Do they look like murderers to you?

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flotilla Activists (including Hedy Epstein, 87, second from right) doing the electric slide Via MyA Guarnieri

Protesters call on Israel to lift blockade on Gaza

And more news about the flotillas heading to Gaza…

Israeli Government Response, Propaganda and Efforts to Sabotage
IDF fears flotilla activists will try to kill soldiers
Army info suggests radical elements equipping some vessels talking part in sail with bags containing chemicals, most likely sulfur, to use against soldiers taking over vessels. Activists in Greece claim some ships have been tampered with,7340,L-4088082,00.html

Reaction: Gaza flotilla organizer: We have no intention of attacking IDF soldiers
Israeli officials say passengers may be stowing chemicals on ships to be used against IDF soldiers and have threatened to ‘spill their blood.’

Flotilla Organisers: Participants Have Signed Declarations Of Non Violence
Organisers of the Freedom Flotilla 2 have refuted claims made by the Isralei military on Monday that participants in the flotilla plan to use violence in resisting Israeli military plans to board the vessels. The organisers say that the passengers of the flotilla, due to leave this week, have signed declarations of non violence in advance of the journey, according to Haaretz.

Israel’s Defense Ministry proposes confiscating boats that breach Gaza blockade
Government warns of two passengers’ alleged ties to Hamas, claims others have smuggled ‘chemicals’ aboard.

Israel backs away from flotilla media threat
Warning to journalists covering planned Gaza-bound aid convoy withdrawn, but navy told to stop breach of blockade. Israel has backtracked on its warning to foreign journalists covering the Gaza-bound international aid flotilla, saying they will not face the same punishment as other participants in the convoy. Israel’s government press office had given warning on Sunday that journalists sailing on the flotilla could be barred from the country for up to a decade and have their equipment confiscated. On Monday, a statement from the prime minister’s office said Benjamin Netanyahu ”has ordered the authorities to draw up a special procedure for dealing with foreign journalists sailing on the flotilla that will enter Israel illegally”.

Gaza flotilla ship ‘sabotaged by divers’
Activists say Swedish ship due to join attempt to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza has been damaged in Greek port.

Apparent sabotage against Gaza flotilla
The Juliano, a boat planning on joining the Gaza flotilla challenging Israel’s blockade, was sabotaged in a Greek harbor earlier today, according to a spokesman.  A ship jointly owned by Swedish, Greek, and Norwegian activists hoping to join a flotilla of activist vessels challenging Israel‘s economic blockade of Gaza, had its propeller cut while in Athen’s harbor today. A spokesman contacted by the Monitor said that the damage was a deliberate act of sabotage. Israel and its allies have been working hard to head off the planned flotilla, which is hoping to enter the waters off Gaza in the next week. Col. (ret) Ann Wright, who’s organizing a US vessel named the Audacity of Hope for the flotilla, says her ship has been detained in Athens on spurious charges that it’s not seaworthy. She says that charge was made by an Israeli legal group.|+World%29

Flotilla Updates: French Boat Set Sail! Greek Boat Sabatoged! Calls Needed to Release US Boat!
June 27th, 2:30pm PST: In spite of Israel’s threats of violence (snipers, attack dogs, sound bombs) against unarmed people on unarmed ships, threats from the US government of legal action against American participants, and the Obama administration’s clear permission granted to Israel to attack the boats, including the American-flagged “Audacity of Hope”, the FLOTILLA HAS SET SAIL! The French ship Dignity just left Corsica with a French MEP on board. The French Government didn’t block the boat. The French boat sails to meet the other 9 boats, two cargo ships and 7 passenger boats, including the Audacity of Hope, in the Mediterranean, and on to Gaza with 3000 tons of aid for that destroyed region.

Intense Israeli lobbying stalls Gaza flotilla
A US contingent is bringing Arabic translations of a book about Martin Luther King Jr., saying they want to show Palestinians that nonviolent resistance can work. But they’re stuck in Athens.|+World%29

The Lede: Israeli Video Blog Exposed as a Hoax, ROBERT MACKEY
A YouTube video featuring a man who presented himself as an American gay-rights activist disillusioned with the Gaza flotilla campaign has been exposed as a hoax.

Rights Groups

Israel should not intimidate reporters covering flotilla
New York, June 27, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Israeli authorities to allow journalists covering a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla to do their work without interference or reprisals. On Sunday, Israel’s Government Press Office announced that journalists aboard the ships would be subjected to a 10-year ban on entering Israel and “to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions.” Following domestic and international outcry, authorities altered their stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that “journalists whose credentials are recognized by Israel” would not be subject to a 10-year ban, Reuters reported. But the prime minister’s statement did not address the government’s plans to confiscate footage and equipment, or its threat of “additional sanctions.”

U.S. Reactions

Reps urge Clinton to protect U.S. citizens on Gaza flotilla
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Six Democratic lawmakers urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure the safety of the American citizens who join  the Gaza flotilla. U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), William Clay (D-Mo.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) signed a letter to Clinton last Friday expressing their concern for the safety of the passengers who will be aboard the U.S. ship The Audacity of Hope. Filner is Jewish. “We request that you do everything in your power to work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board,” they wrote.

Ex-US official: Israeli flotilla media ban wrong
Former State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said Monday that Israel’s threat to sanction foreign reporters boarding flotilla vessels “went against its own interest,” since the sail is “worthy” of media coverage. Crowley noted that media coverage was crucial to Israel’s intention to show how it handles the flotilla, as well as that goods car arrive in Gaza. “Media coverage is an asset, not a liability,” he said.,7340,L-4087829,00.html

Flotilla Updates

Former Israeli combat pilot takes part in Freedom Flotilla 2
Reports in Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth claim that a former Israeli Air Force commander is taking part in Freedom Flotilla 2 heading for Gaza. The newspaper noted that former combat pilot Yonatan Shapira ended his service in the Israeli Air Force when he refused to bomb Palestinian residential and civilian areas following the 2002 raid against leading Hamas military figure Salah Shehada. Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;}

Ex-US politician joins Gaza aid convoy
A former US political figure will join a Gaza-bound vessel although the State Department has criticized his act., Samuel Hart, a former US ambassador to Ecuador, is one of the passengers of The Audacity of Hope, the American-flagged ship that is a part of the Freedom Flotilla II, which will depart Greece for the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

It Takes People On the Outside: Prestigious Author Alice Walker to Confront Israeli Naval Blockade of Gaza on U.S. Aid Ship
Israel continues to threaten a group of international activists planning to sail to Gaza this week with humanitarian aid. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said participants in the 10-boat flotilla are seeking “confrontation and blood.” Last year, Israeli forces killed nine people aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. Meanwhile, activists say one of the 10 boats scheduled to sail to Gaza has been sabotaged in a Greek port. Saboteurs reportedly cut off the propeller shaft of a ship shared by Swedish, Norwegian and Greek activist. Organizers say the boat will be repaired in time to sail to Gaza. One of the other ships that will try to reach Gaza from Greece is the “Audacity of Hope.” It’s set to carry up to 50 U.S. citizens carrying letters to Gaza residents. One of the ship’s passengers is the acclaimed author, poet and activist Alice Walker. She has written many books, including “The Color Purple,” for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. On Monday, Alice Walker spoke at a Freedom Flotilla news conference in the Greek capital of Athens. “I am going to Gaza because my government has failed to understand or care about the Gazan people, but worse than that, it is ignorant of our own history in the United States,” Walker said. “For instance, when black people were enslaved for 300 years, it took a lot of people in the outside of our communities to help free us.”

Alice Walker Doesn’t Mince Words in Challenging Israeli Blockade of Gaza
Celebrated poet and novelist Alice Walker is sailing on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza, as part of a humanitarian mission meant to bring aid and awareness to the plight of those affected by Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. The author, who penned the best-selling book “The Color Purple,” wrote a special piece for CNN outlining her intention. She will be sailing on a boat called “The Audacity of Hope”, which will be carrying letters expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza.

International solidarity and history in the making, Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
Today we had a great international press conference. There were representatives from Greece, Sweden, France, Norway, Canada, Spain, Turkey and of course, the U.S. The room was packed with press and passengers; there was really a feeling that we are part of something historic. Our US speakers were Ann Wright and Alice Walker, as well as Huwaida Araf, who was not representing the U.S. boat but the international flotilla.

Staying Human: Preparing to Sail to Gaza, The US ship will bring over 3,000 letters of support,Kathy Kelly
Last week, newly-arrived in Athens as part of the US Boat to Gaza project, our team of activists gathered for nonviolence training. We are here to sail to Gaza, in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade, in our ship, “The Audacity of Hope.” Our team, and nine other ships’ crews from countries around the world, want Israel to end its lethal blockade of Gaza by letting our crews through to shore to meet with Gazans. The US ship will bring over 3,000 letters of support to a population suffering its fifth continuous decade of de facto occupation, now in the form of a military blockade controlling Gaza’s sea and sky, punctuated by frequent deadly military incursions, that has starved Gaza’s economy and people to the exact level of cruelty considered acceptable to the domestic population of our own United States, Israel’s staunchest ally.

German activists hold ‘solidarity flotilla’ in Berlin canals
As the ‘Freedom Flotilla II: Stay Human’ prepares to sail to Gaza with ten ships and 500 supporters from 20 countries on Tuesday, supporters from around the world have launched various actions in solidarity. At one such action, in Germany, several dozen activists sailed down Berlin’s canals with banner-covered boats, waving Palestinian flags in support of the Freedom Flotilla.

Criminalising Palestinian solidarity, Maureen Murphy
Siege-breaking activists may be next: It is US policy to block Palestinians from all avenues to justice at the UN level, by foiling the Goldstone report on war crimes in the Gaza Strip or preventing any censure of Israel for last year’s massacre of flotilla activists. But this week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given Israel the green light to attack the second Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The State Department also issued a statement on the second flotilla– which will include approximately fifty Americans – in which it warned that “delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to, or for the benefit of, a designated foreign terrorist organisation, such as Hamas, could violate US civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration”.

Gaza flotilla renews debate on Israel’s blockade
A flotilla of ships set to leave Greece for Gaza this week is reigniting arguments about the wisdom of Israel’s trade restrictions to the Palestinian territory.

Earlier today, former IDF prison guard Jeffrey Goldberg approvingly quoted an excerpt from a recent anti-Gaza Flotilla opinion piece by Irish columnist Kevin Myers. Myers’ snide commentary is full of historical revisionism, factual errors, total fabrications, racist anti-Arab and Palestinian stereotyping, and an adolescent overuse of silly scare-quotes:The last ‘aid flotilla’ to Gaza carried a large number of Islamists who wanted to provoke: and aided by some quite astounding Israeli stupidity, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Now another convoy is under way, and again with an utterly disingenuous plan to bring “assistance” to the “beleaguered Gazans”, some of who, funnily enough, can now cross into Egypt any time they like, and buy their explosives and their Kalashnikovs in the local arms-bazaar.

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