Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Israeli Aggression Must be Challenged
At Belfast City Hall Rally Monday night
Regular readers will recall this blog’s meeting with Caoimhe Butterly of Free Gaza Movement. On May 17th I dedicated that blog to the story of the MV Rachel Corrie and the Flotilla to the Gaza Strip. I’m glad I did.
But I never imagined what would happen to it. I was on my way to an early morning event in Tir Éoghan when the car radio broadcast the awful news of the death and destruction visited upon the mercy mission by the Israeli government.
There is no justification for the military actions of the Israeli government against the humanitarian flotilla. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is a humanitarian mission carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid to the besieged Gaza Strip.
For four years the Israeli government has illegally imprisoned over one and a half million men, women, and children in the most horrendous of conditions.
These people have been denied many of the basic necessities of life, including the essential construction equipment and materials that would allow Gazans to rebuild their shattered infrastructure.
Last year’s devastating assault by the Israeli Army on the Gaza strip caused enormous damage. 1400 people were killed and many more grievously wounded. 3,500 homes were destroyed. 28,000 homes damaged. 800 industries were damaged or destroyed. 10 schools were destroyed and 204 were damaged. 57 kilometers of roads were destroyed.
In April 2009 I visited the Gaza Strip. I saw for myself the conditions there. I spoke to UN officials, as well as representatives of political and community organisations and aid groups.
No amount of PR words by the Israeli government can take away from the humanitarian crisis which its actions are directly responsible for.
The flotilla organisers had repeatedly declared their peaceful intent. In the full glare of the international media the flotilla was engaged in bringing in humanitarian supplies. I believe it is this which the Israeli government resented most because it exposed the lie that they were allowing sufficient aid into the region.
The images of armed commandos dropping from helicopters onto unarmed ships and then opening fire and killing aid workers engaged in a humanitarian effort, has again exposed the aggressive and intransigence attitude of the Israeli government.
The decision to storm the ships is par for the course for a government that feels itself immune from international law and sanction.
It also breaks international law by the blockade and siege of Gaza.
It breaks international law in building a separation wall that scars the landscape of Palestine and which denies Palestinian families access to each other, to jobs, to their land and to water.
It breaks international law in occupying Palestinian land.
It breaks international law by building illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land.
It breaks international law by expelling families from their homes.
It has done all of this for many years and with little adequate response from the international community.
Derry Guild Hall Protest
That has to change. In this instance the response of the international community must be firm and resolute. It must go beyond anger and calls for an investigation into what happened in the early hours of Monday morning.
This Israeli action must be condemned by all governments and political leaders who believe in democracy, peace, security and the standing of
I welcome the fact that the Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin moved quickly to summon the Israeli ambassador.
But he needs to go beyond this> he needs to ensure that the Rachel Corrie which lagged behind the flotilla because of engine trouble and thus escaped the IDF attack, is allowed to sail uninhibited into Gaza to unload is cargo of aid, especially the cement.
The Israeli government has attempted to spin the story that the aid from the humanitarian ships should be docked in Israel and that the Israeli government would then deliver it to Gaza. The fact is that much of the humanitarian cargo aboard the Rachel Corrie and the other ships, including the cement, are prohibited under the Israeli blockade and would not reach those in need in Gaza. That is why the flotilla was put together in the first place.
The Irish government also needs to use its influence to persuade the EU to discontinue its preferential trade agreement with Israel.
As evidence of the outrage felt by citizens the Irish government should also expel the Israeli Ambassador.
It is also vital that the Palestinian organisations now agree a government of national unity. Differences should be set aside in the national interest of the Palestinian people and a joint political position agreed between Fatah, Hamas and the many other political groups.