Palestine

The Qatar-based media network Al Jazeera has published on its website a series of harrowing eyewitness accounts from survivors of Israel’s military raid on a flotilla of ships bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. An example is published below. To read the full list, visit www.english.aljazeera.net.

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Haneen Zabi, member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament): “We were expecting the Israeli army to stop us, to prevent us from entering but surely we didn't expect such a war against us.

The following statement was released by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee on June 1. For more information visit bdsmovement.net.

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As news was released of Israel's attack on the Freedom Flotilla and rising casualties among the passengers, the mood at Gaza's modest seaport grew sombre. Hundreds of civilians including governmental and non-governmental representatives, activists and ordinary Palestinians were waiting anxiously to welcome those on board the flotilla. All were shocked when news of the naval attack was first reported and silence overwhelmed the gathering.

International outrage against Israel’s May 31 massacre of activists on a boat bringing aid to Gaza has been expressed through ongoing mass protests around the world, condemnation of Israel's actions by most governments (except the US), and calls for the immediate lifting of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Nicaragua has suspended diplomatic ties with Israel. Sweden, Spain, Turkey, Ecuador and South Africa have recalled their envoys. Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia had already cut their diplomatic ties with Israel.

The picture is clear: the activists attacked in the Israeli military’s May 31 nighttime commando raid on a boat bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza were not armed.

In Israel, the media is broadcasting disinformation, using edited videos. But it is clear there was no crossfire during the raid, just Israeli fire.

Israel claims there was an attempt by activists onboard the Mavi Marmara, to steal weapons from soldiers. But either the army’s spokespeople or the soldiers themselves are telling false tales.

About 2000 demonstrators gathered outside Israel’s Ministry of Defense late May 31 to protest the military's violent raid on an aid flotilla that attempted to break the country’s years-long siege on the Gaza Strip.

Haggai Matar, a member of the Coalition Against the Siege, told Ma’an news the protests were an expression of anger and shock about the Israeli navy raid that left at least 10 activists dead and dozens hurt a day earlier.

Moshe Dayan, Israel’s most celebrated general, famously outlined the strategy he believed would keep Israel’s enemies at bay: “Israel must be a like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.”

Until now, most observers assumed Dayan was referring to Israeli military or possibly nuclear strategy, an expression in his typically blunt fashion of the country’s familiar doctrine of deterrence.

The Brussels-based European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza said it had already secured funds to support three new aid ships to be sailed to Gaza, the Ma’an News Agency said on June 2.

The fleet will be called the Freedom 2. Campaign head Arafat Madhi said it would be “much bigger than the first”, which included nationals from more than 40 nations and 10,000 tons of aid. The first fleet is now held by Israel after the takeover of six ships in international waters on May 31.

Following Israel’s May 31 kidnapping of six ships in the Freedom Flotilla bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Irish ship, MV Rachel Corrie, continued its path towards Gaza. The ship, named after a US activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003, was carrying building materials, 20 tonnes of paper and other supplies Israel refuses to allow into the Gaza Strip, FreeGaza.org said on June 4.

After Israel’s May 31 raid on a civilian vessel trying to deliver goods to Gaza, Egypt announced on June 1 that it would temporarily open its border with Rafah to allow humanitarian and medical aid into the Gaza Strip.

On May 31, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak responded swiftly to the Israeli navy's assault on the Freedom Flotilla, affirming Egypt's support for the people of Gaza.

Israel’s ambassador to Egypt was quickly summoned by Egypt’s foreign ministry, and told Egypt condemns the violence against international activists and rejects the continued Gaza blockade.

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