US to Flotilla: Nonviolent Support for Gaza Risks Arrest and Imprisonment

June 26th, 2011 - by admin

Jason Ditz / & Philip Weiss / – 2011-06-26 01:40:28

State Dept Threatens Prison for US Participants in Gaza Aid Flotilla

State Dept Threatens Prison for US Participants in Gaza Aid Flotilla
Jason Ditz /

(June 24, 2011) — Israeli officials have been ratcheting up their rhetoric in demanding that the world unite to stop humanitarian aid from being delivered to the people of the Gaza Strip, calling such attempts an existential threat to Israel and a “deliberate provocation” by the world.

While this hasn’t resulted in European nations or others stopping humanitarian groups from moving forward with the aid, it has shifted the Obama Administration’s position from opposition to open threats.

Now, the US State Department is not only railing against the flotilla as “irresponsible” but is threatening criminal charges against American participants, claiming that the attempt to deliver aid to Gaza amounts to “conspiring to deliver material support” to Hamas and could lead to lengthy prison sentences.

Gaza aid ships have often had a solid American contingent, and an American was among those killed when Israeli troops attacked the Mavi Marmara for attempting to deliver wheelchairs to the strip. Though the administration apparently believes it can invoke terror charges, it is unclear how eager they would be to actually test such a move in open court.

US State Department to American
Flotilla Passengers: ‘Drop Dead’

Philip Weiss /

(June 22, 2011) — The State Department has issued a new travel advisory for Gaza warning Americans not to go there by sea because Israel might try and kill them. With impunity.

Three dozen Americans are now preparing to travel to Gaza by sea on the flotilla. But the State Department warning says:

The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. US citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of US citizens.

US citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel… On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one US citizen, in such an attempt.

That US citizen was of course Furkan DoÄŸan, a 19-year-old permanent resident of Turkey who witnesses said was shot repeatedly as he attempted to photograph the commandos on the Mavi Marmara.

Ali Gharib says, “if you try to travel to Gaza, Israel might kill you.” And:

During his recent visit to Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked that “America has no better friend than Israel.” As Matthew Yglesias pointed out, the statement is “absurd.” This seems borne out by a travel warning that tells citizens not to try to get to Gaza by sea so that they don’t risk getting shot by their country’s “best friend.”

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