Israel stops boats to Gaza in international waters
Sailing to Gaza again
ACT NOW!! BOATS SAILING NOW TO GAZA! SPREAD THE WORD!
Israel and the US outsourced the siege of Gaza to Athens last summer by preventing 8 boats in the Freedom Flotilla 2-Stay Human from sailing from Greek ports to Gaza. Despite this we were able to bring world-wide attention to the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Our efforts in Greece only fueled our determination to challenge the imprisonment of the people of Gaza. We said we would continue to sail and so we are!!!
At this moment, two boats are in international waters in the Mediterranean heading to Gaza. One boat, the Saoirse from Ireland, includes parliamentarians among its passengers. The other, the Tahrir, carries representatives from Canada, the U.S., Australia, and Palestine.
The U.S. Representative on the Tahrir, Kit Kittredge, was a passenger on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope mission in Athens in July. A journalist from Democracy Now is on the Tahrir also. Civil society organizations in Gaza await their arrival, and look forward to the delivery of letters collected from thousands of U.S. supporters in the To Gaza With Love campaign.
Click for link to map showing progress
If you are an American, call the State Department and the White House- demand that they take immediate action to ensure the safe passage of these boats and to put an end to the siege of Gaza.
Call the State Department:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 202-647-5291
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro 011-972-3-519-7575
Office of Israel/Palestinian Affairs Paul Sutphin 202-647-3672
Office of Consular Affairs, Kim Richter 202-647-8308
and the White House: 202-456-1414
email President Obama at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
Here are some talking points or suggested messaging:
Gaza has been under siege since mid-2006, depriving 1.6 million people of their liberty and basic human rights. Although the siege has been condemned by the United Nations, the Red Cross, and many national governments, nothing has been done to ease the plight of these civilians. Civil society has had to act where governments would not. Two ships with 27 passengers from 5 countries are sailing to Gaza to confront the Israeli naval blockade, and to bring medical supplies and letters of support.
Since Americans pay for this occupation and illegal blockade, we insist that our government (which sends Israel $3 billion in military aid every year), demands that Israel insures the ships’ safe passage and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza. There is absolutely no excuse to subject 1.6 million people to collective punishment.
Ask your local press to cover this story. Up-to-date information will be available at www.ustogaza.org, www.irishshiptogaza.org and www.tahrir.ca (see links above)
Israel boards protest boats taking medical aid to Gaza
The Israeli navy has intercepted and boarded two boats which were trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The Canadian and Irish boats with 27 activists from the US and eight other countries on board had set sail from Turkey on Wednesday.
They were carrying medical supplies for the coastal enclave.
The navy said no-one was hurt in the operation and the boats would be towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod, north-east of Gaza.
The Irish Saoirse (Gaelic for freedom) and the Canadian Tahrir (Arabic for liberation) were about 50 nautical miles from the Gaza shoreline when they were contacted by the Israeli navy and told to turn back, the flotilla organisers told the AFP news agency.
The navy said it “advised the vessels that they may turn back at any point, thereby not breaking the maritime security blockade” or could sail to Ashdod or an Egyptian port.
“The activists refused to co-operate,” AFP quoted the navy as saying.
The navy ships then approached the boats and boarded them before towing them towards Ashdod.
“The Israel Navy soldiers operated as planned, and took every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of the activists onboard the vessels as well as themselves,” said the navy.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the activists would be questioned by police and immigration officials, then returned to their home countries, the Associated Press reports.
Denis Kosseim, a spokesman for the flotilla based in Montreal, earlier told AFP that all those on board had signed an agreement not to put up any resistance if they were boarded.
The US had urged the activists not to try to break the blockade. US officials also said Turkey had given assurances it would not send warships to escort the flotilla.
Ankara had previously threatened to use its navy to escort boats carrying activists and supplies to Gaza.
Relations between Turkey and Israel reached a crisis 18 months ago, when nine Turkish activists were killed in an Israeli raid on a far larger flotilla as it approached Gaza.
Israel tightened its blockade on Gaza in 2006. It aims to stop the supply of arms or other items for military use and to put pressure on the Hamas administration in the strip. Israel also controls air and sea access to the territory.
The importing of all weapons and military materials is banned, along with dual use materials such as fertilisers and certain chemicals.
There are also strict controls on building materials such as cement and steel cables.
All exports are banned, though this ruling is occasionally lifted.
Fishermen may only operate in a strip of water up to three nautical miles from the shore.
Egypt, which used to help maintain the blockade by closing its border with Gaza, now allows the restricted movement of people.
However, many types of goods are smuggled though tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border.
JfJfP denounces interception
We deplore Israel’s interception in international waters of the US and Irish boats, Tahrir and Saoirse, bound for Gaza.Israel’s blockade of Gaza is collective punishment of the entire population and is illegal in international law. With determination we continue our campaign against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, with its gross violations of human rights and justice. As Jews we proclaim loudly that what Israel is doing is avowedly not in our name.
Executive Committee, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Captain, Jewish Boat to Gaza, September 2010