Monday, 31 May 2010

Gaza: A Call For Humanity

Eight hundred people board six ships and head to the Gaza Strip to break a blockade and deliver supplies and aid to a deprived and imprisoned community. The Israeli army board the ships and at time of writing between 10 soldiers are injured and between 9 and 20 of the aid and peace activists are dead and scores injured. As recriminations and counter allegations abound, Scriptonite asks: since when did the victim have to prove their innocence?

Last night I received a message from the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship within the humanitarian aid flotilla heading for Gaza on which the focus of footage and media coverage has focussed.

The aim? To relieve some of the deprivation in the area as a consequence of the three year long blockade placed on it by the Israeli government and enforced by the Israeli Defensive Force (IDF).

I posted it straight to the blog to bring attention to the incredible bravery of this group of people who have left their daily lives across their respective 32 countries, to make a difference in a different part of the world.

I woke this morning, to tweetdeck bleeping out about deaths in the Gaza flotilla. Completely stunned, and attempting as most to make sense of what happened. So I took to checking out all sides of the story to understand what was being put out to each audience around the world.

The two central arguments seemed to be unarmed civilians attacked or raging mob of terrorists attack Israeli troops and give them no choice but to shoot like crazy. Both arguments seem to imply that if any voilence can be attributed to the civiliants aboard the ships then the Israeli action was justified.

Interestingly, I found a pro-israel website, which I won’t publicise which broke down the events of the day in you tube videos….one of which I have posted below. The video was entitled ‘Soldiers who were Injured and Weapons Found on Ships’.

What seems worthy of note is the ramshackle bounty the IDF has discovered. Considering the intended purpose of the video, this seems to be the best the IDF were able to come up with. The highlight being bags of marbles…..and slingshots....

The website also held this video, apparently showing the moment where IDF soldiers began descending onto the ship.

The 'evidence' of people attacking the IDF troops seems to be stated as clear justification for the response of the troops and the number of deaths. In simple terms, stating that any act of violence from the people aboard did not merely prompt but required the violent response of the Israeli troops on board.

If this principal holds true then one could quite as easily in return argue that any violence meted out with marbles and sticks by those aboard the Mavi Marmara can be justified on the basis that it was being attacked, by force, in international waters.

But the world really should not be so binary. Whatever your views of the acts of individuals aboard the Mavi Maramara….remember why the ship was there in the first place.

The Free Gaza Movement make no bones about their mission and aims on their website:

“We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise.

We have not and will not ask for Israel’s permission. It is our intent to overcome this brutal siege through civil resistance and non-violent direct action, and establish a permanent sea lane between Gaza and the rest of the world”

In this scenario, the emphasis should not be on the victims to prove they did not provoke the aggressor.

One could argue that this has been the most flagrant two fingers held up to the international community by the IDF since the slaying of Rachel Corrie...or Tom Hindle. An international flotilla, in international waters……

Surely iot would be too cynical of me to suggest that this was anything to do with the US support for and signing of the UN Non Proliferation Treaty document which singled out Israel’s open secret nuclear arsenal?

I leave you with two notes of inspiration and hope...and some practical things to do to support the plight of Gaza and the people who attempted to come to their aid…..as enough anger and rage abounds and I Scriptonite adds nothing constructive to the situation by simply pouring more in.

Don’t get angry, get involved.

INTERVIEW ABOARD THE MIVA MARMARA – 29TH MAY

The following interview was taken aboard the ship with retired US army colonel Ann Wright.

THINGS TO SEE:

OPEN LETTER TO THE ISRAELI JEWISH PEOPLE – BY JEFF HALPER

http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/05/an-open-letter-by-jeff-halper-to-the-israeli-jewish-public-support-the-gaza-flotilla/

THINGS TO DO:

EMAIL THE FOREIGN OFFICE NOW (Template letter)
http://joti2gaza.org/2010/05/31/email-the-british-foreign-office-recall-britains-ambassador-to-israel-now/

JOIN THE FREE GAZA MOVEMENT

http://www.freegaza.org/

1 comment:

  1. It is difficult to know how to comment on this – logically, emotionally, idealistically or legally. So perhaps this is a mixture of all of them.
    The first point to note is that the Free Gaza guys deliberately did not ask Israel (the legitimate authorities in those waters, as there is no Palestinian State as yet) for permission to sail into its waters. This action is deliberate and provocative, and should be condemned on legal grounds if not on any other.
    The second point is that the vessels refused an Israeli request to turn around – thus they were in breach of international shipping law. The masters on each vessel should have been fully aware of this, and that a continuation of the action would lead to forceful means to get them to comply. If they did not know this then a quick chat with the master of a Somali pirate vessel should set them straight.
    The third point – if the occupants of the vessels were bent on a peaceful demonstration of their cause, then why did they not stage a sit-in type protest when they were boarded. The evidence shows that they were intent on doing serious damage to the Israeli troops. No commander of troops will allow his men to be attacked like this without some form of retaliation. The force used by the Israelis may have been sledgehammers to peanuts, but it was provoked.
    Finally, if the organisers of the flotilla expected stern resistance from the Israeli authorities (and no-one can be naive enough to think that they thought that they could just waltz in at leisure) then why did they endanger the lives of children and elderly people – unless these were used as human shields (?)
    Today the world has roundly condemned the Israelis for their action. Two of the countries that have come out very loudly in protest are Greece and Spain (it sure beats having to explain the economic cock-up in your country). But, I wonder, what their reaction would have been if a flotilla of ships determined to assist the Basques or the Cypriots had sailed unannounced into their waters?
    We would all love to see a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle-East; this same refrain has been sung for at least 2 millennia.
    But one this is clear – a flotilla of ships carrying an undisclosed cargo and passengers sailing into controlled coastal waters is not one of the ways to achieve peace. I fear that exactly the opposite will be the consequence. I hope that the organisers of the flotilla will be able to justify their actions in the light of the blood that will surely be shed as a result of this.

    ReplyDelete

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