Weekly report: Palestine and demonstrations around the world
The Israeli military forcibly seized the Irish-owned humanitarian relief ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, from delivering over 1000 tons of medical and construction supplies to besieged Gaza. For the second time in less then a week, Israeli naval commandos stormed an unarmed aid ship, brutally taking its passengers hostage and towing the ship toward Ashdod port in Southern Israel.
The Turkish victims of the Israeli raid against the expedition by sea to Gaza this week were riddled with bullets, and several of them were shot at close range, concluded the autopsy report from the Turkish authorities revealed Saturday by the British newspaper The Guardian.
Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine, who conducted an autopsy Friday at the request of the Turkish Ministry of Justice, told the Guardian that the nine victims have suffered a total of 30 bullets.
A 60 year old man was shot in the forehead, the chest, the hip and the back, while a Turkish-American citizen was hit by five bullets fired at point blank against the face, the back of the skull, back and leg twice, according to British newspaper.
Two other men have suffered four balls and five bodies were impacts in the back or the back of the head, according to Mr. Buyuk.
Beit Ommar: Jamie, a British national, was arrested during the demonstration on Friday. While the main group of Palestinians were prevented from participating, a small group including activists and national committee members walked through the fence that was cut open in a previous demonstration and marched along Route 60 (not stopping traffic), carrying turkish and Palestinian flags. They were soon corralled into an area in front of a shop where they stopped and made speeches of solidarity with the people on the Freedom Flotilla, the recently stopped Rachel Corrie boat, as well as the 3 people injured and 2 killed by settlers in the last week in the Hebron area. As they made their way back into the village, the large military presence following them, they stopped to hold their flags in front of the Israeli military tower at the entrance to Beit Ommar. One international, supported by Palestinian participants, climbed the wall and stuck a Palestinian flag on the structure surrounding the tower. After marching a few more feet, he was pulled out of the crowd and arrested.
He is being accused of assaulting a soldier, though there is videotape showing him standing holding a poster seconds before he is grabbed and thrown to the ground by three soldiers.
The Palestinian village of Wad Rahhal, like all villages trapped between the wall and the Green line is in difficult situation. The 2500 people of the village are ‘unwanted’ but their land is coveted by Israel (the apartheid Jewish state). The illegal colonial settlement of Efrat swallowed much of the native land and now the wall that is planned will swallow much more (again the Zionist mantra of maximum geography with minimum demography). Weekly demonstrations are now held. This is an example of the demonstrations. This one, like hundreds this week, was also to support the Gaza freedom flotilla and thank Turkey for its principled stance (hence Turkish flags were flown). ended peacefully. Last week, tear gas was thrown.
Hebron, Saturday 5th June: In honour of those killed by the Israeli military on the Freedom Flotilla, for all those who organised it and participated in it, and in memory of 43 years of occupation, Youth Against settlements organised it usual weekly demonstration.
Youth Against Settlements organizes a weekly demonstration as part of the ongoing struggle to open Shuhada street and win freedom of movement for Palestinians in Hebron. Israelis and internationals participate in this demonstration in solidarity with the demand to end the occupation.
The Israeli occupation forces closed Shuhada street in 1994 after the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre and Palestinian automobiles have not been allowed to use it since. After that, in 2000, Palestinians were forbidden from walking in Shuhada Street, supposedly for the security of 600 Israeli settler occupying the heart of Hebron.
The Israeli army has also closed 500 shops in the city and their policies and practices have forced the closure of more than 1000 other shops. The occupation of Hebron has turned the lives of 200,000 Palestinians into a living hell.
Haifa demostration: This happened in a demonstration against the gaze flotilla massacre, just outside the Technion, Haifa. Police bursted into the crowd and started hitting people randomally and arrested 15 arab students though we did not break any laws, and the demonstration was coordinated with the police beforehand and the police agreed that we hold it. So much for the freedom of speech and demonstration.
Following the Israeli attack in the night of Sunday to Monday, many demonstrations were organised in the West Bank and Israel:
Protests took place in Ramallah, Bethlehem (prevented by the Palestinian Authority from reaching the military tower at Rachel’s Tomb), Beit Ummar (which was also a funeral procession as the night before, settlers had run over two villagers and one of them, an elderly lady, died in consequence of the wounds; the demonstration ended up in clashes. In Deishe refugee camp and in Qalandia, where soldiers unlawfully shot tear gas canisters at activists’ heads.
There were protests in Umm Al Fahem and few demonstrators were arrested.
There were large demonstrations at Ashdod, Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv.
video of ramallah’s demonstration
Around the world
Saturday 5th of June: around 17,000 to 30,000 people marched in a dozen cities in France while in Istanbul their numbers amounted to some 10,000 demonstrators. In Barcelona, around 2000 persons protested.
In London, thousands of people gathered outside the official residence of the Prime Minister David Cameron in London before heading to the Embassy of Israel.
In Rabat, Morocco, between 40,000 and 50,000 people demonstrated yesterday to support the Palestinians. Government ministers, party leaders, trade unionists and activists from all political colors, including Islamists, participated in the walk
Victims “do not die in vain and (…) it has attracted the world attention on the crime the horrifying siege of Gaza, told the crowd, Lindsey German, spokesman the organization Stop the War Coalition rally behind.
In Geneva, around 1000 demonstrated, including representatives from political parties, Swiss deputies and the President of the Green Party. Another demonstration was held on Sunday gathering around 200 people
From Frankfurt to Berlin to Dusseldorf – thousands of anti-Israel protesters marched across Germany on Saturday, hoisting Palestinian flags and calling for action against the “massacre” aboard the Mavi Marmara.
Lebanese anti-American protesters display a poster of peace activist Rachel Corrie during a demonstration near the U.S. Embassy in Aukar northeast of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday,June 6, 2010, as they protested against Israel’s deadly commando raid on the aid ships heading to Gaza which took place Monday.
Two pro-Palestinian NGOs in Lebanon have announced the launching Saturday of an appeal for funds to purchase a boat that should be heading from Beirut to Gaza next week, with a cargo of aid and dozens of Arab journalists and foreigners. It should be noted that the Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah had called Friday evening to the formation of other “fleets of freedom”, with a strong Lebanese participation in order to lift the blockade imposed on Gaza.
In response to the call by political parties and forces of the Lebanese left, a demonstration was held Sunday at 11:00, outside the headquarters of the United States Embassy in Lebanon
Demonstrators chanted slogans against the new crime perpetrated by the Israeli army against the “Freedom Flotilla” and against the U.S. administration who oversees and protects the criminals. In addition, banners carried slogans supporting the rights of the Palestinian people, notably the right of return and build an independent state with Al Quds as its capital.
Upon arrival at the Place de Aoukar, protesters listened four interventions made by D. Marie-NASSIF DEBS, Vice Secretary General of the Lebanese Communist Party, Ali Faisal, a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Abu Firas, a member of the Palestinian People’s Party, and Nazih HAMZAH, Secretary of the Popular Democratic Party
The Nicaraguan government Tuesday suspended the country’s diplomatic ties with Israel in protest of the Israel state’s deadly raid on the Gaza-bound international aid flotilla on Monday.
South Africa has recalled its ambassador for consultations. In the aftermath, Swedish dockers’ unions have declared a boycott of Israeli goods, while Turkey reduced to the minimum its political and economic relations with the State of Israel.
The Arab Parliamentary delegation, including Syria, on Sunday arrived in Gaza to show solidarity with the besieged Palestinian people. The delegation consists of 43 Arab parliamentarians including Speaker of Arab Parliament Dr. Houda Bin Amer and a number of journalists.
President Hugo Chavez, blasted the Navy operation with the follwing harsh words during a speech on local television: “Israel is a damned, terrorist and murderous country. Long live the Palestinian people!”
Chavez slammed the American response to the events, which he said was too gentle. “The Obama administration condemns terror, as long as it’s not committed by the US or Israel,” he said. Venezuela broke its relations with Israel in January 2009, in protest over the atrocities committed by Israel in Lebanon.
Turkey – PM Erdoğan – “This action, totally contrary to the principles of international law, is inhumane state terrorism. No one should think we will keep quiet in face of this” – recalls amabassador – cancelled three military (NATO) drills involving Israel
China – UN rep. “China is shocked by Israel’s attack on a multinational convoy carrying international aid to Gaza … we condemn Israel’s actions targeting humanitarian workers and civilians … we support a quick response by the Security Council and take necessary actions.” Yang also expressed serious concern about the “grim” humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially the Gaza Strip.
Brazil – summoned the Israel ambassador and said “Brazil strongly condemns the Israeli operation since there is no justification for military intervention against humanitarian missions”
Cuba, Venezuela and Argentina condemned the attack. Cuban UN Ambassador Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez said Cuba “empahtically condemns the criminal attack” by the Israeli military. Cuba broke diplomatic relations with Israel many years ago.
India – condemned the Israeli attack saying there could not be any justification for “such indiscriminate use of force”.
Russia – denounced Israel’s naval attack against a humanitarian aid flotilla as a gross breach of international law and demanded an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed “condemnation and profound concern” and called for a thorough investigation … drawing attention to the fact that it happened in international waters.
France – ”nothing can justify” the attack
Greece – withdrew from joint military exercises with Israel and summoned Israel’s ambassador
Spain – currently in the EU presidency, condemned the Israeli action. Madrid called the operation “unacceptable”, and summoned Israel’s ambassador.
Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria and Greece summoned the heads of Israeli diplomatic missions in their capitals.
EU – foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, demanded Israel launch a full inquiry into the incident – “the European Union’s position regarding Gaza – the continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive”
Lebanon – PM Saad Hariri calls the raid ”dangerous and crazy … firmly denounces this attack and calls on the international community, notably major powers … to take action”
Syria – President Bashar Assad and visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri slammed the “heinous crime” and the “flagrant violations for the most basic human rights.”
Ireland – Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said the raid was a ”totally unacceptable response”
UN – SG Ban Ki-moon said he was “shocked by reports of killings and injuries” and called for a full investigation.
USA – Obama “deeply regrets” the loss of life and is “working to understand the “circumstance surrounding this tragedy”
Saudi Arabia – “considers today’s carnage an outrage against the whole world, reflecting Israel’s inhuman methods in challenging international laws. This also betrays Israel’s insistence on starving the Palestinian people by blockading any means of taking humanitarian aid to Palestine with the intention to kill innocent people”
Egypt – President Hosni Mubarak slammed the use of “excessive and unjustified force” in the raid – Foreign Ministry summons the Israeli ambassador to express its condemnation.
Jordan – handed the Israeli charge d’affaires a protest note against what Information Minister Nabil Sharif described as a “heinous crime”.
Saturday, June 5, Tel Aviv: 1500 of communist and peace activists marched to mark 43 years of Palestinian and Arab territories occupation while taking the opportunity to slam recent IDF murder raids on Gaza-bound ships.
Dozens of fascist counter-protesters periodically attempted to disrupt the demonstration, and at one point a smoke grenade was hurled at the protestors outside the Tel Aviv Museum in face of the Defense Ministry. No injuries were reported in the incident. Later, right-wing protesters tried to attack veteran peace activist Uri Avneri, snatching signs he was carrying.
The demonstration, which was held under the slogan “The government is drowning us all,” was originally planned by the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) and Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) solely to protest the occupation, but following last Monday’s Israeli deadly raid on a Turkish vessel trying to run the Gaza blockade, the rally also addressed the criminal government’s policies in regard to the Gaza Strip and the military operation that left nine foreigners dead.
“The government is drowning us all” read a large sign in the rally. Dov Khenin, a legislator for Hadash and leading communist militant, charged that “Barak has refused to move on the path of peace and leads [us to] a dangerous deterioration. The same people who sent the soldiers to take over the flotilla in the middle of the night are liable to send Israel to a new and terrible war”. Hadash chairman Mohamed Barakeh declared, “We will not let the crazy right wing push aside the left and the Arab sector into political isolation.”
A spokesman for the organizers of the rally told journalists it “was an even bigger success than he expected” and that he believes the past week’s events had led to an increase in the number of participants. That it showed that “people are opposed to this government that is driving us toward international isolation and a new war.”
The communist and pacifist protestors, who were walking from Rabin Square to the Tel Aviv Museum, were holding up signs reading “The government is sinking all of us – we must aspire for peace”. Other marchers held up signs reading “Israel, Palestine, two states for two people”. The rally has been organized by a communist and peace coalition that includes Hadash, CPI and Meretz parties, the Young Communist Guard (Banki-Shabiba), Peace Now, Gush Shalom, Yesh Gvul, Physicians for Human Rights, and other organizations. The march was being lead by CPI chairman Muhammad Nafah, Knesset Members Muhammad Barakeh, Dov Khenin, Afo Agbarie and Hanna Sweid (from Hadash) and Knesset Members Haim Oron and Nitzan Horowitz (from Meretz).
The Human Rights Council of the UN adopted last week a resolution approving the establishment of an “international fact finding mission” on the Israeli military action against Gaza Humanitarian fleet. The resolution decided “to send an international mission to investigate violations of international law” was approved by 32 of the 47 Council members. Three countries voted against, including the United States, while France and the United Kingdom have chosen to abstain.
Israel has continued to reject calls for an international inquiry into the attack, instead insisting that it should investigate the events surrounding the deaths of the activists itself