Free Gaza Project Already Big Success - Israeli Responses
by Anis Hamadeh
The main objective of the Free Gaza Movement, currently sailing from Cyprus to Gaza, is to raise awareness about the inhumane conditions in Gaza and Palestine. Hundreds of articles and features in the international media prove that they have reached this aim even before they left Cyprus. And already they have provoked reactions that show the absurdity of the Israeli policy in the Gaza Strip, like Shlomo Dror’s statement, a defence ministry spokesman, who is quoted in the Telegraph: “From my point of view this is some kind of pirate ship. You can demonstrate, that’s OK with us. But you are not allowed to break international law.” (1) So these nonviolent human rights activists, who do not even touch Israeli territory, are called law-breakers and pirates. As this Israeli official argues with the breach of international law the Free Gaza Movement has made a major point, because Israel’s breaches of international law are legion and a routine procedure.
Here are the major violations of international law by Israel since 1948: illegal acquisition of land by force, practice of ethnic cleansing, illegal population transfer (settlements), illegal practice of collective punishment, practice of racism and apartheid, violation of Arab family unity, illegal military occupation, forbidding civilians the right to return to their homes following the end of armed conflict, illegal modification of local law, illegal de facto annexation, violations of right to self-determination, violations of human rights, violations of more than 100 UN resolutions. For the monitoring of breaches or suspected breaches especially of the Forth Geneva Convention see in particular B’tselem, Public Committee against Torture in Israel, United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine, and Human Rights Watch.
Hamas is keen to exploit the boats, this is another argument against the maritime freedom fighters, e.g. in the Jerusalem Post (2). The topos behind this sentence is the one of applause from the wrong side. Nothing for Aristotelians, really, because this topos says: “When you say A, and the bad guy also says A, then you are a bad guy”. Can the Human Rights be denied to the Palestinian people only because Hamas also wants them? What if Hamas wears shoes, do we have to go barefoot then? “Your action is that you are supporting the regime of a terrorist organization in Gaza, an organization dedicated to non-recognition of the State of Israel and its right to exist”, wrote Noam Katz, director of the Public Relations Department of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (3) When you are fixed on an enemy you will see everything in relation to this enemy. Children are no longer children, human rights workers no longer human rights workers and civil population no longer civil population. A cloud of demonization obscures the discussion and sometimes we even hear malicious allegations, according to which Hamas leads this action, which is utter nonsense.
Talking about demonization: protecting or supporting terrorists is another vague accusation that can be derived from the official Isaeli responses and, of course, from the words of engaged laymen and bloggers. It seems as if pro-Zionist writers conceptualize Palestinians as (potential) terrorists and not as human beings. Search for “Free Gaza” in the blog world and you will see the most astonishing quotes. Supporting Palestinians in this realm is almost equal to supporting terrorism. The known German controverter Broder writes that “the Palestinians lack everything except ammunition”. (4) The focus is on the “security threat” which clearly is a dehumanization of Palestinians and the reason why collective punishments of Palestinians are not seen to be illegal: they are simply not considered to be human beings. Thus the boats become things like “The Terrorism ‘Exodus Ship’” (5).
Some American “specialists” have even argued that the Free Gaza Movement was launching an aggression against another state and would thus be “conspiring” to violate the U.S. Neutrality Act that is codified in section 960 of title 18 of the U.S. Code (6). But where is the aggression in this nonviolent action? All the boats are checked and the Israeli government was even invited to join the trip. Some people must really be afraid when they come up with such far-fetched ideas.
According to IMEMC, Israeli military officials said the Israeli Navy is “within its rights” to use force against the boats, as the Oslo Accords of 1993 (called “dead” by Sharon in 2001) would give Israel the responsibility for the territorial waters of Gaza: “But Palestinians contend that subsequent signed agreements, such as the Camp David Accord (2000) and the Gaza disengagement plan (2005) give the Palestinians the right to the use of their shoreline. Palestinian fishermen who fish off the coast of Gaza face constant harassment from Israeli warships stationed just off the coast, and are often fired upon with shells and missiles.” (7) In a recent press release, the Free Gaza Movenmet writes: “As an Occupying Power, Israel has a responsibility for the well-being of the people of Gaza under the provisions of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel has abused its control and responsibilities by wrongfully obstructing vital supplies and humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.” (8)
The most revealing statements were published today. Israeli officials call the project “both non-humanitarian and a project designed to question Israel’s right to exist. (...) Officials have pointed to the mission statement on the movement’s website referring to Israel’s foundation as the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) as proof of the true intentions of the organisers.” (9) Here we can see the core of the problem, thanks to the Free Gaza Movement. If these two boats are considered to be a threat against Israel’s existence, then we can clearly understand that this existence argument is nothing more than a hollow phrase designed to deny the Nakba and to protect the law of the jungle in this asymmetrical struggle of one of the most powerful armies in the world against the civil population of Palestine.
Apparently, we are in a time where the principles of international law and human rights must be implemented anew. There is an extremely wide gap between what the international community says about the law and what the Zionist regime and its adherents say about it. Right now we are living in a jungle where the stronger army makes the law. Is this what we wanted?
(1) 19.08.08, Carolynne Wheeler: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/2579827/Israel-to-treat-Gaza-peace-boats-like-pirates.html
(2) 18.08.08, Yaakov Lappin: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1218710388004&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
(3) http://www.freegaza.org/index.php?module=latest_news&id=baa2fa8868639ca6a09eec582f99a132&offset= (4) 14.08.08, http://www.achgut.com/dadgdx/index.php/dadgd/article/ein_schiff_wird_kommen1/
(6) see e.g. http://www.jewishblogging.com/blog.php?bid=152743
(9) The Jewish Community Online, 22.08.08, http://thejc.com/articles/israel-plans-its-response-free-gaza’-ship