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In intercepting boat bound for Gaza and seizing 22 aboard, Israel violated int’l law and journalists’ rights

Israel/Palestine

Yesterday afternoon Israel stopped the “Al Awda,” the lead of two boats of the Freedom Flotilla in international waters as it sailed toward Gaza and forced it to the Israeli port of Ashdod and arrested 22 people comprising crew and passengers, some of them journalists. The Al Awda is a Norwegian flagged fishing boat. The second boat is scheduled to arrive in Gaza in another day or so. This statement was released today by the Freedom Flotilla.

Two people from Al Awda (The Return) have been released, but most of the crew and participants are still in unlawful detention at Givon prison in Israel. We are still gravely concerned for their safety and well-being as we had no contact with most of them as of 14:00 CEST today. We continue to demand that our boat and the medical supplies on board reach their rightful recipients, Palestinian civil society in Gaza.

Crew member Zohar Chamberlain Regev (interviewed by Jonathan Ofir)

Although the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) claim that the capture of our vessel happened ‘without exceptional incident’, eye-witness Zohar Chamberlain Regev reports that at the time of boarding: “People on board were tasered and hit by masked IOF soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception.” We urgently need to know the details of who was injured and how seriously, and what treatment they are receiving, if any. A military attack on a civilian vessel is a violent act and a violation of international law. Taking 22 people from international waters to a country which is not their destination constitutes an act of kidnapping, which is also unlawful under the international Convention of the Law of Sea.

From the time we lost contact around 13:15 local time on Sunday, we know that the IOF blocked all communication signals, including satellite phones. We are very concerned about this violation of journalists’ right to report freely and we remain gravely concerned about their ability to keep their professional equipment and their storage media. As Australian journalist Chris Graham recently observed, “Bad things happen when good people stay silent, as history well records. But horrendous things happen when media are prevented from scrutinizing the actions of a state.”

Two of our participants, Zohar Chamberlain Regev and Yonatan Shapira, Israeli citizens, have been charged with attempting to enter Gaza and conspiracy to commit a crime, and were released on bail last night.  Boat leader, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, reports seeing blood on the deck of the Al Awda as the last participants were being dragged off the ship.

In comparison with the violence routinely directed at Palestinian civilians, including at fishers from Gaza, and the violent capture of Palestinian fishing boats, yesterday’s seizure and kidnapping may not be the most serious of Israeli crimes. What these violents acts have in common is that there is no accountability demanded by other governments and Israel continues to enjoy total impunity.

We call on national governments, civil society and international organizations to demand that Israeli authorities immediately release our boat so that we can deliver our much-needed medical supplies on  Al Awda and the fishing boat itself to the rightful recipients in Gaza. Detailed specification of our exact cargo on board are available on request.

Israel’s capture of the lead boat in this Gaza-bound flotilla may seem like a predictable outcome to some, but that doesn’t make it any less violent nor any less illegal. Our second boat
Freedom will follow Al Awda within a day or two, and the Freedom Flotilla will continue until the blockade ends and Palestinians of Gaza regain their full freedom of movement.

Details about detainees still in prison, including their last videos and personal statements, can be found on our website and Facebook pages.

About Freedom Flotilla Coalition

The international Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) is a grassroots people-to-people solidarity movement composed of campaigns and initiatives from all over the world working together to end the siege of Gaza. In Just Future for Palestine our partners are: Canadian Boat to Gaza, Freedom Flotilla Italia, MyCARE Malaysia, Kia Ora Gaza [New Zealand / Aotearoa], Ship to Gaza Norway, IHH [Turkey], Palestine Solidarity Alliance [South Africa], Rumbo a Gaza [Spain], Ship to Gaza Sweden, US Boat to Gaza, the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza and Gaza Freedom Flotilla Australia and “National Collective for Palestine” and “Platform of NGOs for Palestine” [France].

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40 Responses

  1. lonely rico
    lonely rico
    July 30, 2018, 3:27 pm

    [Copy of July 29 e-mail to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.]
    Sir,
    The Government of Canada must insist that hijacking this international humanitarian boat to Gaza (please see below) is unacceptable. Israeli’s illegal and cruel blockade of Gaza and the hijacking of humanitarian aid to the strip is reprehensible. The Government of Canada must insist that this ship (these ships) of hope and succour be allowed to pass unhindered by the Israeli military, and that the illegal blockade of Gaza be lifted immediately. Failure on Israel’s part to do so should result in the immediate suspension of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.

    FYI From the Freedom Flotilla Coalition Website (July 29, 2018) –

    The motor vessel Al Awda (The Return), travelling in international waters towards Palestinian waters, 49 nautical miles from the port in Gaza City, has been contacted by the Israeli Occupation Forces navy and warned. The Israeli navy claims our ship is breaking international law … At last news from on board, Al Awda maintains her course towards Gaza, where the crew and participants hope to arrive this evening around 21:00 local time.
    A number of warships have appeared, so an attack, boarding and capture appear to be imminent, and we anticipate that all communications with the vessel will be lost shortly. Al Awda is sailing under a Norwegian flag, carrying 22 people and a cargo of medical supplies, including #Gauze4Gaza. There are people from 16 nations on board, including human rights supporters, journalists and crew, along with €13,000 worth of medical supplies. The boat itself, a former fishing vessel from Norway, is a gift to Palestinian fishers in Gaza.

    The Freedom Flotilla Coalition calls on … the national governments of those aboard Al Awda and the Freedom, other national governments, and relevant international organizations to act immediately.
    The international community must assume its responsibilities and demand that Israeli authorities ensure the safety of those on board, the speedy delivery of our gifts to the Palestinian people in Gaza, an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza, and to stop impeding our legal right of innocent passage to Gaza to deliver our gift of much-needed medical supplies.

    https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org

    • m1945
      m1945
      July 31, 2018, 10:30 am

      Israel is amazingly good to the Palestinians. Israel has been delivering over 800 truckloads of food & supplies to Gaza every day even though Gazans have fired thousands of rockets & mortars at innocent Israeli civilians, so it’s not a blockade. It’s border control. Perfectly legal.
      Egypt blockade of Gaza is an actual blockade.

      • eljay
        eljay
        July 31, 2018, 10:57 am

        || Jack Green: Israel is amazingly good to the Palestinians. Israel has been delivering over 800 truckloads of food & supplies to Gaza every day even though Gazans have fired thousands of rockets & mortars at innocent Israeli civilians, so it’s not a blockade. It’s border control. Perfectly legal. … ||

        The rapist is amazingly good to his victims. He has been delivering 8 bags of food and other supplies to his basement every day even though those ungrateful bitches have lashed out at him thousands of times, so it’s not kidnapping and confinement, it’s crowd control. Perfectly legal.

        Attaboy, Jack!  :-)

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        July 31, 2018, 11:24 am

        Jack Green: “Israel is amazingly good to the Palestinians. Israel has been delivering over 800 truckloads of food & supplies to Gaza every day even though Gazans have fired thousands of rockets & mortars at innocent Israeli civilians, so it’s not a blockade.”

        10,400 trucks per month that entered Gaza in 2005 before Israel established this illegal blockade which is a collective punishment. In other words not only a Nazi mirroring warcrime, but a crime against humanity.

        This is how amazingly good Israel is to Palestinians. This is also how amazingly disgusting you are.

        And this is also why Gazans have fired “thousands of rockets & mortars at innocent Israeli civilians” while Israel has fired 14,000 artillery shells at innocent Gazans in 2006 alone and killed more civilians than Gazans have killed Israelis.

        Shame on you!

      • genesto
        genesto
        July 31, 2018, 5:48 pm

        ‘Israel is amazingly good to the Palestinians.’

        Sometimes, like now, I wonder if the Zionists are pulling our collective leg, or are they REALLY that willfully stupid!

  2. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    July 30, 2018, 5:31 pm

    It’s about time that the countries whose vessels and citizens are attacked in these acts of piracy provided naval escorts.

    • m1945
      m1945
      July 31, 2018, 10:20 pm

      Talkback

      Israel is delivering over 800 truckloads of food & supplies every day, so it’s not a blockade. It’s border control. Evidence that it’s illegal? It’s not collective punishment. It’s just making sure that the Gazans can’t get weapons to murder innocent Israelis. How is saving lives of innocent Israelis a war crime or a crime against humanity?

      • eljay
        eljay
        August 1, 2018, 9:02 pm

        || Jack Green: Israel is delivering over 800 truckloads of food & supplies every day, so it’s not a blockade. It’s border control. … ||

        The rapist is delivering over 8 bags of food and other supplies every day, so it’s not kidnapping and confinement. It’s crowd control.

        Attaboy, Jack!  :-)

    • m1945
      m1945
      July 31, 2018, 10:21 pm

      Talkback

      “… a study published by the United Nations showed “that the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in Gaza was by far the lowest in any asymmetric conflict in the history of warfare.”

  3. JWalters
    JWalters
    July 30, 2018, 8:34 pm

    With striking symbolism, on board the Al Awda is Joe Meadors, a survivor of Israel’s deadly sneak attack on the USS Liberty.
    https://consortiumnews.com/2018/07/09/uss-liberty-survivor-named-us-delegate-on-gaza-flotilla/

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      July 31, 2018, 1:56 am

      It’s fair play. The Israelis failed to kill him last time, so he’s giving them a second chance.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 31, 2018, 7:15 am

        Third chance. He was on the Sfendoni, too.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      July 31, 2018, 7:18 am

      US senate just approved latest $38 Billion + interest free military aid to Israel, with bill about to be voted on in House. No proper congressional investigation of the attack on the USS Liberty has ever been done.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      July 31, 2018, 8:22 am

      That’s interesting. The media is totally quiet on this. Even Iran’s Press TV didn’t make the connection between Meadows and the USS Liberty and simply calls him “a former UN navy technician”
      https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/07/18/568536/palestine-palermo-sicily-freedom.

      He was arrested in Israel’s Gaza flottila raid in 2010:
      “They [Israeli military] are very inept, to tell you the truth,

      It was an illegal attack. We were on the high seas conducting legal activities. They admitted that they closed the area for military purposes but they, we tried to find out the boundaries of that area and they wouldn’t tell us,[8]

      They’re just a bunch of rag-tag people who think they can do no wrong. Every time they speak they say they don’t break any laws, they always abide by international laws. But, they break them with impunity and the US Government is not going to hold them accountable, nobody is [9]

      There is no doubt that the Israelis were committing piracy on the high seas against the Freedom Flotilla and used deadly force against unarmed humanitarians whose only crime was defending themselves against a sea and airborne invasion by heavily armed aggressors”

      So even on sea the Apartheid Junta doesn’t want to define borders.

      • m1945
        m1945
        August 1, 2018, 8:47 pm

        Official borders are set by treaty. Israel can’t set official borders by itself.

      • amigo
        amigo
        August 1, 2018, 9:03 pm

        “Official borders are set by treaty. Israel can’t set official borders by itself.” jack green

        Better check that with Hasbara central as the rogue nation state of the Jewish people has been busy setting borders for 70 plus years.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      July 31, 2018, 10:37 am

      For the record:

      On Thursday, June 8/67, at 1400 (2:00 P.M.) the Liberty’s radar detected the rapid approach of ships and what turned out to be two Mirage fighters. Although the planes bore no markings, they were correctly identified as Israeli. (The Arabs did not have Mirages.)

      “The planes, Israeli Mirage fighters, one by one dove without warning toward the ship in an attack pattern. Their concentrated rocket, cannon, and machine gun fire rapidly swept away virtually everything above deck – sunbathing off-duty crewmen, lookouts, sailors seeking to man the four pedestal-mounted 50-caliber machine guns that would have allowed the ship to protect itself, and the antennae needed to get off a distress signal. For five to six minutes according to Commander McGonagle…the Israeli planes made pass after pass…. In the first minutes nearly everyone above deck was down – dead or wounded. Lieutenant James Ennes, electronics material officer on the Liberty, in his book Assault on the Liberty describes the scene: ‘Blood flowed, puddled and coagulated everywhere. Men stepped in blood, slipped and fell in it, tracked it about in great crimson footprints’.”

      “‘Despite the loss of antennas, the crew was able to patch up its high-command radio-circuit antenna to send off flash messages….’ They discovered, however, ‘that all frequencies were being jammed. A loud buzz-saw sound drowned out their words. It was only in the brief seconds when the planes launched their rockets that the jamming stopped. Apparently, the jamming came from the aircraft and could not be performed at the same time that the rockets were in the air. It was during one of these lulls that the radiomen finally got off their message: ‘Any station, this is Rockstar [Liberty’s voice radio call sign]. We are under attack by unidentified jet aircraft and require immediate assistance’.”

      “The attack by the two Mirages lasted about five minutes only to be followed by three unmarked Super-Mysteres who launched dozens of rockets followed by napalm. In the words of Commander McGonagle: ‘The Mysteres, slower and more maneuverable than the Mirages, directed rockets and napalm against the bridge and the few remaining topside targets. In a technique probably designed for desert warfare but fiendish against a ship at sea, the Mystere pilots launched rockets from a distance, then dropped huge silvery metallic napalm canisters as they passed overhead. The jellied slop burst into furious flame on impact, coating everything, then surged through the fresh rocket holes to burn frantically among the men inside.'” (Ennes, James M., Jr. Assault on the Liberty. The True Story of the Israeli Attack on an American Intelligence Ship, Random House, New York, 1979, p. 67; quoted by Curtiss in A Changing Image, pp. 93-94)

      In 1985, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former Chief of U.S. Naval operations, and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff declared: “Israel continues to insist that the attack was a case of mistaken identity. This claim simply does not hold water. There is simply no way that the Israeli pilots and torpedo boat crews could have concluded that it was anything other than a U.S. ship…. Before as well as subsequent to the attack on the Liberty, the U.S. Congress has investigated in depth just about every incident of a similar nature in which the military forces participated. At the very least the Congress, in deference to the families of the men who died on board the Liberty, should once and for all clear up the uncertainties, speculations, and the unanswered questions surrounding this tragedy, which still is thought by many to be a deliberate cover up on the part of the Government of Israel as well as the Government of the United States.” (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 27, 1985, pp. 1, 3 quoted by Charles Curtiss in A Changing Image…, p. 87)

      Concrete evidence that Israeli pilots knew before they attacked the Liberty that it was an American ship was finally revealed on November 6, 1991, when American columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak “discovered that the U.S. embassy in Beirut had intercepted Israeli radio traffic [on 8 June 1967] in which an Israeli pilot reported: ‘It’s an American ship.’ The Israeli command ignored the report and ordered the pilot to press his attack.” The accuracy of this information was confirmed by Dwight Porter, the American ambassador to Lebanon during the 1967 war. (Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Washington Post, 6 November 1991; cited by Paul Findley, Deliberate Deceptions, p. 41)

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 31, 2018, 7:04 pm

        To warrant that sort of attack, that Egyptian cattle ship must have been carrying some really dangerous cattle.

      • jon s
        jon s
        August 1, 2018, 5:57 am

        Regarding the “Liberty”:

        Israel accepted responsibility for the tragic mistake, apologized and paid compensation.
        To imagine that Israel would deliberately attack an American ship you would have to believe that the Israeli command at the time was not only evil, but also crazy.

        See here:
        https://www.usni.org/store/books/cold-war/liberty-incident-revealed

        And Michael Oren’s detailed account:
        https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/quot-the-uss-liberty-case-closed-quot

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 2, 2018, 7:12 pm

        “To imagine that Israel would deliberately attack an American ship you would have to believe that the Israeli command at the time was not only evil, but also crazy.” “Jon s”

        And how is that a problem? And knowing you, “Jonny”, makes both of them that much more easy to believe.

      • annie
        annie
        August 2, 2018, 7:32 pm

        calling it a mistake voids all claims of accepting responsibility. and one would not have to think israel as either evil nor crazy. a rational person would accept that NOT destroying the liberty was of higher consequence to israel than bombing it. so what did israel gain by it’s destruction? i’d say a lot.

        also take into consideration all the US did to cover up the attack and silence discourse. had it been a mistake, that would not have been necessary.

    • m1945
      m1945
      July 31, 2018, 10:23 pm

      JWalters

      The US told Israel that there were no American ships within 100 miles so the Israelis assumed that it was an Arab ship flying a false flag.

      • amigo
        amigo
        August 1, 2018, 8:59 pm

        “The US told Israel that there were no American ships within 100 miles so the Israelis assumed that it was an Arab ship flying a false flag.” jack green

        Evidence please .

        Evidence from your usual sources is not proof.

  4. Talkback
    Talkback
    July 31, 2018, 12:25 am

    “Although the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) claim that the capture of our vessel happened ‘without exceptional incident’, eye-witness Zohar Chamberlain Regev reports that at the time of boarding: “People on board were tasered and hit by masked IOF soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat.”

    It’s not a contradiction, because it is not exceptional at all for them to act this way.

  5. Kay24
    Kay24
    July 31, 2018, 6:28 am

    The apartheid state gets away with breaking international laws, again.

    • amigo
      amigo
      July 31, 2018, 2:22 pm

      “The apartheid state gets away with breaking international laws, again.” Kay 24

      Kay, ahem , Israel makes it,s own Intl Laws.Are you suggesting they do not have that right.Remember , Jews have a right to self determination in the Historic Homeland ,(Sans Frontiere) .

      Careful , you will be accused of being an Antisemite.

      • Kay24
        Kay24
        July 31, 2018, 5:07 pm

        Amigo, being accused of being “anti-semitic” is now lame, and has no effect anymore. Let them waste their time doing so.

  6. Boomer
    Boomer
    July 31, 2018, 6:38 am

    I didn’t learn hear about this on U.S. TV networks: must be fake news, or not important.

  7. WebSkipper
    WebSkipper
    July 31, 2018, 11:40 am

    Ma’an News Agency, today:

    The National Committee confirmed that Dr. Swee Chai Ang, a British activist, author, and orthopedic surgeon, suffered injuries due to being assaulted on board by masked Israeli naval forces.

    Sources also confirmed that several activists were beaten by Israeli forces before being dragged out of the ship to be detained.

    Regev said in a statement that “people on board were tasered and hit by masked Israeli soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception.”

    These are excerpts, see article for more ….

    https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=780555

  8. genesto
    genesto
    July 31, 2018, 5:59 pm

    I was on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a participant on the Sfendonh with Joe Meadors. As tragic as that voyage turned out to be (10 killed and a number injured), it did serve a very useful purpose – exposing Israel once and for all as the vicious bully it truly is vs the victim much of the Western world had been duped into believing it to be. Nevertheless, I think it’s high time we diverted those hundreds of thousands of dollars that are going into these now futile expeditions towards humanitarian efforts to ease the increasing amount of suffering the people of Gaza, in particular, are experiencing just since the beginning of the Trump reign. Investing in desperately needed health care, education – even psychological counselling – is far more valuable than what limited PR value may be derived from these missions.

    Anyone wanting to contribute to one or more of these programs should let me know and I’ll publish a list on this site.

  9. Talkback
    Talkback
    August 1, 2018, 4:22 am

    Ooops!

    Norway demands Israel explain seizure of boat bound for Gaza
    “We have asked the Israeli authorities to clarify the circumstances around the seizure of the vessel and the legal basis for the intervention,” the spokesman for the Norwegian foreign affairs ministry in Oslo said. A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.”
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-norway-gaza/norway-demands-israel-explain-seizure-of-boat-bound-for-gaza-idUSKBN1KL2BG

    And of course:
    “The captain had been struck on the head by Israeli soldiers who ordered him to sail for Israel, …”

  10. m1945
    m1945
    August 1, 2018, 9:21 pm

    Many centuries ago an indigenous people had their homeland conquered by a cruel foreign empire. They were scattered across Europe and the Middle East for nineteen hundred years, suffering oppression, expulsions, massacres, and ultimately genocide. They barely survived, but never lost hope. They overcame. They started a liberation movement. They went back home. They took back their rights. And they built one of the most vibrant, diverse, inspiring nations the world has ever seen.
    The Jews

    • amigo
      amigo
      August 1, 2018, 9:54 pm

      “And they built one of the most vibrant, diverse, inspiring nations the world has ever seen “. jack green.

      They built an Apartheid Nation State of and for Jews only who get to have the right to self determination, a right which is denied to all non Jewish citizens . (Your ok with that are you???.).

      Don,t take my word for it.

      Just google “Nation state of The Jewish people Law”.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      August 2, 2018, 6:44 am

      …and they lived happily ever after and had twelve children.
      The End
      Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

    • eljay
      eljay
      August 2, 2018, 7:27 am

      || Jack Green: Many centuries ago an indigenous people had their homeland conquered by a cruel foreign empire. … ||

      You’re right, the cruel Israelites did conquer the homeland of the Canaanites. And later the Israelites were conquered by the Romans. That sort of thing happened a lot many centuries ago.

      || … They went back home. … ||

      Ancient Israelites did not survive for many centuries* and return home. They died many centuries ago. The Jewish people of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries were not and are not Ancient Israelites. They are simply citizens of homelands all over the world who have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish.

      (*Unless you’re suggesting that all Jewish people alive today are actually long-lived Ancient Israelite zombies or vampires. Not only is that a disturbing claim to make but – in the case of the latter classification – it smacks of blood libel.)

      || … They took back their rights. … ||

      Jewish supremacists (Zionists) had no “rights” to steal, occupy and colonize geographic Palestine and establish in it a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

      || … And they built one of the most vibrant, diverse, inspiring nations the world has ever seen. … ||

      Which is consistently defended as being less bad than Saudi Arabia, Mali, African “hellholes”, China, 19th-century America, etc. Go figure.

      || … The Jews ||

      “The Jews” is not a country.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 2, 2018, 7:09 pm

      “The Jews”

      All 6.2 million of them. There may be more outside Israel, but their applications are still pending.

  11. m1945
    m1945
    August 1, 2018, 9:22 pm

    amigo

    Countries can declare borders, but they’re not official borders unless they’re set by a treaty with the bordering country.

    • amigo
      amigo
      August 1, 2018, 10:00 pm

      “Countries can declare borders, but they’re not official borders ” jack green.

      So Israel is not a sovereign Nation.

      Thanks for clearing that up for us.

    • eljay
      eljay
      August 2, 2018, 7:54 am

      || Jack Green: Countries can declare borders, but they’re not official borders unless they’re set by a treaty with the bordering country. ||

      Thank you for tearing down the unofficial “border” with Gaza and liberating the geographic Palestinians Israel has imprisoned within it.

  12. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    August 2, 2018, 7:51 am

    @Jack Green
    “They started a liberation movement”
    F..K a duck Jack I hadn`t realised that the Romans were still there in the 20th Century and still running the place. . And despite being ethnically cleansed by the Zios they still had the good grace to stage three stages of the Giro D`Italia there this year. Would you Adam and Eve it.

    Enjoy your meths.

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