Israel seizes Gaza-bound boat in “act of piracy”

Palestinian children take part in a rally to show support for the latest attempt to break the siege of Gaza by sea, at the Gaza City port on 28 June 2015.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Israeli forces boarded and commandeered the Marianne on Monday, one of four boats that were bound for Gaza in the latest attempt to break the tight Israeli siege of the occupied territory.

At around 2 am Gaza time Marianne was surrounded by three Israeli navy boats while in international waters more than 100 miles off the coast of Gaza, organizers Freedom Flotilla III said in a press release.

“After that we lost contact with the Marianne and at 05:11 am (Gaza time) the IDF [Israeli army] announced that they had ‘visited and searched’ Marianne,” the press release states. “They had captured the boat and detained all on board ‘in international waters’ as they admitted themselves. The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite the Netanyahu government’s recent denial that one exists.”

Organizers called the seizure of the boat and its passengers an “act of piracy.”

Israel’s Haaretz reports that the boat is being towed to Usdud (Ashdod), a port in present-day Israel, where the passengers “will be interrogated before being escorted to Ben Gurion Airport and flown out of Israel.”

The 18 passengers aboard the Marianne include Basel Ghattas, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Israeli parliament, former Tunisian president Moncef Marzuki, Spanish member of the European Parliament Ana Miranda and Professor Robert Lovelace, retired chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation in Canada.

Many Palestinians in had eagerly awaited the flotilla, hoping that it would call international attention to the siege which Israel imposed eight years ago.

Members of the crew of the Marianne, which was seized by Israeli forces in international waters early on 29 June as it headed toward Gaza.

Freedom Flotilla III

Three other boats – Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II – that also made up the flotilla have headed back to their ports of origin.

In total, 47 passengers from 17 countries were aboard the boats, which carried medicines, solar panels and above all a strong message of solidarity for the 1.8 million Palestinians still besieged in Gaza one year after Israel began its 51-day destructive assault that killed more than 2,200 people.

An independent UN Human Rights Council inquiry into the attack, published last week, found extensive evidence of war crimes approved by Israel’s leaders at the “highest level.”

Violence incitement

Ghattas joined the flotilla despite violent threats and incitement from fellow lawmakers in Israel to lift his parliamentary immunity so that he could be prosecuted.

Yair Lapid, head of Israel’s purportedly centrist Yesh Atid party, for instance denounced the flotilla as a “provocation against the state of Israel.”

“This is a flotilla of a group of terror supporters a heinous flotilla that needs to be stopped,” Lapid added. “We need to act against the flotilla the same way we do when dispersing a violent protest and these guys need to all be arrested.”

In a Huffington Post column on Sunday, Ghattas defended his right to take part in the flotilla.

Bigots in “a discriminatory Jewish state as a white Southern extremist in a Confederate state, seek to diminish the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and their representatives in the parliament,” Ghattas writes.

“More than anything, it is obvious that the situation of Palestinians in Gaza will inevitably lead to another round of bloody war, perhaps even more horrifying than the one we had less than one year ago,” Ghattas adds. “Still, my very outspoken colleagues in the Knesset would not even consider lifting the blockade as a means to avoid future war.”

“No siege on Gaza”

In a statement Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justified the seizure of the Marianne, claiming that the “flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organization and ignores all of the horrors in our region.”

Netanyahu insisted that “preventing entry by sea was done in accordance with international law and even received backing from a committee of the UN Secretary General.”

“Israel is the only democracy that defends itself in accordance with international law,” Netanyahu insisted, adding that “there is no siege on Gaza.”

The fact that 18 civilians aboard a yacht cannot sail to Gaza, and that there has been virtually no reconstruction in Gaza since Israel’s attack last year would tend to undermine Netanyahu’s contention.

According to Haaretz, after boarding the boat, Israeli army gunmen were “to hand out a letter issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, welcoming [the captives] to Israel and wondering why they sailed to Gaza and not Syria.”

“Perhaps you meant to sail somewhere else nearby – Syria, where Assad’s regime is massacring his people every day, with the support of the murderous Iranian regime,” the letter would reportedly state.

Netanyahu’s statement did not specify which UN “committee” he was talking about, but this was a likely reference to the 2011 “Palmer report” commissioned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon into Israel’s attack the previous year on the Mavi Marmara.

Turkey rejected the report into the assault that killed 10 of its citizens on the Mavi Marmara in international waters and imposed sanctions on Israel.

The inquiry was heavily criticized for bias. The four-member committee that wrote the Palmer report was chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and vice-chaired by former president of Colombia Alvaro Uribe, a notorious human rights abuser close to Israel.

The inquiry commissioned by Ban was in addition to an official UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission which found that Israel’s attack on the 2010 flotilla was illegal.

Determined

“It is disappointing that the Israeli government chose to continue the absolutely fruitless policy of ‘no tolerance,’ meaning it will continue to enforce an inhumane and illegal collective punishment against 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza,” flotilla organizers said in their statement.

“Israel’s repeated acts of state piracy in international waters are worrying signs that the occupation and blockade policy extends to the entire eastern Mediterranean.”

They also urged governments”to ensure that all passengers and crew from the Marianne are safe, and to strongly protest against the violation of international maritime law by the Israeli state.”

“We call on all civil society organizations to condemn the actions of Israel,” the statement concludes. “People all over the world will continue to respond and react to this injustice, as will we, until the port of Gaza is open and the siege and occupation is ended.”

This video, published on 20 June, shows Marianne calling at the Italian port of Messina for a solidarity visit.

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Comments

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Ah, we must thank Israel and its war criminal chief, Netanyahu, for admitting their hypocrisy and their lies. Israel has admitted to being pirates in contravention of international law. So, what else is new? Israel is what it is: a war criminal entity who is holding the Gazans captive in oppressive conditions in violation of international law. How long is the world going to allow this to continue? Boycott Israel. BDS will work if everyone adheres to it.

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What the leaders of this miserable race colony have yet to admit to themselves is that the seizure of property, whether in international waters or in the Occupied Terriroties, is a two-way street. Governments around the world may now seize Israeli assets and arrest Israeli citizens in any way connected with the illegal occupation of territories in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.

Many legal experts feel enough documents exist to justify taking legal meaures even before the ICC ruling. Those documents, combined with numerous verified confessions by military personnel and other utterances from Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, indicate both genocidal intent and the actual commission of crimes of a genocidal nature in Palestine and Lebanon.

The ICC rulings, when they come, should only be an anticlimax to the broader interdictions now underway both internationally and in key UN member states. Hopefully, this parallel process will finally convince Israelis to dismantle what, in the most euphemistic terms, amounts to an Apartheid system. I say euphemistically because Israel has proven itself in 1948, and again in 1956, 1967, 1982 and 2006 that it is a genocidal in both intent and action. Only a genocidal machine can pulverize Palestinian society the way Israel has.

Anyway, the evidence available allows for the filing of international arrest warrants, bank account freezes, expanding sectoral measures against its economy, travel bans, blacklisting of leaders and long overdue sanctions and charges against Israel's donors residing in the EU and US.

To the ruling cliques the message must be clear: You are done for, you will be arrested on sight.

The West hasn't the luxury to do anything else but to work toward the dismantlement of this bizarre race colony, an abomination to all humanity, that it created on foreign soil. Let us hope that this will be a peaceful affair, but as someone once said: All options are on the table. There is really no escape.

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TO ANTHONY SHAKER:

I believe it was in a comment of yours that you urged a
reading of Norman Finkelstein's THE HOLOCAUST INDUSTRY.

Thanks.

It is a must for all those who follow these issues especially re:
US-ISRAELI relations.

Complementing this should be"

1. Naseer Arruri: DISHONEST BROKER"

2. Michael Prior: THE BIBLE AND COLONIALISM

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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Thanks, Peter, I will look into those books. There is something very strange about religious ideology today that allows it to remove all the checks and balances of the religious traditions lived in the last two thousand years.

We see this shocking ends-justify-the means insanity among American Christian Televangelist "night howlers," as I call them; among Jews ensnared in pagan, self-worshipping beliefs inspired by the Zionist abomination, the ancestor of Nazism; and in the Muslim world with Wahhabi jihadism and takfirism.

They are all little Big Lies whose only purpose is to justify theft and murder in the service of the real criminals bankrolling the mayhem we observe today. Where is religion in any of that? In fact, where is the patriotism of the Republican or Democratic traitors in Congress?

Ideology, religious or not, is just a cover for their dead souls.

I don't know about you, but more than ever I see Palestine returning to life. Israel has not grown roots in this land since its miserable creation. It is nothing more than a race colony in foreign soil.

Call me nuts, but I have not seen as much hope for renewal in the greater Middle East as I do today. My heart bleeds for Syria, but I know in my heart of hearts that the Wahhabi "Antichrist," if you want to get "religious" about it, thrives on rot. The Western armies of ISIL and "Free Syria" terrorists are just maggots on the decomposing body of a world "order." That order belonged to the UK, US and France for only a century and a half.

When a glimmer appeared in the ridiclously named "Arab Spring," the vultures set upon whatever was left of the corpse and tried to kill all hope.

150 years of Western hegemony do not add up to a world history. So, let's keep perspective! Every time we shrink from buying or investing "Israel" and talk to other people about Apartheid Israel engaged in genocidal policies we do our part in creating a more human world.

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The West hasn't the luxury to do anything else but to work toward the dismantlement of this bizarre race colony, an abomination to all humanity, that it created on foreign soil. Let us hope that this will be a peaceful affair, but as someone once said: All options are on the table. There is really no escape.

Well said...and "all options are on the table" reminded me of the late victorious President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez.http://world.time.com/2013/03/...
He was so loved by his people to be rid of the stronghold of American Imperialism and their despot that brutally oppressed the people of Venezuela. Viva Chavez....
Viva Palestine...
May the righteous people of Israel "rise up" to overthrow this despot Netanyahu...and not only free their own people...but more importantly the people of Palestine/Gaza.

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Unfortunately righteous people in Israël are few and far between.

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Hope that is seen is not hope...
God gives power to the weak...to the few
So that they will know that He is God who delivers.
Hope is all we have and in every country where a traitor lays, a supporter is hidden.

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Israel's attack on the flotilla leaves us no alternative. Israeli warships should be bombed out of the water. How LONG will we persist in licking Israel's boots as it brutalizes Palestine? - G. Beres

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.