Israeli Warships Try To Block Wheelchairs and Schoolbooks for Gaza
Update at 10:30 ET – live feed back, can hear calls from the ship asking the Israeli’s to stop attack, saying “we have critically injured here, we are civilians” – just heard her say “we have 3 killed”
Five ships are approaching Gaza with 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid but Israel is meeting them with war ships and threats.
After nightfall, three Israeli navy missile boats left their base in Haifa, steaming out to sea to confront the activists’ ships.
Two hours later, Israel Radio broadcast a recording of one of the missile boats warning the flotilla not to approach Gaza.
“If you ignore this order and enter the blockaded area, the Israeli navy will be forced to take all the necessary measures in order to enforce this blockade,” the radio message continued.
On board the Flotilla are 600 passengers – EU parlimentary members, activists, and media – all civilians, all simply planning to deliver desperately needed supplies including prefabricated houses, cement for rebuilding, medical and school supplies. In the third year of the Israeli siege of Gaza – and one year after the devastating Operation Cast Lead, Gazans need these items but Israel has not only said no to the shipment, Israel has specially trained teams of commandos to board and seize the Flotilla and has made it clear that it intends to use force unless the Flotilla agrees to an Israeli seizure.
The decision of the Israeli missile carriers to approach the Flotilla at night – along with attempts to jam all communications – is clearly designed to block us from seeing Israeli actions.
At least so far however, we are able to see what’s going on. The lead ship, the Mavi Mamara from Turkey, is livestreaming events as they happen. As I write this, an Al Jazeera reporter on board says they are pulling back a bit to avoid a night time confrontation with the Israeli navy and instead proceeding in the morning. This would place a likely confrontation at around 11 or 12 Eastern time.
This would be a very good time to call congress and the White House (202-456-1111) and insist that this Freedom Flotilla be allowed to land and deliver the wheelchairs, school books and building supplies on board, not attacked by Israeli war ships – bought and paid for with our tax dollars.
Keeping up wth events overnight:
Edward Teller has been liveblogging events at Seminal and has great background information in his comments – follow it here.
Paul McGeough, a reporter I was honored to host a while back on the FDL Book Salon, is reporting for his paper, the Sydney Morning Herald, from the Mamara – here’s one of his reports – I’ll be watching for more.