On May 16, at 6:54AM Gaza time (3:54AM GMT), in international waters, an Israeli naval vessel attacked the Malaysian owned Spirit of Rachel Corrie ship (officially the MV Finch), carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. More details below.
Lawless Monday followed Nakba Day's bloody Sunday, Israeli security forces assaulting unprecedented numbers of nonviolent demonstrators in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and along the Lebanese/Syrian borders.
Egypt was complicit, blocking activists from reaching Rafah. So was Jordan, forcefully preventing Palestinian supporters from approaching the King Hussein Jordan River Crossing Point.
Nonetheless, the day was potentially historic. Activists hope it will inspire greater global support for Palestinian liberation and justice, what only hindsight will show.
Up to two dozen were killed, scores injured, and many arrested, soldiers and police firing high-velocity tear gas canisters at point blank range, rubber bullets, live ammunition, and tank shell warning shots, a shocking display of violence given scant coverage in America's media.
Now this, Israelis attacking Rachel Corrie's spirit after an Israeli bulldozer operator killed her in Gaza on March 16, 2003. Trying to stop a Rafah refugee camp home's demolition, witnesses said she climbed atop the giant Caterpillar tractor, spoke to the driver, climbed down, knelt 10 - 20 meters in front in clear view, blocking its path with her body. With activists screaming for it to stop, the soldier-operator crushed her to death deliberately, running her over twice to be sure.
On May 14, 2010, the MV Rachael Corrie sailed from Europe to Gaza. Other vessels, nine in all, tried to break the siege to deliver vitally needed aid, including over 10,000 tons of food, medicines, educational and construction materials.
They never made it. Israeli commandos intercepted them, killing at least nine unarmed activists on board the Mavi Marmara mother ship, injuring dozens, and arresting survivors. After stealing their property and harassing them for several days in confinement to deter future missions, they were released and sent home.
Israel miscalculated. They're coming. Besides US and other initiatives, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) plans new missions to deliver essentially needed aid.
It's an "umbrella body of 34 European human rights and humanitarian organizations," supporting the right of Palestinians "to live in peace and dignity," to be free from occupation, and to have "their own independent and sovereign state." It also "encourages all peoples of conscience and human rights advocates to intensify their efforts to highlight this life-threatening issue and end the catastrophe."
Its web site provides current information of its mission, including planned events and actions, accessed through the following link:
Saying they won't be intimidated, they're "putting Israel on notice," adding:
"We are Coming
We are Unarmed
We are Civilian
You have no right to threaten us
We Expect to Reach Gaza without any Interference."
In fact, Israel will confront them belligerently, including a planned FREEDOM FLOTILLA - STAY HUMAN voyage honoring slain journalist/activist Vittorio Arrigoni, a heroic freedom fighter like Rachel. Martyred for a just cause, their spirit inspires others to go on. Indeed, their right over wrong commitment won't ever be deterred, a lesson Israel insists on learning the hard way.
"There is nothing Israel - or our own governments - can do to frighten us into abandoning the 1.6 million 'prisoners' of Gaza," said ECESG spokesperson Rami Abdo. "We stand on the right side of history. If they continue their campaign of tyranny, however, we will only become more determined."
In fact, organizers of last May's "Freedom Flotilla" plan a mid-June "Freedom Flotilla Two. (FF 2)." Activists from 22 European, North American and Asian Free Gaza Movement-connected humanitarian organizations will attempt to break Israel's siege and deliver vitally needed aid.
Around 15 ships and over 1,000 activists are involved, sailing from various ports. Israel said preparations are underway to stop them, perhaps as violently as against last May's mission.
On April 9 and 10, its Steering Committee met in Athens, continuing mission preparations. Aware of Israel's plans, they're:
"calling on all our governments, the international community and the United Nations not to succumb to Israel's intimidation. Governments need to fulfill their 'responsibility to protect' their own citizens."
An ECESG initiative, FF 2 partners include participants from over 50 countries, including European Jews for a Just Peace.
Spirit of Rachel Corrie Attacked
Sponsored by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF), headed by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, a May 16 press release explained what happened, accessed from the following link:
"The Palestinian struggle is nothing more than a struggle for justice, to which they, as much as everyone else, have a right."
He knows and supports it. Israel, Washington, and most other Western nations spurn it, denying Palestinians their international law guaranteed rights, including to life.
On May 16, Global Research editor Michel Chossudovsky featured the incident on Global Research.ca, a link accessing his account below:
He said an Israeli and Egyptian ship intercepted MV Finch in international waters, an act of piracy, adding that new details will be posted when learned.
On May 11, the ship departed Port of Piraeus, Greece, carrying vitally needed plastic sewage pipes to restore the system Israel destroyed in its 2007 - 08 Cast Lead attack. Under siege, restoration can't happen without help.
As a result, up to 95% of Gaza's aquifer water is unsafe to drink because Israeli forces destroyed 20 km of water pipes, 7.5 km of sewage pipes, and 5,700 mobile water tanks. In 2009, Amnesty International (AI) addressed the problem in its report titled, "Troubled Waters - Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water."
Moreover, Military Orders applying only to Palestinians give Israel control over water, including:
-- No. 92 controlling all West Bank and Gaza water;
-- No. 158 stipulating that Palestinians can't construct water installations without (nearly impossible to get) permits; moreover, those built without them will be confiscated; and
-- No. 291 annulling all land and water-related arrangements prior to the occupation.
Destroyed and under siege, Gaza's Coastal Aquifer is polluted by raw sewage from waste collection pond cesspits and seawater, itself contaminated by about 80 million liters of untreated or partially treated daily discharges into the Mediterranean Sea.
As a result, waterborne diseases are common, UNWRA reporting in February 2009 that:
"Water diarrhea as well as acute bloody diarrhea remain the major causes of morbidity among reportable infectious diseases in (Gaza's) refugee population...."
In September 2009, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP):
"The pollution of groundwater is contributing to two main types of water contamination in the Gaza Strip. First and most importantly, it is causing the nitrate levels in the groundwater to increase. In most parts of (Gaza), especially around areas of intensive sewage infiltration, the nitrate level in groundwater is far above (accepted) guidelines....Second, because the water abstracted now is high in salt, the sewage is also very saline. (It's well known that higher drinking water nitrate levels) can induce methemoglobinaemia (a blood disorder) in young children."
Moreover, Gaza's shoreline is polluted, posing serious health hazards because raw sewage is dumped daily into the Mediterranean Sea through 16 discharge sites along the coast.
Gaza TV News.com quoted PGPF member Shamsul Azhar saying:
After Israeli forces fired warning shots, it forced MV Finch "to anchor in Egyptian waters, 30 nautical miles from Gaza."
Malaysian journalist on board, Alang Mendahara, said:
"The Israeli naval vessel fired a warning shot at us upon approaching and asked us to leave the waters, but the ship's captain refused and the Israelis fired again, circling the MV Finch before firing twice more."
Bendahara said ship participants included seven Malaysians, two Irish, two Indians and a Canadian. No one was hurt. Events like this are fluid. A follow-up article will explain more if relevant information permits.
For now, Israeli remains a global menace and no fit state to live in, including for Jews.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.