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Israeli Gunboats Came Out of the Darkness and Rammed Us Three Times

(Lebanon, Tuesday 30 December) - Today the Free Gaza ship Dignity carefully made its way to safe harbor in Tyre, Lebanon's southern-most port city, after receiving serious structural damage when Israeli warships rammed its bow and the port side. Waiting to greet the passengers and crew were thousands of Lebanese who came out to show their solidarity with this attempt to deliver volunteer doctors and desperately needed medical supplies to war-ravaged Gaza. The Lebanese government has pledged to provide a forensic analysis of what happened in the dark morning, when Israel rammed the civilian ship in international waters, and put the people on board in danger of losing their lives.

The Dignity, on a mission of mercy to besieged Gaza, was attacked by the Israeli Navy at approximately 6 am (UST) in international waters, roughly 90 miles off the coast of Gaza. Several Israeli warships surrounded the small, human rights boat, firing live ammunition around it, then intentionally ramming it three times. According to ship's captain Denis Healy, the Israeli attack came, ""without any warning, or any provocation."

Caoimhe Butterly, an organizer with the Free Gaza Movement, stated that, "The gunboats gave us no warning.

They came up out of the darkness firing flares and flashing huge flood lights into our faces. We were so shocked that at first we didn't react. We knew we were well within international waters and supposedly safe from attack. They rammed us three times, hitting the side of the boat hard. We began taking on water and, for a few minutes, we all feared for our lives. After they rammed us, they started screaming at us as we were frantically getting the life boats ready and putting on our life jackets. They kept yelling that if we didn't turn back they would shoot us."

Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, was traveling to Gaza aboard the Dignity in order to assess the impact of Israel's military onslaught against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. According to McKinney, "Israeli patrol boats...tracked us for about 30 minutes...and then all of a sudden they rammed us approximately three times, twice in the front and once in the side...the Israelis indicated that [they felt] we were involved in terrorist activities."

The Dignity departed from Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7pm (UST) on Monday 29 December with a cargo of over 3 tons of desperately needed medical supplies donated to Gaza by the people of Cyprus. Three surgeons were also aboard, traveling to Gaza to volunteer in overwhelmed hospitals and clinics. The ship was searched by Cypriot Port authorities prior to departure, and its passenger list was made public.

Israel's deplorable attack on the unarmed Dignity is a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that "the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes."

Delivering doctors and urgently needed medical supplies to civilians is just such a "peaceful purpose." Deliberately ramming a mercy ship and endangering its passengers is an act of terrorism.


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[User Picture]
On January 1st, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC), nebris commented:
The Israelis don't give a fuck. Their goal was to warn off any and all peace missions to Gaza and I'd say they have probably archived that goal.

[User Picture]
On January 1st, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC), drugaddict replied:
he following is a sobering appraisal on the horrendous dilemma the present Gazan crisis presents the United States
and the upcoming Obama administration. I have very deep respect for the author and his experience and wisdom.

Regards, John

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Gaza - Obama's Two
Urgent Political Choices
Terrell E. Arnold

In a merciless, deliberate, and continuous squeeze, the Israel Defense Force is trying to destroy the will of the people of Gaza. Americans are being told the official Israeli narrative: We are attacking Gaza to stop terrorist rocket fire into our Sederot border region. Sederot is a town a bit more than a decade old that is located near the eastern boundary of Gaza about 43 miles south of Tel Aviv. Its principal claim to fame is the habit of Palestinian militants of launching crude rockets from Gaza across the wall into Israel along that piece of frontier. From these rockets, casualties are few and physical damage is limited, but they are the cause célèbre of a brutal and now murderous Israeli campaign against Gaza and its Hamas political leadership.
Mainly through air strikes, Israeli forces have killed nearly 400 Palestinians, most of them civilians, wounded over 500, and inflicted widespread property damage. Over the past several weeks the Palestinian rockets have resulted in one reported Israeli casualty. But Israeli authorities now say that they have just begun. And despite the grossly unequal character of this fight between the world's fourth or fifth best equipped army on one side, and crude Palestinian racketeers and stone throwers on the other, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak indicates the fight may go on indefinitely. The Israeli aircraft and pilots are encountering no resistance because the Palestinians simply have no capacity to fight back.
According to Sara Roy, a Harvard University Middle East expert (see the January 2009 London Review of Books), the Israelis actually began the campaign to destroy Hamas on November 5 (only hours after US election results indicated a change of administration was coming in the US). To begin its attacks, the Israelis broke the truce that Hamas had observed for the past several months. Following that attack Israel has squeezed Gaza in virtually every possible way, blocking food supplies for United Nations Relief and Works and the World Food Program, refusing to permit entry of diesel fuel needed to run Gaza's power station, interfering with the operations of Palestinian banks, blocking the movements of Palestinians, and preventing the entry of journalists or other observers into Gaza. There is no other example of a modern military power attacking an unarmed population this brutally and indiscriminately.
As Sara Roy and other observers describe it, the Israeli plan is to turn Gaza into a massive humanitarian problem that is devoid of any political dimension. That means the Israelis want the outside world to forget that the Palestinian people, especially those in Gaza, are the other side of the long-stalled Israel/Palestine peace process. Rather, with the Sederot rocket attacks as the excuse, the Israelis want the outside world to believe that the entire problem is the fault of the Palestinians. However, the Israelis attacks look like an obvious effort to kill, wound, dismember and render homeless as many Palestinians as possible before world reaction sets in.
[User Picture]
On January 1st, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC), drugaddict replied:
In a world of constant change and calamity, it is easy to forget how the problems of the Palestinians began. In 1948, under the guns of Israeli terrorist groups and militia, about 800,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes, farms, towns and villages into exile in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring countries. That was only the beginning. You can read this story in Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe's book, the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Former President Jimmy Carter's work, Peace not Apartheid, will give you more of the story, while making it painfully clear that the process of expelling the Palestinian people from their homeland is far from over. The current Israeli campaign is somehow to dispose of the 1.5 million Palestinians now in Gaza's open air prison. If they succeed in that operation, they will then go to work on the 3.0 million plus Palestinians now bottled up in the West Bank. That may prove a bit harder, because the Palestinians in the West Bank are cooperating, at least to the extent of not lobbing rockets across the fence.
The current Israeli game also plays to political differences among the Palestinians which the Israelis and the Western powers would like to have resolved in favor of the "moderates". That means the Palestinians who will cooperate with the Israelis and not complain even as the Israeli settlements slowly eat up the remaining lands open to the Palestinians. As Israeli settlers move in-granted, illegally-the already sparse physical space for a Palestinian state slowly disappears. As of now, if a Palestinian state were formed on the land now occupied by Palestinians, they would occupy less than 10% of their homeland.
Hamas objects to this process, but so far as the US and its Western supporters are concerned, it is guilty of two other "crimes": First, though it may be called a terrorist group, it won a fair and free election and therefore has a democratic right, in parliamentary terms, to run both Gaza and the West Bank, at least until another election is held. Second, Hamas defines, accurately for most Palestinians, their interest in a future home and their rights respecting their expulsion from their homeland.
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On January 1st, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC), nebris replied:
The whole region is an unworkable disaster.

Israel has become what it was created to escape; a murderous and highly capable military state driven more and more by nationalism and racism.

I have no use for the Palestinians either. Their culture is driven my misogyny, tribalism, and blood feud.

I have predicted for a while that this conflict will end with nuclear fire. I have named this coming event The Spasm, for it will be fast and apocalyptic. The Middle East - Israel included - will be functionally wiped off the face of the earth and this may very well consume Iran, Pakistan, and even India.


Edited at 2009-01-01 09:03 pm (UTC)
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