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Issue #1509      13 July 2011

Israeli peace groups support the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla

The following is a Statement of Support for the Gaza-Bound Freedom Flotilla issued by a Israeli peace and other groups* on July 4:

We, Israeli organisations, Jews and Arabs, full-heartedly support Freedom Flotilla’s, aim of sailing to the Port of Gaza with the proclaimed goals of breaking through the sea and land siege and blockade of Gaza, which is a manifestation of a continuing occupation by Israel. We condemn the campaign of slander which the government of Israel is waging against the flotilla and those who take part in it. There is a very real reason to worry that such lies might be designed by the government as a pretext and justification in advance for further acts of violence against activists taking part in a legitimate political act of protest.

The Gaza Flotilla is indeed a courageous act of political protest, an expression of worldwide solidarity with the Palestinian people and rejection of Israeli practices of oppressive occupation, as manifested in the continuing siege and blockade of Gaza and the imposition of collective punishment upon a mass of civilians.

At present the Gaza Strip is little more than a giant open air prison where a million and half residents are held, deprived of their fundamental rights. It is the right of Gaza Palestinians to maintain direct contact with the outside world; it is their right to open and maintain a sea port where vessels might freely dock and depart, to import and export all goods, for the benefit of their economy and in fulfillment of their needs. The Palestinians have all these rights – not one whit less than Israel has them. The state of Israel is obliged, under International Law, to put an end to its control over the Gaza Strip – indirect as well as direct – which is part of Israel’s wider obligations to put an end to the occupation of Palestinian territory and facilitate the independence of Palestine.

We must reiterate that, contrary to the statements issuing from the government, the flotilla is acting non-violently in setting out to Gaza. Moreover, if attacked by Israel’s armed forces it is with non-violence that activists on board intend to respond. A member of the flotilla’s International Coordinating Team specifically explicitly stated, when responding to assertions emanating from the security system in Israel, that “there are no weapons of any kind on board any of our boats – which could be confirmed by dozens of international media representative on board”. “Activists intending to take passage in the flotilla are undergoing non-violence training and sign clear personal commitment not to resort to violence.”

The government of Israel is conducting considerable efforts to cause the flotilla to be regarded with fear, and to discourage people from taking part in it. So as to create a baseless atmosphere of fear, lies are knowingly spread, lies regarding supposed preparations for violent resistance and alleged plans to kill soldiers; and peace activists taking part are accused of intending to run weapons into Gaza. At the same time, an unprecedented pressure is applied to international journalists, so as to deter them from covering the flotilla from on board. The continuing media campaign which is clearly designed to cause fear and hatred among the Israeli population, and there are grounds for suspecting that it is intended to provide justification in advance for the dangerous and harsh outcome liable to occur should the boats be violently taken over and harm comes to their passengers.

We strongly condemn the government of Greece for its decision to block the flotilla boats from leaving Greek ports in the direction of Gaza. This decision is in violation of International Law concerning Freedom of the Seas, and is highly unreasonable. Reports in Israeli newspapers regarding contacts between the governments of Israel and Greece create the impression that Greece in fact caved in to political pressures of an unacceptable kind, applied by the government in Israel.

We call upon the government of Greece to rescind forthwith its order, prohibiting the flotilla boats from leaving the ports of Greece, let them sail and ensure the safety of passengers and boats alike.

We call upon the government of Israel and its armed forces to let the boats get to Gaza and deliver peacefully their cargo of humanitarian supplies.

We hope to witness the boats arriving safely to their destination.

We call upon the government of Israel to put an immediate end to the siege and blockade of Gaza.

*Alternative Information Center (AIC); Coalition of Women for Peace; Combatants for Peace; Gush Shalom; Hithabrut-Tarabut; Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD); New Profile; Rabbis for Human Rights; Ta’ayush: Arab-Jewish Partnership; Yesh Gvul.  

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