STATEMENT OF FREEDOM FLOTILLA II – STAY HUMAN STEERING COMMITTEE TO THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

16 June 2011 — Gaza Friends

On 14 June 2011, as part of its 17th Session, the Human Rights Council held discussions on the status of implementation of the conclusions contained in the report of the independent international factfinding mission on the flotilla attack. The Freedom Flotilla II Steering Committee submitted the following statement:

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Lawyers establish Flotilla Justice Group to coordinate legal action on behalf of flotilla victims

25 October, 2010 — Gaza Friends Doha, Qatar

International legal experts and lawyers representing victims of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla today announced the establishment of the “Flotilla Justice Group.” The announcement came at the conclusion of a two-day meeting held on 23 and 24 October, aimed at coordinating legal actions to hold Israel accountable for its 31 May 2010 attack on the Freedom Flotilla. The meeting, hosted by the Doha-based Al Fakhoora campaign, brought together 70 representatives from 20 countries, to follow up on work that began at the first lawyers’ meeting held in Istanbul on 15 July.

The international advocacy groups, legal and media experts, and lawyers in attendance met in a number of workshops to devise a comprehensive strategy for national, regional and international legal action, inter-organizational coordination, and media mobilization. “The Flotilla Justice Group” will serve as a coordination mechanism for facilitating communication and the exchange of information between lawyers working on behalf of flotilla victims around the world.

Bettahar Boudjellal, a Qatar-based international human rights expert, said, “Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla breached international, human rights and humanitarian law. Our efforts to unify the legal actions through a designated coordination apparatus will allow us to collectively bring the State of Israel to justice. More importantly, it will serve as a foundation for responding to Israel’s future violations.”

The conference workshops were led by prominent personalities within the growing movement to end Israel’s strangulation of Gaza as well as its persistent human rights violations throughout the occupied Palestinian territory. Participants in the meeting included representatives from the following countries: Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Palestine, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yemen.

“The creation of the Flotilla Justice Group is a vital step forward on the road to holding Israel accountable for its attack on our flotilla, and their ongoing abuse of the Palestinian people” said the Freedom Flotilla organizers.

Organizations and firms participating in the conference included: the Turkish ?nsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ?nsani Yard?m Vakf? (IHH), the Free Gaza Movement, European Campaign to End Siege on Gaza (ECESG), Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), the Elmadag Law Firm from Turkey, Mazlumdar — the Turkish Human Rights Association, the UK-based Hickman and Rose law firm, Ship to Gaza – Greece, Ship to Gaza – Sweden, Indonesian Muslims’ Lawyer Team, the Muslim Lawyers Association of South Africa, and others.

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Fakhoora is an international campaign which aims to secure the freedom to learn for Palestinian students in Gaza and the West Bank. The campaign is named after a United Nations girls’ prep school in Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp that was the scene of an attack by Israeli tank shells on January 6, 2009.

AID CONVOY SET TO SAIL FOR GAZA

14 October 2010 — Viva Palestina

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Tfter a tense ten day stand off in Syria, the Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza has now been cleared to sail.

The convoy started out from London on Saturday 18th September and drove down through France, Italy, Greece and Turkey before arriving in the port of Latakia, Syria, on Saturday 2nd October. In Latakia, the convoy has been joined by two other convoys. One came from Morocco and Algeria, the other originated in Doha and came through the Gulf states and Jordan.

There are now 147 vehicles about to board two ships together with 380 people from some 30 countries stretching from New Zealand and Australia to Canada and the United States carrying aid worth some 5 million dollars. This includes 40 people who were on the Mavi Marmara flotilla which was attacked by Israeli commandos murdering ten human rights activists from Turkey.

Over the last ten days in Syria, the convoy has taken on medical supplies urgently needed in the besieged Gaza Strip. Simultaneously negotiations have been conducted with the Egyptian authorities to allow passage into the port of Al Arish and then on to the Rafah Crossing. The support of the Syrian authorities and others has been vital in the successful negotiations.

Last night word finally came through that the Egyptian authorities would allow the ships to dock, unload and passage through to the Rafah Crossing and Gaza would be guaranteed.

The ships will now sail past the place where the Mavi Marmara was attacked and flowers will be laid in memory of the victims. When the convoy reaches Gaza the soil from the graves of some of those who were murdered will be used to plant trees as a memorial to the Mavi Marmara victims.

The convoy hopes to reach Gaza this Saturday or Sunday.

PressTV – Israel warships intercept Gaza aid boat

28 September, 2010 — PressTV

Israeli warships have intercepted a Jewish aid boat bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip, forcefully diverting the aid vessel to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

‘Ten Israeli warships forced the boat to head for (the Israeli port) of Ashdod by force, but without raiding the ship,’ Amjad al-Shawa, a Gaza-based organizer told AFP.

‘They surrendered because they were surrounded. They had no choice,’ he further explained.

The British-flagged aid vessel Irene was carrying seven Jewish activists from Israel, Britain, Germany and the United States, and two journalists, one of whom is an Israeli.

Earlier, Yonatan Shapira, one of the Israeli activists on board, said the navy had contacted the boat and ordered the crew to change course.

‘They said we were approaching an area under naval blockade and told us to change course,’ Shapira told AFP by satellite telephone, saying the boat was about 20 miles from the Gaza coast.

The Israeli forces also warned that the passengers and crew would be held legally liable if they insisted on heading to Gaza, especially those with Israeli nationality.

The Israeli army did not immediately comment on the report and declined to confirm that contact had been made with the boat.

On May 31, Israeli navy commandos killed nine Turkish activists onboard a civilian aid convoy while it was in international waters.

A report by the UN Human Rights Council said the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla ‘constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.’

The UN probe also termed as ‘unlawful’ the continuation of the blockade that has caused great physical and mental harm to the Gaza residents.

NO ONE WAS SAFE: UN INQUIRY INTO ISRAEL’S FLOTILLA RAID

23 September 2010 — PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – PALESTINE LEGAL AID FUND

No one was safe,’ once Israeli soldiers began using live ammunition on board the Mavi Marmara, says an authoritative UN investigation team into the Israeli attacks on the Gaza aid flotilla.

Their report is now going to be considered by the 57-member UN Human Rights Council next week that has the chance to finally ensure that Israel is held accountable for committing what the UNFFM found to be serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law including war crimes of willful killing and torture.

The UNFFM found that Israeli military personnel used ‘incredible violence’ against civilians who the investigators describe as ‘persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism’.

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Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: THE ATTACK ON THE GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA AND HOW IT CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE ISRAEL/PALESTINE CONFLICT

21 September, 2010 — PCHR

We are delighted to inform you that “Midnight on the Mavi Marmara”, the story of the Israel’s bloody assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, is available online by clicking on the link below.

Midnight on the Mavi Marmara
THE ATTACK ON THE GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA AND HOW IT CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE ISRAEL/PALESTINE CONFLICT
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Moustafa Bayoumi, Editor

“We have been attacked while in international waters. That means the Israelis have behaved like pirates … The moment they start to steer this ship towards Israel, we have also been kidnapped. The whole action is illegal.” – Henning Mankell, aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Another War Zone: Social Media in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict By Adi Kuntsman and Rebecca L. Stein

September 2010 — Middle East Report Online

(Adi Kuntsman is Leverhulme Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures of the University of Manchester. Rebecca L. Stein is associate professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University.)

Israeli ship warns Freedom Flotilla not to proceed to Gaza. Still from Israeli navy video distributed on YouTube.

In late May 2010, the convoy known as the Freedom Flotilla met off of Cyprus and headed south, carrying humanitarian aid and hundreds of international activists who aimed to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. The organizers used social media extensively: tweeting updates from the boats; webcasting live with cameras uplinked to the Internet and a satellite, enabling simultaneous rebroadcasting; employing Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and other social networking websites to allow interested parties to see and hear them in real time; and using Google Maps to chart their location at sea. Until shortly after its forcible seizure by Israeli commandos in the wee hours of May 31, the flotilla stayed in touch with the outside world despite the Israeli navy’s efforts to jam its communications. A quarter of a million people watched its video feed on Livestream alone, while many more consumed these images in abbreviated form on television news.

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Happy Birthday, Free Gaza

23 August, 2010 — Free Gaza

Two years ago today, 44 people from 17 countries were on the Mediterranean heading toward Gaza. We were in two dilapidated fishing boats, the seas were rough, most of us were seasick, and all of us were worried that Israeli military warships would prevent us from getting into the illegally blockaded port of Gaza.

Israel had blocked our communications equipment; our two captains, long-time seafarers were working off compass and pieces of paper. At 3:00 pm, we saw the shores of Gaza, and no Israeli war ship was there to prevent us from sailing in to the raucus shouts, applause and joy of 20,000 imprisoned Palestinians waiting on shore, covering every inch of standable ground.
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