Thursday, 28 May 2015

Freedom flotilla, the Marianne, stops by France en route to Gaza

A crowd of around 100 people chanted “Long live Palestine, long live Gaza, down with Zionism,” at the Brest port in northwestern France on Wednesday as they waved to activists onboard the Marianne fishing boat heading to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla III fleet.

The Marianne boat, with nine people from Sweden and Norway on board, departed from the Swedish Gothenburg port on May 10 carrying solar panels and medical equipment in an attempt to break the nine-year Israeli blockade on Gaza.

“I salute this initiative to break the unjust embargo on Gaza. Those activists are really courageous and brave to take such a step,” Sherifa, a 33-year-old doctor, from the crowd showing support, told Anadolu Agency.

Anaele Foveau, a 21-year-old student, said she came to show her support to the activists, calling other associations to take such “brave” steps.

“They came from far to defend a cause that touches every human beings… that’s just valiant,” said Abdelmounaim El Qsimi, 26, IT engineer.

The first “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” expedition in May 2010 became infamous after Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish origin in a raid on the flotilla’s ships, the Mavi Marmara. Another person died in a Turkish hospital in 2014 after being in coma for almost four years.

The trawler, which has been jointly acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway, is set to travel to the east of the Mediterranean and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Charlie Andreasson, one of the Swedish activists onboard and a participant in the previous such expedition to Gaza in 2008 said: “This move will serve to break the illegal and inhuman siege on Gaza.”

“We want to deliver a message to the Palestinian people, we want to tell them you are not forgotten, people do care about you,” he added.

The boat is set to join other ships en route in order to reach Gaza by mid-June. ( Boats from Canadian Boat to Gaza, Greece Ship to Gaza, Freedom Flotilla Italia, Norway Ship to Gaza, South Africa Palestine Solidarity Alliance, Spain Rumbo a Gaza and Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).) more

Palestinians refuse to back down on Israel FIFA vote

ZURICH (AFP) -- Palestine's football chief on Wednesday continued his refusal to back down on a threatened vote to suspend Israel from football's governing body after talks with increasingly desperate FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

"Nothing has changed, the vote is still on the agenda," Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub told AFP after the meeting with Blatter and as the countdown to Friday's vote gathered pace.

"The meeting lasted about one hour, there were no results," Rajoub said.

Palestine, which has been a FIFA member since 1998, wants the governing body to suspend Israel over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players, and opposes the participation in the Israeli championships of five clubs located in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, illegal under international law.

The vote is scheduled for Friday and needs a simple majority of over 50% of the 209 members to succeed.

Blatter has been lobbying furiously to try to avoid the vote, travelling to the Middle East last week to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president Mahmoud Abbas.

Blatter strongly opposes the vote saying it brings politics into football and that Israel has not breached FIFA's statutes.

Israel Football Association President Ofer Eini was not in Wednesday's meeting and his delegation did not say whether contacts with Blatter or Rajoub were planned.

Arab delegations at a Confederation of African Football meeting walked out when Eini addressed the confederation in a Zurich hotel.

Rajoub said he opposed the protest and the Arab delegations should have stayed. more