On July 29th, the ship Al Awda, meaning “Return,” was violently and illegally taken by Israeli forces over 50 nautical miles out at sea. This may still come a shock to some, as this was completely ignored by both the current US administration and the whole of western media. According to the eye-witness testimony of all of the many international activists, journalists and politicians aboard, they were robbed, some tasered and beaten, and taken to an Israeli prison; one being an American citizen by the name of Joe Meadors, who was a survivor from the USS Liberty.
According to the Freedom Flotilla official website:
Some participants were repeatedly tasered, including in the head. Others were punched or had their head beaten against a wall by IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) soldiers. Zip-cuffs were used in a manner which cut off circulation. That any of this should happen to any civilian is an outrage. That the Israeli military would deliberately hurt a frail, 69 year old, slightly built surgeon and an Indigenous elder is even more outrageous.
The official IOF story of a ‘uneventful arrival’ is clearly false and masks a seriously disproportionate reaction: there was no need to deploy 12 military vessels with hundreds of armed soldiers against one unarmed former fishing boat full of peaceful participants committed to non-violence.
This is a blatant violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, which guarantees the right of ‘innocent passage,’ and without a doubt a violation of each individual’s human rights, as these were peaceful passengers simply seeking to bring medical aid to the Palestinian people. As we have seen in the past, Israel seeks to punish, with violence, those who try to help the Palestinian people by way of the Freedom Flotilla, specifically because it calls international attention to both its illegal occupation of Palestine and its truly abhorrent treatment of its imprisoned people.
Even while the US levies sanctions on Turkey for the imprisonment of an American, the Trump administration and the entirety of the western media seem to ignore both Israel’s open disregard for human rights, and the fact that an American veteran has been violently and illegally detained by one of its closest allies.
Adding to the ongoing story of gross violations of international law and human rights — that is being intentionally omitted by the hypocritical western press and ignored by the US government — the Freedom has now also been taken by Israeli forces on August 3rd, despite being 40 nautical miles out at sea. Once again the peaceful passengers were robbed of their belongings and illegally taken to Ashdod, Israel to be imprisoned, until hopefully being deported.
Israel claims that any aid being brought in should instead be taken to Ashdod directly, where it will then be given to the Palestinians, however, this is verifiably false, as Israel uses the control of any incoming aid as a way to punish the Palestinian people for not complying with its ongoing displacement and degradation of their rightful home, if given to them at all. Many have also shown that much of the incoming aid intended for the Palestinian people, financial and otherwise, is instead used to the benefit of Israel and its people. All of this being the exact reason the Freedom Flotilla continually seeks to bring these oppressed and tyrannized people any aid they can directly; and as if to verify this point, it should come as no surprise that Israel takes such violent and illegal action simply to avoid the aid from reaching them directly.
This is piracy in every sense of the word, and explicitly demonstrates the hypocrisy of western nations in regard to the blithe and overt manner in which Israel flouts international law. Israel is even going as far as to take measures to ensure that those in the media actually trying to cover and document these events are suppressed and shut down altogether.
As the Freedom Flotilla Coalition News Statement from July 30th states:
We know that the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) blocked all communication signals, including satellite phones. We are very concerned about this violation of journalists’ right to report freely and we remain gravely concerned about their ability to keep their professional equipment and their storage media. As Australian journalist Chris Graham recently observed “Bad things happen when good people stay silent, as history well records. But horrendous things happen when media are prevented from scrutinizing the actions of a state.”
And from August 1st:
Of particular concern is the fate of the two Al Jazeera journalists from Al Awda, who are among the last still held in unlawful detention at Givon prison in Israel. They have had their professional equipment, documents, personal property and money stolen while held by Israeli forces. Press freedoms are under attack by the Israel authorities and require our international support, so we must all #DemandPressFreedom
There is simply no way to misinterpret this situation. There is no way to see this as anything but what it is, a gross violation of international law and human rights respectively. This is precisely why western media and western nations who actively ignore the atrocities of Israel and allow it to take such actions with impunity, are simply pretending this is not happening. Israel is violently hijacking ships full of peaceful travelers in international waters, violating a UN convention, and it is taking action to suppress any means of communication and coverage of the acts taking place. Israel is illegally detaining citizens of multiple nations even while they commit no crime.
While those aboard the Freedom are likely being illegally detained in an Israeli prison as this is being written, I implore any of you who can see the glaring hypocrisy of allowing this to take place, simply because Israel is a US ally, all while demonizing US adversaries for unverified claims, often incited by the US themselves, if not completely fabricated, to take a stand, and demand that Israel be held accountable for its actions.
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” ~John Stuart Mill
Sources: www.jfp.freedomflotilla.org/news/freedomflotilla-boat-carrying-medical-supplies-for-gaza-hijacked-by-israeli-forces, www.consortiumnews.com/2018/07/30/gaza-flotilla-ship-al-awda-violently-seized-by-israelis-uss-liberty-survivor-amongst-those-captured/, www.jfp.freedomflotilla.org/news/2-released-but-most-participants-in-still-in-prison-grave-concern-for-safety-and-cargo, www.jfp.freedomflotilla.org/news/freedom-under-attack-as-it-carries-medical-supplies-to-gaza, www.jfp.freedomflotilla.org/news/sos-just-future-for-palestine