1 June 2010
PALESTINE: CPTers Respond to Gaza Freedom Flotilla Attack
The morning of 31 May, CPTers in Hebron and At-Tuwani woke up to the news that Israel had attacked a convoy of humanitarian aid ships in international waters during the night. The six ships, known as the Freedom Flotilla, were attempting to take 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza (1). The situation in Gaza has reached crisis point since Egypt and Israel tightened security measures preventing movement in and out of the region. Unable to import or export food or materials, unable to rebuild homes, schools or hospitals damaged by ongoing conflict, unable to leave what is now described as an open-air prison, Gazans desperately need external support. In response to this situation, up to 750 internationals from 40 nations boarded the Freedom Flotilla in a peaceful attempt to offer their help and express their indignation at this catastrophic state of affairs. (2)
In response to this action, the Israeli military boarded the ships in international waters and killed up to 20 civilians, leaving 40-60 injured (reports differ). In defense, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told the BBC, “Live fire was used against our forces. They initiated the violence, that’s 100% clear,” he said (3). This statement might sound more plausible if these events weren’t completely in line with what we have seen from the Israel at peaceful demonstrations all over the West Bank (4). Tear gas and rubber bullets are a common response from the Israeli army; the CPT teams in Palestine witness their brutality on a weekly basis. The only difference now is that Israel is turning it’s “security measures” against the international community.
Governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals all over the world have been shocked by these events. Many statements have been released condemning Israel’s actions (5) and demonstrations are being held in Israel and worldwide to express that this behavior is unacceptable. The only difference between this tragedy and a terrorist attack is that this was committed by a government that is politically and financially supported by the victims’ own countries.
We must hope and pray that out of this darkness will come the light that will show the rest of the world the true atrocity of the situation in Palestine, that we as individuals, communities and nations legitimize by refusing to reprimand Israel.