Mary Hughes-Thompson, who is aboard the Canadian ship of the Gaza flotilla, the Tahrir, which is anchored in Crete and blocked by the Greek Coast Guard is about to attempt to set sail to join its comrade boats who’ve already departed and plan to join up in the Mediterranean before they proceed to Gaza. The Audacity of Hope has been forced to dock at a Greek military facility and there seems little likelihood it can break this new Greek siege. To further sabotage the U.S. ship, its captain has been arrested on a trumped-up charge of “endangering the safety” of the passengers because he put to see without gaining permission from the authorities to do so.
But the Tahrir will make a valiant effort to sail. As Mary says:
…We expect to be boarded and arrested, hopefully without the tactics expected from the IDF. My impression is that since Israel has outsourced the blockade to Greece, we will challenge Israel on Greece’s shores.
In the comment threads here we’ve had a hearty debate about the likelihood of involvement of the IDF or Mossad in sabotaging the Irish ship, Saorise, in Turkish waters and the Audacity of Hope, each of which sustained sabotage damage. Here Ethan “Eytan” Bronner, no friend of the Flotilla, effectively concedes that he credits the reports of Israeli attack on the ships:
Israel, for its part, has been campaigning against the flotilla and perhaps doing more — some of the boats have suffered sabotage.
In this portion of Bronner’s report on the Flotilla he as usual publishes an attack on the Flotilla without having a shred of evidence to justify his conviction:
The Turkish group I.H.H., which helps sponsor the flotillas, has ties to Hamas, and Israeli and Western concern that violence could occur if the flotilla sets sail does not seem far-fetched, despite the organizers’ vows to the contrary.
I have heard many Hasbara sources claim IHH has ties to Hamas but never seen any proof of this. More importantly, Bronner himself never has presented such proof. It seems journalisitcally rash to advance such a controversial claim without at least supporting it with some proof. Further, since IHH is not at all involved in the current Flotilla, it is not only ‘far-fetched,’ but downright fraudulent to base a claim that violence might occur if the Flotilla sets sail on the fact that violence occurred last year on a boat sponsored by IHH. Bronner has once again provided no evidence whatsoever to support the notion that THESE Flotilla organizers will resort to violence.
Within the article he mentions the outrageous, unfounded Israeli claim that passengers plan to pour sulfur on boarding soldiers and light it on fire. The only refutation he offers is a statement by the organizers that the claim isn’t true. But in this case that isn’t good enough. When a government flat-out lies, it’s the job of a journalist to either say so explicitly or at least say the government has provided no proof for its charges. The fact that he does not do so indicates not just his shoddy journalism, but bias and bad faith.
In the meantime, 700 Palestinian peace activists plan to fly into Ben Gurion airport this coming Friday, as part of the Flight of Return. They will promote the notion that Palestinians should be free to “return” to Israel and travel and move freely within a country they or their parents were driven from in 1948:
“We are flying to Ben-Gurion on July 8 to visit friends in Palestine, and we insist that our own governments support us in doing so. Supporting our visit to Palestine will be one small step towards bringing about the freedom of movement for all the peoples of Israel/Palestine that is essential for peace and justice in the Middle East,” the group added.
…“We are not trying to do anything threatening. Everyone should have the right to free movement and travel in the Palestinian territories. That is what this action is about,” [Laura Durkay] said. “We are here in the spirit of peaceful solidarity.”
972 Magazine noted another important aspect of the protest:
Palestinians wishing to travel abroad must apply for special permission from the Israel authorities. Those wishing to travel to the United States must first obtain a permit to visit the American Consulate in East Jerusalem and obtain their visa.
Human rights organizations have often cited the complete authority over entries and exits from the occupied territories as further proof of Israel’s effective control over Palestinians’ lives, in stark contradiction to the claim that since the Oslo agreement, “Palestinians run their own business.”
The Israeli media,undoubtedly under the influence of the government and police authorities have described the protest as yet another provocation or as an attempt to start a riot at the airport. The Israeli spin machine manufactures the same paranoid responses to legitimate sources regardless of content or intent.