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Freedom Flotilla 2 spotlights blockade on Gaza

By Sarah Carlson

30us-flotilla-boat-audacity-of.jpg

The "Audacity of Hope," a boat from the United States in the Freedom Flotilla 2 to Gaza

Courageous activists stand in solidarity with Palestinian people

PSL, July 7, 2011

As we go to press July 7, Reuters reports that a French ship, "Dignity," was intercepted in Greek waters near Crete, having sailed from Corsica with 10activists on board to join the Flotilla. It has been towed to the port of Sitia. So far no arrests have been made.

Israel has been using collective punishment against the people of the Gaza Strip since Hamas was elected in 2006. This has taken the form of economic sanctions including the withholding of humanitarian aid. It was Operation Cast Lead—the massive bombing campaign, which began on Dec. 27, 2008, lasted 22 days and killed over 1,400 people—that opened the eyes of many around the world to the terror that the U.S.-backed Zionist state can create.

Around the world people watched as the Israeli government refused to allow food, medicine, water and building supplies to the people on whom they had rained down white phosphorus. Massive protests broke out around the world demanding an end to the siege.

On Nov. 26, 2008, Libya sent a ship to Gaza, in the first attempt by any state to break the first internationally sanctioned siege by an occupier on the people it occupies.

On May 31,, 2010, the Israeli Navy rapelled onto the ship the Mavi Marmara while in international waters, murdering nine Turkish and Turkish American activists en route to deliver aid to Gaza.

At the time of this writing, most of the boats in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 are being detained by Greek authorities. Activists on board the ships are not taking it lying down. John Klusmire, captain of the U.S. passenger boat Audacity of Hope was arrested July 2 when he attempted to set sail to Gaza without the permission of the Greek government. He was charged with setting sail without permission and endangering passengers. The charges were dismissed by a judge and he was released on July 5.

Passengers of the Spanish boat Guernica entered the Spanish embassy in Athens and staged a sit-in, demanding that the Spanish government intercede with Greece to release the boat. They hoisted the Palestinian flag and are currently refusing to leave until their boat is given permission to leave.

Canadian citizens Sandra Ruch and Suha Kneen were arrested in the port city of Aghios Nikolaos along with Australian Michael Coleman. They were charged with impeding coast guard authorities by placing themselves in kayaks in front of police boats which were attempting to stop the Canadian boat Tahrir from leaving Greek waters. Kneen and Coleman have been released pending hearings while Ruch remains locked up and is expected to receive heavier sentencing.

There have been many acts of solidarity by and with the activists of the 10 ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2. What is important to note is that the ships being held not only against the will of the activists, but against the will of the Greek people as well, just as the recent deep austerity measures were imposed on them in the face of mass protest.

This is a struggle against imperialism. On June 25, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, "We do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort…and we think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves." She never mentioned the right of Palestinians in Gaza to clean water, medicine, and building supplies. The occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is funded and supported almost completely by U.S. dollars. Solidarity with the people of Palestine will only continue to grow and as we grow stronger in number, so too in power. Together, we will end the siege on Gaza.






:: Article nr. 79344 sent on 08-jul-2011 02:04 ECT

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