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Freedom Flotilla III could not make it
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 04 - 07 - 2015

Another freedom flotilla has been prevented from reaching Gaza while attempting to break the blockade of the strip.
When the Swedish boat “Marianne” was 100 nautical miles from Gaza, three Israeli military boats redirected Freedom Flotilla III - a convoy of four ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists - to the Israeli city of Ashdod.
Israel said the incident was uneventful but those on board the Marianne said Israeli Defense Forces used tasers against the unarmed passengers.
And like state pirates, Israel virtually kidnapped the 18 participants on board and by force and against their will brought them to the military Ashdod port.
There was no reason to believe that the Marianne's capture was “uneventful” because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the “Estelle” were tasered and beaten with clubs.
And who can forget the similar bid to break the blockade in 2010, the pre-dawn raid by Israeli commandos on the Turkish ferry “Mavi Marmara” which killed 10 Turkish activists?
This year, the Israelis were careful to board the Marianne without firing shots. Nonetheless, the boarding of a ship in international waters is considered an act of piracy under international law.
Freedom Flotilla III was sailing to challenge the Gaza blockade, highlight the plight of Gaza and advance Palestinian human rights.
It was not, as one Israeli government official qualified it, a flotilla run by a “gang of terrorism supporters”, a “despicable flotilla that needs to be stopped and those participating arrested”.
Participants in the Freedom Flotilla III included the former president of Tunisia Moncef Marzouki; Israeli Knesset member Basel Ghattas; Spanish member of the European Parliament Ana Miranda; Jordanian Member of Parliament Yahya Abo Soud and Moroccan Member of Parliament Abouzaid El Mokrie El Idrissi.
These officials past and present took part in the flotilla to break the blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza, an unacceptable situation in which nearly two million people are closed up as if in a cage.
Instead of killing the messenger, who is trying to increase awareness of an ongoing injustice, it would behoove Israel to remove the blockade and help rebuild the Gaza Strip.
Israel continues to control everything going in and out of Gaza, and that is a continuation of an occupation government.
And this means it will continue to enforce an inhumane and illegal collective punishment against the Palestinians in Gaza.
A year since the bloodshed and destruction of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, the enclave has barely begun to rebuild.
Israel maintains a complete air and sea blockade of Gaza and a partial blockade of goods and people through land crossings.
It forbids Gaza from having an airport or a seaport, except a small fishing harbor. These are the conditions that the flotilla hoped to focus attention on.
The Gaza blockade contravenes international humanitarian law, and imposes collective punishment on Gaza residents.
The flotilla was not carrying military cargo and it would have been easy for Israel to check if it were. If the vessels contained only humanitarian goods, they should have been allowed to reach Gaza.
Instead, Israeli authorities captured the boats and detained all on board “in international waters” as Israel itself admitted.
The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite the denial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government that one exists.
It's ironic that Netanyahu insists that there is no blockade while at the same time prohibiting the flotilla from reaching Gaza.


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