Sunday, May 30, 2010

Aid workers and activists murdered by Israel on the high seas

Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country's siege on Gaza.

Up to 16 people were killed and dozens injured when troops stormed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, the Israeli Army Radio said.

The flotilla was attacked in international waters, 65km off the Gaza coast.
Source: Al Jazzera
The responses by people around the world on Facebook pages shows some of the outrage that the world is feeling as Israel continues to regularly commit war crimes and crimes against humanity to maintain its bloody occupation on the West Bank and siege of Gaza.
“The Israeli 'Defence Forces' have been bombing, shooting and torturing poor Palestinian people for decades so I guess we shouldn't be too suprised that they are now gunning down foreign aid workers and European MPs.”

“Can they do that? I mean, they clearly just did. But surely it shouldn't be allowed? Someone should do something. But I bet they'll just get away with it as usual.”

“I can not believe Israel just attacked an aid flotilla to Gaza, killing two IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS! That is outrageous!”
There is still confusion about the number of casualties and the circumstances in which Israeli commandos opened fire. However the twitter site for the Free Gaza Movement, which had two ships in the aid convoy contained this tweet; “There was no fire from our side. Watch the IHH video of soldiers firing the moment their feet hit the deck. They shot civilians asleep”.

What is clear is that the activists and sailors who are attempting to break the siege of Gaza carry with them the world’s love and solidarity for Gaza. The continued attempts by ordinary people around the world to provide practical solidarity in the form of delivering aid to Gaza embodies real roadmap to peace, sustained, non-violent, global direct action.

As one sailor with the Free Gaza ships, Ann Wright wrote,
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 flotilla has some high powered sympathisers,
John Ging, the Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), has called upon the international community to break the siege on the Gaza Strip by sending ships loaded with desperately-needed supplies to the beleaguered territory.

In an interview with a Norwegian newspaper, Mr. Ging said, "The international community must take responsibility on this issue and embrace practical ways to break the siege, because it is possible to break it."
Israel’s naval siege of Gaza is an integral part of the noose it keeps wrapped around the heads of 1.4 million civilians, 96% of whom are dependent on foreign aid. US foreign policy critic Noam Chomsky recently wrote,
According to reports from the scene, the naval siege has been tightened steadily since 2000. Fishing boats have been driven steadily out of Gaza's territorial waters and toward the shore by Israeli gunboats, often violently without warning and with many casualties. As a result of these naval actions, Gaza's fishing industry has virtually collapsed; fishing is impossible near shore because of the contamination caused by Israel's regular attacks, including the destruction of power plants and sewage facilities.

These Israeli naval attacks began shortly after the discovery by the BG (British Gas) Group of what appear to be quite sizeable natural gas fields in Gaza's territorial waters. Industry journals report that Israel is already appropriating these Gazan resources for its own use, part of its commitment to shift its economy to natural gas.
As the facts become clear from the Israeli attack on these ships, protests will break out around the world. Keep your eye on the Socialist Aotearoa blog as the Palestine solidarity movement mobilises here to tell the National Government to expel the Israeli diplomats and to call once more for boycott, divestment and sanctions to stop Israel’s massacres.

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