Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
End the Siege of Gaza and Occupation of Palestine
By Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 28, 2010
On Saturday 5th June, 2010, 35 heavily armed Israeli Navy Seals
commandeered our boat, MV Rachel Corrie, one of the Freedom Flotilla, in
International waters (30 miles off the coast of Gaza). As they did so,
we 19 humanitarian activists and crew,
sat on the deck.
were quietly anxious, aware of the solitary figure in the wheelhouse with
his hands held high against the window, in full view of the three Israeli
warships, 4 approaching zodiacs and 2 commando carriers, whose guns were
pointing in his direction. I personally wondered if the courageous
Derek Graham would live to tell the tale, conscious of what happened on the
Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, earlier in the week.
On Monday 3lst
May, 2010, we heard via satellite phone that the Israeli Commandoes had
boarded in International waters, from helicopter and zodiacs, the Turkish
Ship, MV Mavi Marmara, killing and injuring many people. It was later
confirmed that 8 Turkish people, l Turkish/USA, unarmed civilians had been
shot (2 in the head and several in the back). All 6 boats on the
Freedom Flotilla had been commandeered by Israeli Navy and taken to Israel
and during this attack by Israel over 40 people were injured.
These killings of unarmed civilians was devasting news to us all and
something we never expected to happen. All those participating in the
Freedom Flotilla participated because they were moved by the suffering of
the people of Gaza.
They were not Terrorists, they were human
beings, who cared for other human beings in their suffering. Gaza, cut
off by land crossing, sea (its port had been closed for over 40 years since
Israeli occupation and had the Free Gaza Rachel Corrie
Cargo boat been
able to enter Gaza, it would have been the first Cargo boat ever to do so).
Gaza has rightly been been described as the largest open air prison in the
world. With Israel holding all the keys for its one and a half million
people living under a policy of collective punishment by Israeli.
Under siege for over 3 years now, with a shortage of medicine, basic
materials to rebuild their homes, after the 22 day bombardment by Israeli in
Dec/Jan.2009 has left Gaza and its people, a place of suffering and
The flotilla was not only to bring humanitarian
aid, books for children, toys, writing material, but to help break the siege
of Gaza, which is slowly strangling its people.
The violations of
international law committed by Israel are well documented by the UN, and
many independent human rights bodies. All of these violations of
International laws and norms are committed under the guise of ‘national
A policy of isolating Gaza to weaken Hamas.
It is a policy that is clearly not working. As we have
learned in N.Ireland, violence never works, so why not try talking to Hamas,
as the British Government had to talk to rep. of IRA and Loyalist
paramilitaries, in order to move to peace.
The brutal and illegal attack of aid ships in International waters on May
3lst and the subsequent boarding of the MV Rachel Corrie, also in
international Waters, is a symptom of the culture of impunity under which
The Israeli Government was quick to blame
the activists on board the MV Mavi Marmara, claiming that they attacked
first and were members of terrorist groups.
They also claimed that
the HLL the Turkish Humanitarian Group who organized the Mavi Marmara had
terrorist links. The HLL is not a banned organization in Turkey and
has no links to terrorist organizations. It was disappointing to see
how many International governments and media outlets immediately accepted
Israel’s version of events without further investigation.
Sure, there have been calls for a ‘prompt, Impartial, credible and
transparent’ investigation into the events of May 3lst by the United Nations
Yet the United States and others seem
to think that Israel can conduct such an investigation on its own.
In the words of my colleague, Nobel Jody Williams, this is like
“the fox accounting for the number of chickens left in the henhouse” such a
response cannot stand, and nothing less than An Independent investigation
will be acceptable to the international community.
This attack on
the Freedom Flotilla is a tipping point. It is time for the
International Community to finally stop allowing Israel to act with blatant
disregard for Human Life, Human rights and International Law.
The partial lifting of the siege shows what International pressure can
achieve, but it is not enough and only a full lifting of the siege can bring
re freedom to the people of Gaza.
It is time for Israel to choose
peace. It is time for world leaders and the international Community to
join together and call on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza completely, End
the occupation of Palestine and allow the Palestinian people their right to
To help bring closer that day we can all do
something. Not everyone can go with The Freegaza boat people, but
supporting the BDS campaign, calling for an end to EU special trading status
with Israel insisting that USA end its economic/military
Israel until it upholds it International commitments. Palestine is a key to
peace in the Middle East so by us all refusing to be ‘silent’ in the face of
Israel’s continued apartheid policies we can all bring closer an end to all
violence in the Middle East.
Nobel Peace Laureate