On Friday, Turkey kicked out Israel’s ambassador and several diplomats as a result of Israel’s refusal to apologize for the illegal blockade and unlawful killings of people bringing relief aid to Palestinians:
Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and senior Israeli diplomats and suspended military agreements on Friday, the day after it emerged a U.N. report said Israel had used unreasonable force in a raid on a Gaza-bound ship that killed nine Turks, Reuters reported…
Turkey will no longer recognize the Gaza blockade and will take the issue to the International Court of Justice.
Juan Cole talks about the strength of the case against Israel:
A UN Human Rights commission report had found that both the blockade and the attack on the Mavi Marmara are illegal in international law. The Palmer report, prepared by a former New Zealand Prime Minister and former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and issued on Friday condemned Israel for excessive force but called the blockade itself legal because it aimed at preventing weapons from reaching Gaza. (The blockade of weapons imports is of course legal, but Israel as the occupying power is in the wrong legally to blockade staples and other necessary goods, and is wrong to prevent Palestinians from exporting their products; that Israel is wrong is clear in the plain text of the Geneva Convention of 1949 on occupied territories, which Mssrs. Palmer and Uribe appear to have neglected to consult.) Neither UN committee report on the incident has any legal standing, which is why Turkey is going to a body that has the standing to adjudicate the dispute– the ICJ…
The likelihood is that Turkey will prevail at the ICJ, since both UN investigations have maintained that Israeli commandos in fact committed a tort in the killings.
An ICJ ruling against Israel on this issue could begin an avalanche of tort suits against the Israelis, who have been pursuing illegal policies in settling the occupied West Bank and usurping Palestinian land and water. Such international judgments could accelerate after the United Nations General Assembly votes to admit Palestine to membership in the UN, which will likely have the effect of encouraging countries to upgrade Palestinian representation to embassy status. Palestinians with an embassy would be in a position to file persuasive amicae curiae briefs in tort lawsuits against Israeli concerns in a particular country that are owned by companies that profit from illegal West Bank colonization.
It is illegal to gain land through military conquest, to enforce policies that are designed to force an ethnic group to flee an area, and to blockade basic necessities- all of which are crimes that Israel has unquestionably committed. I sincerely hope that this results in consequences significant enough to stop Israel’s ongoing crimes.
Earlier today, the Israeli navy took control of the one boat from Freedom Flotilla II that had made it into international waters on their way to Gaza. The French-flagged boat - Dignite/Al Karama - carried 16 people from France, Canada, Greece, Sweden and Tunisia. They were stopped about 40 miles away from Gaza and after several hours the Israelis took control of the boat, bringing it to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
There are no reports of any injuries and we have heard the passengers were being arrested. We do not yet know how long they will be detained or what will happen to the boat.
Arab governments remain silent in the face of vehement international criticism of Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinian people. Once more, we revert back to people - to our people - for only they can initiate an act of resistance.
As part of Egypt’s conscience and its rising revolutionary fabric, we at Al-Masry Al-Youm call for a public campaign to invite the Freedom Flotilla II to sail to the Gaza Strip from one of Egypt’s ports.
While we believe the Freedom Flotilla II is better off sailing from Egypt for logistical reasons, we also think the decision gives a strong political message. This is the political message of enacting popular solidarity with the Palestinian cause and challenging the incumbent naval blockade. This is also our chance to rewrite a shameful political history of Egypt sponsoring the blockade, especially during Israel’s war on the strip during the 2009 Cast Lead operation, when over 1000 Palestinians - mostly civilians - lost their lives.
The organizers of the Gaza-bound flotilla said Sunday that all operational ships will set sail on Monday, despite the numerous delays the flotilla activists had encountered in the past week.
The decision to depart on Monday was made following several days of deliberations on the subject, and the exact number of ships due to sail is still unknown.
In contrast to recent reports, most of the Gaza flotilla activists are still participating.
Moreover, activists in several countries of origin of the ships participating in the flotilla such as Canada and Belgium held protests in support of the Gaza flotilla and against the Greek government, which had issued an order to bar the ships from leaving Greek ports.
“There is nearly nothing which more effectively delegitimizes Israel - and makes Israel look more like an uncaring blockhead state - than does the siege of Gaza,” wrote Bradley Burston, Senior Editor of Haaretz and a former Israeli Defense Force medic. “The siege benefits Hamas in a thousand ways and Israel in none. But there is one thing that does the work of delegitimization even better: attacking civilians in order to protect the siege. Enter the 21st century. Before it’s too late. You’re not young commandos anymore… Do your nation a favor - act your age. The flotilla is not a terrorist fleet. It is not an arms shipment. The flotilla is, however, a statement about Israel, a judgment of its policies, and, in the end, the verdict will come directly from you.”
Senator Kirk, we are your constituents. It’s not too late for you to acknowledge that your earlier call for military action against us jeopardizes our safety and to reverse your claim which insinuates that we are dangerous people. We write with utmost respect for our collective responsibility to secure a better world, breaking the irrational cycle of military aggression and upholding basic human rights of all people.
Americans planning to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza by participating in the upcoming flotilla should be prosecuted through “all available legal remedies,” Texas Governor Rick Perry said in a letter he sent to US Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday.
Perry stressed in the letter that the “acts of funding, supporting, organizing and engaging in [flotilla] efforts appears to constitute: participation in a naval expedition against a people with whom the United States is at peace; the furnishing of a vessel with the intent that it be employed to commit hostilities against a people with whom the United States is at peace; and the provision of material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.”
He added that these acts present “a danger to the security of America’s closest ally in the Middle East, bolsters the Hamas terrorist organization and further endangers human life.”
Perry called on the US Justice Department to “take immediate steps to investigate, enjoin and bring to justice all parties found to be in violation of US law by their participation in these efforts.”
A YouTube video featuring a man who presented himself as an American gay rights activist disillusioned with the latest Gaza flotilla campaign has been exposed as a hoax.
The man in the video, who introduced himself to viewers as Marc and claimed that the organizers of the latest flotilla of ships bound for Gaza had rejected his offer to mobilize a network of gay activists in support of their cause, was identified as Omer Gershon, a Tel Aviv actor involved in marketing, by the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian Web site. [read more]
According to the information obtained by the IDF, some of the participants have prepared sacks with sulfur, which they plan to pour on the soldiers as they board the vessels.
“This is a chemical weapon, and if poured on a soldier it can paralyze him,” an IDF source told The Jerusalem Post Monday night. “If the sulfur is then lit on fire, the soldier will light up like a torch.”
I saw that on MacGyver once. Every word of what that anonymous IDF source said is true.
At several Mediterranean ports, ships await their participants for the upcoming flotilla. The vessels were acquired in a transatlantic fund-raising effort which began about a year ago, immediately after the Israeli Navy killed nine partcipants aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla ship, the Mavi Marmara, last May. The new flotilla has been organized by a coalition of organizations, all of which refuse to accept the Israeli argument that the Gaza Strip is no longer besieged and that if there is a siege, it is only because of the arms Hamas has been smuggling into the territory. The activists’ participation is designed to apply popular pressure on their own governments to stop cooperating with the Israeli policy.
In advance of the departure of our ship, we - the particpants - sat in a Greek hotel, getting to know one another and rehearsing the prospect that the Israeli Navy would take control of the ships in the flotilla. In simulation drills over several hours, about 50 civilians - ranging in age from 20 to 69 - attempted to imagine themselves facing Israeli warships and M16 rifles with fighter helicopters hovering overhead, along with water cannon, tear gas and Taser stun guns. The participants also imagined verbal abuse along with physical blows, dogs, and masked commandos.
The activists concluded from the exercise that they should acknowledge their fears and learn as a group of people, mutually responsible for one another, how to confront their fears.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A much-delayed U.N. panel set up to investigate last year’s Israeli attack on an aid convoy bound for Gaza is now due to report back next month, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.
“This panel is still discussing the incident,” Ban told reporters. “They will bring me their recommendations and their findings some time in July.”
In May of last year, Israeli marines intercepted a six-ship flotilla in international waters and killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American aboard one vessel, the Mavi Marmara, owned by a Turkish Islamic charity.