Saturday, 25 June 2011

French ship leaves Corsica to join up with flotilla, Danish boat Tahrir also ready to sail from Greece

(pic: Flotilla activists in Greece take part in non-violence training)

From Ynet news
The only French ship participating in the international flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza has left Saturday morning Corsica, with six people on board, according to AFP news agency.

"The entire fleet will sail next week from various Mediterranean ports," he told AFP a committee member coordinating the French countryside, Julien Rivoire. Ships, including two freighters carrying medical supplies, "should reach the port of Gaza at the end of next week," he added.

From Ice News
Danish activists have announced that they will join a new flotilla of boats to the Palestinian Gaza Strip, just over a year after nine civilians were killed on-board a Turkish vessel that tried to break the Israeli blockade.

Together with protest groups from Canada, Belgium and Australia, Danish organisation Free Gaza will join a fleet of 20 in its boat named ‘Tahrir’, meaning ‘freedom’ in Arabic.

They plan to sail from Greece today in an attempt to carry humanitarian goods and construction materials to Gaza City, which has been under Israeli-forced blockade since the Battle of Gaza in 2007. Despite a slight easing of restrictions last year, the United Nations reported last week that almost a fifth of the population live on less than USD 1 a day, with most goods coming into the country via underground tunnels from Egypt. more

Relatives not allowed to visit loved ones in Israeli prisons after they refuse to be strip searched

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) refused to allow relatives of prisoners to visit them because they refused to be strip searched at roadblocks leading to Shatta and Megiddo jails.

The mother of a prisoner said that she was detained at a roadblock along with her daughter while on their way to visit her son Yousef Abdulaziz in Shatta jail. She said that the Israeli soldiers detained them in a room and refused to allow them to proceed to the jail or even to go back to their home in Jenin because they refused strip search. They were detained for long hours before being released.

In a similar incident, Israeli soldiers detained relatives of prisoners in Megiddo at Jaba’a roadblock and tried to force women to strip for search but they refused.

Witnesses said that the women were detained until a late night hour for refusing the search and were denied visitation.

Thanks to PIC

US ambassador to UN threatens to withdraw funding if Palestine statehood vote goes ahead

From Al Manar
Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the UN, said there was "no greater threat" to US support and funding of the UN than the prospect of Palestinian statehood being endorsed by member states.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian authority, plans to ask the UN general assembly, which comprises all 192 members, to vote on recognition at its annual meeting in New York in September.

The US and Israel are pressing Abbas to drop his plans. Obama has strongly opposed the move, raising the prospect of a veto in the UN Security Council, which is expected to vote on a Palestinian statehood proposal in July.

However, Palestinian officials have spoken of their determination to a circumvent a US veto by deploying a rarely used Cold War mechanism known as "Uniting for Peace" under which a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly can override the Security Council.

Speaking at an event in Washington, Rice said the Obama administration was devoting "extraordinary efforts and energy" to restarting middle-eastern peace talks so that a vote in September could be avoided.

On the prospect of it being approved, she said: "This would be exceedingly politically damaging in our domestic context, as you can well imagine.”

"I cannot frankly think of a greater threat to our ability to maintain financial and political support for the United Nations in Congress than such an outcome". more

Video: former captain in Israeli Air Force on why he's sailing to Gaza, pics from non-violent training

Crew member Yonatan Shapira talks about why he is going aboard the US Boat to Gaza with the Stay Human Flotilla at the end of the month.

I was a captain in the Israeli Air Force and a Black-Hawk Pilot until 2003 when together with other pilots I initiated the pilots' letter and refused to take part in the crimes of the occupation. Today I am a member of Boycott, a group of Israeli citizens who are actively supporting the Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions from within. I have a Master degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, I facilitate dialogue groups and volunteer as a sailing instructor for children with disabilities. I've been sailing since I was a child and in September of 2010 I was a crew member on the Jewish boat to Gaza that was intercepted by the Israeli Navy. I work as a commercial pilot in the US and am still dreaming to be a musician.

Howard Jacobson doesn't give a damn about Gaza's suffering children, as media slurs against flotilla multiply

By Philip Weiss at Mondoweiss

CNN ran a piece by Alice Walker saying why she's trying to go to Gaza on the flotilla, it feels a need to balance it with these tripes from "British Jewish author" shown holding his pen at the beach, Howard Jacobson. I saw his novel supporting Israel at my sister's house at Thanksgiving. I better talk to my sister about this, actually. This piece is portentous, and blind to the disproportion of suffering. Check this out:

if the aim of the flotilla is to ensure that one child will not be set above another it is hard to see how challenging the blockade will achieve it. All an Israeli parent will see is a highly charged emotionalism disguising an action that, by its very partiality, chooses the Palestinian child over the Israeli.

As if Israeli conditions are anything like the ghetto that is Gaza.

"If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman," she says. Wrong on a thousand counts. As a writer, Alice Walker must understand the symbolic significance of words. The cargo is a cargo of intention. It is freighted with political sympathy and attitude. It means to blunder into where it isn't safe, clothed in the make-believe garments of the unworldly, speaking of children and speaking like children, half inviting a violence which can then be presented as a slaughter of the innocents.

- from Mondoweiss

Video: web project seeks to put a human face to brutal occupation and colonial war with 'Friend a soldier'

Friend-a-Soldier is an interactive website which allows anyone to meet, talk to and befriend an Israeli combat soldier. Your job is simple: pick a soldier, think of a question — any question — and ask away! You will receive a transparent, personal response in your e-mail inbox from the soldier you’ve chosen.

You might want to send a non-abusive but thoughtful message to one of the soldiers asking how they could justify killing 1400 people during the 'Cast Lead' war on the people of Gaza. click here

Cyprus bans sailing to Gaza from its ports in warning to flotilla

The Free Gaza movement has in the past sent boats from Cypriot ports but the flotilla is not intending to use Cyprus as a staging point in any case. Cyprus (the southern half that is) is a key trading partner of Israel.
(Reuters) - Cyprus said on Thursday it had banned all sailings to Gaza, serving notice to any pro-Palestinian activists who might use the Mediterranean island as a springboard to challenge Israel's blockade of the territory.

Activists are planning to send an aid flotilla to Gaza from ports around Europe this month, defying warnings from Israel which has tight sea and land border controls around the enclave.

There had been no suggestion that Cyprus would be used for sailings, but the Mediterranean island was the launchpad for earlier voyages to Gaza which started in 2008. more