Wednesday, 2 June 2010

UN rights council votes for fact-finding mission over flotilla attack

UN human rights council votes to set up an independent investigation into Israel's Gaza attack. This is the same body that set up the Goldstone inquiry into the conduct of Israel's 2008/9 war against the people of Gaza.
A United Nations body has frustrated Israeli and US efforts to prevent an international probe into the killing of nine pro-Palestinian protesters by voting to set up a fact-finding mission into Monday’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy.

The Geneva based UN Human Rights Council backed by 32 votes to three a resolution on Wednesday that condemned “in the strongest terms the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla of ships” that was trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip this week.

The US, the Netherlands and Italy voted against the motion, which was sponsored by Pakistan, Sudan  and the Palestinians while nine countries, including France, Belgium, Japan, the UK and South Korea abstained.

Anti-Arab racism on show as court detains Palestinian Israelis who took part in flotilla

Israel has imprisoned four prominent Palestinian Israeli citizens who were on the flotilla.
The court’s decision to detain the Arab political leaders who took part in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla is discriminatory and constitutes selective prosecution. They are not being detained because of their Israeli citizenship but because they are Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. Instead, the Israeli military, which attacked the ship and its passengers, should be investigated for violations of international law.”

(Haifa, Israel) Last night, 1 June 2010, Judge Dina Cohen of the Magistrates’ Court in Ashkelon, after a nine-hour hearing before a packed courtroom, decided to extend the detention of Arab political leaders — Mr. Muhammed Zeidan, the Chairman of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel; Sheikh Raed Salah, the Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel (northern branch); and Sheikh Hamad Abu Daabes, the Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel (southern branch) — and Ms. Lubna Masarwa of the Free Gaza Movement and Al Quds University for one week, until 8 June 2010. more at

Video: Lowkey raps against Israel's flotilla massacre at London protest

Turkish activist imprisoned again before flight out of Israel

Turkish activist detained at Ben Gurion airport after he 'become disorderly' in front of foreign reporters. Now in a holding cell until flight out of the apartheid state.
Two detainees from the Marmara, the flotilla vessel on which the lethal IDF raid took place, became disorderly at Ben Gurion International Airport before foreign reporters. They were cuffed and placed in a holding cell until their repatriation flight. From Ynet

Lauren Booth challenges Israel's flotilla lie machine

Lauren Booth, who sailed on an aid mission to Gaza in 2008 writes in the Guardian on why ordinary tried to offer solidarity to the people of Gaza. And why those that raised sticks or whatever, had a right to defend themselves.
Our mission was simply to show the population of Gaza that normal people cared about their plight; that we saw their hunger, their fear, their imprisonment, their struggle; and that we – everyday folk with good hearts – would do what we could to bring their plight to the eyes of the world.

Then, as now, our intention was never to go anywhere near Israel's shores, nor its waters, nor its military. Then, as now, the cargo on our ships was rigorously checked by European port authorities and stamped as free from any weapons whatsoever. We believed, back in those innocent days, that this would not furnish Israel with even the most vapid excuse to board or attack us on the pretext that we were a security threat. Then, they did not. This week, they did.

Let me ask you one final question that's been troubling me, as sympathy for those apparently fragile Israeli commandos continues to pour in. If you were on a boat in the Mediterranean and hundreds of the world's most notoriously violent soldiers started falling from the sky, wouldn't you defend yourself? The brave human beings on the Mavi Marmara were acting in self-defence. And because of this many died. Something of the hopeful child in me died with them.

How Israel breaks international maritime law - and gets away with it

Yvonne Ridley exposes the maritime law breaking behind Israel's massacre
By Yvonne Ridley

June 01, 2010 Information Clearing House -- I wonder how many of you remember the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship the Achille Lauro way back in October 1985?

Four members of the Palestine Liberation Front took control of the liner off Egypt as she was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said.

It was a bungled operation in which the hijackers killed disabled Jewish-American passenger Leon Klinghoffer and then threw his body overboard.

The incident created headlines around the world and polarized people over the Palestinian cause.

It also prompted the law makers to create new legislation making it an international crime for anyone to take a ship by force.

And this is the reason for the brief history lesson - under article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process.

The treaty necessarily adopts a strict approach. One cannot attack a ship and then claim self-defence if the people on board resist the unlawful use of violence.

In other words, according to international law, the actions of the Israeli military were beyond the law and those involved should be treated no differently than, say, the Somali pirates who are also in the habit of boarding ships by force.

Any rights to self defence in such dramatic circumstances rests purely with the passengers and crew on board. Under international maritime law you are legally entitled to resist unlawful capture, abduction and detention. more

Turkey to provide naval escorts for flotilla missions as MV Rachel Corrie nears

According to CNN's Indian affiliate, IBN, Turkey has indicated that it may provide naval escorts for future Gaza aid ships. MV Rachel Corrie is about four days away from Gaza's territorial waters. IBN provides no Turkish government or military sources for the report. Also, Hamas is calling for the Rafah crossing to be kept open permanently by Egypt. If Egypt defies the US and Israel on this it could be the beginning of the end to the siege. However, Egypt has opened, and then closed, the crossing on many previous occassions. In another development, Nicaragua is suspending diplomatic relations with Israel. All Palestinian Israelis on the flotilla are still being held and may face serious charges.
Ankara warned that further supply vessels will be sent to Gaza, escorted by the Turkish Navy, a development with unpredictable consequences. more
As usual Robert Fisk writes powerfully in the Independent condemning cowardly western leaders' failure to save lives.
But it is a fact that it is ordinary people, activists, call them what you will, who now take decisions to change events. Our politicians are too spineless, too cowardly, to take decisions to save lives. Why is this? Why didn't we hear courageous words from Messrs Cameron and Clegg yesterday?

For it is a fact, is it not, that had Europeans (and yes, the Turks are Europeans, are they not?) been gunned down by any other Middle Eastern army (which the Israeli army is, is it not?) there would have been waves of outrage.

And what does this say about Israel? Isn't Turkey a close ally of Israel? Is this what the Turks can expect? Now Israel's only ally in the Muslim world is saying this is a massacre – and Israel doesn't seem to care.

124 Freedom Flotilla activists deported to Jordan

The Guardian reports activists from Muslim countries arriving in Jordan. Israel's laughable attempts to try to set the media agenda has been swallowed by the usual suspects but not by world public opinion, and most governments. The release of activists will now accelerate the unraveling of Israel's clumsy lies. How many people had the marine commandos killed and injured before individual activists' outrage and fury turned to futile self-defence?
A group of 124 pro-Palestinian activists from 12 Muslim nations crossed the border in five Jordanian buses. Another 200 activists have been transferred from a holding centre to Israel's airport near Tel Aviv, a prison service spokesman said. The remaining activists will be released throughout the day, the spokesman said.

Israel releasing flotilla activists after world pressure mounts

Under mounting international pressure Israel is forced to release today the 680 they are holding. Yesterday Israel's envoy to the UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, accused the humanitarian activists of being 'linked to terrorists' in a desperate attempt to justify the murders.
Israel has begun deporting the first batch of foreign activists seized aboard a six-ship humanitarian aid flotilla seized in an Israel Navy raid en route to the Gaza Strip, the Foreign Ministry said early Wednesday, indicating that the rest of the activists will be escorted out of the country throughout the day.

The decision to deport the hundreds of foreign activists was announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided late Tuesday, in the face of mounting world criticism of Monday's assault. more