Tuesday, 28 June 2011

First African convoy to Gaza to reach Gaza by end of July

From Press TV
The first overland African convoy has set out for the impoverished Gaza Strip, carrying humanitarian relief aid to the besieged coastal sliver.

The convoy, comprising 21 activists and a dozen vehicles, carries much needed aid that include medical supplies, basic essentials, milk powder, generators and materials to build 10 houses, a Press TV correspondent reports.

Starting the road trip from the South African city of Durban, the aid convoy is expected to reach Gaza by the end of July.

“Today we stand here in total, unconditional, universal support of this initiative. God bless you as you travel to the land and reach the dear people of Palestine,” said Michael Abrahams of Durban mayor's office.

All of the vehicles will be donated to the Gaza municipality.

However, Egyptian authorities have stated that they will not allow the convoy onto Egyptian thoroughfares.

The organizers of the convoy said the aim was not only to take aid to Gaza, but also to raise awareness across Africa about the plight of those living in the blockaded enclave. more

Freedom Flotilla 2 to set sail from Crete on Thursday or Friday to break Gaza blockade

From Ahram Online
Pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries plan to set sail in an international flotilla for Gaza from the coast of Crete on Thursday or Friday, organisers said Monday.

¨Thursday or Friday, nine or 10 boats should meet up in the Libyan Gulf,¨ Vaguelis Pissias, one of the Greek organisers of the flotilla, said at a press conference with representatives from the international organisations involved.

¨We really hope that despite the pressure from Israel and other countries, the Greek authorities are not going to stop us leaving," he added.

Organisers of the ¨Freedom flotilla¨ complained that the Greek authorities were creating ¨administrative obstacles¨ amid pressure from Israel to stop the campaigners from attempting to defy the five-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The departure has also been complicated by local politics, with transport strikes planned for this week as frustrated Greeks protest against harsh austerity reforms being voted on by the government of the debt-ridden country.

Several of the boats taking part -- including two cargo ships carrying three thousand tonnes of aid such as medicines and cement -- will set off from Greek ports, while others plan to join them out at sea, organisers said. more

Outrage as US government moves to criminalize Palestine solidarity

From Electronic Intifada

US government moves to criminalize Palestine solidarity

In an op-ed published by Al Jazeera English today, I write about the US government’s attempts to criminalize the Palestine solidarity activists — including the State Department’s threats to prosecute activists involved with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. I also appeared on Al Jazeera English’s The Stream today to discuss FBI raids and subpoenas targeting activists.

As I write in the op-ed, “I am a Palestine solidarity activist in the US, and one of 23 US citizens who have been issued with a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury as part of what the government has said is an investigation into violations of the laws banning material support to foreign ‘terrorist organisations.’”

This investigation takes place in the context of a new Supreme Court decision that greatly expanded what constitutes material support and has been widely criticized. It also takes place in a situation of even more relaxed restrictions on the FBI’s investigative powers — the FBI is planning to issue a revised edition of its operations manual that will give agents “significant new powers” to go through people’s trash and infiltrate groups even if they are not suspected of any wrongdoing.


Video: Chicano-Jewish American Gabriel Schivone on why he's sailing with the Gaza flotilla

Passenger Gabriel Schivone talks about why he is going aboard the US Boat to Gaza with the Stay Human Flotilla at the end of the month.

Bio: Gabriel Matthew Schivone is a Chicano-Jewish American and undergraduate student who was born in Tucson, Arizona. He is a volunteer with the humanitarian/migrant-rights organization, No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, which works to end death and suffering on the US/Mexico border and throughout Arizona. Gabe is also coordinator of AZ Jewish Voice for Peace. He draws strength and resolve to join Flotilla II from, among other areas, the marvelous words of Henry Thoreau: "Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority—it is not even a minority then—but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight."

Four Hamas MPs arrested on West Bank near Hebron and 20 Ramallah PFLP activists

From AFP
NABLUS, Palestinian Territories — Israeli troops on Tuesday arrested four Hamas MPs in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security sources and officials from the Islamist group said.

Three of them were arrested in the early hours in the northern city of Nablus, while a fourth was picked up in Salfit, a town some 15 kilometres (nine miles) further south, they said.

In Nablus, troops arrested three MPs -- Nawaf Amer, who is also a journalist for the Al-Quds television channel, Fuad Khofash, director of the Ahrar centre for prisoners and human rights, and Firas Jarrar, a former prisoner.

And in Salfit, they picked up local MP Nasser Abdel Jawwad.

The army had no immediate comment on the arrests, which bring to 17 the number of Hamas parliamentarians detained by Israeli troops over the past eight months. more

...and 20 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine members also arrested:

From Maan
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's main security agency has reportedly arrested more than 20 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operatives from Ramallah and occupied East Jerusalem in the past few weeks.

According to public radio in Israel on Monday, the Shin Bet said suspects were planning to kidnap soldiers and perpetrate attacks against Israel, including a number of shooting attacks and a bomb attack in Jerusalem.

Israel caught out spreading fake video to smear Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 activists

(pic: What is Netanyahu aide Guy Seemann's role in the anti-flotilla pinkwashing hoax, asks Max Blumenthal)

It's now official: the Israeli government are a bunch of liars. Read on

From Haaretz
Did the Prime Minister’s office distribute a fake anti-flotilla video? This is exactly what some American bloggers have been claiming, after probing a video that was uploaded to YouTube on Sunday.

The video, nearly three minutes long, featured a young man who called himself Marc and claimed to be a gay and human rights activist. The man recounted a story in which he asked the organizers of the upcoming Gaza flotilla to join their mission, and claimed that his request was allegedly denied on the grounds that participation of the gay and lesbian group with which he was affiliated would not serve the flotilla’s “interests.”

“Marc” explained in the video that he understood why his request was denied only after he researched the people organizing the aid flotilla and found that they had strong ties to Hamas, “whose foreign minister has called homosexuals a minority of perverts, mentally and morally sick,” he said in the video.

Following the YouTube video’s release, U.S. blogger Max Blumenthal found that the recording, which was distributed by Israeli government employee Neil Lazarus on his Facebook page, was a hoax, and that the man who appears in it was actually an Israeli entrepreneur and public relations expert named Omer Gershon.

The video was also tweeted later by Guy Seeman, who was apparently working as an intern in the prime minister’s office.

The premier’s office refused to comment about Seeman’s employment.

You can watch the fake video here and Max's original story can be found at the following link:
Anti-Flotilla video fraud linked to PM Netanyahu’s office, official Israeli hasbara agents (Updated)

Israel makes absurd claim that nonviolent activists plan to attack commandos with chemicals

Israel's despicable campaign of threats and intimidation continues apace. Now they are claiming nonviolent activists are planning to attack IDF soldiers with chemicals. This is a particularly clumsy way of trying to build a narrative around the spurious notion of poor little Israeli commandos given no choice but to kill in order to defend themselves.

It is a lie, and organisers are asking the Israeli military to identify the persons supposedly intent on violence so that they can be excluded from the flotilla. No response has been forthcoming from the misnamed Israeli Defence Forces.

Let's remind ourselves that it was the IDF that did all the killing a year ago, and the world beyond Tel Aviv and the White House knows it.

From Haaretz
The organizer of the Gaza-bound flotilla is dismissed Tuesday Israeli allegations that extremists aboard the ships plan to harm Israeli soldiers who would be dispatched to stop them.

Dror Feiler says the hundreds of people planning to sail soon in a bid to break Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory have signed a declaration of nonviolence.

Feiler told Army Radio on Tuesday that if Israel has information about specific suspects, it should pass it along to flotilla's organizers.

Israeli military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich on Monday cited intelligence reports saying extremists in the flotilla have "dangerous incendiary chemicals" for use against Israeli forces.

Senior Israeli officials said at a press briefing on Monday that even though the Turkish organization IHH has withdrawn from the upcoming flotilla to Gaza, information recently obtained by Israel indicates that some passengers are planning on carrying out violent acts. more

Hamas refused German mediator's prisoner-swap deal because of unacceptable Israeli conditions

DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Deputy political bureau chairman of Hamas Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk has said that his movement rejected the “unjust offer” tabled by the German "mediator" on the prisoners’ exchange deal because he bowed to Israeli occupation conditions.

He told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper published on Monday that Gerhard Conrad adopted the Israeli occupation government’s conditions, which he described as “unjust and unfair”.

He added that the Israeli occupation's stringent conditions are to be expected but for the German middleman to adopt such a position is “unacceptable”.

Abu Marzouk stressed that there would be no return to the German mediator because he did not assume his role properly and failed.

The Hamas leader said that the prisoner exchange deal was now in the hands of Egypt, emphasising that his movement was interested in concluding the deal but in accordance with national, honorable conditions.

Meanwhile, an unidentified Egyptian source told the same paper that Israel should display “a positive stance”. He held the Israeli government responsible for not concluding the exchange deal, adding that Tel Aviv should be more flexible and not table extremist positions, which it knows in advance would not be accepted by Hamas.

Thanks to the Palestinian Information Center