- A previous article explained the following:
- On November 2, two vessels blocked last summer from reaching
Gaza sailed again from Fethiye, Turkey.
- Canada's Tahrir and Ireland's Soairse (Freedom) comprise
the Freedom Waves to Gaza mission. On board were 27 international activists,
journalists, and crew.
- According to a participating Press TV correspondent,
"Israeli warplanes and naval vessels" shadowed them in international
waters. "Eight Israeli warships made radio contact," demanding
they change course.
- They refused. They didn't sail to turn back. They dedicated
their mission "to challenge Israel's ongoing criminal blockade."
- Israeli ships interdicted them. General Gaby Ahkenazi
ordered them seized and impounded. Both vessels were severely damaged,
taken to Ashdod, and remain held.
- On November 5, Canadian Boat to Gaza headlined, "Freedom
Wave riders beaten, denied access to family; organizers demand accountability,"
- Israel arrested 27 activists on board. Communication
with them was lost. They're illegally detained. Contact with family members
was denied. Roughed up participants got no medical treatment.
- "We have heard indirectly from our governments'
ministries of foreign affairs (in Canada and Ireland), but that is simply
not good enough. We want to speak with our people directly," said
Wendy Goldsmith, Canada Boat to Gaza organizer.
- "Why will our governments not demand the delegates
be able to speak to their families? We do not trust the Canadian government
on this - as they have shown time and again that they are complicit in
Israel's violations of international law and gross human rights abuses."
- The last communication gotten was a 10:08PM Irish boat
text message, saying:
- "Kidnapped, being held against our will by Israeli
Army in international waters. Boat nearly destroyed. Need government to
press for immediate release."
- The phone then went dead. Israeli Arab participant, Majd
Kayal, aboard the Canadian boat confirmed that Israeli commandos boarded
both vessels violently. Video evidence showed water cannons fired at them
in rough waters, endangering those on board.
- Activists offered no resistance. Professor David Heap
aboard the Canadian boat "was particularly badly beaten. Israeli prison
authorities are continuing to prevent (his) family from contacting him
- Participants are held at Givon Prison. Providing legal
aid, international Solidarity Movement (ISM) co-founder Huwaida Arraf said
20 of the 27 remain in custody.
- Through his lawyer, David Heap sent a message saying:
- "Although I was tasered during the assault on the
Tahrir, and bruised during forcible removal dockside, I am basically OK."
He's "slightly limping," he added, explaining that he and fellow
activist Michael Coleman, an Australian national, were taken to Givon Prison
in handcuffs and leg shackles.
- "We are neither criminals nor illegal immigrants,
but rather political prisoners of the apartheid state of Israel."
- "All political incarceration is unjust, but let
me stress that in duration and conditions, our situation pales in comparison
to the plight of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners and to the
open air prison of Gaza. We must get Tahrir back and hope Freedom Waves
- Others on board were also treated violently. Prison guards
assaulted John Mallon. Women and men both are at Givon in separate cells.
- Israel demanded participants sign voluntary deportation
waivers. Most refused. Doing so would lie. They were kidnapped in international
waters. Document language claimed they lawlessly entered Israel and won't
again try to breach Gaza's siege.
- The whereabouts of Press TV's Hassan Ghani is unknown.
Most others remain incarcerated.
- They'll face judicial proceedings and forcible deportations.
Majd Kayyal said Israel stole his money and phone. Personal possessions
of others were taken. Activists on previous interdicted missions had their
property stolen and not returned.
- Gaza-based journalist Omar Ghraeib said:
- "The whole of Gaza went to the port to receive the
Freedom Waves boats. But we were expecting the outcome and were very concerned.
We appreciate every move to break the siege, and we appreciate how these
activist endangered themselves for us."
- YNet News said Israeli authorities found no weapons or
humanitarian aid on board. Participants were unarmed and nonviolent. Cargo
aboard both ships included $30,000 of vitally needed medicines. Israeli
authorities lied about no humanitarian aid found. They stole it to prevent
Gazans from getting it.
- On November 5, the State Department said US participants
may face consequences for challenging Israel's blockade.
- On November 7, the International Middle East Media Center
- said 21 activists remain imprisoned. Passengers were
"unlawfully arrested, and the ships confiscated, along with all the
- Participants were "hit, pushed, choked and hosed
down...." Israeli commandos "stormed" both vessels. They
also forced them "to crash into each other by pressuring (them) towards
one another in a collision course." As a result, they were severely
damaged and nearly sank.
- On November 6, Fintan Lane, Ireland's detained MV Saoirse
national coordinator communicated the following to the Irish Ship to Gaza
team in Dublin:
- Israel's interdiction was violent, and "dangerous
to human life." Both vessels nearly sank. Participants were abducted
and forcibly taken to Israel. IDF commandos wanted both boats abandoned
at sea. Activists refused, fearing they'd be sunk.
- "All belongings of the passengers and crew were
taken from them and they still do not know if and what they will get back."
- Fourteen Irish prisoners are at Givon. Irish Ship to
Gaza spokesperson Claudia Saba said:
- Finton's account "flatly contradicts the Israeli
narrative," claiming "every precaution necessary (was taken)
to ensure the safety" of those on board. "It is a small miracle
that no one was seriously injured during this obviously very violent boarding
of the Freedom Waves boats."
- Tahrir's captain confirmed Israeli violence, including
harsh interrogation procedures he endured. Canadian boat lawyers were denied
proper access to their clients. Canada's "land team" said:
- "They kicked the lawyers out" after three hours,
"and today they have not been responding to any calls (either on the
main line or the cell number of one of the prison officials) to coordinate
a visit or arrange phone contact with the detainees."
- Fact Check on Besieged Gaza and Israeli Interdictions
- Under international law, Gaza's blockade is illegal.
It's also an act of war, defined as:
- surrounding a nation or objective with hostile forces;
- measures to isolate an enemy;
- encirclement and besieging;
- preventing the passage in or out of supplies, military
forces or aid in time of or as an act of war; and
- an act of naval warfare to block access to an enemy's
coastline and deny entry to all vessels and aircraft.
- Israeli interdictions in international waters also constitute
piracy. It violates the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas and 1982
UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
- Under UNCLOS' Article 101, maritime piracy includes "any
illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation....against
a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction
of any State (and) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating
(such) an act."
- Under customary maritime law, ships have "innocent
passage" rights through all international and coastal area waters,
subject to certain restrictions.
- UNCLOS defines "innocent passage" as expeditious,
continuous passage through waters in ways not "prejudicial to the
peace, good order or the security" of a coastal state.
- America's Defense Department defines it as:
- "The right of all ships to engage in continuous
and expeditious surface passage through the territorial sea and archipelagic
water of foreign coastal states in a manner not prejudicial to its peace,
good order, or security."
- In September 2010, an independent UN Human Rights Council
(HRC) fact-finding mission held Israel culpable for massacring Mavi Marmara
activists in May. It called assaulting them brutal and disproportionate.
Based on eye witness testimonies, forensic evidence, video footage, and
other photographic material, it:
- "concluded that a series of violations of international
law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed
by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during
the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation....The preponderance
of evidence from impeccable sources is far too overwhelming to come to
a contrary opinion."
- A Final Comment
- For decades, Israel repeatedly and willfully violated
international law with impunity. Interdicting Freedom Waves to Gaza adds
more shame to its record. Except in self-defense, belligerence is lawless,
from high-seas piracy to war. Getting away with murder has shelf life limits.
Hopefully, Israel's expiration date approaches.
- Activists are committed to help. Further flotillas won't
stop coming until Gaza's siege ends.
- The whole world's watching. Word now spreads fast. Every
Israeli move is monitored and reported. Independent web sites, publications,
and broadcasters feature it. Everyone soon will know. Pariah states end
the same way. Israel's turn is coming. It's just a matter of time.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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