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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Israeli Navy arrests Gaza-bound French boat

 “We call on the Israeli government to end the siege and blockade of Gaza, treat the people of Palestine in compliance with international law.”

Several Israeli naval ships early today stopped the French-flagged ship Dignite/Al Karama on the last leg of its voyage en route to Gaza. Sixteen people — French, Canadian, Greek, Swedish, Tunisians — were aboard the small boat passing in international waters, approximately 40 miles off the Gaza Strip.

By 6 a.m. the Israeli military had taken control of the boat and was bringing it to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where the people onboard Dignite “would be arrested.”  At the time of the alert, there had been no reports of injuries but “all communication with the passengers on the Dignite had been cut off.”

The Dignite “carried a message of solidarity and human empathy from the people of the world to the people of Gaza, and all of Palestine, that Israel’s violence can never silence. The journey of this small boat is further evidence that the will of global civil society cannot be intimidated.

“As long as the illegal blockade of Gaza remains in place, ships will sail to confront it. As long as Israel continues its occupation, and violent repression of Palestinians and our governments are silent about it, the global solidarity movement will mobilize nonviolently and directly to challenge it.

“The Israeli government’s belief that Freedom Flotilla II can be stopped misunderstands the nature of this non-violent movement and its purpose to end the siege of Gaza. Despite most of the Freedom Flotilla II being unable to leave Greek ports, the flotilla highlighted the vicious nature of Israel’s policy toward Gaza. Israeli leaders showed their willingness to use intimidation, lies, economic blackmail and threats of violence and sabotage to stop boats that Israeli military officials acknowledged would not be carrying weapons. This clearly demonstrates that Israel’s  blockade of Gaza is not based on ‘security’ but is meant to punish the 1.7 million people living in Gaza; deny their freedom; and cut them off from the rest of the world.”

The international community’s failure to take tangible measures to uphold United Nations resolutions and Palestinian human rights makes possible the Israeli government’s continued violations of international law and human rights of Palestinians. “As the American passengers on The Audacity of Hope directly experienced in Greece, some major powers — including the U.S. government and the European Union — have been willing to ignore international law and human rights to appease the Israeli government.  International civil society has no recourse other than to take nonviolent direct action.”

The Dignite is one member of the larger Freedom Flotilla II that had planned sailing together to Gaza in late June. All other ships, including the U.S. flagged ‘The Audacity of Hope,’ were delayed earlier by Greece. The Greek government had refused the boats permission to sail — “an egregious act of complicity in Israel’s policy toward Gaza that the International Committee of the Red Cross has determined to be ‘collective punishment.’”

The Dignite had set out from a French port and the French government refused to interfere with this nonviolent civilian human rights initiative. That government permitted the ship to sail into international Mediterranean waters without problems. The Dignite and its passengers represent the steadfastness and determination of the flotilla movement to sail until the blockade is broken.

Freedom Flotilla II’s French-flagged Dignite/Al Karama alerts
For information about the Dignite, Huwaida Arraf 202-294-8813

We urge you to contact the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. (202-364-5500) to call for the immediate release of Dignite/Al Karama. We call on the Israeli government to end the siege and blockade of Gaza, and to treat the people of Palestine in compliance with international law. Ustogaza.com


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