Monday, July 12, 2010

Israeli navy on alert as Libyan aid ship heads for Gaza.

A new aid ship is heading towards Gaza carrying 15 activists and 2,000 tonnes of food and medicine. The Israelis are, once again, stating that it will not be allowed to dock there and are calling the act an "unnecessary provocation."

The new attempt to break the naval blockade of Gaza comes six weeks after the Israeli navy's lethal interception of a flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists were killed. The assault prompted a wave of international condemnation and resulted in Israel agreeing to ease its blockade of Gaza.

However, it is strictly maintaining its sea blockade, saying it fears that any relaxation could lead to arms being shipped to militants in Gaza.

The Amalthea's captain was quoted as saying: "I haven't received any instructions to change the ship's original course. I am sailing to Gaza." The crew were expecting to reach Gaza on Wednesday.

"We hope the Israelis will not ban the ship from entering the port of Gaza," Youssef Sawani, director of the Libyan charity organising the trip, told Reuters.

"If they decide to do so we have no means to object to that. This is a peaceful mission. Our sole goal and intention is to have the goods delivered to those who need it. It is not to make an event or a show in high seas."

Israel's blockade, which it has partially relaxed since the killing of nine peace activists, nevertheless remains an outrage. The people of Gaza have committed no crime, so this decision to continue to deny them food and medicine still angers many people around the world.

I am not remotely surprised that another convoy is now heading for Gaza, indeed, I am surprised that there have not been even more attempts to flout this illegal siege.

How long can people be expected to watch this kind of stuff and remain inactive? I know the Israelis would like the rest of the world to simply ignore what is happening in the Occupied Territories, but that is never going to happen.

And the Israelis are right when they say that what is taking place is political rather than humanitarian, but the scale of humanitarian misery they are causing was always going to elicit a political reaction.

To punish people for "voting the wrong way" is simply unacceptable.

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