Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Do they think its all over? Freedom Flotillas sailing from Europe, the US, Iran and Lebanon

Tony 'Neville' Blair's euphoria at having achieved 'peace in our time' with PM Netanyahu and lifted the siege of Gaza is touching.The carrot was agreement by the Quartet not to press for an international inquiry into the Turkish Flotilla executions. Despite appearances to the contrary however, the siege of Gaza and the Israeli military occupation of all the other Palestinian Bantustans (Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jericho and East Jerusalem) is set to solidify as Israel seeks to create a land with no people by collective punishment, house demolitions, land confiscations and deportations.

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) is "an umbrella body" of 34 European human rights and humanitarian organizations supporting the right of Palestinians "to live in peace and dignity," to be free from occupation, and to have "their own independent and sovereign state, (and) encourages all peoples of conscience and human rights advocates to intensify their efforts to highlight this life-threatening issue and end the catastrophe." Under their auspices, plans for an even larger Freedom Flotilla Two are apparently well advanced, and will be launched in the coming weeks, saying their mission is humanitarian, and others will keep coming until the siege is lifted and aid can enter freely. The coalition includes the Free Gaza Movement (FG), Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), Ship to Gaza Greece, and Ship to Gaza Sweden. ECESG says that if governments won't help, activist groups like them and others will keep working until justice for Palestinians is achieved. 

Other Aid Missions Planned

The Iranian Red Crescent Society is part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the world's largest humanitarian organization, comprised of 186 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. On June 7, it announced it will send three aid ships to Gaza "by the end of the week," two with humanitarian supplies, the other with volunteer Iranian relief workers, and a plane with 30 tons of medical equipment. Iranian Red Crescent director Abdolraoof Adibzadeh said it will deliver aid through Egypt's Rafah border crossing. President Ahmadinejad raised the spectre of a sea battle as he warned the ships would be carrying an escort of “volunteer marines” ready to “teach Israelis a lesson”.

Turkey has also promised to send aid, this time with a naval escort and perhaps more after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he's considering coming to break the siege and show solidarity with besieged Gazans.

A Lebanese ship with dozens of women activists is set to leave Beirut for Gaza on the 25th June if the Israeli military do not sabotage it. The Arab Boat Brigade has the support of the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and the US Council for the National Interest.
"We are all independent women who believe in breaking the siege on Gaza and are committed to the enmity of the Zionist entity," said Samar Hajj, who is coordinating the trip.

She stressed the women were not affiliated with Hizbullah, or any other political organization.

"This has nothing to do with Hizbullah even though it is an honor for us to be supporters of the resistance," said Hajj, whose husband Ali Hajj was one of four generals detained for nearly four years in connection with the 2005 car bombing that killed then Premier Rafik Hariri and 22 others.

Ali Hajj, who was domestic security chief, was released from prison in April last year after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said there was insufficient evidence against the generals.

Hajj's wife said so far 50 women -- Muslim, Christian and secular -- had signed up for the trip on board the cargo ship "Mariam." Among them are 30 Lebanese and 20 foreigners, including several European nationals.

She said all the logistics for the trip had been handled by the Free Palestine Movement, a non-governmental organization.

"We are going there because it is our duty," she said.

"The ship will be leaving very soon," she added, without giving an exact date.

Preparations are also underway by other pro-Palestinian activists to send an aid ship carrying educational supplies and journalists from Lebanon to Gaza.
See also Transatlantic Jewish coalition set to break the siege of Gaza

and Ambassador Edward Peck on the Gaza Flotilla mission.