Israel to attack next Gaza aid flotilla as siege continues

London, (Pal Telegraph) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must prove his commitment to upholding human rights and international law by rejecting the request by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to help stop the flotilla of ships planning to set sail in May to break the four-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip, says the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG).


“We call on the United Nations to remember its purpose as stated in its own charter: to suppress acts of aggression, and to settle disputes in conformity with principles of justice and international law,” said Rami Abdo, spokesman for the ECESG, which represents more than 30 NGOs and other civil-society organizations across Europe. “There is nothing in international law that supports Israel’s four-year-long blockade of Gaza, or its past use of violence to stop the delivery of humanitarian shipments. In fact, if the UN intercedes at all, in should be on behalf of the unarmed flotilla, which seeks only to allow the traffic of people and goods in and out of Gaza that is necessary for the economic survival of the 1.6 million residents.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that Netanyahu made his request in talks with Ban Ki-moon today, claiming that the flotilla is organized by “radical Islamists” and must be stopped to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. However, an independent inspection of the last flotilla that tried to reach Gaza, in May 2010, found no weapons on board before it set sail; the only weapons used by the passengers against the Israeli assault team were seized from the soldiers themselves, or were everyday appliances used in self defense.

“Netanyahu is clearly grasping at straws as he tries to defend what even the normally neutral International Committee of the Red Cross has recognized as a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention: Israel’s illegal collective punishment of the residents of Gaza,” said Abdu. “Ships in the next flotilla are being sent by 12 European states as well as from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Canada and the United States. This is clearly not the action of fringe group, but a broad cross-section of peace and justice advocates everywhere.”

Despite the Israeli government’s escalating threats of violence and attempts at diplomatic strong-arming, the organizers of the flotilla say they are proceeding as planned.

Israel has controlled the Palestinian people for 63 years, since more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes or fled out of fear following the creation of Israel in 1948. That control intensified in 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Although Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza in 2005, it has continued to control the inhabitants’ lives; since 2007, it has prevented most human traffic in and out of the densely populated Strip, while restricting imports and banning virtually all exports. The impact: More than 75 percent of Palestinians in Gaza live under the poverty line.

The flotilla – promising to be the largest, with 15 ships — is scheduled for a late May departure for Gaza. The passengers will include hundreds of peace advocates from around the world, including parliamentarians and human rights activists, and representatives of more than 40 media institutions.


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