Flotilla for Freedom | The Jackal

4 Oct 2011

Flotilla for Freedom

Originally eleven ships consisting of nine passenger boats and two cargo ships, carrying 200 activists from all over the world intended to participate in the second Freedom Flotilla.

The challenge to the Gaza blockade, comes a year after Israeli marines killed nine activists on the ship Mavi Marmara, which was taking part in the first flotilla to free Gaza. Nobody has been held to account for the deaths.

The Israeli government says the blockade is to stop arms from being imported, but there's been no evidence that the peaceful Flotillas traffic arms. Flotilla organizers say they're transporting food aid and medical supplies desperately needed by those trapped behind the Gaza blockade.

Things are escalating with Israel recently undertaking military exercises at sea to prepare for the flotilla. Israel also announced this week that it intends to build 1100 new houses, public buildings and an industrial zone in the Gilo settlement, a move that will stifle the effectiveness of any peace talks.

Last month the Turkish prime minister said he would use his navy to accompany the aid flotilla to Gaza and last week the identities of the soldiers involved in the first flotilla raids were published, with the Turkish government saying they will look at prosecutions for the people killed.
At the beginning of September, the Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand, Shemi Tzur claimed the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation is an organization with terrorist links and is using the second Freedom Flotilla for political, rather than humanitarian purposes. Tzur spoke through the Israel Embassy in Wellington:
“Kiwis who plan to take part in Gaza-bound sea convoys instigated by the IHH, an organization with documented terrorist links, are na├»ve if they believe they are involved with a humanitarian mission set up only to deliver supplies to Gaza.”
The response followed publicity that two New Zealand citizens, Harmeet Sooden and Vivienne Porzsolt, were going to the Mediterranean region intent on being on board a Canadian vessel that will be a part of the aid mission.

The Flotilla and its participants have been actively impeded by government's who agree with Israel's Gaza blockade, with the Greek government breaking international maritime law and domestic law to prevent Flotilla boats from moving in its territorial waters.

The U.S. ship Audacity of Hope carrying thousands of letters from Americans, has been detained in the port of Piraeus. Greek commandos threatened passengers on the US boat with loaded weapons, making the ship return to dock where it has been impounded with the crew detained on-board.

Even though the U.S. ship stressed that they had no plans to enter Israeli waters, Hillary Clinton said that if they did, Israel would have the right to defend itself.

Yesterday it was reported that Congress blocked nearly $200 million in aid to Palestine as punishment for their UN bid for recognition, which has now been delayed through a committee process.

From the outset, Israel has urged foreign governments not to let the second convoy get under way. In a recent speech, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked allies, including Greece, for taking steps to block the Flotilla:
"I want to thank many leaders in the world for speaking and acting recently against the provocative flotilla," he said. "Israel has the full right to act against the efforts to facilitate rockets-smuggling to Hamas's terror enclave.
Nine ships are now taking part in the Flotilla with the Greek-Swedish ship Juliano being the first to report sabotage while docked in Greece, and the Irish ship MV Saoirse also deliberately damaged while docked in Turkey. Flotilla organizers said Israeli divers cut a piece out of the propeller shaft of the Irish ship, endangering the lives of 20 activists who planned to be on board.
''It was pure luck that the damage to the Irish boat was discovered. The damage to the propeller could have caused the ship to sink and those on board to drown. Quite simply, it was an act of terrorism,'' said Ann Wright, a spokesman from The Audacity of Hope.
A call from Gaza to the People of Conscience worldwide has been made:
We the Palestinians of the Besieged Gaza Strip, are calling on the world: enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip must end.  While attention is focused on the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN do not forget that the blockade and the suffering continue in Gaza.
Even the Irish rugby team support an end to the Gaza blockade:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation ~ Martin Luther King Junior