Voices Against State Piracy
ONCE again, Israeli naval forces have illegally intercepted and seized vessels and crew attempting to breach the blockade on Gaza to deliver civil aid.
Here are two statements about this, in chronological order as received. The first is from veteran Israeli peace campaigner and former Knesset member Uri Avneri, and the organisation he leads, Gush Shalom (the Peace Bloc):
Avnery: Let the Gaza Flotilla through, open the Port of Gaza under international supervision
Press Release June 28, 2015
Former Knesset Member Uri Avnery, of Gush Shalom (The Israeli Peace Bloc), calls upon Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya'alon to take a sober thought at the last moment and allow what had been called "The Swedish Flotilla" to reach the Port of Gaza. "Four small boats, loaded with medical equipment and solar panels to generate electricity, do not constitute the slightest threat to Israel's security. The arrival of the boats with their humanitarian cargo at Gaza would be a modest good will gesture by the State of Israel. Conversely, sending armed commandos to take over the boats at sea would be one more act of naked force which would further entrench Israel's image as an aggressive and violent Goliath - an image which is the main reason for the increasing acts of boycott against Israel all over the world ".
Avnery recalled that on at least four past occasions, the State of Israel allowed the arrival of humanitarian aid ships to Gaza. That was before the decision to adopt the policy of naked force, a policy which caused bloodshed in the disastrous Marmara Affair. For example, In November 2008, the government of Israel allowed two boats, which carried 44 activists from 17 countries, to dock at the port of Gaza. At that time, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement reading "We will allow these publicity-seekers to get into Gaza, and thus deny success to their public relations provocation". The Israeli Navy was then instructed to track the boats but not interfere with their sailing and docking at Gaza – and that was all. "The text of the 2008 communique can still be found in the Foreign Ministry computers, and it can still be re-published today, word by word" suggested Avnery.
"Beyond the specific issue of this flotilla, it's high time to open the Port of Gaza and free the economy of the Gaza Strip from the strangulation which drives its residents to unemployment and terrible poverty, the breeding ground for extremism and hatred. It is well known that international parties are willing to mediate an agreement on international supervision of the Port of Gaza, and the Hamas leadership is willing to reach such an agreement" says Avnery.
And this evening I received the following from European Jews for Just Peace, EJJP, to which the Jewish Socialists' Group(JSG) is affiliated. The JSG has endorsed the statement.
Statement of the EJJP on The Freedom Flotilla III
July 1st, 2015
On June 29th, the Israeli navy assaulted the Swedish boat “Marianne” in international waters, seizing it’s crew of human-rights activists and its cargo of humanitarian supplies in what can only be called an act of piracy. The passengers were dragged against their will into Israel, to the city of Ashdod.
The Freedom Flotilla aims to break the siege on the Gaza Strip, which the Israeli government has turned into the world’s largest open-air prison. Though the boats and the activists are unarmed, they seek to break the siege in a symbolic action of sailing through to Gaza, in order to call attention to the incarceration of almost 1.8 million people, who are denied their basic rights to travel and to trade, being cut-off from the world by the Israeli military.
The chairman of European Jews for Just Peace, Dror Feiler, is among the illegally incarcerated passengers of the boat “Marianne.” We learned from him that just a few days prior to the Israeli assault, one of the boats in the flotilla was sabotaged within the coastal waters of Greece, leading to the suspicion that the Israeli armed forces have violated Greek sovereignty in order to sabotage the Freedom Flotilla.
European Jews for Just Peace is a coalition of European Jewish organizations, committed to peace and to justice. We demand of our European governments to act to release the captive passengers, among them European Parliament member Ana Miranda. We strongly condemn the inhuman siege on the Gaza Strip.
To which I might add that Dror Feiler is a friend, and though now living in Sweden, was born in Israel and served in its armed forces. On previous Gaza flotillas he was arrested and roughed up by the Israeli forces and he is currently banned from entering Israel - except of course when they
incarcerate him. This means Dror cannot see his 92-year old mother, a nurse who has continued working with Physicians for Human Rights.