Outsourcing the Gaza blockade

Huwaida Arraf, chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement International Flotilla Committee, was great on this edition of Al Jazeera’s Inside Story discussing the global BDS movement and Greece’s role in aiding Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

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Gaza mobilizes for Freedom Flotilla

by Joe Catron

Palestinian children in Gaza rally in support of the Freedom Flotilla (Photo: Noor Harazeen)

An international flotilla of nine ships and hundreds of crew and passengers is a huge undertaking, in Gaza as much as anywhere. Mahmoud Elmadhoun knows this better than most. A member of Gaza’s Higher Government Committee, as well as the Governmental Committee for Breaking the Siege and Receiving Delegations (GCBS), which is tasked with welcoming solidarity missions to Gaza, he just finished hosting the Miles of Smiles convoy of 55 European dentists. Now he could face one of the most daunting challenges in the GCBS’ history: Freedom Flotilla – Stay Human.

“The main issue is whether the Israelis will let the Flotilla come,” Elmadhoun told me last Monday in his office in the Foreign Ministry. Their reception in Gaza, he assured me, was not a question. “We are ready to receive those people. Don’t worry; within 24 hours’ notice of their departure from Athens, everything will be in place.”

He quickly rattled off the GCBS’ responsibilities in the Flotilla effort. “Our main tasks are logistical: hotels, transportation, security, and of course activities,” he said. “Wherever they want to go in Gaza, they will be welcomed.”

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Of course the Flotilla is a political provocation

by Joe Catron

As the launch of the Freedom Flotilla – Stay Human approaches, increasing numbers of Zionist officials and commentators illuminate the depths of their moral and intellectual bankruptcy by arguing that it is a political – not humanitarian – project.

Ran Curiel, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, offers an example as good as any other. On May 10, he actually went to the trouble of calling a press conference in Strasbourg to offer this conclusion. “In our view, the flotilla is clearly a political provocation … since there’s no need for a flotilla to aid Gaza,” he said. “You can pass whatever you want to Gaza through normal channels.”

Curiel’s reasoning leaves much to be desired. Nobody seems entirely clear on what can enter Gaza through his “normal channels,” namely the Erez Crossing, and a large majority of its necessities continue to arrive at a high premium via tunnels from Egypt. And humanitarian opposition to the siege has always had more to do with its crippling effect on Gaza’s economy than its obstruction of aid. Due to the impossibility of legally importing most goods, or exporting nearly anything, unemployment now reaches 45%, and 300,000 people survive on a dollar a day.

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US Congressman: Prosecute US Citizens involved with Gaza Flotilla

by Ali Gharib

Israel Lobby stalwart, Rep. Brad Sherman (D. Cal)

On a press call hosted by a pro-Israel organization, Rep. Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, told reporters that he intends to seek the prosecution of any U.S. citizens who were aboard or involved with the Freedom Flotilla.

“The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 [PDF] makes it absolutely illegal for any American to give food, money, school supplies, paper clips, concrete or weapons to Hamas or any of its officials,” Sherman said on the Israel Project call, conflating Hamas and Gaza’s civilian population. “And so I will be asking the Attorney General to prosecute any American involved in what was clearly an effort to give items of value to a terrorist organization.”

Sherman also said that he plans on working with the Department of Homeland Security to make sure that any non-U.S. citizen involved with or aboard the Flotilla are excluded from entering the U.S.

Hamas, considered a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 and has held de facto rule over the Gaza Strip since it took the area by force in 2007 in anticipation of an impending U.S.-backed coup d’etat by the rival Fatah faction.

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The story is getting out despite massive Israeli propaganda strategy

By Mazin Qumsiyeh

The Israeli lies combined with media blackout on anything but their own version were apparently prepared long in advance of their planned massacre. Claiming they found weapons but all they could show is kitchen knives and construction tools (wrenches, water pipes etc).  All cargo was listed on the ships’ manifesto that the Israeli ‘intelligence’ agencies could easily acquire and were freely available and meticulously documented by the organizers.  The Israeli spin machine also claimed they were first trying to use non-lethal weapons including, and this is no joke, paint ball guns (funny that we did not see evidence of passengers with painted shirts but only blood soaked shirts). The respected media watch group FAIR detailed how some Western media (mis)reported of the attack on the humanitarian aid ships: ‘Reporting Israeli Assault Through Israel’s Eyes: Attack on humanitarian flotilla prompts little media skepticism

Reporters Without Borders urges the Israeli authorities to release a list of the journalists who were arrested during yesterday’s raid on the humanitarian flotilla and to say where they are being held.  There were at least 15 foreign journalists travelling with the flotilla who still cannot be reached directly. These are the names of the journalists known to have been aboard the flotilla:
http://en.rsf.org/israel-israeli-military-prevents-media-31-05-2010,37630.html

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Freedom Flotilla activists released to Jordan

Released Freedom Flotilla activists speak about Israeli terrorist actions on board the Mavi Marmara. It is good to see that the Pakistani journalist Syed Talat Hussain is also alive and well.

AlJazeeraEnglish — 02 June 2010 — Over one hundred and twenty of the Freedom Flotilla activists, finally released from Israeli detention. The activists were captured and cut off from contact from more than two days. They tell us stories of the deadly Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara ship and the dreadful treatment they were subjected to.