Freedom Flotilla II: Blocked but not Defeated – by Stephen Lendman
On July 7, Israel National News writer Elad Benari headlined, “Failed Flotilla: Only 2 Ships Leave for Gaza,” saying:
Only “two ships have so far been able to leave (Greece) on their way to Gaza.” On July 5, the French boat MVDignite/Al Karma broke out and sailed. On July 7, Press TV, Gaza TV and other news sources said Greek commandos on Crete blocked it from proceeding.
Organizer Claude Leostic told AFP that their vessel “was taken to Sitia in Crete by the Greek Coast Guard after being stopped in a nearby port (for) refueling. The authorities (gave) various administrative reasons” for doing so, none of which are justified.
On July 6, Ynet News.com writer Aviel Magnezi headlined, “Juliano ship (with Greek, Norwegian and Swedish activists on board) heads for Gaza,” saying:
On board activist Dror Feiler said, “(a)ll roads lead to Gaza. It will be a small but high-quality flotilla. At this point, I can only say that after a lengthy battle, we finally succeeded in departing.”
The Voice of Israel said it was allowed to sail on condition it doesn’t head for Gaza. Activists on board explained that Greece’s Coast Guard is monitoring their movements remotely. Israel is pulling out all stops to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza and defeat Flotilla efforts to arrive.
On July 7, Magnezi said Juliano, “Norwegian, Swedish Gaza-bound flotilla activists to announce their return home” after Greek forces blocked them at sea.
Eight other vessels can’t sail. Two were sabotaged and disabled. Greek authorities block the others from departing.
On July 6, a US Boat to Gaza/Audacity of Hope update said its mission “is winding down,” despite heroic efforts to succeed. However, Greece’s “willingness to (enforce) Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza made it impossible for this journey to happen.”
Nonetheless, heroic efforts tried, even at personal risk. “Last night our group’s activities in Athens ended. (Everyone) went to Syntagma Square….We unfurled, to drum beats, 22 flags sewn together representing the countries participating in the Flotilla.”
“It was quite a sight. Now our folks are beginning the journey home – some will arrive today, some tomorrow and others in the days ahead.”
Most important is staying the course, ending Gaza’s siege and Israel’s illegal occupation. “That, after all is said and done, is what this effort (is all) about, and that (this) work must continue.”
On July 6, International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) writer Kevin Murphy headlined, “Israel Human Rights Org’s Express Support For Flotilla,” saying:
Gush Shalom, Rabbis for Human Rights, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Women for Peace, and other Israeli human rights groups “signed a letter supporting the Freedom Flotilla 2 and calling on the Greek and Israeli governments to allow it safe passage to Gaza.”
The letter criticized slanderous media campaigns as “lies (perhaps) designed by the government as a pretext and justification in advance (of) further acts of violence against activists taking part in a legitimate political act of protest.”
Greece was also condemned for acting as Israel’s enforcer. Israel won a pyrrhic victory but lost the war. On July 7, Haaretz writer Amira Hass agreed headlining, “In dealing with flotilla, Israel is anything but smart,” saying:
Using Greece as an enforcer besides “aggressive and vocal diplomacy and ridiculous lies thwarted the flotilla, but they have not taken Gaza off the international agenda….Blocking the flotilla did not discourage the organizers….Rather it provided ample proof of how white Israeli is. As a result, blocking the flotilla only increased (activists’) motivation to keep placing the Palestinians’ demand for freedom at the forefront of the international agenda.”
On July 7, IMEMC reported that Spanish activists occupied their country’s embassy in Greece, demanding their government pressure their officials to let Flotilla vessels proceed. Spanish European Parliament member Willy Meyer called Israel’s siege “totally illegal” and blocking Flotilla aid against international law.
IMEMC said most Flotilla participants say they’re determined to stay with their vessels until Greece lets them sail. Jerusalem Post writer Yaakov Katz said most headed home. Only a few dozen remain.
Free Gaza Movement co-founder Greta Berlin said some plan to stay in Greece until exit permits let them sail, but are heartened that either way they raised awareness.
Israel National News contributor Emmanuel Navon called the Flotilla agenda “sinister,” claiming one of its organizers, Muhammad Sawalha, believes Islamic nations are obliged to weaponize Palestine to “perform the jihad in the way of Allah Almighty.”
Pro-Israeli zeolot Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse was even more outlandish in an Inside Israel interview, saying:
Its purpose “is to discredit the Israeli attempt to protect itself and to give Hamas a free hand amassing weapons to use against Israeli civilians. It should be called a kill the Jews flotilla. If it is called by its proper name, then it will be recognized for what it is.”
In fact, notorious bigots like her, Alan Dershowitz, and other fringe extremists give Harvard a bad name for employing them.
Awaiting a Mass Fly-In
On July 6, hundreds of Israeli police and anti-terror squad members manned Ben-Gurion Airport, awaiting the arrival of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists. Some already got in. Most will arrive on July 8 or shortly thereafter. Foreign airlines were told to reveal their passenger names 48 hours prior to departure.
Suspect incoming flights will be diverted to a separate terminal. Passengers will be detained and questioned. A police briefing said “when you enter the airport, it will be as if you are entering the set of ‘Big Brother,’ ” a reality TV show. All eyes will be on them, including from a military command post if needed.
An Israeli public radio reporter said:
“It’s an unusual sight to see so many police from so many different units at Ben Gurion Airport. They are spread out in positions from the runway to the baggage retrieval area, and in the arrivals area at Terminal 3, there are dozens of uniformed police.”
Some are clearly visible in uniform. Others are covert undercover. Special forces are also involved. Others are on standby, awaiting the “flytilla,” organized by the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, representing 40 Palestinian and international organizations. A press release said:
Their “aim is to show that, if our governments do not seem to be interested in the fate of (besieged Gazans), there are men and women from all countries, who are ready to bring them moral support, using a week of their holidays to go and meet them.”
Participant Sami Awad, Holy Land Trust director, said “Welcome to Palestine” is based on nonviolent resistance no matter what Israel does to confront them, adding:
“There are several measures they will take in the event of harassment….such as solidarity sit-ins, not adhering to orders and refusing to travel (if deported), without any use of violence….All participants (have) peaceful intentions. (They’ll) inform Israeli authorities (they) wish to go to the West Bank immediately after (arriving).”
West Bank activist Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh said:
“We are receiving European, South American and sometimes Japanese activists all the time, sometimes (from Jordan) via the Allenby Bridge and sometimes from the airport – to work on a variety of projects for the community.”
The “Welcome to Palestine” initiative is one of many others like it.
On July 7, Haaretz writer Zohar Blumenkrantz headlined, “Israel instructs foreign airlines to prevent departure of 300 pro-Palestinian activists,” saying:
Israeli highhandedness never quits, ordering Washington, European leaders, Greece, and now foreign airlines on what they may or may not do. Acting more authoritarian than civilized, 300 blacklisted names were distributed with instructions to block them, saying they won’t be let in Israel if they arrive.
A senior Ben-Gurion Airport official told Haaretz, “This event will end with either no problems or as a catastrophe. There will not be a middle-ground.”
A senior European airline official told Haaretz Israel’s request was unprecedented, saying:
“In the past, we have gotten one or two names that authorities had banned (from) entry. This move is problematic because if we receive an updated list later on, we will have to fly back the plane at the expense of other passengers who had purchased regular tickets.”
A Final Comment
On June 9, 2010, McClatchy Newspapers writer Sheera Frenkel headlined, “Israeli document: Gaza blockade isn’t about security,” saying:
McClatchy obtained the document calling the siege “economic warfare” against Hamas and nearly 1.7 million Gazans. In response to a Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement lawsuit, Israel claimed justification, saying:
“A country has the right to decide that it chooses not to engage in economic relations or to give economic assistance to the other party to the conflict, or that it wishes to operate using ‘economic warfare.’ “
Israel issued this statement after its High Court of Justice ruled for Gisha. Its director Sari Bashi said the documents prove Israel’s blockade isn’t for security. It’s illegal collective punishment.
Israel also mentioned a political goal, targeting Hamas, Palestine’s legitimate government.
Israel is a lawless rogue state, reigning terror against millions of Palestinian civilians, denying them freedom on their own land in their own country.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.