gaza freedom flotilla

Support the International Freedom for Gaza Day

Hashtag is #UnblockGazaMay31 but DO NOT START UNTIL 10AM ET! Sample tweets below. Countdown: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/gazaday-countdown

On April 29, 2014, Gaza's Ark—a refurbished boat that was set to sail in June from the port of Gaza out to sea carrying Palestinian export goods—was sabotaged when explosive devices caused substantial damage to its hull. Repairing the boat will cost about $30,000. The attack is still under investigation.

Gaza's Ark can be ready to sail this fall—but we need your support to make it happen.

Human rights activists have called for an International Freedom for Gaza Day on May 31 to mark the fourth anniversary of the attack on the Mavi Marmara, which killed nine Turkish and a Turkish-American human rights activist—the tenth died this week after four years in a coma [2]—as they attempted to challenge the blockade of Gaza. Actions drawing attention to the siege will take place in Gaza, Turkey, and around the world.

If you participate in social media, you have a unique opportunity to help raise the profile of the International Freedom Day for Gaza and Gaza's Ark.

Find sample tweets in Pastebin below but DO NOT START UNTIL 10AM ET. Here's a countdown: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/gazaday-countdown

VIDEO: IDF Uses Armed Soldiers, Water Cannon to Board Freedom Waves Vessels

Earlier today, the two ships that compose the Freedom Waves flotilla to Gaza--the Saoirse and the Tahrir--were commandeered by the Israeli Defense Forces. The IDF has since released two videos.

One video portrays the boarding of both vessels and is heavily edited. Still, we can clearly see the use of a water cannon on the Tahrir, and armed soldiers boarding the Saoirse, with a water cannon close by. At the very end of this video, all the way to the right, you can see an IDF soldier raising his hand gun as he advances into the passenger section of the boat. At least one soldier looks to be carrying an automatic rifle. If this is the edited version released by the IDF themselves, what could be in the unedited version?

The second video is also heavily edited. It presents us with a view of the radio communication between the IDF and the Tahrir. Pay attention to the cuts--especially the audio cuts:

Here's a transcript:

IDF Soldier 1: Motor Vessel Tahrir, this is the Israeli navy. The Gaza area and coastal region is closed to all maritime traffic as part of a maritime blockade imposed for security purposes on the Gaza strip. Your attempt to enter the Gaza strip by sea is a violation of international law. We remind you that humanitarian supply may be delivered to the Gaza strip by land. You are therefore welcome to enter Ashdod port and deliver the supplied to the recognized land crossings."

[CUT]

IDF Soldier 2 (I believe this is one is different than the first): What is your destination?

[VIDEO CUT, POSSIBLE AUDIO CUT]

BREAKING: BOATS EN ROUTE TO GAZA SURROUNDED BY ISRAELI WARSHIPS

Contacts:
Jane Hirschmann 917-679-8343, 212-222-6721
Felice Gelman 917-912-2597
Medea Benjamin (in Turkey with ground crew) 90 531 888 8927

BOATS EN ROUTE TO GAZA SURROUNDED BY ISRAELI WARSHIPS

New York – November 4, 2011

At 7:43 am ground support crew lost contact with two ships, the Saoirse of Ireland and the Tahrir of Canada, carrying 27 civilian passengers, medical supplies and letters of support for the people of Gaza.

At 7:30 am the Tahrir was interrogated, via radio, by the Israeli Navy. The ships were approximately 48 nautical miles off the coastline, well into international waters. Asked by the Israeli Navy for their destination, Canadian activist Ehab Lotayef replied, “The conscience of humanity.” When they repeated the question, asking for final destination, Lotayef said, “The betterment of mankind.”

Israel has maintained a naval blockade of Gaza since June 2006. Numerous international organizations, including committees of the United Nations, have concluded the blockade is in violation of international law.

Press Release on US Boat to Gaza website.

Get the latest position of the Canadian boat to Gaza, Tahrir

This map was made by Benjamin Doherty at the Electronic Intifada. Get the embed code at the link and post the map on your website or blog.

You can also track the Tahrir here.

BREAKING NEWS: TWO BOATS WITH PASSENGERS FROM 5 COUNTRIES HAVE SET SAIL TO GAZA

BREAKING NEWS

For immediate release, November 2, 2011

Contact: In New York: Felice Gelman, 917-912-2597, 917 679 8343
At sea: phone numbers will be released when you call the above press contact

TWO BOATS WITH PASSENGERS FROM 5 COUNTRIES (INCLUDING THE U.S.) HAVE SET SAIL TO GAZA

Organizers say: “It is time to lift the siege of Gaza which deprives 1.6 million civilians of their rights to travel, work, study, develop their economy and be free.”

The Canadian ship Tahrir and the Irish ship Saoirse have successfully reached international waters, initiating the “Freedom Wave to Gaza.” The boats have embarked from Turkey and are on the Mediterranean Sea. In all, the 2 boats carry 27 passengers from Canada, Ireland, U.S., Palestine, and Australia.

Kit Kittredge on board the Tahrir was previously a passenger on the American ship, The Audacity of Hope, which attempted passage to Gaza last July. Kittredge says, “ The only obstacles in our way are Israel’s military and the complicity of the Obama administration but in our sails is the wind of worldwide public opinion which has turned against the illegal blockade.”

Ann Wright retired US army Colonel and former US Diplomat says, “We carry inspiration from the Arab Spring and the worldwide “Occupy” movements that are demanding freedom and justice. Where governments fail, civil society must act. As Americans we are fed up with our government’s unquestioning support of Israel no matter how violent, illegal and oppressive its actions. We will not stand by and watch $30 billion of our tax money committed to buying Israel weaponry used to carry out this illegal occupation of Palestine including the blockade of Gaza.”

Call the State Department, White House in Support of Freedom Waves Flotilla to Gaza

Call Secretary Hillary Clinton at the State Department: 202-647-5291

Call the White House: 202-456-1414

Talking Points:

- Gaza has been under siege since mid-2006, depriving 1.6 million people of their liberty and basic human rights.

- Although the siege has been condemned by the United Nations, the Red Cross, and many national governments as in violation with the Fourth Geneva Convention, nothing has been done to ease the plight of these civilians. Civil society has had to act where governments would not.

- Two ships with 27 passengers from 5 countries, including one American, are sailing to Gaza to confront the Israeli naval blockade, and to bring medical supplies and letters of support.

- As Americans we insist that our government (which sends Israel $3 billion in military aid every year) demands that Israel insures the ships’ safe passage and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza. There is absolutely no excuse to subject 1.6 million people to collective punishment.

When you're done ...

Email President Obama and Congress

Follow the status of the flotilla

Just go to our Facebook, Twitter, ustogaza.org, tahrir.ca, irishshiptogaza.org, and on DemocracyNOW.

What the Freedom Flotilla Was Really About: A Response to Christopher Hitchens

Last week, renowned author Christopher Hitchens published a column highly critical of those who attempted to sail to Gaza on the Freedom Flotilla earlier this month. In the article, he sharply questions the flotilla participants’ “political ambitions,” which he suggests are linked to those of Hamas, Hezbollah and even Osama bin Laden. Presumably, Hitchens would also claim that the International Committee of the Red Cross has ‘political ambitions’ aligned with Al Qaeda’s, because both groups support an end to the blockade of Gaza.

The column concludes with a challenge: “There is something about this that fails to pass a smell test. I wonder whether any reporter on the scene will now take me up on this.”

Challenge accepted. Although the flotilla was prevented from going to Gaza, this isn’t the end of activism to end the blockade, so Hitchens’ assertions about the true intentions of this activism are certainly still relevant. Let’s start with the first major claim he makes about the flotilla: “It seems safe and fair to say that the flotilla and its leadership work in reasonably close harmony with Hamas.”

Six members of Congress ask Secretary Clinton to ‘ensure the safety of all American citizens on board the Audacity of Hope’

For Immediate Release
June 27, 2011

Media Contacts:
Athens/en route to Gaza: Robert Naiman, naiman [at] justforeignpolicy.org
Washington, DC: Kate Gould, press [at] justforeignpolicy.org

WASHINGTON, DC: On Friday, June 24, six members of Congress wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking her to "do everything in your power" to help "ensure the safety of all American citizens on board The Audacity of Hope." The letter, which was initiated by Representative Dennis Kucinich, notes The Audacity of Hope's willingness to open its cargo to "international inspection" and their commitment to "nonviolence and the tenets of international law."

The letter was signed by Representatives Dennis Kucinich [OH-10], William Lacy Clay [MO-1], Sam Farr [CA-17], Bob Filner [CA-51], Eleanor Holmes Norton [DC], and Barbara Lee [CA-9].

The letter is viewable online below or here.

Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy, issued the following response from Athens, Greece, where he is preparing to sail to Gaza as a passenger on The Audacity of Hope:

"This letter is historic, marking the first time members of Congress have publicly expressed concern for the safety of the U.S. passengers aboard The Audacity of Hope. This statement runs in stark contrast to Secretary of State Clinton's false accusation that we are trying to ‘provoke action by entering into Israeli waters', when in fact we have every intention of sailing to Gaza peacefully and avoiding Israeli waters entirely. We hope Secretary Clinton heeds this request from Congress and speaks out against threats from the Israeli authorities to attack us in our effort to break the illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip."

Gaza Freedom Flotilla Shows Awesome Power of Nonviolent Resistance

Sometimes the Israeli occupation authorities and their allies try to project a "mad dog" image to their opponents: don't bother trying to resist our power, because we are ready to crush you by any means necessary, and no-one who matters to us will care what means we use.

But as the Israeli government reaction to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla shows, it ain't necessarily so.

Al Jazeera reports:

Some Israeli officials see the situation as potentially disastrous in terms of public relations.

"We can't win on this one in terms of PR," Yigal Palmor, a foreign ministry spokesman, said.

"If we let them throw egg at us, we appear stupid with egg on our face. If we try to prevent them by force, we appear as brutes."

You can read every word ever penned or spoken by Gandhi, King, or Thoreau, and you will never find such an eloquent expression of the power of nonviolence as the statement of the spokesman of the Israeli foreign ministry.

In the face of an effective act of nonviolent resistance, the oppressor faces two unappetizing choices: concede ground, thereby undermining the image of absolute power the oppressor wants to project, and therefore encouraging further resistance; or resist with force, thereby projecting the image of "brutes," and therefore encouraging further resistance.

You can see why the Israeli government spokesman would be irritated.

Another great power of an effective mass nonviolent resistance action is when it gives "bystanders" a choice of taking sides - whether they want the opportunity provided by that choice or not.

The government of Cyprus had the opportunity to take a side, and it decided to try to obstruct the flotilla.