Israel Ready to Shoot at Emergency Boat
The Newsletter of the Free Gaza Movement 3/2009, Jan. 19
More than 1.300 dead in Gaza and the world opinion is changing. Yet, this has not stopped the carnage and it cannot make us forget the dead, the injured, and the damage. Also, anti-Jewish tendencies rise in the world, because the butchers of Gaza claim to speak for all the Jews - while Jewish activists chain themselves to the Israeli Consulate building in Los Angeles in protest and many others stand up against this crime against humanity. More than twenty prominent British Muslim leaders have signed a letter denouncing the rise in anti-Semitic attacks resulting from the violence of "Operation Cast Lead" and calling on Muslims to help prevent assaults on Jews in the UK. Israel's free ride ends, analysts say, and indeed: resistance doubles and triples in view of the barbaric and obscene atrocities. The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since August, four more voyages were successful, taking Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel's draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza. The sixth and the seventh voyages were aggressively and violently stopped by Israel. Read the article below. Also in this issue: a reader's mail about the last trip, an eyewitness report by Caoimhe Butterly, Israel admits breaking the ceasefire, fishermen and natural gas deposits, and the quotes of the week. This week's press photo "Gaza" (download at http://www.freegaza.org/uploads/media/golrokh_nafisi.jpg - 2117 x 3898 pixel, 300 dpi, 5,3 MB) is a drawing by the Iranian artist Golrokh Nafisi who lives in the Netherlands (http://golrokhn.blogspot.com). It is a contribution to the Free Gaza Art Festival: http://www.anis-online.de/2/freegaza/artfestival.htm.
"Gaza", © Golrokh Nafisi, http://golrokhn.blogspot.com
Israel Ready to Shoot Unarmed Mercy Ship
The Israeli navy on Jan. 15 threatened to kill unarmed civilians aboard a mercy ship on its way to deliver medical supplies and doctors to besieged Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement ship, Spirit of Humanity, left Cyprus Wednesday morning carrying doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and parliamentarians. The ship also carried over a ton of desperately needed medicines donated by the European Campaign to Break the Siege, and intended for overwhelmed hospitals in the Gaza Strip. At roughly 3am UST (1am GMT), in international waters 100 miles off the coast of Gaza, at least five Israeli gunboats surrounded the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY and began recklessly cutting in front of the slow-moving civilian craft. The Israeli warships radioed the SPIRIT, demanding that the ship turn around or they would open fire and "shoot." When asked if the Israeli navy was acknowledging that they intended to commit a war crime by deliberately firing on unarmed civilians, the warships replied that they were prepared to use "any means" to stop the ship. Israel's reckless and shocking threats against an unarmed ship on a mission of mercy are a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that "the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes." Read the whole press release at http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/688-israel-threatens-to-shoot-unarmed-civilians-aboard-mercy-ship
A Reader's Mail About the Last Trip
Dustin Durbin writes: "I know that you care about the innocents aboard your ships, but the craven retreat at over the threat of the Israeli Navy marks you as cowards. If you are interested in hiring someone who will not back down in the face of danger, or the threat of my life being taken contact me. There is no excuse for you guys retreating when the possible loss of a few lives could have saved so many!" - Greta Berlin answers: "Dear Dustin: Although we appreciate your comments regarding turning around in the face of Israeli threats, we do want to clarify our decision. This trip did not have a group of activists on board. We had doctors and journalists on board. They were trying to get to Gaza to come to the aid of the wounded people there and also to report on the situation there. We also had a few tons of medical and food supplies on board. In this case, the voyage was not a voyage of activists but a voyage of medical people and journalists. In August when we were all activists, there was no way that we were going to turn back. This time, when the passengers asked the boat to turn around, it was the captain's responsibility to keep the passengers safe. He chose the correct response. The boat did stay and try to challenge the Israeli Navy for a couple of hours. But our primary responsibility when these boats go is to the safety of the passengers we are taking. As activists in the organization, we were terribly disappointed. As people responsible for the safety of non-activist passengers, we believe we did the right thing."
By Caoimhe Butterly. The morgues of Gaza's hospitals are over-flowing. The bodies- in their blood-soaked white shrouds- cover the entire floor space of the Shifa'a hospital's morgue. Some are intact, most horribly deformed, limbs twisted into unnatural positions, chest cavities exposed, heads blown off, skulls crushed in. Family members wait outside to identify and claim a brother, husband, father, mother, wife, child. Many of those who wait their turn have lost numerous family members and loved ones. The whole article (also in French) is at http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/696-still-breathing Caoimhe (pronounced "Cueeva") Butterly is an Irish human rights activist presently in Gaza working in Jabaliya and Gaza city as a volunteer with ambulance services and as co-coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement. She can be contacted on 00970-598273960 or at sahara78 at hotmail.co.uk
Israel Admits Breaking the Ceasefire
For 18 days the Israeli Government has justified to the world that their decision to unleash a massive military campaign against the people of Gaza was as a direct result of Hamas' breach of the ceasefire brokered by the Egyptian Government. Hamas has always stated that between June 2008 and November 2008 they did not fire a single rocket into Israel. In a recent interview given to Channel 4 News, the Israeli Government's official spokesman Mark Ragev finally admitted that Hamas did not break the ceasefire. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=SILJxPTqjAM So by their own admission the Israeli Government broke the terms of the ceasefire first and in doing so have slaughtered almost 1000 people and injured over 3000. They have wantonly destroyed the infrastructure of Gaza - That is a breach of international law and a war crime.
Fishermen and Natural Gas Deposits
By David Schermerhorn. In recent times some 3000 fishermen in over 700 boats made their livelihood in the waters off the shores of Gaza. Before 1978 when the fishing area included the sea off the Sinai coastline the area covered some 75,000 square kilometers. Beginning in late 2000 the Israeli military began a campaign of intimidation and harassment against the fishing boats that ventured near or beyond a 6 nautical mile limit. At least 14 fishermen have been killed by the Israelis, over 200 injured and numerous boats damaged or impounded. Why? In the late 1990's the British Gas Group (BG Group) discovered a vast deposit of natural gas under the waters off Gaza: Over 1 trillion cubic feet equal to 150 million barrels of oil was estimated to be there. A significantly smaller deposit was also found in nearby Israeli waters. On 11/8/99 Chairman Yasser Arafat signed an agreement giving BG Group 90 percent interest and 10 per cent to Consolidated Contractors Company, an Athens based Palestinian entity connected to the PLO. A final allocation of the rights continues to be contested between BG Group, Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians in obscured ongoing negotiations. The Israelis began their program of killing and harassing the Gazan fishermen only after the discovery of the natural gas deposits. It is a reasonable assumption that the two events are linked: That the Israelis are asserting control over this resource valued at over 4 billion dollars; And that they are intent on denying any benefit to the Palestinians regardless of who controls Gaza. Although the violations of law and basic human rights to the Gazan fishermen pale in comparison to the horrors that have unfolded they should not be forgot or forgiven. Based on the limited reports coming from Gaza due to Israeli restrictions on journalists it is possible that there are no fishing boats left or even a harbor. - Schermerhorn has been to Gaza three times in recent months aboard Free Gaza boats. He spent two days aboard fishing boats that were harassed by machine gun fire and assaulted by water cannons. Read the whole analysis at http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/702-timeline-of-gaza-marine-zone-fishermen-and-natural-gas-deposits - Link leading to a recent Schermerhorn radio interview on the subject http://citizenreporter.org/2009/01/bm292-the-battle-for-gaza-gas-reserves/
Quotes of the Week
Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan told the parliament on Tuesday: "They say my criticism is harsh, I assume it is not as harsh as phosphorus bombs or fire from tanks ... I am reacting as a human and a Muslim." +++ President of the United Nations General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said at the UN in New York: "The number of victims in Gaza is increasing by the day... The situation is untenable. It's genocide."
The Newsletter of the Free Gaza Movement and the relaunched website http://www.freegaza.org present news and background info on the nonviolent Free Gaza Movement and their action to break the siege of Gaza and Palestine. This issue was edited by Anis Hamadeh in Mainz, anis at anis-online.de. - German translation at http://www.freegaza.org/de/home/newsletter/707-israel-ready-to-shoot-at-emergency-boat; French at http://freegaza.org/fr/home/newsletter/707-israel-ready-to-shoot-at-emergency-boat; Subscription over the "Friends of Gaza" Newslist at https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/gazafriends, contact to Free Gaza: friendsofgaza at gmail.com. Updated Free Gaza media clippings at http://www.freegaza.org/uploads/media/free_gaza_in_the_media.pdf. For general Palestine daily news visit http://www.theheadlines.org