"A government of pyromaniacs sets fire to the region"

Submitted by AWL on 31 May, 2010 - 10:31 Author: Gush Shalom

From the Gush Shalom website.

Uri Avnery: "This night [31 May] a crime was perpetrated in the middle of the sea, by order of the government of Israel and the IDF Command. A warlike attack against aid ships and deadly shooting at peace and humanitarian aid activists. It is a crazy thing that only a government that crossed all red lines can do.

"Only a crazy government that has lost all restraint and all connection to reality could something like that - consider ships carrying humanitarian aid and peace activists from around the world as an enemy and send massive military force to international waters to attack them, shoot and kill.

"No-one in the world will believe the lies and excuses which the government and army spokesmen come up with," said former Knesset member Uri Avnery of the Gush Shalom movement. Gush Shalom activists, together with activists of other organizations, demonstrated on this very day in Ashdod, Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem.

This is a day of disgrace to the State of Israel, a day of anxiety in which we discover that our future was entrusted to a bunch of trigger-happy people without any responsibility. This day is a day of disgrace and madness and stupidity without limit, the day the Israeli government took care to blacken the name of the country in the world, adding convincing evidence of aggressiveness and brutality to Israel's already bad international image, discouraging and distancing the few remaining friends.

Indeed, today a provocation took place off the coast of Gaza - but the provocateurs were not the peace activists invited by the Palestinians and seeking to reach Gaza. The provocation was carried out by Navy ships commandos at the bidding of the Israeli government, blocking the way of the aid boats and using deadly force.

It is time to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, which causes severe suffering to its residents. Today the Israeli government ripped the mask of its face with its own hands and exposed the fact that Israel did not "disengage" from Gaza. Real disengagement from the area does not go together with blocking the access to it or sending soldiers to shoot and kill and wound those who try to get there.

The State of Israel promised in the Oslo Accords 17 years ago to enable and encourage the establishment of a deep water port in Gaza, through which Palestinians could import and export freely to develop their economy. It's time to realize this commitment and open the Port of Gaza. Only after the Gaza port will be open to free and undisturbed movement, just like the Ashdod and Haifa ports, will Israel really have disengaged from the Gaza Strip. Until then, the world will continue - and rightly so - to consider the Gaza Strip under Israeli occupation and the State of Israel as responsible for the fate of the people living there.

Comments

Submitted by martin on Tue, 01/06/2010 - 11:54

The following statement has been issue by the Executive of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society.

AJDS Statement on Israeli action against the Gaza Convoy

1 June 2010

The terrible and deplorable deaths and injuries that occurred on board the Turkish flagged ship, the Mavi Marmara, one of a convoy of ships attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, are not only heartbreaking for the immediate families of the nine people killed and the many injured, but a tragedy for all people who yearn for a resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli government claims that the non-violent intent of the activists in the convoy was a lie, that the convoy organisers have links to terrorist organisations including Al-Qaeda and that weapons were prepared in advance for use against the Israeli navy when they boarded the ship.

We know that many of the activists on board the convoy are stridently anti-Israel and we disagree with many of the political views of the Free Gaza movement that organised the convoy, but we have no problem with the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, even with awareness of the additional political agenda behind the convoy.

Support for Israel does not mean support for the policies of its government and we have been vocal in opposing the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

From the news reports of the event, it appears that Israel felt entitled to drop armed soldiers onto the ships in international waters to prevent them from reaching Gaza, and the civilians on board, far from feeling either fear or anger, were supposed to understand the peaceful intent of the armed forces that confronted them. Perhaps the soldiers expected no resistance, but when armed soldiers are engaged in a military exercise against enraged civilians the outcome is predictable. It takes very few people to resist with nothing more than their bodies, metal bars or sling shots for the outcome to be lethal.

Even if some of the protesters were spoiling for a fight, for an act of disobedience to be met with such violence, injury and death completely cuts across our fundamental attitudes to political opposition.

If the price Israel had to pay for avoiding the tragic outcome of this confrontation was the loss of a propaganda skirmish, then it was a price we could all live with and emphasis needs to be on the word "live".

How can we feel outrage against barbarous acts of terrorism that rob innocent people of their lives, travelling on Israeli buses or eating in restaurants, and not feel similar outrage at this event?

How can Israel detain foreign journalists (including Australians) and others who had no role in the confrontation and claim to be a democracy?

Unless the Israeli government can convincingly back up its claims that the Gaza aid convoy was not a project for delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza, but in reality a front for violent action, it invites the condemnation of everyone who supports negotiated conflict resolution and reinforces the view that Israel's professed support for human rights is a sham.

If the anger we feel for what has occurred is clear from our words and the words of many other people, then that anger needs to be understood by Israel. What needs to occur now is for Israel to conduct a full, open and comprehensive enquiry into this fatal exercise.

AJDS Executive

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