla provides a vital opportunity to do just that.

It is not only in North America and Europe that people stand poised to take action to support the flotilla. They are also preparing in Jordan, Egypt and across the Arab region.

Solidarity with the Palestinians now is not only a blow against Israel’s policies. It is in a very direct sense an act of furthering the revolutionary processes in the Middle East that hold out the prospect of liberation.

 

(Quelle: SocialistWorker.org.)