By Richard Lightbown
After he returned from his ordeal on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Fiachra O’Luain, the mate on the Challenger I, was asked if he would go again to break the siege of Gaza. He replied ‘yes…and again, and again’.
Many of the survivors of the flotilla will be on the next one due to sail for Gaza towards the end of June. Called ’Stay Human’, it will commemorate Vittorio Arrigoni who gave his life (as did ten activists on the Mavi Marmara: nine dead and one in a coma) for justice and human rights for the Palestinian people.
In the face of Israeli propaganda, parroted by the BBC and other mainstream media, we should hold fast to the truth that these people are prepared to face. All of the survivors of the previous flotilla were maltreated and humiliated. Many of them were beaten, tasered (by electric stun gun), attacked with stun grenades and tear gas, deprived of food and water and subjected, by terrorists in the employ of the state of Israel, to treatment described by a United Nations Fact-Finding Mission as tantamount to torture. Many suffered injury from deliberately over-tightened handcuffs. Several had their passports stolen (for use in who-knows-what future outrage by Mossad criminals) all cameras, mobile phones and computers were illegally seized and many lost large sums of money: plundered in individual acts of piracy by members of one of the world’s most criminal and immoral armies. All of the victims experienced first-hand the ruthless contempt for human dignity that the Zionist state considers its right.
On the Mavi Marmara passengers and crew saw friends and comrades killed, wounded or maltreated by thugs with no more respect for human life than Al Capone’s gangsters. Some of these same criminals later appeared on Panorama. Wary of the daylight they lurked in the night shadows of Haifa docks like wharf rats, referred to their victims as “terrorists”, and falsely accused them of shooting at commandos who were indulging a blood bath totally outside of any remit granted by International Law. (A terrorist, we should remember, is someone who uses violence against civilians for political ends. The commandos defined the term as someone who comes prepared to commit violence, dressed in military clothing with covered faces. Either definition accurately fitted the commandos themselves, who in any event would never be accorded the protection that International Law demands for civilians.)
The blood of men who believed in universal human rights dripped down the stairs of the Mavi Marmara that night as war crimes were committed on the orders of Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu under the guise of defending the state of Israel. Knowing all this, in a few days time an even larger flotilla with even more human rights workers on board will sail for Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu has tried every trick in the diplomatic book to prevent it. We can be sure that Mossad has been hard at work too, trying to sabotage ships bound for the high seas.
Despite well-publicised claims to the contrary, and despite the recent opening of the Rafah Crossing to many civilians, the sadistic Israeli closure remains firmly locked on Gaza. There has been no confirmation that the 4,500 tons of building materials on the last flotilla ever reached Gaza. Desperately needed sewage pipes are still aboard the Malaysian ship the ‘Spirit of Rachel Corrie’ instead of being delivered to Gaza. (Ironically this would have helped to reduce pollution in the eastern Mediterranean where the tides presumably wash untreated Gazan sewage onto Israel’s beaches.) Permitted exports from Gaza amount to around two lorry loads a day in place of the 400 per day that Israel agreed to allow in a deal brokered by Condoleezza Rice in 2005. Meanwhile the scarcely-reported ceasefire of missiles from Gaza, applied after the successful Palestinian unity talks, attracts no concessions from Israel’s continuing occupation of the Gaza Strip.
The heroism and sacrifice of this next flotilla will not be in vain. Despite more brazen lies from Mark Regev and biased portrayals of events by the likes of Jane Corbin, Mr Netanyahu’s stubborn, blinkered stupidity will further damage Israel’s international image while further advancing the Palestinian cause. No Nobel Peace Laureate will be able to disguise the guilt if more Israeli hoods batter more human rights workers. No selectively edited whitewash report, with of without endorsement from professors of International Law, will be able to conceal the truth this time from the people of the world. The flotilla is coming, and just as Mickey Mouse’s sorcerer’s apprentice merely increased the activities of his animated broom when he attacked it with an axe, Mr Netanyahu only risks further opprobrium in the eyes of the world, further censure for his pariah state and further flotillas if he insists in perpetuating the use of violent crime against lawful protest on the high seas.
(Once the ships sail it will be possible to track them on www.marinetraffic.com/ais/. Any assault is likely to be before dawn on the night before the anticipated arrival in Gaza.)
– Richard Lightbown is a researcher and writer. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.