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2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla

This page relates to the attack by Israeli Forces on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31st, 2010. If you would like to view our pages associated with the 2008/2009 Free Gaza Missions, please click here.

 

     

  1. Coordinates of the attack.

    If anyone disputes with you about the fact that the attack occurred in international waters, and was therefore an act of piracy, you may want to give them the exact coordinates:

    Last position before IDF attack. 04:30 GMT May 31, 2010: Latitude:32.64113, Longitude:33.56727

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  2. Names of the Dead

    The names of the murdered solidarity activists have been released. Eight were Turkish citizens. The ninth was 19-year-old Furkan Dogan (a US national with a US passport).

    Turkish victims:

    • Ibrahim Bilgen
    • Ali Haydar Bengi
    • Cevdet Kiliçlar
    • Çetin Topçuoglu
    • Necdet Yildirim
    • Fahri Yaldiz
    • Cengiz Songür
    • Cengiz Akyüz

    US victim:

    • Furkan Dogan

    More information in a PDF file here...

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  3. Numbers and Nationalities of People on the Boats

    The Israeli Interior Ministry said 682 activists were ordered deported, and that 45 left on Tuesday June 1, 2010, while others were jailed as they challenged the orders, or in hospital being treated for injuries.

    Israel gave the following breakdown of countries and numbers of those activists ordered expelled, excluding the nine killed and the seriously wounded in Monday's raid:

    Australia 3; Azerbaijan 2; Italy 6; Indonesia 12; Ireland 9; Israel n/a; Algeria 28; United States 16; Bulgaria 2; Bosnia 1; Bahrain 4; Belgium 5; Brazil n/a; Germany 11; South Africa 1; Spain n/a;Holland 2; United Kingdom 31; Greece 38; Jordan 30; Kuwait 15; Lebanon 3; Mauritania 3; Malaysia 11; Egypt 3; Macedonia 3; Morocco 7; Norway 3; New Zealand 1; Syria 3; Serbia 1; Oman 1; Pakistan 3; Palestine n/a; Poland n/a; Qatar n/a; Iran n/a; Albania n/a; Czech Republic 4; France 9; Kosovo 1; Canada 1; Sweden 11; Turkey 380; Yemen 4.

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  4. Premeditated Murder

    Israeli ambassador’s comments prove attack on ship was premeditated.
    Oren says Marmara was ‘too large to stop by nonviolent means’
    (CHICAGO 6/2/2010) – Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United
    States, told National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show today that the Mavi Marmara was too big to stop without the use of military force.
    “The particular ship that did encounter the violent incident was simply
    too large to stop by nonviolent means. The others ships were not and that
    is one of the reasons they were towed safely to port,” Oren said on the
    program that aired today.

    The Diane Rehm Show was discussing Israel’s Sunday attack on the Freedom
    Flotilla, a fleet of vessels bound for the besieged Gaza with 10,000 tons
    of humanitarian and medical aid.

    The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) believe Mr. Oren’s comments contradict his own country’s public relations team that has been trying to portray Israeli soldiers as the victims of unarmed humanitarian passengers. His comments show that Israel’s attack and use of deadly force was premeditated and decided upon as a military course of action even before the Israeli navy encountered the six Freedom Flotilla vessels in international waters on Sunday.

    “Every time the State of Israel perpetrates a massacre or wantonly kills
    innocent civilians, its information ministry goes into overdrive to spread
    misinformation and untruths designed to portray Israel as the victim,”
    said Dr. Hatem Bazian, AMP chairman and professor of Near Eastern and
    Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “Mr. Oren’s
    statements are illuminating in that they throw into question Israel’s
    rhetoric that soldiers were only defending themselves.”
    Dr. Bazian added: “What was Israel trying to defend itself from –
    wheelchairs and medicine?”

    The United States supports Israel with more than $3 billion each year in
    unconditional military aid. AMP calls upon the U.S. to withhold that aid
    until Israel complies with international law by lifting the siege on Gaza
    and ending its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.
    AMP calls upon President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and members of Congress to hold Israel accountable for its illegal and egregious actions against the members of the Freedom Flotilla.
    AMP experts available for interviews.

    The American Muslims for Palestine is a national, grassroots organization
    whose mission is to educate the American public about issues relating to
    Palestine and its rich cultural heritage. For more information, contact
    Kristin Szremski, director of media and communications, at 708.598.4267,
    ext. 22; 708.717.4180 or media@ampalestine.org.

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  5. Did Israel deliberately kill civilians onboard the flotilla?

    Source: http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/56-news/1201-did-israel-deliberately-murder-civilians-aboard-freedom-flotilla

    Israeli Ambassador to the United States admits that ships were "too large to stop with nonviolent means."

    On May 31st, 2010, elite Israeli military commandos stormed six humanitarian aid ships taking part in the 'Freedom Flotilla' to Gaza, killing between 9-20 civilian passengers and injuring dozens more. As the facts of the attack come out it is clear that these killings cannot in any way be justified.

    PRIOR TO THE ISRAELI ATTACK - The Freedom Flotilla
    The Freedom Flotilla was an effort by a coalition of human rights and humanitarian organizations to nonviolently break through Israel's illegal blockade, and deliver much needed humanitarian and developmental aid to the Palestinians of Gaza. Almost 700 passengers from 40 different countries joined the flotilla, including: human rights workers, humanitarian aid workers, Members of Parliament, doctors, nurses, teachers, community leaders, and international journalists.

    The lead coalition partners included:
    * Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), the largest coalition partner, contributing 2 Turkish-flagged cargo ships, the Turkish-flagged passenger ship "Mavi Marmara," and 380 Turkish nationals to the effort. This was IHH's first attempt to break the Gaza blockade.

    * The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, contributing the Greek-flagged passenger ship "Sfendoni." This was the European Campaign's second mission to Gaza.

    * The Free Gaza Movement, contributing the U.S.-flagged passenger ship "Challenger I." This was Free Gaza's ninth mission to Gaza.

    * A Ship to Gaza, Sweden, and A Ship to Gaza, Greece, contributing the Greek-flagged cargo ship "Eleftheri Mesogeios." This was the first voyage of A Ship to Gaza, Sweden, and the fourth of a Ship to Gaza, Greece.

    All ships were thoroughly searched by local port authorities in Greece and Turkey prior to their departure. Additionally, the coalition hired an independent security firm to search the ships and certify that no weapons were on board. All passengers went through nonviolence training and were likewise searched for weapons prior to boarding. The Turkish government, a member-state of the NATO alliance, vetted all the Turkish passengers to insure there was no one with ties to extremist groups. These precautionary steps were deliberately taken to prevent Israeli propaganda officials from ever being able to claim that the Freedom Flotilla posed any 'security risk' to Israel.

    There was a live satellite feed broadcasting the voyage from the Mavi Marmara, as well as GPS transponders showing the exact location of the flotilla at all times to anyone viewing the coalition website. The intention of the Freedom Flotilla was never to 'provoke a confrontation,' but simply to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to besieged Gaza, and in so doing to draw attention to the brutal Israeli policies that are forcing the Palestinian people into a state of impoverished dependency.

     

    PRIOR TO THE ISRAELI ATTACK - The Israeli Government

    On 27 May, Bloomberg News reported that Israel was threatening to use its military forces and “use all available means to stop the ships” ('Israel Threatens Naval Action to Stop Aid Ships Bound for Gaza').

    On 28 May the Associated Press reported that the Israeli government was prepared to stop the flotilla "at any cost," including being "prepared to use force." ('Israeli gunships head to sea to block flotilla'). It was further reported that masked naval commandos were being "trained" to stop the flotilla.

    On 1 June the Guardian reported that Matan Vilnai, Israel's deputy Defense Minister, suggested that the Israeli military had sabotaged several of the Freedom Flotilla ships. The flotilla was in fact delayed by two days due to unexpected mechanical problems, and 3 of the original 9 ships intending to join the flotilla were forced to drop off. ('Gaza aid flotilla: Israeli sabotage suspected,' Guardian, 1 June 2010)

     

    THE MASSACRE ABOARD THE MARI MARMARA

    On 31 May, under cover of darkness, Israeli military forces surrounded the Freedom Flotilla in international waters. Armed and masked commandos stormed all 6 ships from sea and from air, killing between 9 and 20 civilians. After more than 2 days, Israel still refuses to release the names and identities of the dead, nor even confirm the number of passengers killed by their forces.

    An Israeli military spokesperson, Avital Leibovich, confirmed the attack took place in international waters, stating: "This happened in waters outside of Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves."

    Did the passengers aboard the Mari Marmara possess a similar right to defend themselves?

    Israel released highly-edited videos of the confrontation, claiming that civilian passengers aboard the Mari Marmara attempted to "lynch" the well-armed military commandos when they first stormed the ship. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the commandos, stating: "You carried out the mission and prevented the flotilla from reaching Gaza. We need to always remember that we aren't North America or Western Europe, we live in the Middle East, in a place where there is no mercy for the weak and there aren't second chances for those who don't defend themselves." ('Barak: In the Middle East, there is no mercy for the weak,' Haaretz, 2 June 2010.)

    Again, one wonders whether this sentiment extends to the civilians killed by those commandos as well.

    In contrast to the Israeli account of events, which is self-evidently absurd, Jamal Elshayyal, an Al-Jazeera correspondent aboard the Mari Marmara was able to issue a brief report before Israeli forces cut all communications with the ships. Elshayyal's report contradict the Israeli version of events, stating that Israel fired live ammunition on the civilians after they had raised a white flag. 
    View the live report yourself here...

    Eyewitness testimony from the handful of passengers who have been released directly contradicts Israel's version as well. According to Nilufer Cetin, who sailed on the Mari Marmara with her one-year-old baby, "The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn't stop these warnings turned into an attack," she said."There were sound and smoke bombs and later they used gas bombs. Following the bombings they started to come on board from helicopters."('Israelis opened fire before boarding Gaza flotilla, say released activists,' Guardian, 1 June 2010)

    Cetin's account is just one of several contradicting the Israeli narrative. Haneen Zoubi, a Member of the Israeli Knesset, and just one of several parliamentarians aboard the flotilla, stated that Israeli warships surrounded the Mavi Marmara, firing on the ship before the commandos stormed aboard.

    At a press conference in Nazareth, shortly after her release, MK Zoubi also stated that: "“Israel had days to plan this military operation. They wanted many deaths to terrorize us and to send a message that no future aid convoys should try to break the siege of Gaza.” ('Israeli Knesset member rejects navy account of attack,' Irish Sun, 2 June 2010)

    Yonatan Shapira, former pilot in the IDF for the very squadron that conducted the assault on the Mavi Marmara stated: "No Israeli pilot would drop commandos on a ship in the middle of the sea, in the middle of the night, during such an operation without the soldiers carrying live ammunition. Paint ball canisters may have been attached to the automatic weapons that they had, but there is no doubt that the soldiers had and were prepared to use live ammunition"

    In an interview on the Diane Rehm Show on 2 June, a nationally-broadcast radio program in the United States, Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, stated that in planning their assault the Marmara, the Israeli government had concluded that the ship was "too large to stop with nonviolent means."

    There is clear evidence present that the State of Israeli may have deliberately and with forethought intended to provoke a conflict in order to assassinate civilians sailing aboard the Freedom Flotilla, and therefore violently discourage any further attempts to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinians of besieged Gaza.

    The Free Gaza Movement calls upon the international community to enforce international standards and laws, fully investigate these crimes, and hold Israeli officials accountable for the willful murder of international human rights and humanitarian aid workers aboard the Freedom Flotilla.


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  6. Gaza Flotilla Fact Sheet on International Law

    Any attack on the International Freedom Flotilla puts Israeli government officials in violation of four articles of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Part VII :

    Article 87(a) "freedom of navigation."

    Article 88 "The high seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes."

    Article 89 "No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty."

    Article 90 "Every State, whether coastal or land-locked, has the right to sail ships flying its flag on the high seas"

    By failing to defend the high seas from Israeli-government piracy other governments and the UN are acquiescing to degradation of international law regarding the freedom of navigation.

    1) There were 700 human rights workers on 9 boats from 40 countries.

    2) The humanitarian aid included medical supplies, wheel chairs and medicine.

    3) There were also construction supplies, bags of cement to pre-fabricated homes, toys and school supplies for children.

    4) 35 members of parliaments from 15 different countries were aboard.

    The flotilla was searched from top to stern for weapons by Turkish/Cyprus port authorities.

    Any blockade that involves the illegal collective punishment of the entire civilian population of nation is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    "UN says Gaza blockade hinders reconstruction aid. Most of the property and infrastructure damaged in Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip was still unrepaired 12 months later." YNET News.com Israel May 23, 2010.

    World Health Organization fact sheet, Jan. 20, 2010: "The lack of building materials is affecting essential health facilities: the new surgical wing in Gaza's main Shifa Hospital has remained unfinished since 2006. Hospitals and primary care facilities, damaged during operation Cast Lead have not been rebuilt because construction materials are not allowed into Gaza.

    In addition, see Article 98: ' Duty to render assistance' :

    1. Every State shall require the master of a ship flying its flag, in so far as he can do so without serious danger to the ship, the crew or the passengers:

    • to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost;
    • to proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed of their need of assistance, in so far as such action may reasonably be expected of him;
    • after a collision, to render assistance to the other ship, its crew and its passengers and, where possible, to inform the other ship of the name of his own ship, its port of registry and the nearest port at which it will call.

    2. Every coastal State shall promote the establishment, operation and maintenance of an adequate and effective search and rescue service regarding safety on and over the sea and, where circumstances so require, by way of mutual regional arrangements co-operate with neighbouring States for this purpose.

    Also see this PDF from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (http://www.lphr.org.uk) : click here...

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  7. Video of May 31st demo in SF

     

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  8. Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza Strip

    Source: http://imeu.net/news/article0019136.shtml

    Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza Strip
    IMEU, Jun 1, 2010

    The Facts Behind Israel 's "Gourmet Gaza" Claims


    Israel 's attacks on a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip which left at least 14 civilians dead and dozens more wounded have sparked massive international protests, harsh condemnation from world governments and an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council.  What led hundreds of civilians from dozens of countries - including former U.S. diplomats and military personnel and 19 European legislators - to risk their lives on the high seas?

    The IMEU offers the following facts and figures on Israel 's blockade and how, after more than 1,000 days, it has affected life for the roughly 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza:

    1.  Is Israel 's blockade of Gaza legal?

    No. The stated aim of Israel 's blockade is to apply "pressure" or "sanctions" to weaken the economy of Gaza and decrease support for Hamas. [1]  This amounts to collective punishment of Gaza's civilians, and as such is a violation of international humanitarian law (Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949).  Further, as an occupying power, Israel is required under Articles 55, 59 and 60 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure free, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief and is prohibited from impeding the full realization of the occupied people's human rights.  Israel 's blockade impedes Gazans' rights to food, to an adequate standard of living, to work, and to the highest attainable standard of health.


    2.  Israel claims that it allows necessary humanitarian provisions to enter Gaza.  Is this true?

    No.  The amount of goods allowed into Gaza by Israel falls far short of the minimum required to avoid malnutrition, poverty, and prevent or treat a variety of illnesses.  According to Amnesty International's recently-released annual report, the siege has resulted in "mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages."  Consider the following statistics:

    • 61 percent of households face food insecurity, defined as inadequate physical, social or economic access to food, and rely on assistance from aid agencies.  An additional 16.2 percent are considered vulnerable to food insecurity. [2]
    • 65 percent of the food insecure are children under the age of 18. [3]
    • Unemployment is at 40 percent [4]
    • 10 percent of children under five are stunted (low height for age, usually attributed to a chronic lack of protein and micronutrients, including iron and essential vitamins), a steadily increasing trend over recent years, according to UNICEF. [5]
    • More than 10 percent of children are chronically malnourished, according to the World Health Organization, a significant increase since siege began.
    • The number of children under five suffering from acute malnutrition nearly doubled between 2006 and 2008 from 1.4 to 2.4 percent, according to UNICEF.
    • 65 percent of children aged 9-12 months, and 35 percent of pregnant women are anemic. [6]
    • According to a recent poverty survey conducted by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the number of Palestinian refugees completely unable to secure access to food and lacking the means to purchase even the most basic items, such as soap, school stationery and safe drinking water ('abject poverty') has tripled since the imposition of the blockade in June 2007
    • A majority of Gazans experience rolling blackouts of up to 12 hours a day, every day as a result of a chronic shortfall in electricity production resulting from the blockade [7]
    • Due to insufficient wastewater treatment capacity, Gaza's water authorities release 60-80 million liters a day of raw and partially treated sewage into the Mediterranean Sea, in order to avoid sewage flooding residential areas.
    • Water supply for domestic use is insufficient, raising hygiene and health concerns. In order to pump water to households, the water wells must receive electricity in synchronization with electricity supply to the same households. Almost all the households receive water for only 5-7 hours a day.


    3. Does the blockade prevent the functioning of Gaza's economy?


    Yes.  Export of Palestinian goods, the import of raw materials and access to Gaza's natural resources have been severely restricted.  For example:

    • Roughly 118 truckloads of strawberries and cut flowers exports were permitted to leave Gaza between December 10, 2009 and May 2010.  Before the blockade, an average of 70 truckloads a day left Gaza during strawberry season. [8]
    • Since January 2009, the Israeli navy has illegally restricted Palestinian fishermen's access to three nautical miles offshore, yet in practice Israel often limits fishermen to only two nautical miles, reducing their catch by 47 percent. [9]
    • 46 percent of Gaza's agricultural land is inaccessible or out of production either due to destruction of lands caused by Israeli military attacks or by its "security buffer zone." [10]
    • Roughly 90 percent of Gaza's factories are closed or are functioning at less than 10 percent capacity because of the inability to obtain raw materials and the inability to export finished products [11].
    • The Israeli human rights organization Gisha provides the following example of how the blockade aims to prevent economic development: " Israel permits Gaza residents to receive small packets of margarine, considered a consumption item. Israel bans, however, the transfer of large buckets of margarine, because the buckets are designed for industrial use, rather than home consumption, meaning that they could be used to allow a local factory to produce biscuits - and thus engage in economic activity.  Similarly, requests to permit empty cans into Gaza - intended for the preservation and marketing of Gaza-produced tomato paste - have been refused, but requests to transfer prepared, Israeli-made tomato paste are permitted." [12]


    4.  What are some of the items Israel has prohibited from entering Gaza?

    See below...

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  9. Items Israel prohibits into Gaza

    A PDF with the source of this list is here.

    "The following list is approximate and partial, and it changes from time to time. It is based on information from Palestinian traders and businesspersons, international organizations, and the Palestinian Coordination Committee, all of whom "deduce" what is permitted and what is banned based on their experience requesting permission to bring goods into Gaza and the answers they receive from the Israeli authorities (approved or denied). It is not possible to verify this list with the Israeli authorities because they refuse to disclose information regarding the restrictions on transferring goods into Gaza. It should be noted that Israel permits some of the "prohibited" items into Gaza (for example: paper, biscuits, and chocolate), on the condition that they are for the use of international organizations, while requests from private merchants to purchase them are denied. For more information, see: Gisha, Restrictions on the Transfer of Goods into Gaza: Obstruction and Obfuscation, January 2010:

     

    • sage
    • cardamom
    • cumin
    • coriander
    • ginger
    • jam
    • halva
    • vinegar
    • nutmeg
    • chocolate
    • fruit preserves
    • seeds and nuts
    • biscuits and sweets
    • potato chips
    • gas for soft drinks
    • dried fruit
    • fresh meat
    • plaster
    • tar
    • wood for construction
    • cement
    • iron
    • glucose
    • industrial salt
    • plastic/glass/metal containers
    • industrial margarine
    • tarpaulin sheets for huts
    • fabric (for clothing)
    • flavor and smell enhancers
    • fishing rods
    • various fishing nets
    • buoys
    • ropes for fishing
    • nylon nets for greenhouses
    • hatcheries and spare parts for hatcheries
    • spare parts for tractors
    • dairies for cowsheds
    • irrigation pipe systems
    • ropes to tie greenhouses
    • planters for saplings
    • heaters for chicken farms
    • musical instruments
    • size A4 paper
    • writing implements
    • notebooks
    • newspapers
    • toys
    • razors
    • sewing machines and spare parts
    • heaters
    • horses
    • donkeys
    • goats
    • cattle
    • chicks

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  10. British survivor of Gaza flotilla

    "The first British survivor of the assault on the Mavi Marmara Gaza aid ship to return to London has told of her terror as Israeli troops ignored SOS calls for medical aid and continued to fire live rounds at activists."

    See http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/03/british-survivor-gaza-flotilla

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  11. Message from Rabbis

    Source: http://fastforgaza.net/node/146

    Open the Gates: A Rabbinical Response to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Tragedy

    Dear Friends,
    In the wake of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla tragedy, we once again we feel the need to raise our voices as rabbis in the Jewish community. 

    According to press reports, we now know that 10 to 15 people have been killed and many more have been injured when Israeli Navy Seals boarded a boat that held 700 people in the middle of the night – conducting a military operation against civilian activists in the midst of international waters.

    We also know that the essential aim of the Freedom Flotilla was to carry humanitarian aid to those who have been severely suffering under the effects of Israel’s crushing blockade of Gaza. We call upon our community not to turn away in denial or blame those of good will and good purpose who risked their lives to relieve the beleaguered people of the Gaza strip. 

    We lift our voices and demand that Israel open the gates of compassion and allow these ships to dock so that they may deliver humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million citizens of Gaza. In so doing, we note the overall context of oppression in which this incident has occurred and call upon the government of Israel to turn away from the policies of occupation, siege and indifference to international law. 

    Our silence now is an act of betrayal to the values we purport to live by and to the words of the prophet we read every Yom Kippur:

    Is this the fast I desire? A day for people to starve
    their bodies? Or bow their heads like a bulrush
    or wear sackcloth and smear oneself with ashes...
    No! This is the fast the Lord desires:
    Unlock the fetters of oppression
    Untie the cords of the yoke
    Let the exploited go free, break off every chain.
    share your bread with the hungry,
    Shelter the poor in your own house
    clothe the naked and do not ignore your own kin. 

    As rabbis, we believe all human beings are our kin. We cannot abide the suffering inflicted upon the people of Gaza.
    We lift up our voices and say: Unlock the fetters of oppression. Untie the cords of the yoke. Open the gates. 

    Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
    Rabbi Brant Rosen
    Rabbi Alissa Wise
    Rabbi Rebecca Alpert
    Rabbi Marjorie Berman
    Rabbi JB Sacks
    Rabbi Michael Lerner
    Rabbi David Mivasair
    Rabbi Rebecca Alpert
    Rabbi Chava Bahle
    Rabbi David Mivasair
    Rabbi Eyal Levinson
    Rabbi Nina Mandel
    Rabbi Margaret Holub
    Rabbi Pam Frydman Baugh
    Rabbi Rebecca Lillian
    Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill

    Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman

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  12. Americans on the boats

    By Boat:

    Challenger 1
    Huwaida Arraf
    Katherine Sheetz
    Scott Hamman
    David Schermerhorn
    Mary A (Ann) Wright
    Fiarcra O'Luain (Irish citizenship also)
     
    Sfendonh -(European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza ship with passengers from the ECESG, Ship to Gaza - Greece, Ship to Gaza - Sweden, Free Palestine Movement; there was a crew of 5 and a total of about 45 passengers from at least 13 countries on the Sfendonh including something like 13 journalists; Sfendonh is Greek for "slingshot")
    Paul Larudee
    Janet Kobren
    Edward L. Peck
    Gene St. Onge
    Joe Meadors
    Khaled Turaani (living in Dubai)

     
    Mavi Marmara
    Iara Lee
    Fatima Mohammadi
    Adnan Shatee (Kuwaiti citizenship also)
    Furkan Dogan (deceased) (Turkish citizenship also)

    Bios:

    • Joe Meadors, a decorated Navy veteran and one of the survivors of the 1967 attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, in which Israeli fighter planes and ships killed 34 Americans and wounded 173;
    • Ambassador Edward L. Peck, who served as a paratrooper during two tours of wartime active duty; spent 32 years in the Foreign Service; including stints as Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania, Deputy Director of the Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism at the Reagan White House, and State Department Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon; and after retirement was Executive Secretary of the American Academy of Diplomacy;  NOW ON HIS WAY HOME
    • Gene St. Onge, an Oakland, CA-based civil/structural engineer, who is working with Palestinian engineers to rebuild housing destroyed in Israel's 2009 invasion of Gaza; 
    • Janet Kobren of Oakland, CA, a retired math teacher and Free Palestine Movement co-founder.
    • Dr. Paul Larudee of El Cerrito, CA, a piano tuner and Free Palestine Movement co-founder, who also co-founded the movement that first broke the siege of Gaza in 2008.
    • Ann Wright, is a retired U.S. Army Colonel, former U.S. diplomat who resigned in opposition to the Iraq war and co-leader in 2009 of three CODEPINK delegations to Gaza and one delegation to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
    • Huwaida Arraf, ISM co-founder and Free Gaza organizer.  Palestinian-American with both American and Israeli citizenship.
    • Katherine Elliott Sheetz (63), Woods Hole, Mass., USA, Kathy Sheetz is a Registered Nurse with a master's degree in sustainable development. She has worked on human rights, health and food security, most often in Haiti
    • David Schermerhorn (80), Deer Harbor, Washington State, USA, David is a commercial film producer. He was part of the crew of the Free Gaza on its maiden voyage to Gaza in August 2008. He is an explorer, adventurer and has traveled around the world on boats.
    • Fatima Mohammadi, Chicago, a longtime activists and national organizer for Viva Palestina. 
    • Khalid Turaani was the founder and executive director of the former American Muslims for Jerusalem.  A Palestinian activist who worked diligently for the rights of the Palestinian people is a US citizen who was received his bachelors at the U of Arkansas.  Khalid now lives in Dubai. 
    • Iara Lee, filmmaker, age 44, San Francisco, a Brazilian of Korean descent, is an activist, filmmaker, and founder of the Caipirinha Foundation, which supports projects to secure peace with justice.
    • Furkan Dogan, 19 year old, now living in Turkey. Murdered by Israelis.
    • Scott Hamman
    • Fiarcra O'Luain (Irish citizenship also)
    • Adnan Shatee (Kuwaiti citizenship also)



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  13. Yvonne Ridley article: 'All at Sea'

    Source: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25592.htm

    By Yvonne Ridley
    June 01, 2010
     

    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.

    What those on board the Freedom Flotilla did was perfectly legal. I believe they acted with great courage in the face of heavily armed IDF commandos, while others might have thought their actions reckless.

    Whatever your view, a number paid the ultimate price for their international right to resist.

    Israel now stands virtually alone having exposed itself as a pariah state.

    I wrote an article last year calling them the Pirates of the Mediterranean after they had illegally boarded other aid ships, kidnapping crew and passengers.

    Now I want you to ask yourself this question . if a group of Somali pirates had forced their way onto half a dozen humanitarian aid ships from the West, slaughtering around nine or 10 people and injuring scores more what do you think the international reaction would have been?

    Let me tell you. A NATO task force would by now be steaming towards the Horn of Africa accompanied by a couple of drones and various members of the press to record the occasion. (On a point of interest the Achille Lauro sank in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia in 1994.)

    So why is Israel allowed to get away with murder? In a pre-meditated act the Zionist State showed once again its total disregard for human life - and international law.

    There were pensioners, women and children on board those ships which were carrying bags of cement, electric wheelchairs, toys, medicines and water purifiers for Gaza's people.

    Realizing Israel had shot itself in the foot, the vile state's leader Binyamin Netanyahu then started shooting from the lip.

    He asked us to believe that his troops were acting in self-defence. And then, 24 hours later, given time to come up with more lies he told the world that the soldiers were armed with paintballs and had not expected to use their weapons. Not content with insulting our intelligence he said his nice, cuddly IDF folk had only boarded the boats to carry out an inspection and inventory.

    Then backing him up was Mark Regev, the Zionist State's political Pinocchio. He reckons these evil-doers on board the boats grabbed the IDF's real guns and used them to fire on the soldiers.

    These are the same soldiers that come from an elite, highly trained, crack squad . hmm Mr Regev, if that's the case why would you send in the A-Team if they were just going to do an inventory?

    And if they were such a hot squad how did a bunch of civilians manage to overpower them and give them a good slap?

    Either Israeli soldiers fight like a bunch of old women - which Hizb'Allah says they do - or they intended to massacre those on board to make sure that no other peace activists get involved in trying to help the Palestinian people of Gaza.

    Well if that was the aim then it has failed. As I write this some heroic friends of mine from the Free Gaza Movement are bound for Gaza now onboard the appropriately named ship Rachel Corrie.

    In our thousands in our millions . today we are all Palestinians.

    Journalist Yvonne Ridley is the European President of the International Muslim Womens Union, and a committed peace activist who was on the first boat to break the siege of Gaza in 2008.

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  14. Other Articles

    5-June 2010 - Flotilla survivor, Lara Lee: 'What happened to us is happening in Gaza'. Link...

    5-June 2010 - Robert Fisk: 'The truth behind the Israeli propaganda'. Link...

    5-June 2010 - Richared Tillinghast: What Is Not Allowed Link...

    5-June 2010 - Paul Woodward: The Turkish wounded speak out : Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range. Link...

    5-June 2010 - Henning Mankell: Flotilla raid diary: 'A man is shot. I am seeing it happen' Link...

    Check out our Links on Digg page also.

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Free Gaza Movement

Gaza Freedom Flotilla: up to date information here and Twitter Feed below.

Links on Digg

Click here for a list of relevant links on Digg.

Videos

Israeli Airforce Captain: Israel is engaging Massive War Crimes in Gaza.

Raw Video of aftermath of assault

MP Haneen Zuabi, who's a member of the Israeli parliament was among those captured onboard of Gaza-bound ships.

Huwaida Arraf, one of the Free Gaza Movement organizers, told CNN Israeli troops roughed her up when they responded aggressively to her ship.

London Demo - Rapper Lowkey speaks

Huwaida Arraf interview 7th June - Palestinian-American human rights activist, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and chair of the Free Gaza Movement - Part 1

Part 2

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