Sunday, 30 May 2010

Threatened by Israel as they bring hope and aid to Gaza and Palestine

TMake-shift prison in Ashdod - Arabs48
Make-shift prison in Ashdod - Arabs48

The Flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza has been threatened with a violent confrontation by Israel. Israeli sources, quoted by Associated Press, reported that "the navy had concluded all preparations to take over the Freedom Flotilla, by force in needed, in an attempt to prevent it from reaching the Gaza coast to break the four-year long ongoing siege". A report in Ma'ariv, an Israeli tabloid,says the Israeli military fear that there could be "terror activists", explosives and weapons on board the humanitarian ships. Greta Berlin of Free Gaza denied this, saying every item on board each ship had been inspected by port authorities and manifests issued. "Yet the Israelis are coming towards us armed to the teeth."

They plan to use force to board the ships and bring the flotilla to Ashdod, arrest all the aid carriers and imprison them in the above camp, order all of them to sign their own papers of deportation, deport those who sign and send the rest for medical examination before handing them over to the Nashon brigade who will imprison them in Be'er Sheva and other prisons in Israel. That is the threat.

Meanwhile Israel is working secretly on other fronts to stop the flotilla from getting to Gaza. Cyprus has reneged shamefully on a promise it had made that some "high-profile" passengers and members of Parliament would board from Cyprus with no media coverage.Free Gaza would take small boats out to their ships and board beyond the 12-mile territorial limit. But when the time came, Cypriot authorities prohibited that and also forbade them, "if they boarded small boats anywhere in Greek Cyprus from any port", from travelling outside their territorial limits to go to Gaza.

Two boats have been damaged mysteriously, Challenger 1 and Challenger 2. But "there is Gaza fever on board", says Greta Berlin. The flotilla is moving onwards to Gaza on Sunday 30 May.

There has been little recent news of the MV Rachel Corrie, the Irish ship that is part of the Flotilla carrying aid. On board are Denis Halliday (Dublin), Caoimhe Butterly (Dublin/Cork), Chris Andrews TD (Dublin), Fintan Lane (Cork/Dublin), Mairead Maguire (Belfast), Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD (Dublin), Senator Mark Daly (Kerry) and Fiachra Ó Luain (Donegal). The Irish crew members on the MV Rachel Corrie are Derek Graham (Mayo), Jenny Graham (Mayo) and Shane Dillon (Dublin). Ireland should be proud of them.

While the ships sail to Gaza and Israel uses all the propaganda it can muster to frighten, cajole and threaten the international volunteers who hope to bring aid to a devastated part of Palestine, the tales of Israeli atrocities continue
apace in the other part, the West Bank. In Bilin, on Friday, the usual attacks on peaceful demonstrators against the Wall included the firing of long distance tear gas cannisters, rubber bullets, sound bombs and arrests resulting in two being wounded. In Nabi Saleh, three injured, a girl hit by a sound bomb as she watched with her family from the safety of her flat roof , head injured, later hospitalised, a man hit in the back by a tear gas cannister, a boy's finger broken. Weekly, sometimes, night raids in various villages around the West Bank and in East Jerusalem where residents are terrorised, houses shot into. Random and planned burning and destruction of olive trees on which Palestinians survive through the oil harvested.

And all this while the USA, the EU, the UN and Russia give uncritical aid and support to the rogue State that devastated Gaza in Operation Cast Lead.

While we sit and get on with our own affairs, a Flotilla of wonderful people heads for Gaza. Those who are on the ships and boats have again raised awareness of all that is happening to Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories. For that they deserve our eternal gratitude.

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