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Audacity of Hope’s Captain Held in ‘Shocking Conditions’, And, Debunking Bronner…

It’s always reassuring to me when The Real News reports on the very same developments that I’ve already written about…!

Now, I hadn’t planned to do a Diary today, but, this Ma’an article had me absolutely livid…

US captain of Gaza ship held in ‘shocking conditions’

The captain of a US vessel intercepted after it tried to defy a ban and sail for Gaza from Greece was being held in “shocking conditions” Sunday and has not received consular assistance, a lawyer said.

Captain John Klusmer was arrested when the US boat Audacity of Hope — the flagship in a flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists — attempted to leave Greek waters on Friday after Athens banned all Gaza-bound ships from setting sail.

Klusmer was charged with two felonies and ordered to appear in court Tuesday. The US Boat to Gaza organization said he was being held in jail in “shocking conditions” and as far as it was aware, had not yet received consular assistance.

New York lawyer Richard Levy — a passenger on the boat who has visited Klusmer in jail in a port town near Athens — told enraged US activists that “he had no bed or toilet in his cell, and is receiving no food or water”.

“We’ve offered to pay his bail,” said passenger Robert Naiman, from the Washington-based Just Foreign Policy organization. “But we have had no indication at all that he will be allowed out of jail before Tuesday.”

The US embassy in Athens was not available for comment…

Then, the Grey Lady’s Chief Israeli Apologist, Ethan Bronner crapped out this boatload of Bovine manure…

Setting Sail on Gaza’s Sea of Spin

…Israel is therefore quick to say that Gaza is well provided for and does not need any flotilla. If it still wants to bring in aid, it should take it to either Israel or Egypt and it will be delivered by truck. Sea access must remain blocked to prevent weapons smuggling.

The Israeli position defies a brutal truth: last year’s flotilla made a big difference for the people of Gaza — at a terrible cost in lives — by refocusing international attention on their plight and forcing a change in Israeli policy. Today, twice as many goods enter from Israel as before. Nonetheless, Gaza remains a deeply sad and deprived place.

“The focus on humanitarian aid by both flotilla organizers and the Israeli government is infuriating and misleading,” Gisha, an Israeli human rights group focused on Gaza, said in a statement. “There is no shortage of food in Gaza, but economic recovery is blocked by sweeping restrictions.” […]

“The flotilla is entirely designed to attack Israel’s image around the world,” said Yuli Edelstein, minister for public diplomacy. “We know that there are representatives of different terror groups on their way to join the flotilla.”

That utter BS needs some serious unpacking…

First, Gisha does indeed state that food is readily available in Gaza(I’d beg to differ), but, Bronner completely ignored the rest of the report, in asserting that everything is hunky-dory in Gaza and the West Bank…

As the flotilla approaches, Gisha warns: Gaza residents don’t need more aid, they need to export and travel

· 83% of Gaza’s factories are closed or working at 50% or less capacity

· Israel forbids export from Gaza: not a single truck allowed since May

…Sari Bashi, Executive Director of Gisha, says it is infuriating that residents of Gaza are being deliberately reduced to recipients of humanitarian aid. “The problem in Gaza is not a shortage of food but rather a violation of the right to productive, dignified work. There is just one solution that will respect the rights of Gaza residents to freedom of movement and livelihood while protecting Israel’s legitimate security interests: Israel must lift the ban on construction materials, exit of goods and travel between Gaza and the West Bank”.

As UNRWA reported just last month…

As the Gaza blockade moves into its fifth year, a new UN report finds unemployment there among the highest in the world while the Hamas-dominated public sector grows…
As the Gaza blockade moves into its fifth year, a new report by the UN’s agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, says broad unemployment in the second half of 2010 reached 45.2 per cent, one of the highest in the world. The report released today, finds that real wages continued to decline under the weight of persistently high unemployment, falling 34.5 per cent since the first half of 2006.

“These are disturbing trends,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, “and the refugees, which make up two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million population were the worst hit in the period covered in this report. It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution.”

Even more on the Israeli economic Siege imposed on Gaza, from Wikileaks, no less…

Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis…

While the [Israeli government] believes that maintaining the shekel as the currency of the Palestinian Territories is in Israel’s interests, it treats decisions regarding the amount of shekels in circulation in Gaza as a security matter. Requests by Palestinian banks to transfer shekels into Gaza are ultimately approved, partially approved, or denied by the National Security Council (NSC), an organ of the Israeli security establishment, not by the Bank of Israel (BOI). As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to econoffs on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge…

Interestingly, Ma’an also reported today that Abbas has to cut the PA’s salaries due to a drop off in that ‘Humanitarian Aid’ that Bronner and Gisha were touting…

Palestinian civil servants put on half pay

Palestinian Authority staff will only receive half their salaries this month as donors continue to deliver less money than pledged, prime minister in Ramallah says…

And Israel wonders why some homemade rockets are ‘launched’ into Israel…?

*gah*

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