“No humanitarian crisis here” say Netanyahu and Ya’alon
Governments should support brave humanitarian voyagers and back their play in future.
Welcome to the latest chapter in a long tale of unspeakable cruelty.
Israel’s military are once more raiding mercy ships on the high seas in an effort to prevent humanitarian aid reaching the 1.8 million souls in shattered Gaza.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the Swedish boat Marianne with 18 passengers has been “interdicted” by Israeli commandos 85 miles from the Gaza coast and towed to Ashdod. The three other vessels in the flotilla turned back and another big-hearted mission ended “with a whimper”.
Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon called his operation to deprive desperate, poverty stricken Gazans a “success”. The Marianne‘s passengers would be be deported. “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” he added.
Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting Hamas and ignores all of the horrors in our region”, and he added that a panel established by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon determined that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is lawful.
“Israel is a democracy that defends itself in accordance with international law.” He stressed there was no “siege” of Gaza,
There’s no siege of Gaza, no humanitarian crisis? Anyone who’s been there knows Netanyahu and Ya’alon are liars.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition said on Monday that at around 2:00am the Marianne reported that she was surrounded by three Israel Navy boats in international waters some 100 nautical miles from the Gaza coast. Radio contact was then lost. In a statement they said:
We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was ‘uneventful’, because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the Estelle were badly tasered and beaten with clubs. Back in 2010, ten passengers of Mavi Marmara were murdered by the IDF during a similar operation in international waters.
“Reckless to travel to Gaza”
Britain has ‘form’ when it comes to disregarding international law and keeping the Israeli blockade going. Back in July 2009, I received a letter from the office of Britain’s then foreign secretary, David Miliband, in reply to questions about Israel’s hijacking of the mercy ship Spirit of Humanity on the high seas and the outrageous treatment of six peace-loving British citizens including the skipper. They were en route to Gaza, not Israel, had their gear stolen or damaged and were thrown into Israeli jails. The letter said:
All those on board, including six British nationals, were handed over to Israeli immigration officials. British consular officials had good access to the British detainees and established that they were treated well.
That’s not the story the peaceful seafarers told. They were assaulted, put in fear for their lives and deprived of their liberty for fully a week – a long time in a stinking Israeli jail – for committing no offence whatsoever.
The letter continued:
The Foreign Secretary said in the House of Commons on 30 June that it was ‘vital that all states respect international law, including the law of the sea’… We regularly remind the Israeli government of its obligations under international law on a variety of issues, including with respect to humanitarian access to Gaza as well as Israel’s control of Gazan waters…
Our Travel Advice makes clear that we advise against all travel to Gaza, including its offshore waters; that it is reckless to travel to Gaza at this time…
So, instead of keeping the seaways open, it seems the British Government was colluding with Israel to keep part of the Holy Land off-limits to British pilgrims, humanitarians and businesspeople and implicating itself in the collective punishment inflicted by the Israeli regime on the citizens of Gaza.
A year later the Mavi Marmara was the target for armed assault on the high seas by Israeli commandos, who left 9 passengers dead and dozens injured. The vessel was part of the Free Gaza flotilla. When reports were coming in that Israeli gunboats had “intercepted” the flotilla 90 miles out to sea and threatened humanitarian workers that they would be boarded and towed to an Israeli port, I emailed Britain’s then deputy prime minister Nick Clegg: “Where is the Royal Navy when it’s needed to protect life and limb of the 30-odd British nationals?”
Ministers had themselves received advanced warning of Israel’s intention to stop the flotilla “by any means”, and the British people wanted their government to do them proud and provide real protection for those brave souls in their peaceful mission to bring relief to Palestinians whose lives were made a living hell by the bully-boys of the Middle East.
They were, after all, only doing the right thing… doing what the West’s cowardly leaders wet their pants at the very thought of doing.
Blockade “unacceptable and unsustainable”. So why is it still in place 9 years later?
A few months earlier, in the run-up to the general election, Clegg had written in The Guardian:
…And what has the British government and the international community done to lift the blockade? Next to nothing. Tough-sounding declarations are issued at regular intervals but little real pressure is applied. It is a scandal that the international community has sat on its hands in the face of this unfolding crisis.
But Clegg, now in power and able to act, was as wimpy as every senior minister before him when put to the test:
The Government was very clear in its disapproval of the Israeli actions which ended in such heavy and tragic loss of life.
We have underlined the need for a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation into the events… Israel’s announcement of an inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge Yaakov Tirkel is an important step forward….
These events… arose from the unacceptable and unsustainable blockade of Gaza…. It has long been the view of the Government that restrictions on Gaza should be lifted – a view confirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 1860, which called for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and called on states to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation persisting there.
It is essential that there is unfettered access – not only to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, but to enable the reconstruction of homes and livelihoods and permit trade to take place.
It was then — and still is now — pointless calling for the blockade to be lifted. Israel’s repeated promises to “ease it” are purely cosmetic. In 2010 incoming goods to Gaza rose by a miserable 7 or 8% while the block on exports remained. That’s all the West’s feeble hand-wringing achieved.
UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (America abstained on Israel’s orders, according to former prime minister Ehud Olmert) called for the reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. To this day there is no sign of Israeli compliance.
The following year, 2011, MP Caroline Lucas quizzed foreign secretary William Hague in the Commons, as recorded by Hansard (29 June)….
Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion): Earlier today, Palestine solidarity groups, politicians, teachers and others marked the anniversary of the attacks on the Free Gaza flotilla last year by sailing down the river outside Parliament and marking the launch of a new Free Gaza flotilla. As the Foreign Secretary has previously said that the situation in Gaza is unacceptable and unsustainable, will he tell us what further action he is taking to help get the siege lifted, and will he do everything that he can to get guarantees that this new flotilla will be safe from attack?
Mr Hague: We have continued to take the action that I set out in the House last year. We have urged Israel greatly to improve access to Gaza. It has taken some steps, but those steps have not been as fruitful as we had hoped when they were set out. Egypt has now opened an important crossing into Gaza, which may also provide some relief. The answer relies on the general lifting of a blockade of Gaza and on a negotiated two-state solution in the middle east. However, embarking on new flotillas is not the way in which to bring that about. We advise against all travel to Gaza by British nationals, which includes people who may be thinking of boarding a flotilla to go there. We hope that Israel will make only a proportionate response to any such flotilla, but it is, none the less, not the way in which to sort out the problems of the middle east. Such problems require negotiations in good faith by the parties concerned.
Hague’s answer might have been written by Israeli speech writers. He insisted that flotillas were “not the way”. Well, what is? The proper way to break a siege, which the UN itself calls “illegal and contrary to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”, is surely for the UN to apply sanctions. Failing that, the right thing would be for UN warships to break the siege… or for international civil society to do it escorted by UN warships or by warships belonging to the nation(s) of the flagged humanitarian vessels threatened with piratical aggression.
The proper way for Israel to avoid trouble would be to end its illegal blockade of Gaza and its illegal occupation of the rest of Palestine, and not interfere with humanitarians going about their lawful business.
As for “negotiations in good faith”, when did they ever happen?
A year after Israel’s murderous assault on the Mavi Marmara Hague was making more daft remarks in the House of Commons:
• “Our clear advice to British nationals is not to travel to Gaza.” Music to Israel’s ears, of course, as Hague helped to legitimize the illegal sea blockade..
• “Their welfare [meaning the British nationals on board] is our top priority.” Hague knew of Israel’s intention to go to any lengths, including the use of lethal force, to stop the mercy ships but took no precautionary action.
• He referred to “individuals who are allegedly involved in violence against Israeli servicemen during the boarding”, but failed to grasp that the violence was committed by Israeli storm-troopers dropping from helicopters with guns blazing under cover of darkness in international waters.
• “Restrictions on Gaza should be lifted – a view confirmed in United Nations Security Council resolution 1860.” Bravo, he gets that bit right. But Resolution 1860 goes much further and calls for the sustained reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, which provides for:
– the reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank
– bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza
– the building of a new seaport in Gaza
– re-opening of the airport in Gaza
When did we see any of that happen?
Hague was challenged by Sir Gerald Kaufman, the straight-talking Jewish MP, who pointed out that any one of the 37 UK citizens might have been killed when the Israelis “committed a war crime of piracy in international waters, kidnapping and murder—and all in pursuit of upholding an illegal blockade on Gaza that amounts to collective punishment…” He asked Mr Hague for his assurance that further steps would be taken if the Israelis failed to comply with the modest request that had been made.
But Hague sidestepped, saying: “It is our strong advice to British nationals, as it has been in the past and will be in the future, not to travel to Gaza — let me make that absolutely clear — as they would be going into a dangerous situation, but it is absolutely wrong to maintain the blockade.”
MP Jeremy Corbyn asked if it wasn’t time for sanctions such as revoking the EU-Israel trade agreement. Hague replied that he did not think imposing sanctions was the right policy either – but gave no reason.
MP Frank Dobson suggested that Britain and the other European members of NATO should give naval protection if another flotilla were to set off for Gaza, with the Royal Navy reverting to its traditional role of protecting the freedom of the seas. Hague dismissed this too.
As usual, no consequences for Israel’s crimes were contemplated. And the Government chicken coop happily clucked its approval as Hague handed the Israelis total victory. Today, five years on, Israel is making the same threats and committing the same acts of piracy against the latest flotilla.
Legal or not?
Israel’s naval blockade is illegal and so was Israel’s interception of the Mavi Marmara and other Gaza-bound vessels in international waters in May 2010. So said the United Nations fact-finding mission set up by the Human Rights Council.
The Mission’s team, chaired by Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, QC, a retired Judge of the International Criminal Court, reported they were “satisfied that the blockade was inflicting disproportionate damage upon the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and that as such the interception could not be justified and therefore has to be considered illegal…
The Mission considers that one of the principal motives behind the imposition of the blockade was a desire to punish the people of the Gaza Strip for having elected Hamas. The combination of this motive and the effect of the restrictions on the Gaza Strip leave no doubt that Israel’s actions and policies amount to collective punishment as defined by international law… No case can be made for the legality of the interception and the Mission therefore finds that the interception was illegal.
That wasn’t all. The naval blockade was implemented in support of the overall closure regime.
As such it was part of a single disproportionate measure of armed conflict and as such cannot itself be found proportionate. Furthermore, the closure regime is considered by the Mission to constitute collective punishment of the people living in the Gaza Strip and thus to be illegal and contrary to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Intercepting the Mavi Marmara on the high seas was “clearly unlawful” and could not be justified even under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations [the right of self-defence].
The Centre for Constitutional Rights also concluded that the Israeli blockade was illegal under international law:
Due both to the legal nature of Israel’s relationship to Gaza – that of occupier – and the impact of the blockade on the civilian population, amounting to ‘collective punishment’, the blockade cannot be reconciled with the principles of international law, including international humanitarian law. It is recalled that the international community, speaking through both the United Nations and individual States, has repeatedly and emphatically called for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The flotilla did not seek to travel to Israel, let alone ‘attack’ Israel. Furthermore, the flotilla did not constitute an act which required an ‘urgent’ response, such that Israel had to launch a middle-of-the-night armed boarding… Israel could also have diplomatically engaged Turkey, arranged for a third party to verify there were no weapons onboard and then peacefully guided the vessel to Gaza.
Craig Murray was Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and responsible for giving political and legal clearance to Royal Navy boarding operations in the Persian Gulf following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in enforcement of the UN authorised blockade against Iraqi weapons shipments. He is therefore an internationally recognized authority on these matters. Referring to the participation of an American boat he said:
Right of free passage is guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, to which the United States is a full party. Any incident which takes place upon a US flagged ship on the High Seas is subject to United States legal jurisdiction. A ship is entitled to look to its flag state for protection from attack on the High Seas…
Israel has declared a blockade on Gaza and justified previous fatal attacks on neutral civilian vessels on the High Seas in terms of enforcing that embargo, under the legal cover given by the San Remo Manual of International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea. There are however fundamental flaws in this line of argument. It falls completely on one fact alone. San Remo only applies to blockade in times of armed conflict. Israel is not currently engaged in an armed conflict, and presumably does not wish to be. San Remo does not confer any right to impose a permanent blockade outwith times of armed conflict, and in fact specifically excludes as illegal a general blockade on an entire population.
Sporadic attacks from Gaza did not come close to reaching the bar of armed conflict that would trigger the right to impose a naval blockade, he said. When the UK suffered continued terrorist attack from the IRA (Irish Republican Army), sustaining many more deaths than anything Israel has suffered in recent years from Gaza, it would have been ridiculous to argue that the UK had a right to mount a general naval blockade of the Republic of Ireland.
The EU Commission declared that “all those wishing to deliver goods to Gaza should do so through established channels”. The “established channel” for delivering goods to Gaza is, of course, the time-honoured route by sea, which is protected by maritime and international law. Flotilla organizers have offered their cargoes for inspection and verification by a trusted third party to allay Israel’s fears about weapon supplies. They should not have to deal direct with the belligerent regime that’s cruelly turning the screws on civilians with an illegal blockade. Anyone suggesting they must hand over their cargo to the aggressor seeks to legitimize the blockade, which we all know to be illegal and a crime against humanity.
Quite simply, an attack on civilian ships carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza cannot be justified by the existence of a blockade that violates international law. So Israel doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Nor does the cowardly British Government. Nor do the 80 percent of Conservative MPs and MEPs who, for whatever dark reasons, love and adore the abhorrent Israeli regime and the war criminals who run it. Therefore “all good men and true” should rally to support those brave humanitarian voyagers and ensure their governments back their play in future.
The UK government approved £4 million worth of arms sales to Israel in the immediate months following the Israeli government’s military bombardment of Gaza last summer, new research reveals.
Detailed analysis published Thursday indicates that the related arms licenses cover military hardware likely to be deployed if violence in the besieged coastal strip resumes.
Among the arms sales Britain presided over were special components for military helicopters and a range of hi-tech parts for guidance and navigation systems used by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
The former Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government also approved arms licenses for a slew of third-party states that sell weapons to Israel. These particular licenses covered the sale of components for military communications equipment, helicopters used in combat and ground-to-ground missiles.
The controversial revelations formed part of a report authored by David Wearing, a researcher at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS). A member of Campaign Against the Arms Trade’s (CAAT) steering committee, Wearing’s work focuses on domestic and international politics.
The research, “Arming Apartheid: UK Complicity in Israel’s Crimes Against the Palestinian People,” analyses how Britain’s arming of Israel renders it complicit in grievous human rights violations.
CAAT’s Andrew Smith said the revelations published in the report showed it was “business as usual” with Israel for the UK government.
“More than 2,000 people died in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, and yet in the months immediately following the conflict it was business as usual for the UK government and the arms companies they support,” he said.
Smith said that Britain continues to sell arms to Israel, despite the Israeli administration’s continued violation of international law.
“The continuation of arms sales represents a form of political as well as material support from the UK to Israel despite the construction of the ‘apartheid wall’ in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements there and the ongoing blockade of Gaza,” he said.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Sarah Colborne said the British state is arming an “apartheid” regime. She argued Palestinians will not be freed from Israeli occupation, discrimination, and bloodshed until sanctions are imposed on Israel.
Ryvka Barnard, a senior campaigner on militarism and security at War on Want, said the Arming Apartheid study highlights Britain’s complicity in “Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.”
She argued that the global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel has become more vital than ever.
“Only a full two-way arms embargo can ensure the UK will no longer be complicit in Israeli state crimes and abuses,” he said.
Report author Wearing says ministers’ suggestion that British controls on arms exports are tightly controlled “do not stand up to scrutiny.”
“Any real restriction comes from the embarrassment of bad publicity, and then only in the wake of a conflict, too late for the Palestinians affected,” he added.
Britain has a history of unethical arms sales to Israel.
A ministerial statement issued in April 2009 by the then-Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband confirmed that Israeli military wares used in the 2008-9 Gaza conflict “almost certainly” contained UK-supplied components.
The document was sent to the anti-arms charity after it launched a legal challenge against then-Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills Vince Cable in 2014.
Last summer’s Israel-Palestine conflict culminated in the killing of an estimated 2,000 Palestinians [mostly civilians]. Israel, by contrast, suffered the deaths of 64 soldiers and three civilians during the conflict.
1. Email your MP to demand a two-way arms embargo against Israel.
2. Order campaign materials and book a speaker.
3. Target the companies profiting from Israel’s occupation.
Find the suppliers on your doorstep
More than 100 companies supplying military and security equipment to Israel have bases in the UK. Find out about the suppliers on your doorstep.
Block the factory!
During last summer’s assault on Gaza, activists occupied Israeli arms company Elbit’s factory in Shenstone, causing its operations to grind to a halt and costing Elbit over £100,000. On 6th July, to mark the first anniversary of the assault on Gaza, groups and campaigners from across the UK are going back to Elbit’s factory to demand that the UK stops arming Israel. Join a day of creative action in solidarity with Palestine!
4. Support BDS
Support the Palestinian call for a global movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Visit waronwant.org/BDS
Now, with the seizure of a Swedish boat in international waters, The New York Times can no longer ignore Flotilla III, the latest attempt to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza. So we find a story today that ends the paper’s silence on this weeks-long saga that began in Gothenburg last month.
Times readers learned nothing of the Marianne and her three companion vessels as the international organizers of the flotilla announced their plans and gathered crews throughout the spring. Even when one of the boats was sabotaged last week or when a Palestinian member of the Knesset announced that he was joining the group, none of these events appeared in the Times.
Those who checked out The Washington Post, Newsweek, CBS News or Israeli media would have known that Flotilla III was on its way to Gaza, with the Swedish vessel approaching the strip and the others far behind. The Times, however, avoided any mention of the effort until today, when the Israeli navy announced that it had seized the Marianne and was taking her to the port of Ashdod. (The other vessels by then had turned back toward Europe.)
Now the Times has published an article by Diaa Hadid on the seizure, and her piece gives precedence to Israeli spin, allowing official excuses for the brutal siege of Gaza to stand as fact. Thus, she writes that Israel maintains a naval blockade of the strip “because militants have tried to smuggle in weapons and attack Israel by sea.”
Hadid repeats this formula in the subsequent paragraph where she states that Israel allows only “small amounts” of construction materials into Gaza “because Hamas has used building materials to construct tunnels to attack Israel.”
United Nations investigations have provided very different takes on these two issues: A 2010 fact-finding mission, for instance, declared that Israel has imposed the blockade (by land and sea) out of “a desire to punish the people of the Gaza Strip for having elected Hamas. The combination of this motive and the effect of the restrictions on the Gaza Strip leave no doubt that Israel’s actions amount to collective punishment as defined by international law.”
Where Hadid’s piece implies that tunnels have been used for random “terror” attacks on Israel, a recent UN report on the 2014 conflict found that the tunnels had been used only for legitimate means, to engage with Israeli troops during the fighting this past summer. Neither the Times nor any other media outlet has named a single Israeli civilian who was harmed because of these tunnels. (See TimesWarp 6-22-15.)
Unfortunately, Hadid fails to mention either of these findings and repeats Israeli spin as accepted fact. She fails to make even a minimal attempt at attribution, and so we have no “according to” or “Israel claims” here—just the bald, assertive “because.”
Her story ends with a poignant quote that begs for explanation. As fishermen gathered in Gaza to protest the seizure of the Marianne, one of them spoke to a Times representative. “We hope that other activists come to Gaza to help us break the naval siege,” he said, “so that we can sail again without fear.”
The article leaves us with an unanswered question: Why are the fishermen living in fear? Times readers, however, never learn the answer: Israeli naval boats routinely open fire on fishermen as they sail within the 6-mile limit imposed by the blockade. At least one died this year, several have been injured, and several have lost their boats and equipment because of the Israeli attacks.
The Times ignores this ongoing breach of the August 2014 truce, which stated that the fishing limit would expand to 12 miles. (This in itself is still far short of the 20-mile boundary set by the Oslo accords.) The paper also ignores Israel’s military incursions into Gaza, which are further breaches of the ceasefire.
Times editors are counting on a short shelf life for the Flotilla III story. Too much attention to such messy topics as international law, the definition of piracy, assaults on unarmed fishermen and Israeli breaches of the 2014 ceasefire might expose some inconvenient facts about Israel’s pitiless siege of Gaza, and this is not to their taste.
It seems as if Israel is about to regurgitate the script which reads that it is debating whether or not to retain its membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Following the publication of the council’s inquiry report on last year’s Operation Protective Edge, which deemed that both Israel and Palestinian resistance factions may have committed war crimes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, during a closed meeting held on Monday, that a re-evaluation of Israel’s membership of the UN organisation will take place. “As a result of the report, we will consider whether to remain or to leave the council,” he was quoted by the Times of Israel.
The UNHRC report, which Israel slammed as biased, employed the usual diplomatic jargon that absolved, rather than accused, the settler-colonial state of war-crimes, despite the extensive destruction, targeted killings and massacres committed by the Israeli military in Gaza last summer (and on previous occasions).
In March 2012, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced the decision to cut ties with the UNHRC, citing Palestinian “diplomatic terrorism” when the council announced a probe into Israel’s settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The move was supported by the US, which was the only country that had voted against the UN proposal to investigate Israel’s illegal colonial expansion. Since then, Israel has utilised the UNHRC as part of its propaganda campaign to enhance its self-victimisation; an extension of what Zionism has accomplished historically to embark upon the colonisation process in Palestine.
Last week, Netanyahu uttered ridiculous words that portray clearly the extent of Israel’s contempt even for those organisations that do everything in their power to exonerate Israel through language that is based upon hypothesis: “The report is biased. Israel is not perpetrating war crimes but rather protecting itself from an organisation that carries out war crimes.”
Israel’s fabricated state is built upon a constant litany of war crimes, necessitating violence to sustain its existence, as well as the presence of international organisations that pretend colonialism has been rendered obsolete. As for bias, one need only take note of how the UNHRC attempted to criminalise Palestinian resistance, aiming to propagate an illusion of near-parity in military power between the world’s 4th best equipped army and civilians with not a tank or aircraft to their name. The obviously asymmetric nature of the conflict resulted in a much higher death toll of Palestinian men, women and children due to Israel’s persistent bombardment of Gaza.
The report’s publication has simply confirmed all that unravelled before our eyes during last year’s colonial massacre, albeit leaving space for manipulation in order to retain Israel’s untouchable status. Israel’s pondering whether or not to remain in the council is nothing new. Rather, it should be viewed as another, integral, part of its colonial project, as well as wilful subjugation on behalf of the international community. With every sliver of condemnation, despite the absence of severe repercussions, Israel embarks upon creating hypothetical conflicts which always result in it reaping rewards for its aggression against the Palestinian people.
Whether Israel remains in the council or not is irrelevant. On the contrary, the focus should be on the failure of the UN and other organisations to act according to international law and hold Israel’s very existence accountable for the horrors it has perpetrated against the indigenous population. However, that would require the UN to unravel its disseminated myths, including its denial of the existence of Zionist colonisation, which would in turn deal a blow to an organisation thriving upon the permanence of violence and murder.
Jerusalem – Hebrew newspaper Haaretz today revealed that Israel and Jordan have been involved in negotiations for a number of months concerning reopening Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount to non-Muslim visitors.
Haaretz further clarified that there would be procedures put in place in order to prevent visitors being refused entry on the grounds of their religion.
Al-Aqsa Mosque has been closed to non-Muslims since the outbreak of the third Intifada in 2000, before which Jewish and Christian people were also allowed to enter freely.
Although Palestinians hold custodianship of the holy site through Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, head imam and manager of al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel claims sovereignty over all of Temple Mount.
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) are permitted to patrol the site despite control of the mosque officially being held by the Islamic Waqf Trust, who are independent of the Israeli government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly questioned his country’s membership in the United Nation’s Human Rights Council following its recent report on last summer’s Gaza conflict.
The announcement, in which Netanyahu referred to the UNHRC commission as a “hypocritical committee,” was made during a closed-door meeting with top Israeli officials on Monday.
“In light of the [UN Gaza] report, we will consider whether or not to stay in the Human Rights Council,” Netanyahu said, according to Army Radio.
It’s not the first time Israel has been at odds with the Council during the UNHRC’s 9 year-long history. Back in 2012, then-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman made a decision to quit the council over its probe into Jewish settlements in the West Bank. However, Israel reinstated its membership a year later.
Lieberman, who also was present at Monday’s meeting, reportedly reminded Netanyahu about the precedent. “As foreign minister, I ended Israel’s involvement in the Human Rights Council. Why did you change that decision?” he asked.
On Monday afternoon, about 1,000 people from several European countries, both Jews and Christians, rallied in Geneva to support Israel, as the UN Human Rights Council had another debate on the matter.
“The reason we are here today is to tell the United Nations that it needs to change. It needs to overcome its obsession with Israel. This obsession is destructive and it stands in the way of an effective human rights policy that is so badly needed,” World Jewish Congress (WJC) CEO Robert Singer told demonstrators.
The UN Human Rights Council report on the 2014 Gaza conflict was released last week. It concluded that both Israeli Defense Forces and the Hamas Palestinian group had committed war crimes. The organization also accepted the Palestinian death count, which estimated that 65 percent of those killed in the seige were civilians, or 1,462 out of a total of 2,251 Palestinians killed.
“The report is biased,” Netanyahu said upon the release of the report. “Israel is not perpetrating war crimes but rather protecting itself from an organization that carries out war crimes. We won’t sit back with our arms crossed as our citizens are attacked by thousands of missiles.”
Three of the four boats in the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla have turned back as the flagship Marianne was intercepted by the Israeli military and rerouted to Ashdod port. If Israel was a democracy it would grant this boat safe passage to Gaza.
These activists are peaceful people sailing in international waters, and are attempting to bring aid, and to donate a fishing boat to the people of Gaza, who are at the mercy of one of the most ruthless and sophisticated armed forces in the world. An attempt to stop them while they are in international waters, itself constitutes a breach of international law. Israel commits war crimes which are acknowledged by the United Nations and many human rights organizations. Let’s consider who the real terrorists in this scenario are. It isn’t the people struggling to have a decent quality of life in the most densely populated piece of land in the world. The idea that Palestinians could present a threat to such a powerful state as Israel is simply ludicrous. Israel holds the political, military, and economic power and controls the information narrative.
We should never forget when thinking about the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, that when Israeli forces stormed the Mavi Marmara in 2010, in an act of piracy, they killed nine people with one person later dying from injuries. The authorities have acted as if no crime was ever committed and as if Israel has nothing to answer for. That is state-sponsored violence with complete impunity.
Our boat is the last to set sail. However, we were told Sunday that our boat for now remains in Athens, and is not moving. At the moment, that’s all I can say.
For this reason, at the time of writing, we are preparing to deviate from the original plan and are making alternate plans to reach our ultimate destination. I would like to be specific at this point but cannot say much more than I already have. What I can say however, is that everyone here is motivated by a drive to highlight what is happening in Gaza through peaceful means.
We are being labeled as trouble makers and as agitators who are trying to make trouble for Israel, which of course is always presented as being guilty of nothing.
Past and present parliamentarians from different nations, aid workers, scholars, and journalists do not paint a picture of terrorists. Actually they have a track record of working against terrorists, many of them working in areas of conflict in the past with people who have had their lives torn apart by war.
They say, as they do when anyone tries to reach Gaza that the act in itself is an act of terrorism because the government in Gaza is run by Hamas. Hamas – who were elected and who represent the people.
Whatever one might think of Hamas is irrelevant, unless of course you happen to live in Palestine. Hamas did not bomb hundreds of innocent people last summer including hundreds of children.
The act of trying to prevent some fishing boats being delivered to people who are trapped and who have no freedom of movement is a monstrous one. These activists are unarmed and are 100 percent not a threat to Israel; they are pretty selfless human beings who simply care. If Israel was a democracy it would grant these activists safe passage. Israel however fulfills none of its obligations to the people of Palestine, and so it’s no surprise that it refuses to acknowledge the humanitarian crisis it has created.
What is wrong with equal rights for everyone under a system which treats everyone the same? If it was good enough for South Africa then surely it’s good enough for the rest of the world.
The FF3 coalition is a peaceful campaign absolutely maintaining a policy of nonviolence. It seems pretty clear though at this stage as if Israel is determined to allow no aid through to Gaza, and will continue to act as judge, jury, and executioner towards anyone that dare question or disagree with the colonial settler state.
I hope the brave souls who are on the vessels already at sea make it and that no harm comes to any of them. They do not deserve to have their names dragged through the dirt by a largely ignorant liberal press, and it’s an utter disgrace that many are happy to highlight a humanitarian crisis elsewhere in the world, while Palestine gets pushed to the side-lines. If FF3 serves to highlight any of this then the campaign will have been worth it.
Richard Sudan, is a London based writer, political activist, and performance poet. Follow him on Twitter.
Jewish group suggests ‘outing’ of American anti-Israel professors, calls for Israel studies programs
A Jewish institute has proposed “outing” of anti-Israel professors from universities in the United States in order to reduce anti-Israel activity on American college campuses.
The Jewish People Policy Institute said in its 2014-2015 annual assessment that there are over 300 anti-Israel groups at American universities and they are responsible for resolutions passed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
According to the report published on Sunday, severe anti-Israel activity “is limited to around 20 campuses, mainly in California and in some elite eastern schools.”
“We recommend exposing ‘activist’ faculty members who use their academic lecterns to advance an anti-Israel agenda,” said the report.
It suggested enlisting Jewish donors in efforts “to prevent the misuse of academic freedom in promoting a politicized anti-Israel platform.”
Other suggestions are promoting “additional departments for Israeli studies programs on campuses” and increasing “cooperative endeavors with Israeli universities.”
The group gave the report to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The BDS campaign seeks to increase economic and political pressure on Israel until it ends the occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
The boycott campaign began in 2005 by 171 Palestinian organizations, calling for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”
In 2013, two US academic groups — the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies — supported the boycott.
The refusal of the University of Illinois to hire Professor Steven Salaita last year for his tweets about Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip sparked controversy.
Salaita decided to leave his job at Virginia Tech University after he was offered a professor’s job at the University of Illinois in 2013.
He wrote a number of messages in 2014 to condemn Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip.
In one message, Salaita said, “Only #Israel can murder around 300 children in the span of a few weeks and insist that it is the victim.”
He was told that he would not get the job after writing the messages.
Activists in Britain are planning to block an Israel-linked arms factory to mark one year since Israel’s devastating assault on the Gaza Strip.
In what organisers are billing as “the biggest, most beautiful action” ever seen at a UK arms factory, buses of activists from around the country will descend on Shenstone in the West Midlands on July 6 for “a day of creative action in solidarity with Palestine.”
Last August, during Israel’s attack on Gaza, activists occupied the roof of the UAV Engines Ltd factory in Shenstone, which is owned by the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. The drone engine factory was shut for two days as a result, which activists claim cost the company more than £180,000.
Elbit-produced drones are used by the Israeli military, and were used to conduct attacks during ‘Operation Protective Edge’.
A year on, and activists plan to ‘Block the factory’ on July 6, “transforming the space around the arms factory… into a fun, creative and child-friendly environment.” The focus is on “an inclusive and family friendly affair”, activists say.
The planned action is “part of the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) and the Stop Arming Israel Campaign”, with the latter urging “the UK to end its extensive collaboration with the Israeli weapons industry and to institute a two-way arms embargo.”
Organisers note how “anger and disbelief over last year’s massacre led to widaespread and creative forms of resistance”, including “mass demonstrations, occupations of government buildings and complicit businesses, and growing public pressure on governments and arms companies to stop arming Israel.” The intention is for July 6 to be a continuation of such efforts.
Gaza has been lawlessly blockaded for nine years – entirely for political, not security reasons. Israel wants its 1.8 million people slowly suffocated.
Flotilla III is the latest humanitarian mission bringing vital aid – symbolic of how much more is needed and a call for world leaders to intervene responsibly for suffering Gazans, victimized by Israeli viciousness.
The latest news from Ship to Gaza Sweden reads as follows:
“Marianne and the #FreedomFlotilla right now
Boarded by Israeli navy in international waters
Distance to Gaza: 97 nautical miles
Last known position: 31.716667 latitude, 32.550000 longitude
Position received at: 29 June 00:57 (CET)
Hours earlier, Ship to Gaza’s site reported Marianne’s interdiction in international waters, then taken to Israel’s Ashdod seaport. Activists and international politicians on board include:
Dror Feiler, Sweden: musician and composer
Bassel Ghattas, Israel: Palestinian MK
Dr. Moncef Marzuki, Tunisia: former Tunisian president
Ana Miranda, Spain: European Parliament member
Nadya Kevorkova, Russia: RT International correspondent
Kajsa Ekis Ekman, Sweden: journalist and author
Robert Lovelace, Canada: Queen’s University professor
Ammar Al-Hamdan, Norway: Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent
Mohammed El Bakkail, Morocco: Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent
Ohad Herno, Israel: Israeli TV Channel 2 journalist
Ruwani Perera, New Zealand: MaoriTV journalist
Jacob Bryant, New Zealand: Maori TV journalist
Crew members include: Joel Opperdoes (Sweden) Gustave Bergstrom (Sweden), Herman Reksten (Norway), Kevin Neish (Canada), Jonas Karlin (Sweden), Charlie Andreasson (Sweden)
Three other Flotilla III vessels heading for Gaza changed course and returned to their ports of origin – Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II.
In total, 47 participants from 17 countries are involved. Their mission is “break(ing) the illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza,” as well as opening the territory to the world. A statement issued said:
“We once again call on the government of Israel to finally lift the blockade on Gaza. Our destination remains the conscience of humanity.”
The Marianne of Gothenburg carried medical equipment and solar panels. Flotilla spokesman Petros Stergiou reported contact with the vessel lost around 2AM local time Monday as three Israeli naval ships approached it.
“What we learned is that the Israeli navy attacked the Marianne about 100 nautical miles from the shore of Gaza,” he said.
Activists on board “said they could see three military boats approaching them that had identified themselves as being military.”
“Once again, the Israeli government and its military acted like state pirates and attacked our boat in international waters,” Stergiou explained. IDF spokesman Peter Lerner called the seizure “uneventful.”
Netanyahu commented as expected, saying “(t)his flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organization and ignores all of the horrors in our region.”
He congratulated Israeli naval commandos for their high-seas piracy. He lied saying he acted according to international law and support from a “UN Secretary-General committee.”
Defense Secretary Moshe Ya’alon issued a similar statement irresponsibly claiming the mission has “no humanitarian intentions…which instead of caring for Gaza residents, tries to smuggle in weapons (to be) use(d) against Israel and its civilians.”
Fact: Hamas is no “terrorist organization.” It’s Palestine’s democratically elected government.
Fact: Israel and America bear full responsibility for regional “horrors.”
Fact: Palestinians are longstanding victims – along with Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis and others living under monarchal or military dictatorships.
Fact: No flotilla or other humanitarian missions carried weapons for anyone. The whole world knows it. So does Israel.
Its blockade breaches international law. It’s an act of war against 1.8 million largely defenseless Gazans – denied their fundamental human rights.
Poverty and unemployment are extreme. Most Gazans need international aid to survive. The Strip’s most arable land is off limits. Israeli buffer zone diktats prohibit cultivation. Fishing in 85% of Gazan waters is banned.
A nutritional crisis continues along with inaccessibility to clean water for 90% of Gazans. An acute shortage of medicines, medical supplies, building materials and other essentials exists.
Ship to Gaza activists say the international community fails to help a trapped population desperately in need. “As human beings, we cannot stand by silently while witnessing what the blockade is to doing to” people deserving much better. (T)herefore we will act,” they said.
We’ll continue “send(ing) more ships with many more people (in) solidarity with the people of Gaza.”
“New groups are being formed all over the world…(O)ur coalition is growing…Our (mission) is a natural, brotherly action; our objective is humanitarian; our basis lies in international law; and our method is non-violent.”
Israel’s blockade severely restricts movement of people and goods into and from Gaza. It constitutes lawless collective punishment – strictly prohibited under international law.
It deprives Gazans of their livelihoods, security, accessibility to proper nutrition, clean water, medicines, medical care, education, and ability to move freely.
Israeli aggression denies many of their right to life and well-being. Israeli media reported IDF commandos seizing the vessel overnight without incident or injuries to activists on board.
We’ll know more when they’re able to speak for themselves, explain exactly what happened and how they were mistreated.
Israel’s interdiction was high-seas piracy – a lawless bandit act. An IDF statement lied claiming it acted “(i)n accordance with international law.” It blatantly violated it.
Pre-recorded SOS messages called for international help before seizure by Israeli commandos occurred.
Based on how other interdicted activists were treated, Marianne participants can expect short-term detention under harsh conditions, abusive interrogations, confiscation of their possessions, and perhaps denial of food, water and outside contacts, followed by deportations.
Gazans remain trapped and isolated under brutalizing siege. The Al Haq human rights organization reported continued Israeli use of “excessive force” across the West Bank and Gaza – using live fire and other forms of brutality against defenseless civilians, “disregarding Palestinians’ right to life.”
Al Haq director Shawan Jabarin said Palestinian officials delivered documents to the International Criminal Court charging Israel with the crime of apartheid and 22 other criminal offenses, including seven war crimes – pertaining to Operation Protective Edge, illegal settlements, denial of due process and judicial fairness, as well as mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners, mostly held for political reasons.
Throughout nearly half a century of brutalizing military occupation (lawless under international law), punctuated by intermittent acts of aggression, no Israeli government or military official ever was held accountable. Expect justice again denied this time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
The scale of the migrant crisis Europe is facing today cannot be understated. It is truly unprecedented. What is habitually understated, however — and in fact almost completely ignored by mainstream media — are the real roots of the crisis.
The debate around migration into the EU is happening nearly entirely without reference to the causes of the recent influx of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. The elephant in the room is NATO and nobody really wants to talk about it.
Hundreds of articles, laden down with numbers and proposals and predictions fail to make any direct link between cause and effect. News anchors sit seemingly baffled, mouths agape, at the apocalyptic-like pictures they are seeing land on their desks, and yet few are willing to draw the appropriate conclusions. But it is such a basic and logical connection that it’s hard to believe it is not being made very loudly and very persistently.
Maybe it’s just that these journalists are so conditioned to framing U.S. and NATO policy in a positive light that the links don’t even really occur to them. Or maybe they’re simply embarrassed and trying to shift focus from their long-recorded support for various military interventions in these countries.
Either way, the result is that the story is framed in such a way that it makes the timing of the crisis sound almost random. We’re witnessing a conversation about how to ‘deal’ with boats full of Libyans making their way across the Mediterranean — as if Libya was a country that had just self-imploded yesterday, and for no discernible reason.
A fierce debate is raging over ‘what to do’ about these migrants — and in a way that’s understandable because that is the more immediate problem — but the debate we really need to be having is about the policies, NATO’s policies, which were the catalyst.
Even if Europe unites in formulating a ‘solution’ to the problem, it will be nothing more than a band-aid fix because it will only deal with symptom. After all, what’s the point in covering your open wound with a band-aid when the guy who cut you is still wielding a knife in the same room? It doesn’t take a genius to work out how that story ends.
Whenever the cause is grudgingly mentioned by the media, it is mentioned briefly and abstractly where the author or anchor might refer to “conflict” or make mention of how violence has “reignited” in these countries in recent years and months.
The editors at the New York Times in particular, are big fans of loading all the blame squarely onto Europe’s shoulders. Here a Times piece argues that the migrant crisis “puts Europe’s policy missteps into focus”. Another piece, from the editorial board, lectures Europe on how to handle the situation.
In April, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg called for a “comprehensive response” to the crisis and promised that NATO would help to stabilize the situation. The alliance’s role in “stabilizing” Afghanistan was part of its broader approach to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, he said.
That is rich coming from the head of a ‘security’ and ‘defensive’ alliance which for years has pursued a policy of offensive destabilization in the very regions which people are fleeing from in their hundreds of thousands. But Stoltenberg’s comments and NATO’s actions are easily decoded by the employment of some basic common sense.
The NATO modus operandi is clear. The pattern, repeated over and over, involves the complete destabilization of a region, to be swiftly followed up with another NATO-led ‘solution’ to the problem. When you couple that with the use of spokespeople who are unashamed to feign ignorance and lie blatantly (Jen Psaki, Marie Harf etc.), and a compliant media that will regurgitate the line without question, this is what you get.
The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya was authorized by the United Nations on “humanitarian” grounds and resulted in the deaths of between 50,000 and 100,000 people and the displacement of 2 million. Very humanitarian.
Similarly, after the U.S.-led campaign to destabilize Syria in an effort to topple Bashar al-Assad, facilitating (and even supporting) the rise of ISIS in the region, a staggering 10 million have been displaced (according to Amnesty International) and European countries are left to help pick up the pieces. Germany, for example, has pledged to resettle 30,000 Syrian refugees. Sweden, a non-NATO nation, has taken in similar numbers.
It should be made clear however, that the numbers European countries have taken or pledged to take pale in comparison to the numbers being hosted in other Middle Eastern countries. Lebanon, for example, is hosting 1.1 million Syrian refugees. Jordan is hosting more than 600,000. Iraq hosts nearly a quarter of a million. Turkey hosts 1.6 million.
There is one country that’s getting off scot-free in all of this — at least on the Syrian front. That country is the United States. The U.S. has taken in less than 900 Syrian refugees after four years of war. American officials have cited “national security” in their explanations for not yet taking more, although they have said they would like to see the number increase.
Maybe this has something to do with it?
Debate not allowed
There is a second media crime flying under the radar here and it is this: In European countries where the massive influx of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa have caused serious societal divisions, where migrants have failed to assimilate (for a variety of reasons, including both government policies and often radical religious beliefs), Western media will allow no one to talk about it honestly — and woe betide the person who tries.
Take Sweden, where the disease of political correctness is at an even more advanced stage than it is in the rest of Europe. There, any attempt to debate the coherence of a ‘doors wide open’ immigration policy is branded as “racist”. A further irony in the Swedish context, is that the country is facing a housing crisis and has nowhere to put most of the people they are pledging to resettle. There’s some real forward-thinking, common sense policy for you.
This is a dangerous combination for Europe: An unsustainable influx of migrants, foreign policy which ensures its continuation, a docile media, and an epidemic of political correctness which has infected the entire continent.
Media 101 on the migrant crisis: Talk a lot about migrants, don’t mention why they fled and then call anyone who has a problem with it a “racist” — success! Oh, and you get an added bonus if you can somehow link it all to ‘Russian aggression’, Vladimir Putin and NATO as a ‘defensive’ alliance.
Some European countries are taking a more hardline approach and are getting slammed for it. Hungary, for example, is looking at building a barrier wall along its border with Serbia, similar to barriers along the Greek-Turkish and Bulgarian-Turkish borders. Again, this has sparked accusations of xenophobia and racism from media and political quarters.
But that’s part of the game, isn’t it? If NATO’s war supporters can focus the debate around the idea that anyone who wants to address or critically assess immigration policy is “racist” then we won’t have to talk about why the migrants are here in the first place or why they are facing such dire circumstances at home.
Russia Today’s Oksana Boyko tried recently, to broach this topic with Peter Sutherland, the UN’s special representative on international migration and development, but she got nowhere. She argued that the debate around migration into the EU can’t really be had without addressing the essence and heart of the problem, but found that NATO policy is apparently a topic not up for discussion.
Debating Europe’s migrant crisis without acknowledging the context in which it has been created it useless. It would be like asking Americans to debate police brutality without talking about race. The two are inescapably interlinked and any ‘solutions’ that come from an incomplete debate will ultimately fail.
For now though, it seems Europe will continue to debate this humanitarian crisis in terms of ‘what to do’ without addressing the ‘how to stop’ and we’ll keep running around in a vicious circle.
An easier solution, of course, would be for NATO to put an end to its campaign of destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa, but that would require the acceptance and acknowledgement of some very hard truths.
From left to right: Algerian MP Nasser Hamdaduche; Former US Army colonel and retired State Department official Ann Wright; Moroccan MP Abouzaid El Mokrie El Idrissi; and journalist Abdul Latif from Echorouk TV on one of boats of the Freedom Flotilla III, sailing in international waters towards Gaza
On June 26th 2015, four boats of the 2015 the Freedom Flotilla III set sail toward Gaza to try to break Israel’s nine-year-long economic siege on Gaza. The ships are planning to sail from international waters directly into Palestinian waters, with no Israeli involvement. But just hours after setting sail, the captain of one of the ships took note of a military reconnaissance plane that appeared to be tracking the ships.
The captain of the lead ship, ‘The Marianne’, noticed military vessels and reconnaissance planes near Marianne on Saturday afternoon. The crew could not identify nationality for neither the vessels or the planes. The vessel and plane disappeared around 5pm, and the crew has not seen any sign of them since then.
According to a statement by the group, the Flotilla is due to reach Gaza in just a few days. Participants on board include about 50 human rights activists, journalists, artists, and political figures representing 17 countries. This is the third Freedom Flotilla, in addition to nine single boats that have undertaken to sail to Gaza, beginning in 2008 when several voyages reached Gaza City harbor and returned to Europe after their mission of bringing supplies and solidarity to the people of Gaza.
Israeli forces attacked every subsequent attempt to break the siege on Gaza by sea, seizing the humanitarian goods, medical supplies and water treatment equipment on the ships and arresting the participants. In an attack which garnered international attention, Israeli paratroopers dropped onto a Freedom Flotilla ship called the ‘Mavi Marmara’ and began shooting the passengers, killing nine.
In the current Freedom Flotilla, a converted fishing trawler, dubbed the ‘Marianne of Gothenburg’ left Sweden in May to join the flotilla and has made numerous stops along its journey around Europe. Marianne is carrying solar panels that will help alleviate the serious problem of electricity in Gaza, as well .as medical equipment. Three other sailing vessels (Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II) are accompanying Marianne in its mission to break the blockade of Gaza, in solidarity with the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. With different strategies and different itineraries, the group says they will continue to sail until the blockade is lifted and Gaza’s port is open.
Dr. Basel Ghattas, a member of the Israeli Knesset, is on board one of the ships, as well as Dr. Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia, the first president after the 2011 popular uprising. Members of parliament from Spain, Jordan, Greece and Algeria are also on board, together with members of European Parliament. Ten of the current participants and crew have been on previous missions. Media outlets on board the flotilla are Al Jazeera, Euronews, Maori TV (New Zealand), Al-Quds TV, Channel 2 TV (Israel) and Russia Today TV, as well as several independent print journalists.
Over 100 European Parliamentarians have signed a letter to the EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, in support of the Freedom Flotilla and calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza.