Deadly Israeli raid on aid fleet -19 Internationals Dead **Boise Native Fatima Mohammadi Was on Aid Ship

A Chicago-based human rights activist is among hundreds of elected
officials, former diplomats, aid workers and activists currently en
route by sea to Gaza to break Israel’s blockade of the tiny strip of
land. Fatima Mohammadi, who lives in Chicago, is currently aboard the
Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship with hundreds of aid workers and
activists aboard. A total of six ships, including two cargo ships and
other passenger vehicles, are carrying more than 10,00 tons of
humanitarian aid to the besieged region, which has been under Israeli

blockade since 2006.

“Israel has marshalled its most lethal military vessels to try to stop this humanitarian marine convoy, but we will not be intimidated,” Ms. Mohammadi said early this afternoon from the Mavi Marmara by instant message. “Too much is at stake for the people of Gaza, who continue to suffer tremendously and needlessly under Israel’s inhumane, illegal blockade.”

Two boats in the aid flotilla, one currently traveling with the convoy
to Gaza and another in port in Cyprus for repairs, are flagged and
registered in the United States. The ships are U.S. territory under
maritime law, and the U.S. government is required to intervene if this
“U.S. property” is attacked or illegally confiscated by Israeli
authorities — a tactic Israel has threatened and deployed in the
past. Israel has a long history of attacking ships whose missions are
deemed undesirable. In December 2008, it rammed the Dignity, carrying
medical and humanitarian aid, doctors, human rights workers and a
former U.S. congresswoman, without warning in international waters.

Israel intensified its 2006 blockade after attacking the area in a
weeks-long assault that ended in January 2009, killing more than 1,400
and leaving thousands more homeless and reducing huge swaths of
housing to rubble. The blockade has created mass unemployment and
extreme poverty, leaving four out of five Gazans — half of whom are
children — dependent on humanitarian aid.

The Freedom Flotilla carries more than 10,000 tons of relief and
developmental aid to Gaza. These supplies are being delivered by a
coalition of international civil society and human rights
organizations directly to the people of Gaza, using only international
waters and the coastal waters immediately off of Gaza for passage. The
flotilla is expected to arrive in Gaza as early as today.

Chicagoans will protest in support of the flotilla’s humanitarian
mission at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, June 1, in front of the Israeli
consulate at 111 E. Wacker Dr. in Chicago.

U.S.-based humanitarian projects with news updates on the Gaza aid flotilla:

WitnessGaza.com
http://www.freegaza.org
gazafreedommarch.org

LIVE video feed: http://www.livestream.com/insaniyardim

Israeli commandos have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships off the coast of the Gaza Strip, killing up to 19 people on board.

Dozens of others were injured when troops raided the convoy of six ships, dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, early on Monday.

Israel said activists on board attacked its commandos as they boarded the ships, while the flotilla’s organisers said the Israeli forces opened fire first, as soon as they stormed the convoy.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, gave his “full backing” to the military forces after the raid.

“The prime minister… reiterated his full backing for the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] and inquired about the well-being of the wounded,” his office told the AFP news agency.

He also said Israel regretted the loss of life in the raid.

Israeli media reported that many of the dead were Turkish nationals.

Organisers of the Freedom Flotilla say it was carrying 700 activists and 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid with the aim of breaking the Israeli siege of Gaza.

Full Story at http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/05/201053113252437484.html

ANCHORED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN:
THE US PRESENCE ON THE FREEDOM FLOATILLA TO GAZA – by fatima mohammadi

If allowed in, this will be my third humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza.

Each convoy has had its difficulties and its joys. The difficulty of

this current convoy is that nearly 800 volunteers aboard 6 ships are

attempting to enter the besieged strip through International waters –

a completely legal activity – despite constant threats by the Israeli

government to block, arrest and deport the entire convoy. These

threats have two effects in my opinion: 1) they highlight the severity

and depth of the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza for nearly four

years, showing Israel to be the vicious occupier and instigator of

hostility in the region that we know them to be and 2) they strengthen

the resolve of volunteers around the world, on this convoy and beyond,

who are aware of the plight of the Palestinians and who actively seek

a resolution to the unjust occupation and continued colonization of

Palestine. Of course, the joy of this convoy is the real potential it

has to finally end the siege on Gaza if it gains enough international

support and attention in the upcoming hours.

Currently, we are anchored in the Mediterranean Sea about a 6 hour

sail from Cyprus, where we have been awaiting two final ships. A Greek

ship carrying members of Parliament from half a dozen European

countries has just arrived, and the Irish boat, the MV Rachel Corrie

follows shortly. We will soon set sail towards Gaza, straight towards

the threats of Israel to stop us at all costs, including by use of

force. Rest assured, however, regardless of their tactics to stop us –

force or delay – we will not turn back nor will we allow Israel to

board our ships.

It is imperative to reiterate that this is an unarmed humanitarian aid

convoy carrying the better part of one thousand volunteers from 1½

years of age to 88 years of age, from more than 30 countries. We have

the official support of the governments of France, Mexico, Belgium,

Brazil, Chile, Italy and the European Union. Unfortunately, my own

country is not on that list…the United States. As they are a

stall-worth supporter of Israel, that is hardly surprising. What is

surprising, however, is that although I was the only American on board

as an IHH participant, I have been joined by a few US citizens from

the Free Gaza movement and discovered that we are 11 in all –

including ex-military and government personnel, dual citizens,

activists and medical volunteers. Most have been to Gaza at least once

and are “used to” dealing with the threats of oppressive regimes and

direct conflict with their police and military forces. And most of us

still hope and expect the United States to take an openly supportive

role of this convoy and to pressure Israel to allow our convoy into

Gaza to deliver aid.

In sum, we, the Americans on board the ships, and the collective “we,”

volunteers and people of conscious from around the world, are relying

upon the support of our fellow citizens and our respective governments

to pressure Israel to 1) allow this humanitarian aid convoy into Gaza

and 2) once and for all end this crippling and unjust siege of Gaza.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION! WE NEED YOU TO SPREAD THE WORD!!! Join the Freedom

Floatilla: Midwest Emergency Response Network on Facebook and stay

updated through the dozens of media sources on board the Mavi Marmara,

our IHH ship of volunteers, including Al-Jazeera English, Arabic, and

Indonesia, Press TV-UK, Venezuela-Telesur TV, and El Quds and El Aqsa

TV.

Send a letter demanding that the Israeli government allow free passage

to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Every time someone sends a letter from

the following link, it will email AND fax 150 Israeli Embassies and

Consulates worldwide:

http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6207/t/6210/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=3142

Sign the petition:

http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6207/t/6210/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=775

Organizations wishing to suport the Midwest Emergency should send an

e-mail to ISMinChicago@aol. com with the name of your group and your

contact information.

Also, if you are located in the Midwest, please send an e-mail address

for media contacts to: FGMinChicago@aol.com and include your phone

number if possible!

Please see also:
http://www.witnessgaza.com/
http://fpmdigitalship.blogspot.com/
http://www.freegaza.org/
http://www.ihh.org.tr/
http://savegaza.eu/eng/
http://www.perdana4peace.org/Default.aspx
http://www.shiptogaza.gr/
http://shiptogaza.se/
http://www.commondreams.org/

Israelis Kill at least 10, Injure Dozens in Assault on Gaza Ship Convoy Carrying Humanitarian Aid

http://palsolidarity.org/2010/05/12551/

UPDATE 3 PM (GMT+2): All six humanitarian aid ships have been docked in Ashdod. The injured, numbering over 25, have been taken to Tel Hashomer and Beilinson hospitals, according to Physicians for Human Rights. The death toll has been reported as high as 19.

10 PM CST: Solidarity activists aboard one of six relief vessels traveling to Gaza with humanitarian report that they have been attacked by Israeli forces, with three of their human rights volunteers killed and roughly 30 injured. The assault comes in the wake of the flotilla being surrounded earlier today by three Israeli warships in international waters, roughly 70 miles away from the Israeli coast. The Flotilla moved further west, deeper into international waters to avoid any conflict with Israeli navy vessels, but had been concerned all night that Israeli forces would send small inflatable military boats towards the flotilla and attempt to attack and board the humanitarian vessels.

Those fears have apparently been realized, with people aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship with hundreds of aid workers and activists aboard, reporting that they have been attacked. At least three passengers have been killed and dozens more wounded. Israeli commandos apparently rappelled onto the Mavi Marmara, whose passengers range in age from 88 to a year old and include Christians, Muslims and Jews seeking to end the blockade. Midwest U.S. activists have been unable to reach Chicagoan Fatima Mohammadi, traveling aboard the Mavi Marmara.

**Note from Voices for Palestine; Fatima is a native of Boise, ID – our thoughts and prayers are on her safe and speedy return home)

Live video from the flotilla shows Israeli naval commando vessels pulling alongside the aid ships, and what sounds like gunfire can be heard in the background. No-one on the aid ships is carrying any kinds of weapons, including for defense against a feared Israeli attack in international waters.

Hundreds of elected officials, former diplomats, aid workers and activists – including a Nobel laureate and many European legislators – are with the flotilla, traveling by sea to Gaza to break Israel’s blockade of the tiny strip of land. Foreign news correspondents and independent journalists are traveling aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship with hundreds of aid workers and activists aboard which is also running its own press operation reachable at the satellite number +8821636619168. A total of six ships, including two cargo ships and other passenger vehicles, are carrying thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to the beseiged region, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.

Israel has marshalled its most lethal military vessels to try to stop the humanitarian marine convoy, and at around 2:20 pm Central Standard Time (US) the first reports of unmanned drone planes buzzing the vessels was received from convoy passengers.

Two boats in the aid flotilla, one currently traveling with the convoy to Gaza and another in port in Cyprus for repairs, are flagged and registered in the United States. The ships are U.S. territory under maritime law, and the U.S. government is required to intervene if this “U.S. property” is attacked or illegally confiscated by Israeli authorities — a tactic Israel has threatened and deployed in the past. Israel has a long history of attacking ships whose missions are deemed undesirable. In December 2008, it rammed the Dignity, carrying medical and humanitarian aid, doctors, human rights workers and a former U.S. congresswoman, without warning in international waters.

Israel intensified its 2006 blockade after attacking the area in a weeks-long assault that ended in January 2009, killing more than 1,400 and leaving thousands more homeless and reducing huge swaths of housing to rubble. The blockade has created mass unemployment and extreme poverty, leaving four out of five Gazans — half of whom are children — dependent on humanitarian aid.

The Freedom Flotilla carries more than 10,000 tons of relief and developmental aid to Gaza, along with roughly 700 participants from more than 30 countries, among them volunteers from South Africa, Algeria, Turkey, Macedonia, Pakistan, Yemin, Kosovo, the UK and US and Kuwait – and an exiled former Archbishop of Jerusalem who currently lives in the Vatican. The cargo includes prefabricated homes and playgrounds, cement and other home-building supplies, medical devices and medications, textiles and food, in defiance of Israel’s siege on Gaza, which restricts the entry of all materials, including food and medicine. The flotilla’s supplies were gathered by a coalition of international civil society and human rights organizations to be sent directly to the people of Gaza by sea, using only international waters and the coastal waters immediately off of Gaza for passage. The flotilla is expected to arrive in Gaza as early as today.

Participants on board speak languages that include English, Turkish, Kurdish, over ten dialects of Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Portugeuse, French, Malaysian, Indonesian, Norweigen, Swedish, Urdu, Punjabi, Farsi, Hindi, German, Flemish, Greek, Catalon, Russian, Bosnian, Chechen, Macedonian and Albanian. Reporters on board hail from locations that include the United Kingdom, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Kuwait, South Africa, Pakistan, Jordan, the Persian Gulf and across the Arab world.

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