Saturday, 26 June 2010

Demolishing Israel's lies about Gaza Freedom Flotilla: interview with ex-US Marine Kenneth O'Keefe

Please spare a few minutes to watch the following three-part video – a recording of an interview with former US Marine Kenneth O'Keefe, to be broadcast on the BBC's "HARDtalk" programme on Monday 28 June 2010.

Kenneth O'Keefe was one of the peace activists abroad the Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship, Mavi Marmara, when it was attacked by Israeli commandos who murdered nine peace activists on the ship.

In the interview, Mr O'Keefe eloquently, politely and calmly demolishes all the Israeli lies and justifications for the murder of the peace activists.

You may watch  a recording of the interview on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here. Alternatively, you may watch the interview in three parts below.

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

Friday, 18 June 2010

Palestine activists frustrated by UK minister's stonewalling on flotilla murders

From Friends of Al-Aqsa:

Thirteen British peace activists from the Gaza flotilla met with Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt MP, at 11 a.m, today. The meeting was the first between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the group of activists, taking place almost two weeks after most activists returned to the UK following their ordeal.

Others present at the meeting, which lasted 1 hour 10 minutes, included representatives from the Consular Directorates and FCO staff.

Activists response to the meeting

The activists described a sense of frustration at a press conference following the meeting, stating that the inadequate response from the FCO has been astounding and would not be witnessed if any other country in the world was the perpetrator. It can be construed as a lack of commitment to the safety of its nationals abroad.

Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa observed: "Following this meeting, we feel heavily disheartened because we had faith that our government would do all it could for us, yet it appears that they allowed themselves to be bullied by Israel so that even the consulate staff could not visit some of us. In addition, the only way the real facts behind this attack will be made clear to the world is if a truly international investigation is launched, and this is something our government refuses to call for.

"We will not allow the killing of 9 innocent men to be whitewashed by an Israeli investigation which will not consult the victims nor the Israeli attackers in order to make its findings. We will continue to call for the return of all evidential materials and an independent investigation, and we will put pressure on our government to take this line with Israel".

For further comments, please contact Ismail Patel,

Details of the meeting

The activists presented an account of the Israeli attack on the Flotilla and the inadequate response from the British Consulate in Jerusalem, who failed to meet some of the activists at all.

A number of requests were made by the activists, including:
1. Immediate return of the three missing British passports which Israel failed to give back when the activists were released from prison.
2. Return of all personal possessions, goods and property which were illegally confiscated from activists. After receiving legal advice the activists hold the view that their possessions were illegally appropriated and their rights are guaranteed by the Fourth Geneva Convention. An international statement concerning the legal consequences of the attack on the Flotilla, focusing on the War Crime of extensive appropriation of property, which has been compiled by Hickman Rose solicitors in conjunction with partners world-wide, was presented to the Minister.

3. Return of possessions is to include all audio and photographic materials which documented the attack and corroborate the real version of events on May 31. 20 activists on board were journalists and all of their footage was appropriated. This footage will be essential for any international investigation.
4. The British government to call for an international UN led inquiry into the attack on the Flotilla, as Israel's proposed enquiry falls far short of an adequate standard to ensure a true investigation.

Mr Burt responded as follows:
1. Promise to make a public call for an immediate return of the missing passports 'within days'.
2. Undertake to call privately for Israel to return all possessions belonging to activists.
3. The British government is willing to accept an enquiry by Israel into the attack on the Flotilla and will not call for an independent international enquiry.

4. Despite the grave and serious nature of Israel's attack on the Flotilla, Mr Burt refused to facilitate a meeting between the activists and the Foreign Secretary William Hague MP.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Israel’s new humanitarianism

From Neve Gordon:

Last week, Israel permitted the transport of jam, halva and shaving razors into Gaza. Since September 2007, goods entering Gaza had been limited to a ‘humanitarian minimum’ of approximately 70 items of foodstuffs and medicines (4000 items were allowed in before the blockade). During a visit to Gaza in February 2009, John Kerry discovered that Israel had banned pasta but not rice, because the latter was considered a necessity while the former was a luxury.

After the flotilla fiasco and the widespread international condemnation that followed, it appears that Israel’s policy is changing and that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is actually willing to broaden its definition of humanitarianism to include jam and halva. It is even possible that pasta will soon be allowed into Gaza. Browsing through a partial list of banned items, provided by the Israeli human rights group Gisha, one can only speculate which items will be the next to be allowed to enter Gaza with the adoption of Israel’s new humanitarianism.

Banned items

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Israel's medieval siege of Gaza

From Never Before Campaign:

The three year old siege on the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants is a testament to the Israeli regime's disregard of law, decency and morality. This siege amounts to collective punishment, an action outlawed by various conventions and humanitarian laws. This is not to mention the suffering and humanitarian crisis caused by this law. This siege has been disgracefully condoned by the "international community" and justified by the "free world" as a measure that safegurads the security of the Israeli regime.

The same position was applied to the various humanitarian aid ships that were attacked and abducted in international waters, and the aid carried by those ships confiscated. The killing of nine Turkish activists on the the Freedom Flotilla on 31 May brought an abrupt end to international silence regarding the siege. It is unfortunate that the world needed to see the blood of those brave men to realize the brutality of the siege and of the besieger.

Nevertheless, it is our duty to finish what the brave men and women of the Freedom Flotilla and the campaigns that preceded it. It is time to brieak the siege.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

George Galloway announces new convoys to break the siege of Gaza

Five hundred vehicles and 60 ships to break the criminal siege of Gaza

Viva Palestina founder George Galloway, speaking to a crowd of around 20,000 protesting outside the Israeli embassy in London, revealed the latest plan to bring about the end of the siege on Gaza.

Two simultaneous convoys – one by land the other by sea – will set forth on SUNDAY 12 SEPTEMBER bound for Gaza. Viva Palestina, the International Committee to break the Siege on Gaza and any allies who will join us will organize the two convoys.

The land convoy will leave from London and travel across Europe to Turkey, Syria and ultimately through the Rafah Gate into Gaza. Cooperation will be offered and sought with all relevant governments and agencies. It is expected the convoy will pick up vehicles and volunteers in each country through which it passes. The target is to enter Gaza with 500 vehicles.

The sea convoy will travel around the Mediterranean gathering ships, cargo, volunteers from each country. The target is to enter Gaza with 60 ships.

The aim will be to arrive on Gaza's frontiers at the same time. And to enter with the world's largest ever aid convoys. And to thereby render the siege null and void.

Please get in touch if you need further information. Please also sign up to the Viva Palestina mailing list -

Please pass this on to everyone you think might be interested in supporting the new convoy.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Gilad Atzmon on Israeli collective madness

Gilad Atzmon, a British writer and musician who was born in Israel and served in the Israeli army, believes that the raid will lead the world to “see what Israel is all about”.

“They are convinced that the more people they kill, the more people will be deterred to jeopardise what they regard as their security,” Atzmon told Russia Today (RT).

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Marbles, paint balls and nukes

From: Greta Berlin

The Israeli military has been busy spinning the story of their attack on a civilian convoy trying to deliver aid to the imprisoned people of Gaza. They've had a head start, sending out edited videos, posting supposed military footage of the passengers attacking them, saying that they confiscated weapons which turned out to be marbles, sling shots, kitchen knives and aluminum chairs.

But they can't spin for much longer. Video footage from dozens of people is beginning to surface about what really happened. Al-Jazeera has posted their coverage as gun shots sound in the background, speakers beg the passengers to go below and a white flag is set out for the paramilitary groups.

More will come out as passengers are released. We already know that Israel shot the captain of the Marmara and the European Campaign boat, maybe hoping that we would no longer be able to hire captains. Several activists have spoken to their consulates and told of being kicked, beaten, dragged along the ground, tear gassed and bags thrown over their heads.

Knowing that video of this vicious attack in international waters was going to surface, Captain Aria Shaliker of the Israel Defence Forces, who was part of the operation on Monday [31 May], said the commandoes began the raids armed with paint ball guns. "I was, myself, on one of the boats, the Israeli boats, approaching the flotilla," he told the BBC's “Today” programme. "It is true that the Israeli commando unit ... came on board with paint ball weapons ... in order to disperse people.” h said.

No mention of paint-stained clothing.

As Israel's hysteria mounts, "they now claim “self-defence” in attacking ships in international waters ... killing nine.  Israel informed the US and Britain that the convoy was ferrying stolen nuclear weapons that would be used for a terrorist attack on Israel.  The “stolen nukes” have been in Israel for 18 years while the US has spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives looking for them. Today nine more died.

The world is watching a county imploding, having a massive nervous breakdown in full view. It's tragic that thousands of Palestinians have died and nine human rights workers lost their lives [on 31 May].

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Life must go on – Jazza Festival for Free Gaza

From Gilad Atzmon:

Following Israel's maritime slaughter of defenceless and heroic humanitarian activists, Sarah Gillespie and I will be donating our earnings from this week's concerts at Pizza Express Jazz Club (3-5 June), to the Free Gaza organization.

The victims of the massacre will not be the last to spill their blood for Palestine, but they will never be forgotten.

I also use this opportunity to announce that Sarah and myself together with Free Gaza are putting together a massive music festival  in support of Free Palestine. The “Jazza Festival” will take place in London in October. Some major artists are already lined up.

In case the Israelis do not understand it yet. Humanism  will prevail!!!

To book a seat for Sarah's  concert (3 June) or my concerts (4-5 June), call the following number:  0845 6027 017

A short documentary by Yiorgos Vondiklaris about Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Express at the time of the 2009 massacre in Gaza.