Atlanta Activists Protest Israel’s Attack on Flotilla to Gaza
(APN) ATLANTA — On Tuesday, June 01, 2010, over 200 Atlantans gathered at the Israeli Consulate on Spring Street to protest Israel’s military attack upon an international convoy carrying humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million people in Gaza.
The six ships were in international waters when the Israeli Navy intercepted the Freedom Flotilla abducting 700 people from 42 countries, wounding 80, and killing 9 humanitarian aid workers, with some news reports having the death toll as high as 19. The passengers were taken against their will to Israel for arrest and/or deportation.
The Movement to End Israeli Apartheid-Georgia (MEIA-G) “with only a day’s notice was able to get the support and turn out on Tuesday of local peace activists, Palestinians, Arabs, Jews, and other communities of color that understand the devastating effects of racism and apartheid,” Ryan Haney, a member of MEIA-G, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“There’s an unfortunate lesson in Israel’s response to the Freedom Flotilla that speaks to the root of the conflict: any sort of resistance to apartheid policies, even the simple act of bringing aid to a people determined not to die, is constituted as a threat to the state of Israel and considered worthy of bloody repression. We have to cut any allegiance to Israel as long as their project of exclusion and extermination persists, and we believe the effort to boycott, divest, and sanction the state of Israel is a crucial step in that effort,” Haney said.
The condemnation of Israel’s Freedom Flotilla attack is worldwide with spreading protest in major cities around the world. Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called the Israeli attack a “bloody massacre” and urged the world to punish Israel for its “lawlessness.”
“Groups all over the world, including many governments, condemn the actions of the Israeli occupation forces in their attack against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Considering our own government’s response has been characteristically lukewarm–and considering that our tax dollars directly fund the occupation forces–we have a special responsibility to take to the streets to demand justice for the flotilla activists and an end to the blockade,” Haney said.
Survivors of the Israeli attack claimed the battle was one-sided. “It was like war,” Annette Groth, a German politician who was on the Mavi Marmara, told the Guardian newspaper (UK). “They had guns, taser weapons, some type of tear gas and other weaponry, compared to two-and-a-half wooden sticks we had between us. For the Israeli soliders to talk of self-defense is ridiculous.”
Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies. Fulkan Dogan, 19, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times. In addition to the dead, 48 others were suffering from gunshot wounds and six activists remained missing, suggesting the death toll may increase, The Guardian noted.
Israel used disproportionate military response in the attack on the Mavi Marmara just as it had in the 2009 massacre in Gaza, in which over one hundred Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed for every one Israeli.
Atlanta protester, Eyal Brami, an Israeli citizen, said “I joined the demonstration to declare my objection, to the Israeli government actions who once again, crossed the line by stopping… a humanitrain aid ship. The people who live in Gaza are facing a miserable daily routine of poverty, hunger, and inability to run normal life.”
“In my opinion, Israel needs to remove the illegal blockade on Gaza, and not only for the people who live in Gaza, but also for Israel’s own good. With the blockade in place, Israel is violating international law that forbids collective punishment by preventing food, medicine, and basic needs from children, elders, and sick people. Israel is creating many, many haters to itself among the Palestinian society and the international society all over the world who criticize its actions,” Brami said.
According to the Geneva Conventions, the collective punishment of 1.5 million people who live in Gaza for the actions of a few militants is a violation of international humanitarian law.
Additional war crimes committed during the January 2009 Israeli attack on Gaza include civilian targets like schools, hospitals, government offices, infrastructure, water supplies, businesses, police stations, sewage systems, and even the United Nations building. White phosphorus was dropped on civilians which burns the skin off and destroys internal organs.
Gaza is unable to rebuild the destroyed buildings and infrastructure because Israel’s blockade does not allow concrete, building materials, or other necessary items into the area. The Gaza Strip is a very small piece of land only 25 miles long and from 3 to 7 miles wide, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on one side, Israel on the other, and shares a seven-mile border with Egypt.
According to FreeGaza.org, Israel has seized another humanitarian ship, The Rachel Corrie, about 40 miles from Gaza on June 4, 2010. The humanitarian aid ship carried activists from Ireland and Malaysia who have been taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod. Israel refused the UN offer to check the cargo and instead shadowed the boat for hours, jamming all communications until moving in to seize the ship.
The ship was named after Rachel Corrie, a peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death at the age of 23 by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003, while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, in 2009, former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) was also abducted and imprisoned in Israel for attempting to break the naval blockage of the Gaza Strip and carry humanitarian aid to the distressed citizens in Gaza.
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Gloria Tatum is a Staff Writer for The Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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