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Finnish MP among activists arrested for attempting to break Gaza siege

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Israeli police arrested a delegation of foreign activists, including a member of the Finnish parliament, while the group were attempting to break the 13-year blockade on Gaza by cutting through the Israeli “security fence” around the territory.

According to a statement from the group Gaza 2020: Breaking the Siege, a number of the group’s activists from the UK, Austria, and Denmark were arrested Monday morning while on route to Gaza.

The group, accompanied by Finnish MP Anna Kontula, were on their way to the border with the intention of cutting through the border fence. They were intercepted by Israeli police, detained, and interrogated for 10 hours.

“I’m participating in the action because the situation in Gaza is awful and needs the world’s attention,” Kntula said in a statement.

“It’s like a prison, except that in my country prisoners are [given] more food and better health care than the children in Gaza. And of course they can get out some day,” she said.

According to the group, upon their arrest, the group were told by Israeli police that “secret services had been aware of the action from tapping their phones.

Two days earlier, activists from the same group were arrested at the fence, also with the intention of cutting through it. They were held overnight, and upon release the next morning, Israeli police allegedly refused to give them back their phones and passports.

The group says they were inspired by the Free Gaza Movement, which for years has attempted to break Israel’s naval blockade on the strip.

“When comrades on the path of freedom fall we raise their torch and continue their work of solidarity,” the group said in a statement. “Yesterday’s action was the first attempt to break the siege, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. We want Gazans to know that we will not give up, that we will continue opposing this illegal and barbaric siege of innocent people.”

The group also received support from Gazan activist and founder of the Great March of Return Ahmed Abu Artema.

“We appreciate this action which aim to bring the attention for the people who suffers and struggles in the same time for freedom,” Abu Artema said in a statement,

“Gaza needs the efforts of all the people who believe in justice and freedom for everyone to make pressure against the state of Israeli Apartheid to end the policy of the collective punishments against the civilians.”

In 2015, the United Nations announced its predictions that by the year 2020, the Gaza Strip would become “uninhabitable,” due to the irreversible damage caused by Israel’s blockade and three devastating offensives on the territory.

The arrival of 2020 has given activists locally and around the world a newfound sense of urgency in their attempts to lift the siege on Gaza.

However, with almost half of the territory unemployed, an even higher percentage of those that are food insecure, and an overwhelming shortage of electricity and clean drinking water, many of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants say they are already living in an “unlivable” situation.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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10 Responses

  1. Rosetta on January 21, 2020, 12:05 am

    And still Israel pretends Gaza is not a prison. There is denial and there is delusion.

    • JWalters on January 22, 2020, 8:31 pm

      And there is intentional, criminal cruelty justified by delusion.

      I thank all these activists for continuing to break the silence. The public needs these continuous efforts to expose the facts. The politicians and editors complicit in these crimes need to be continually shamed.

  2. Misterioso on January 21, 2020, 8:56 am

    Birds of a feather:

    “Israel: A model for the far right” by Denijal Jegic, Al Jazeera, Jan. 2/2020

    “White supremacists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis and religious fundamentalists find inspiration, and support, in Tel Aviv.”

    “On December 15, Brazil opened a trade office in Jerusalem and announced that it would soon relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his appreciation by declaring Israel has ‘no better friends than the people and government of Brazil.’

    “Brazil’s endorsement of settler-colonialism and military occupation in Palestine is part of a broader global trend of right-wing, far-right, and fundamentalist movements embracing Zionism as a model for the successful perpetuation of racist policies.

    “Brazil’s growing support for Israel”
    “A religious nationalist and former army captain, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is known for patriarchal, misogynist, and racist comments. He insulted African, Middle Eastern, and Haitian refugees as ‘the scum of humanity,’ attacked LGBT populations, and promoted legal inequality of women. Bolsonaro’s regime has been described as fascist by some observers.

    “Upon assuming office in 2018, Bolsonaro broke with the South American country’s moderate stance on Palestine. During his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro advocated for the closure of the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia, dismissed Palestinians as ‘terrorists,’ and promised to move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem. At his election rallies, the Israeli flag often appeared alongside the Brazilian one. Following Bolsonaro’s election victory, a senior Brazilian diplomatic source told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that ‘Brazil will now be coloured in blue and white,’ referring to the colours of the Israeli flag. As president, Bolsonaro made his first official state visit outside the Americas to Israel and was warmly welcomed in Tel Aviv, where he proclaimed his love for Israel in Hebrew.

    “Israel reciprocated the fascination. From the very beginning of his presidency, Israel viewed Bolsonaro as a new ally. When Netanyahu attended Bolsonaro’s inauguration, he was greeted by Brazil’s Christian evangelicals, who issued a special stamp to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the settler-colonial state. It featured Netanyahu’s face and the Hebrew word for ‘saviour.’

    “Bolsonaro is backed by Brazil’s rapidly growing evangelical population, which, numbering approximately 45 million, has gained political and social influence.

    “Brazil’s evangelical movement has ties to its US counterpart. Well-represented in the US government, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, white evangelicals form the conservative base of the Republican Party and have largely supported Donald Trump.

    “Israel is of central importance for Zionist evangelicals, who follow the belief that Jews need to be concentrated in Palestine for the second coming of Jesus to be triggered. Reading history through a religious lens, evangelical Zionists view the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 as the fulfilment of a religious prophecy. Israel is thus elevated above international law and human rights obligations.

    “Idolising Israel”
    “Christian Zionists are not alone in their support and admiration of Israel. Right-wing and far-right movements and political parties across the world also idolise Israel as they view the Zionist colonial project as a successful model of European domination over the indigenous populations of developing countries.

    “Seizing on ultraconservative concerns about demographic developments in multicultural societies for the perpetuation of Islamophobic, white supremacist and otherwise racist ideologies, different far-right movements intersect in their adherence to Zionism.

    “Forms of population containment, such as travel bans, deportations, construction of walls, and mass incarceration, have long been developed by Israel and tested on Palestinians. Israel has transformed Islamophobic and Orientalist thinking into genocidal policies, which many far-right supporters see as an inspiration for their own countries.

    “Europe’s far-right”
    “Right-wing ideologues can easily combine anti-Semitism with a pro-Israeli stance. In 1895, Zionism’s founding father, Theodor Herzl, predicted that ‘the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.’

    “While anti-Semitism and Zionism intersect structurally, as both depend on a collective politicisation of Jews as the ‘Other,’ the current dynamics have made the macabre alliance impossible to ignore.

    “Far-right parties have increasingly joined the established political spectrum throughout Europe. Austria’s far-right “Freedom Party” (FPO), and Germany’s far-right AfD have incorporated Zionism into their regressive ideologies, viewing Israel as a model for the creation of racist/racial hierarchies. Both parties include outspoken anti-Semites.

    “While disregarding the rights of Palestinians, the European far-right has rhetorically abused the Palestinian population for the furthering of Islamophobic propaganda and the whitewashing of its own anti-Semitism. Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements are often presented as the frontier of Western civilisation. To name a few examples, former FPO leader Hans Christian Strache declared that his heart is with the settlers. Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders asked Palestinians to leave Palestine for Jordan, justifying ethnic cleansing. The far-right party Swedish Democrats is fighting for the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    “The Israeli regime has long positioned itself within the global political right and, particularly under Netanyahu, proudly collaborates with the far-right. It even glorifies some prominent far-right figures, such as Italian politician Matteo Salvini, as ‘great friends of Israel.’

    “Israel’s far-right ‘friends’ also include Hungary’s Victor Orban. Known for his Islamophobic and anti-refugee discourse, Orban praised former Hungarian Nazi collaborator Miklos Horthy, who oversaw the killing of half a million Jews in Hungary. Another friend is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is infamous for racist, homophobic, and sexist remarks. Duterte once favourably compared himself to Hitler and ridiculed Holocaust victims. Despite this, he later visited Israel and, with Netanyahu, participated in a memorial service at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. His visit included the signing of an oil exploration license and new arms deals.

    “All this, however, is not shocking to anyone who follows the far-right and the Israeli government closely. In fact, Jerusalem is a crucial intersection of Zionists and anti-Semites.
    “Following his visit to the Holocaust memorial, Bolsonaro proclaimed that Nazism was a leftist and socialist movement, effectively engaging in Holocaust revisionism. This, however, is in line with Netanyahu’s own historical revisionism. Israel’s PM previously claimed that ‘Hitler did not want to exterminate the Jews,’ wrongfully propagating a theory of Palestinian involvement in the Holocaust.

    “At the opening of the Trump administration’s new embassy in Jerusalem in 2018, evangelical pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee delivered prayers. Prominent televangelist Jeffress previously claimed: ‘You can’t be saved being a Jew.’ He denounced Islam, Mormonism, and Judaism. In an attempt to justify Jewish settlement in Palestine, Hagee, founder of the Zionist organisation Christians United for Israel, had used the Bible to rationalise the Holocaust, claiming: ‘God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter.’

    “As these dynamics reveal, Palestine/Israel has been central to regressive governments, political parties and movements around the world. White supremacists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis and religious fundamentalists can find inspiration in Zionism for many purposes. Whether their goal is to conceal anti-Semitism, to further racist policies or to trigger an apocalypse – as long as they praise the Israeli government, they will most likely be accepted as friends.

    “Today, Tel Aviv is quick to make friends with new right-wing governments, wherever they may emerge. This approach has been visible in South America, beyond Brazil. Venezuela and Bolivia have long been among Israel’s staunchest opponents internationally. Caracas broke ties with the Zionist state following the 2008-2009 Gaza War. Bolivia’s Morales declared Israel a ‘terrorist state,’ after condemning its wars against Palestinians. However, US-imposed Venezuelan ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido, was immediately recognised by Israel and is attempting to re-establish diplomatic ties. Bolivia’s US-backed controversial interim president, Jeanine Anez, promptly restored relations with Israel and dropped visa restrictions.

    “Despite aligning itself with the global right, Israel is still supported by liberal and leftist politics in the West and, due to deeply embedded Orientalism in the Euro-American sphere, the Zionist state is more often than not comprehended as a liberal democratic outpost in the Middle East. As a result, the oppression of Palestinians continues to extend transnationally and beyond political ideologies.”

  3. Vera Gottlieb on January 21, 2020, 9:39 am

    More and more I am reminded of the Nazi tactics. Good going…israel

  4. Ossinev on January 21, 2020, 1:27 pm

    Yes. Good old Zioland has definitely achieved its “never again” ambitions with the unspoken criteria of “unless it is us dishing it out and not to the Germans of course – they would fight back and send us packing” No it has got to be really defenceless goyim like the Palestinians”.

    Can`t wait for the panic to set in amongst the Chosen sun worshippers on the Tel Aviv beaches when all that untreated raw sewage from Gaza starts to wash up on their pristine Zio shoreline.

  5. Greta on January 22, 2020, 7:01 am

    I’d like to thank the Fins for continuing what so many of us started back in 2008 when our first two boats landed in Gaza. None of our actions have actually made one damned bit of difference for the people of Gaza, enclosed in a concentration camp, but that hasn’t stopped us or anyone else from continuing to show an international presence there.

    I would also like to add that Free Gaza did get in five times to this enclosed slice of the Mediterranean. If anyone is interested in the history of the voyages from 2008 to 2011 you can read it here.

    We are big supporters of the Freedom Flotilla movement, an offshoot of Free Gaza begun with that first major flotilla in 2010.

    • hellsbells on January 22, 2020, 9:47 am

      “None of our actions have actually made one damned bit of difference for the people of Gaza”

      Even as I max out today with total pessimism, I can see that is clearly untrue. Sure, nothing has changed is Abysmalrael for the better. That doesn’t mean the efforts of yourself and others haven’t given some people in Gaza hope.

    • Rojee on January 22, 2020, 8:41 pm

      No Greta ……your campaign back in 2008 made a huge difference…..Maybe not much on the ground ….But a HUGE difference in AWARENESS…..which has the ongoing/flow on affect being seen RIGHT NOW

    • echinococcus on January 23, 2020, 2:59 am

      Ms Berlin,

      “None of our actions have actually made one damned bit of difference for the people of Gaza” is a false statement.

      Both successful and unsuccessful actions have enormously increased the progressive accumulation in anti-Zionist awareness and the rapid diffusion of hostility to Zionists among the general population, across the world. This is not directly making a difference for Gazans but past the breaking point there will be an indirect benefit.

      As for the direct, immediate benefit: anyone who has been in solitary confinement in dark cells knows the value of a ray of sun filtering in. A value not expressed in dollars. That invaluable ray of sun for Gazans is the knowledge that the flotilla organizers and participants, even though total strangers, were ready to put their bodies at risk for Gazan freedom, and 9 of these strangers died fighting. An imponderable benefit able to improve radically the readiness to fight.

      • Greta on January 23, 2020, 4:57 pm

        Thank you fo these three comments. Sometimes, I forget, as do many of us, that we made a difference. The comments from all of you have muted my current pessimism, and I needed to hear what you had to say. We made three promises that first time we left in August 2008

        1. We would tell the world what we witnessed in Gaza (we have spoken in hundreds of venues around the world)
        2. We would take as many Palestinians as we could out of Gaza, especially students (we ended up sailing out of Gaza those five times with a total of 22 Palestinian students and 3 who badly needed medical care)
        3. We would return

        We will continue to support Freedom Flotilla when they sail again this summer

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