Gaza Freedom Flotilla Hijacked by Israel

Below is an article I wrote for Socialist Voice (July 2010)

Gaza Freedom Flotilla Hijacked by Israel

In the early hours of Monday 31st May Israeli commandos hijacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in a brutal attack that left 9 international aid workers dead and many others severely injured. The flotilla was on a mission to break the illegal siege of Gaza and deliver 10,000 tonnes much needed aid and supplies to the tiny coastal strip that is home to over 1.5m Palestinians. The cargo included items that Israel has banned reaching Gaza such as construction materials, children’s toys, paper and pencils. The attack, which happened in international waters, horrified and outraged the world.

The Israel PR machine immediately spun into action – releasing selected video clips and photographs, claiming that this was a premeditated attack by those on the Mavi Marmara and the heavily-armed commandos were only ‘protecting’ themselves. There were claims that weapons were on board, along with “active terror operatives”. What we know now is that the ‘weapons’ the people on board used to defend their ship from this act of piracy were items found on any ship – metal rods, galley knives etc. And we also have evidence that while the commandos were murdering people in cold blood, activists on board were actually treating captured wounded commandos! After their kidnapping many of the international activists received beatings while in detention, and suffered the theft of all their electronic items – laptops, cameras, phones etc.

Less than a week later, the Irish ship MV Rachel Corrie was also hijacked in international waters as it attempted to bring 1,100 tonnes of supplies to Gaza.

Yet despite the best efforts of Israel’s propagandists, the attack has seen something of a watershed in terms of Israel’s standing in the world. Relations between Israel and Turkey (Israel’s longtime ally in the region) have reached an all-time low and the siege of Gaza has become a point of contention the world over. So much so that Israel has been forced to announce what it calls a “liberalization” of the blockade by allowing the import of “civilian” goods to Gaza, but restricting “problematic dual-use” items. This is nothing but a PR stunt, a purely cosmetic response as Israel will still define – according to its own cynical criteria – what constitutes “problematic”. Nor has there been any mention of exports from Gaza. Any easing of the siege is to be welcomed in a humanitarian sense, indeed it represents a significant victory for international solidarity activism. However, a mere ‘easing’ should be unacceptable – the siege of Gaza must end completely and immediately. Palestinians in Gaza must enjoy freedom of movement, trade and be able to rebuild on their own terms.

The Irish government, to its credit, was forceful in its condemnation both of the Israeli attack – calling it “completely unacceptable” – and of the siege of Gaza in general, saying that it is “unacceptable under any circumstances”. Yet when it comes to Israel mere words are not enough, this rogue state will respond only to action. Unfortunately the Irish government is unwilling at present to impose or even support sanctions and is thus talking out of both sides of its mouth. The government can cease buying military equipment from Israel; support the suspension of Israel from the Euro-Med Agreement; oppose any further upgrades in EU/Israel relations; and cut diplomatic ties. However they will not do any of this unless sustained public pressure is brought to bear by the people of this country. People in Ireland can id the Palestinian struggle for self-determination by joining the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (www.ipsc.ie) and helping build the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Future flotillas by the Free Gaza Movement and others have been announced, but at the time of writing are still in the early planning stages with nothing confirmed.

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Explore posts in the same categories: bds, boycott, gaza, Goldstone Report, IPSC, Ireland, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, israel, marxism, palestine, sanctions, socialism, west bank, zionism

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