Israel Seizes Latest “Peace Ship” Headed to Gaza with Humanitarian Supplies

July 8th, 2015 - by admin

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition & Robert Naiman / The Huffington Post & Gaza’s Ark Steering Committee – 2015-07-08 21:48:08

IDF Violence against ‘Marianne’ Peace Sailors
RT News

The #FreedomFlotilla III, represented by a “peace ship” named the Mariane, recently attempted to carry a crew of international activists to the shores of Gaza to deliver desperately needed humanitarian relief supplies. This was the latest nonviolent attempt to sail to Gaza and challenging Israel’s illegal blockade of 1.8 million human beings.

Although the Mariane was traveling in international waters, the ship was boarded by Israeli Defense Force soldiers who seized the ship and its crew. A video posted on June 30, 2015 shows the violence used by Israeli commandos during the kidnapping of ‘Mariane’ boat of Freedom Flotilla III.

Freedom Flotilla Coalition makes a call to restore the international law
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition

(July 8, 2015) — Israel has not only taken over the sky, borders and Palestinian territorial waters, but has also extended its blockade in the Mediterranean Sea up to 100 nautical miles, violating international and maritime law.

During the operation of hijacking “Marianne” Israeli soldiers used violence, threats and abuse against crew and passengers. The IDF referred to the operation as “uneventful” which can only be understood in the light of the levels of violence used in general in the upholding of the blockade and particularily in the routine hijacking of Palestinian fishing vessels.

As always, the Freedom Flotilla sails to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip. This year Freedom Flotilla III applied a slightly different strategy than previous missions. The Flotilla consisted of four ships, one of which would sail towards Gaza and three more to accompany it to a certain safe point and then return back to their ports of origin.

Two more ships were being prepared to sail together with the “Marianne” and carry more sailors. They didn’t make it, however, due to technical issues that are currently being investigated. Their sailors, unfortunately, had to stay on shore, but their message of solidarity travelled with the rest of the Flotilla to the Palestinian people.

The morning of June 29th, at 1:06 am, the Israeli army raided the ‘Marianne’, part of the Freedom Flotilla III consisting of four ships. They did so at night, following the boat 140 miles from Gaza and attacking at a distance of almost 100 nautical miles from Gaza, in international waters. This constitutes a violation of international maritime law. The other three accompanying ships, for the mission named Juliano II, Rachel and Vittorio, carrying 29 sailors, returned safely as planned to their ports of origin.

The 18 sailors on board the “Marianne” — among whom were the Palestinian Member of Knesset Basel Ghattas, the Tunisian ex-president Moncef Marzouki and numerous international journalists — were kidnapped and forcibly taken against their will to the military port of Ashdod, to be later transferred to Givon prison. The passengers of the ‘Marianne’ were deported in small groups between 1st and 6th July.

We call on governments around the world and to international organizations to restore international legality. Our actions would not be necessary if these institutions acted to ensure the accountability of the Israeli government for war crimes and collective punishment against the population of Gaza. Until they effectively act, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition will continue to sail to Gaza until Israel complies with the international law and the blockade is lifted.

Freedom Flotilla III Legal Framework
The legal framework on the principles that drive the civil initiative of the Freedom Flotillas are based on:

1. Resolution 242 of the United Nations General Assembly, in which the Israeli military withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territories is requested, to ensure freedom of navigation and a just solution to the refugees issue.

2. Fourth Geneva Convention, especially its Title III referred to military actions in Occupied Territories, in which the banning of collective punishment of civilians under occupation is stated in Article 33 of Section I (violated due to the blockade, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, cutting supplies, maritime traffic blockade and fishing ban in territorial waters, and other illegal activities).

3. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This document would be applicable to defend the right of a civil vessel navigation in international waters and also prohibiting the actions of violent attacks in international waters as carried out by Israeli military forces on the Mavi Marmara, with the result of nine Turkish citizens and one American killed, the ships approaches and kidnappings of a dozen civilian which have been trying to break the blockade for the past four years.

Freedom Flotilla Will Be Back
Freedom Flotilla Coalition will not stop until the blockade has ended. We would like to thank all sailors who managed to embark on the Flotilla and also those who stayed back. Furthermore, we would like to thank all media representatives who followed our mission.

Last but not least, we would like to thank all sailors on shore, the hundreds of volunteers who worked on the ships to get them prepared, all people who welcomed the “Marianne” at its ports of call all around Europe and finally all supporters of Freedom Flotilla who raised their voices against violation of international law through social media all around the world.

We will not stop our actions until the blockade is lifted and Gaza’s port is free for people and products to travel all around the world. We only give one promise to the violators of international law: We will be back!

#FreedomFlotilla III Exposes
Anti-Democratic Extremism of the Israeli ‘Center’

Robert Naiman / The Huffington Post & Just Foreign Policy

(June 28, 2015) — Supporters of continuing the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem would like global public opinion to believe that the occupation can be maintained and yet Israel can be considered a democracy. A central challenge of occupation opponents is to expose and exacerbate the contradiction between democracy and occupation in mainstream international political discourse.

The #FreedomFlotilla III sailing to challenge the Gaza blockade is providing an excellent opportunity to expose the true face of anti-democratic, pro-occupation political actors in international media.

The Jerusalem Post reports:
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid on Saturday denounced those taking part in the flotilla to Gaza as “a gang of supporters of terrorism” and a “despicable flotilla that needs to be stopped.”

The former finance minister spoke to a town hall meeting in Holon. He ridiculed the idea that the flotilla was aimed at highlighting the plight of Gaza and advancing Palestinian human rights.

“This flotilla is a kind of provocation against the State of Israel,” he said. “This is a provocation by people who are anything but defenders of human rights.”

“People are trying to portray this flotilla as one that seeks to promote human rights,” Lapid said. “The last thing that you can say about this flotilla is that it has anything to do with human rights. This is a flotilla run by a gang of terrorism supporters, a despicable flotilla that needs to be stopped.”

“Israel needs to deal with this flotilla like it would if it was trying to disperse a violent protest,” he said. “And all of these folks on the flotilla need to be arrested.”

In US media descriptions of Israeli politics, Lapid is routinely described as an Israeli “centrist.” For example, in this June 22 Politico article:
Multiple Israeli officials also condemned Oren’s essay. Former Finance Minister and leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid told an Israeli news source that Oren’s piece was “pseudo-psychological analysis based on nothing” and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Walla! News that his article “does not represent Israeli policy.”

Who are the people that the “centrist” Lapid called “a gang of terrorism supporters” that Israel needs to “deal with” as if it were “trying to disperse a violent protest”?

Participants in the #FreedomFlotilla III include the former President of Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki; Israeli Knesset Member Basel Ghattas; Spanish Member of the European Parliament Ana Miranda; Jordanian Member of Parliament Yahya Abo Soud; and Moroccan Member of Parliament Abouzaid El Mokrie El Idrissi.

Responding to the attacks of right-wing Israeli politicians on the participation of MK Ghattas, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz editorialized:
MKs are elected to represent the positions of their parties and the public that elected them . . . All MKs must remember that Ghattas is entitled to convey his views in a nonviolent manner, whether by defiant expression or through protest activities like the flotilla . . . it is important to remember that the purpose of the flotilla is to break the blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza, which continues an unacceptable situation in which nearly two million people are closed up as if in a cage. Instead of “killing the messenger,” who is trying to increase awareness of an ongoing injustice, it would behoove the State of Israel to remove the blockade and help rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Retired IDF Major General Shlomo Gazit, who was head of IDF military intelligence, has called on the Netanyahu government to leave the flotilla alone. He wrote in Haaretz:
The ship that is currently making its way toward Gaza . . . isn’t carrying military cargo. It is seeking to focus world attention on the blockade that Israel is imposing on the 1.8 million residents of the Gaza Strip . . .

The world is accusing us of still maintaining Gaza under military occupation. We, in turn, are seeking to prove that we have withdrawn, but we haven’t disengaged. We continue to control everything going in and out, and that is a continuation of an occupation government.

It is in our hands to decide and determine if the goal of the new ship will be achieved or not. It is in our hands to decide whether we will be smart and “weak” and simply ignore the ship, letting it reach Gaza. Then all the fuss over its trip here will dissipate. Or we can play into the hands of the activists on board and be “heroes,” but foolish ones. We will take over the ship and show the entire world that indeed it is not carrying weapons.

If you think that Secretary of State Kerry should side with Haaretz and Major General Gazit rather than with Lapid, and press to avert any Israeli military attack on the flotilla, you can tell Secretary Kerry so here.

Update and Financial Report from Gaza’s Ark
Gaza’s Ark Steering Committee

(January 7, 2015) — We would like to provide a summary of the Gaza’s Ark project as it stands now and what we have achieved over the last couple of years.

As you know, our boat was destroyed by the Israeli military during the Israeli assault on Gaza in July, the second time the Ark was deliberately targeted. By attacking Gaza’s Ark twice in less than three months, Israel obviously deemed the Ark a huge threat to its propaganda and criminal actions. Our peaceful efforts were, and will continue to be, stronger than their arsenals.

We will continue our work with our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends. We are putting Gaza’s Ark on hold for now, until the situation becomes more suitable to resume it or similar work to challenge the blockade from inside Gaza.

Trade not Aid — Palestinian products:
Successful aspects of our ongoing work include the export product promotions and sales which link Palestinian producers in Gaza to solidarity purchasers around the world. Thanks to individuals and organizations in Europe, North America and Australia, we arranged over $25,000 in export contracts for Palestinian producers in Gaza.

Of that amount, over $14,000 was for traditional food items, which were recently donated to needy Palestinian families in Gaza with the help of our friends at MECA [].

The remaining non-food products (e.g. traditional embroidery, textile and woodworking items) are being stored by our partners in Gaza until the conditions are right for them to once again be part of challenging the blockade from the inside. Meanwhile, we will continue to develop direct links between Gaza producers and solidarity organizations throughout the world, and we will continue to raise the issue of Palestinian export trade (not aid), in the wider context of freedom of movement for all Palestinians.

Financial Report:
Your support is what has brought Gaza’s Ark this far. You contributed $341,000 (all figures in Canadian Dollars) to the project. We bought the fishing trawler which became Gaza’s Ark for $87,000. Over the period between May 2013 and July 2014 we spent $131,000 modifying, upgrading and refurbishing it which went to the local economy, much of it payments to local workers.

Other expenses (including travel and administrative costs) amounted to $18,000. Professional services (legal, accounting, management and other service fees) totaled $58,000. All Steering Committee members were volunteers none of whom received any payment for their work.

We started the project with $22,000 – mostly money remaining from the Canadian Boat to Gaza Tahrir project of 2011. Main contributions after this came from Canada, $130,000, the US, $57,000 and Australia, $24,000, while our FFC partners contributed $74,000, which included sizable donations from partner campaigns in France, Turkey, South Africa, Norway, Sweden and others.

What will remain, after covering payables and selling some remaining assets in Gaza, is estimated at $45,000 which we will put towards work on the same line we are following since we started in 2010: challenging the Israeli illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza through non violent direct action such as the FFC’s Open Gaza Port (FF3) announced lately.

We will continue to count on your support. Together we will succeed.