By Bianca Shaana and Niamh Moloughney
In the dark, early hours of May 31, Israel launched a commando and navy attack on 6 unarmed civilian ships carrying humanitarian aid in the international waters of the Mediterranean sea, opening fire before they landed. These highly trained, professional soldiers killed and wounded tens of civilians, many of whom were on the Mavi Marmara, a boat owned by the Turkish charity, IHH (The Foundation for Human Rights & Freedoms & Humanitarian Relief).
We in the Free Gaza Movement would like to offer our deepest sympathy to the people of Turkey and particularly to the 9 families who have lost loved ones. 28 children have lost their fathers due to the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara.Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted Yalcin Buyuk, the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, as saying that the nine victims were shot a total of 30 times. Based on preliminary autopsy reports, two men were shot four times each and five others were shot either in the back of the head or in the back. Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old activist, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. Nineteen-year-old Furkan Dogan, a US citizen of Turkish descent, was shot five times from less than 45cm away, in the face, the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two IHH aid workers, Cevdet Kiliclar and Necdet Yildrim, were amongst the victims.
We in Free Gaza are proud and honored to work and be associated with the IHH and its honorable track record of humanitarian missions worldwide. As a human rights organization, it is hard for us to comprehend this kind of violence by Israel, especially when used against civilians embarked upon a humanitarian mission, such as that of the highly respected IHH. Furthermore it is appalling that the inflammatory remarks of Netanyahu, referring to them as "a ship of hate organised by violent Turkish terror extremists" should subsequently be repeated or even referred to by the media as anything but a pathetically transparent attempt to justify the inadmissable.
The facts are simple: The blockade of the port of Gaza is illegal, as deemed by international law and the UN. This point cannot be argued, the siege must end, the rights and dignity of the Palestinians in Gaza must be honoured, the port must be opened. Alongside of our partners in the Freedom Flotilla, we demand that Israel returns our boats including the Spirit of Humanity, detained by Israel since early 2009. The Free Gaza Movement and our international parteners intend to launch another flotilla at the first available opportunity. After that there will be yet another... and another... until this diabolical blockade collapses and steps towards peace are finally taken.
On June 6, another boat was announced by the ''Jüdische Stimme''. Along with her partners, the EJJP and JJP (UK), they are sending a boat and call to world leaders to help Israel find her way back to reason, a sense of humanity and a life without fear. ''Jewish Voices'' expects the political leaders of Israel and the world to guarantee safe passage for their small vessel to Gaza, thus helping to form a bridge towards peace. The FGM and our partners would like to acknowledge and thank the many governments, in particular that of Ireland and Turkey, for their support for our mission. However most importantly of all, we would like to thank the'ordinary people from everywhere who contributed to the cargo and raised their voices together to spread the message worldwide: This siege of the Gaza strip and the imprisonment of its people must end.