Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Breaking the Gaza Embargo and Israeli Piracy

Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine is known world-wide. But few know the history of Israeli piracy in support of its occupation policies. The Free Gaza flotillas want to break the Gaza blockade and Israel’s illegal ‘occupation’ of the sea, note Huwaida Arraf, Noam Chomsky, and Gabriel Schivone.

Middle East Online, May 11, 2011

A year ago this month, Israel shocked the world when it attacked a humanitarian convoy on its way to Gaza in international waters, killing 9 civilians, injuring dozens more, and kidnapping hundreds. Today — as Hamas and Fatah negotiate internal unity and Egypt moves to permanently open Gaza’s southern border, consequences of the Arab Spring — the international solidarity movement musters an even greater flotilla of ships to challenge Israel’s illegal actions against the Palestinians. As anticipated, Israel promises to do everything it can to once again stop an organized, nonviolent force of civil society standing with Palestinians in their struggle for equal rights and self-determination.

Threatening to hijack boats in international waters and kill or kidnap passengers is, of course, a serious crime. But Israel’s threats and actual uses of force are nothing new. For decades, Israel has been hijacking international vessels throughout the Mediterranean and kidnapping or killing passengers. To understand the current situation involving civil resistance to Israeli policy, a glance at Israel’s aggressive history in international waters is in order.

In 1976, according to Knesset member Mattiyahu Peled, the Israeli Navy began to capture boats belonging to Lebanese Muslims — turning them over to Lebanese Christian allies, who killed the owners — in an effort to abort a movement towards reconciliation that had been arranged between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel.

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