No to Use of Military Force Against the Peoples
End the U.S.-Israeli Siege of Gaza Now — Crime Against Humanity
On May 31, the Israeli military surrounded and attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla of civilian ships and passengers bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Latest reports indicate that 20 people were killed and dozens more injured. It was an unprovoked attack against civilians by military warships in international waters. Voice of Revolution vehemently condemns this brutal Israeli crime and the U.S. funding and protection that made it possible. We convey our deepest condolences to the family members of those killed and wounded and our heartfelt salute to all the Flotilla participants.
We demand that President Barack Obama immediately lend support to the Freedom Flotilla so it can complete its mission. We demand that Obama use all diplomatic means, including at the United Nations, to condemn this terrorist attack and to End the Gaza Siege Now! All Support to Palestine! We demand that the U.S. immediately end all aid to Israel. The U.S. supplies the weapons and ships and funding for Israel to carry out its crimes — about $3 billion this year alone.
It is the U.S.-Israeli siege of Gaza that is a crime against humanity. The siege is collective punishment against 1.5 million people, half under the age of 18. Efforts like those of the Freedom Flotilla represent the stand of humanity against such crimes and are to be applauded.
The Freedom Flotilla is bringing 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including food, medical and construction supplies. About 700 civilians were on board the six ships, from dozens of countries, including the U.S. Participants include peace and human rights activists, international personalities, parliamentarians and reporters.
The Israeli military attacked at night, surrounding the civilian flotilla with warships while also using helicopters. The main target was the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, carrying 600 people, about 400 from Turkey. Most people were sleeping when Israeli commandos boarded the ships and opened fire on them.
Israel is claiming armed commandos and military warships were acting in “self-defense” against civilians. President Obama has remained silent, much as he did during the Israeli bombing and war against Gaza in 2008-2009, when about 1400 civilians were massacred. On May 31, the White House issued a statement saying only, “The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy.”
The circumstances are the years-long criminal siege against Gaza and U.S. funding, backing and support for it. The circumstances are the U.S.-Israeli occupation of Palestine and refusal to affirm the just national and social rights of the Palestinians. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was acting to break the illegal U.S.-Israeli siege and was raided for that reason and no other. The effort to claim “self-defense” or hide behind "circumstances" is to divert from use of military force against civilians on a humanitarian mission. It is to divert from the fact that had Israel not surrounded and attacked the ships, no deaths would have occurred. Had the U.S. and Israel lifted the siege of Gaza, no deaths would have occurred. It is the Gaza siege that is the issue and the crime.
Nothing can justify use of military force against civilian ships and their civilian passengers. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea calls for “Freedom of Navigation” (article 87); that “The high seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes,” (article 88) and “No state may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty,” (article 89). Israel admits the attack took on the high seas, while claiming "self-defense" against civilians: "This happened in waters outside of Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves."
Use of military force against the people has no place in international relations. It is the U.S. that repeatedly promotes and imposes military solutions — against Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and increasingly inside the country as well, against immigrants and national minorities. It is impunity to use military force against the peoples — exercised by the U.S. — and its protection of Israel for doing the same, that must end and end now.
While President Obama has refused to condemn the attack and implies that there are “circumstances” that would justify it, outrage is being expressed worldwide and by the United Nations. The Turkish Prime Minister said “This attack is state terrorism, violating international law. It should be known that we will not stay silent and unresponsive in the face of this inhuman state terrorism.”
Similar outrage and condemnation was expressed by the Arab world, Austria, France, China and Russia. Greece, Egypt, Sweden, Spain and Denmark summoned Israel's ambassadors to demand accountability from Israel. The Palestinians have called for a general strike in Gaza and the West Bank. A senior Palestinian negotiator condemned the attack as a war crime and demanded action by the UN.
Demonstrations immediately took place in Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Greece, and elsewhere. At least a dozen actions are taking place or planned across the U.S., including in Washington, DC, Boston, Buffalo and New York City, New Haven, Miami, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Boulder, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Voice of Revolution urges all to join these actions and demand an end to the siege of Gaza and full support for Palestine. We demand:
1) That President Obama condemn the Israeli attack and Aid the Freedom Flotilla Now
2) That he use all diplomatic means, including the UN Security Council, to End the Siege of Gaza Now
3) End All Aid to Israel and act to End the Occupation of Palestine Now
4) No Use of Military Force Against the Peoples! All U.S. Troops Home Now!
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, announced a day-long general strike on Monday, and a Gaza-wide national day called Freedom Day to commemorate the death of Flotilla activists and protest Israeli crimes.
“The day is to mourn the martyrs of the flotilla,” Haniyeh said in a statement, naming May 31 Freedom Day and calling on the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency session to take action on Israel's crime in international waters.
Every solidarity activist on board the ships will be awarded a badge of honor from the Gaza government, Haniyeh said, calling each of those killed by Israeli forces a “martyr for Palestine.”
He called on Palestinians world wide to go out and demonstrate.
“Four years are enough and the Arab world is watching,” Haniyeh said, calling on the Palestine Authority to terminate proximity talks with Israel in light of the attack on the Flotilla, saying “it is not reasonable to continue talks in light of this crime.” He also appealed to the UN to withdraw from the Quartet, which includes the U.S., UN, Russia and EU.
He concluded, "We say to those heroes that the essence of your honorable blood has reached us before the aid you are carrying to us.We salute everyone on board the Freedom ships."
Sami Abu Zuhri, an Hamas apokesman added,“We in Hamas consider the Israeli attack on the freedom flotilla as a great crime and a huge violation of international law. In spite of the great harm suffered by the people who joined this flotilla, we consider that their message has been delivered. Thanks to these heroes from other countries who showed their solidarity with Gaza, the Israeli siege is now an international issue and we consider that the occupiers, through this crime, are the ones under siege now.”
World leaders and governments voiced a chorus of condemnation over Israel’s raid on the Freedom Flotilla aid convoy destined for Gaza, with reports indicating 20 civilians killed and dozens more wounded. The U.S. remains one of the few countries refusing to condemn the attack.
Palestine Negotiator Erekat Condemns “Brutal Attacks”
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat described the raid on the Freedom Flotilla as a war crime and said “What Israel does in Gaza is appalling; no informed and decent human can say otherwise,” a statement read.
“The unarmed civilian activists were attacked on foreign vessels while sailing in international waters. This is another incident confirming that Israel acts as a state above the law. The international community must take swift and appropriate action. ”
Erekat referred to the current status of Gaza. “The Israeli government has been trying to deny that Gaza is under occupation. But the fact that Israel is preventing humanitarian aid to freely access the besieged strip clearly shows that Gaza is still occupied.”
The chief Palestinian negotiator called on the international community to “act immediately to end the illegal Israeli siege and to protect the civilians savagely attacked by Israeli forces.”
Ramzy Baroud, Palestinian-U.S. journalist said, “What Israel has done tonight is most barbaric. It is an unmitigated crime against humanity and no one with a living conscious and a shred of humanity can stand idle as a sophisticated army attacks and slaughters international peace activists carrying medicine and toys while on their way to supporting a besieged nation. However, the murder of those activists, and the wounding and the arrest of hundreds will forever cement the ties between Palestine and international peace and justice forces the world over. Starting tonight, this conflict is no longer Israel vs. Palestine, but a criminal state vs. humanity.”
Arab League Calls Emergency Meeting
Arab League chief Amr Moussa slammed the deadly raid, issuing a condemnation on the part of the official body. “We condemn this crime, taken against a humanitarian mission and people. They were trying to help people. They were not on a military mission. Everyone should condemn this,” Moussa told the Agence France-Presse. The Arab League called an emergency session for June 1 to address the attack. Jordan and Egypt, the two Arab states with relations with Israel both condemned the attack, with Jordan calling it a “heinous crime.” Egypt called for lifting the siege on Gaza. It remains to be seen if Egypt will now act to open its border with Gaza, which has remained closed under intense pressure from the U.S. and Israel.
Jordan says Attack is a Crime and Tel Aviv ‘Fully Accountable’
Jordan on Monday firmly condemned Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla with Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Nabil Sharif rendering the offensive, spearheaded by Israeli naval forces on the relief convoy, as “a heinous crime,” the state-run Jordan News Agency wrote.
“This is rejected, unjustified and unprovoked belligerence and a gross breach of international laws and conventions,” he added.
“Jordan follows up the incident with deep concern … Tel-Aviv is fully held accountable in regard to safety of Jordanian nationals aboard the convoy,” he underlined, the news agency reported.
Sharif, who is also the Jordanian government’s spokesman, urged the international community to promptly take necessary and unequivocal action to press Israel lift the unfair blockade on the coastal strip, the JNA wrote.
He added the Jordanian embassy in Tel-Aviv conveyed a letter condemning the act and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recalled the Israeli envoy in Jordan.
Lebanon: Dangerous and Insane Step
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri criticized Israel’s raiding of the aid convoy and said it “represented a dangerous and insane step which will exacerbate regional tensions,” a statement read.
“Lebanon strongly denounces the attack and calls on the international community, particularly the larger powers, … to take measures in a way that would put an end to these continuous violations of human rights and threats toward international peace,” the French daily Le Monde reported. Hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinians protested in front of the UN Headquarters in Beirut, with Hizbullah calling for stepped up resistance to the Israeli occupation.
Iran: Attacks Shows Israeli Weakness
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran said, “The inhuman action of the Zionist regime against the Palestinian people and preventing the humanitarian aid from reaching Gazans does not show this regime's strength, but is a sign of its weakness, and all this brings this sinister and fake regime closer than ever to its end.”
Turkey Denounces Attack as State Terrorism
The Turkish Prime Minister said “This attack is state terrorism, violating international law. It should be known that we will not stay silent and unresponsive in the face of this inhuman state terrorism.” The Foreign Ministry said, “We demand an end to this unlawful situation and the release of the detained ships in international waters.” They added, “This grave incident which took place in high seas in gross violation of international law might cause irreversible consequences in our relations.”
The Foreign Ministry statement said, “Israel has once again clearly demonstrated that it does not value human lives and peaceful initiatives through targeting innocent civilians. We strongly condemn these inhuman acts of Israel,” and condemned the use of force on the ship transporting women and children.
Ankara has summoned Israel’s Ambassador, demanding an explanation on the raid. “Whatsoever the motives might be, such actions against civilians who are involved only in peaceful activities cannot be accepted. Israel will have to bear the consequences of these actions which constitute a violation of international law.”
China on Monday condemned Israel's raid on an international convoy of six ships carrying activists and humanitarian aid to Gaza. "We were shocked by the Israeli attack which led to severe casualties and condemn it," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in a statement. Ma said China urged Israel to seriously implement UN Security Council resolutions and improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
European Union Demands Unconditional Opening of Gaza
The European Union called for a comprehensive inquiry into deaths, and urged Israel to allow the free flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
High Representative Catherine Ashton released a statement via her spokesperson expressing deep regret at the news of loss of life.
“On behalf of the European Union she demands a full enquiry about the circumstances in which this happened … She calls for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of the crossing for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza,” the spokeswoman was quoted as saying by the Israeli daily news site Yedioth Ahronoth.
Micheal Martin, Irish foreign affairs minister, said "I am gravely concerned at the reports emerging of the storming of a Turkish ship this morning by Israeli commandos. My department is seeking to establish the full facts of what has occurred and confirm the safety of the eight Irish nationals who sailed with the Turkish-led flotilla. The reports of up to 15 people killed and 50 injured, if confirmed, would constitute a totally unacceptable response by the Israeli military to what was a humanitarian mission attempting to deliver much needed supplies to the people of Gaza."
Bernard Kouchner, French Foreign Minister: “I am profoundly shocked by the tragic consequences of the Israeli military operation against the peace flotilla for Gaza. Nothing can justify the use of violence such as this, which we condemn. The circumstances of this drama must be fully brought to light and we wish for a thorough inquiry to be put in place without delay.”
A statement issued by Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague called on Israel to open all crossings for aid to enter Gaza. “I deplore the loss of life during the interception of the Gaza Flotilla. Our Embassy is in urgent contact with the Israeli Government. We are asking for more information and urgent access to any British nationals involved.”
The incident, he wrote, underlines the need to lift the restrictions on access to Gaza. “The closure is unacceptable and counter-productive. There can be no better response from the international community to this tragedy than to achieve urgently a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis,” noting serious concerns “about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians.”
Hague said that while Britain has repeatedly advised against attempting naval access into Gaza “there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations. It will be important to establish the facts about this incident, and especially whether enough was done to prevent deaths and injuries.”
UN “Shocked” by Killings
The UN office for the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process issued a statement saying they were “shocked by reports of killings and injuries of people on board boats carrying supplies for Gaza, apparently in international waters.” The response came following an attack by Israeli military and naval forces on six aid ships bound for Gaza, where sources said 10-16 civilian activists were killed.
“We condemn the violence and call for it to stop,” the statement said, noting UN officials were “in contact with the Israeli authorities to express our deep concern and to seek a full explanation.”
The statement concluded, “We are also urging them in the strongest terms to ensure that no further steps are taken that could endanger civilian lives. We wish to make clear that such tragedies are entirely avoidable if Israel heeds the repeated calls of the international community to end its counterproductive and unacceptable blockade of Gaza.”
Israeli press said officials were attempting to do damage control, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak phoning the Turkish defense minister, foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the Turkish ambassador to Israel shortly after the attack on the ship. Daniel Ayalon, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, defying facts on the ground and world public opinion while attempting to justify the massacre said, “The armada of hate and violence in support of [the] Hamas terror organization was a premeditated and outrageous provocation. The organizers are well known for their ties with global jihad, al-Qaeda and Hamas. They have a history of arms smuggling and deadly terror.” Uri Avnery, Israeli journalist and founder of Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom said, “This night a crime was perpetrated in the middle of the sea, by order of the government of Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Command. A warlike attack against aid ships and deadly shooting at peace and humanitarian aid activists. It is a crazy thing that only a government that has crossed all red lines can do.”
(Ma’an, AFP, Palestine Chronicle, BBC)
The world is reacting in righteous outrage at this moment to Israel’s high seas attack on an international aid flotilla, reportedly killing up to 20 people escorting tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza in an effort to break Israel’s three-year blockade. “Made in the U.S.A.” is stamped on the weapons commandos used to kill and wound the international peace activists.
We are saddened and we are angry. At least one of our own members, retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, is among the 700 people aboard the boats attacked in the middle of the night. But we cannot say we are very surprised. Palestinians die quietly and unnoticed every day in Gaza, the world’s largest open air prison, as a result of Israel’s blockade and violent repression.
Veterans For Peace Board Member, Cherie Eichholz, traveled to Gaza in May and had this to say about the situation in Gaza, “Surrounded by a massive wall and a naval blockade, Gazans are imprisoned, suffering without the most basic of necessities, including enough food and safe drinking water. The situation on the ground is grave.”
Another Board Member, Elliott Adams, also traveled to Gaza in May said, “On our Memorial Day we veterans are presented with the ugly specter of U.S. citizens having their lives threatened and being held captive in an act of piracy. Making it more painful, this is being done with U.S. weapons. While the people of Gaza cry out for basic humanitarian needs, a neighboring nation is willing to kill to deny them basic life support.”
Many of our 7,000 members in over 100 chapters are already organizing or will soon join the protests being organized across the U.S. We urge our members to use every nonviolent tactic available in the streets and in local Congressional offices to protest this attack. At the same time we demand Congress cut off U.S. military aid to Israel which has totaled over $32 billion since 1997.
For interviews about what life is like in Gaza, please contact Cherie Eichholz at 206-227-6095 or Elliott Adams at 518-441-2697.
Israel Attacks Gaza Humanitarian Aid Flotilla
In an international act of piracy and murder in international waters, the Israeli navy intercepted, boarded, and opened fire on humanitarian activists on a flotilla of ships attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian Gaza Strip.
According to news reports, Israeli commandos killed as many as 19 humanitarian activists on board one ship, and have abducted all 700 passengers on board the six boats composing the flotilla who are in the process of being sent against their will to Israel for arrest and/or deportation.
The reaction of the Obama Administration to Israel's attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla, which included U.S. citizens, has been tepid. A White House spokesperson stated that he "deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained."
Of course, this statement completely ignores U.S. complicity in arming Israel and enabling its human rights abuses. In July 2008, the United States signed a contract worth $1.9 billion to transfer the latest-generation of naval combat vessels to Israel at U.S. taxpayer expense. Currently, Congress is in the process of appropriating a record $3.2 billion in military aid to Israel this budget year.
Events are moving quickly. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently canceled his meeting tomorrow at the White House to return to Israel. Later today, the UN Security Council is set to address Israel's attack on the humanitarian flotilla. For the latest news from the flotilla, please click here.
1. Organize an emergency protest against Israel's attack on the humanitarian flotilla. Find events near you and post your event details by clicking here.
2. Contact the U.S. Mission to the United Nations at 212-415-4062 right away and demand that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice vote to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's action and initiating an investigation.
3. Learn more about the deadly impact of U.S. military aid to Israel and take action to end it by clicking here.
The Free Gaza Movement has organized nine trips bringing aid to Gaza by boat, including the current Freedom Flotilla attacked by Israel. This effort was the largest to date. Below is their Mission Statement. (See witnessgaza.org for current updates on the Freedom Flotilla.)
* * *
Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has sailed from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip on several successful voyages, bringing in international witnesses to see first hand the devastating effects of Israeli violence against the Palestinian people. Ours are the first international boats to journey to Gaza since 1967.
We are Italian, Irish, Canadian, Greek, Tunisian, German, Australian, American, English, Scottish, Danish, Israeli, and Palestinian. We are of all ages and backgrounds. We have years of experience volunteering in Gaza and the West Bank at the invitation of Palestinians. But now, because of the increasing stranglehold of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine, many of us find it almost impossible to enter Gaza, and an increasing number have been refused entry to Israel and the West Bank as well.
We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise.
We have not and will not ask for Israel’s permission. It is our intent to overcome this brutal siege through civil resistance and non-violent direct action, and establish a permanent sea lane between Gaza and the rest of the world.
Points of Unity
All participants in the Free Gaza Movement accept the following principles and practices:
1. We respect the human rights of everyone, regardless of race, tribe, religion, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship or language.
2. The lawful inhabitants of all territories occupied by Israel since June 5, 1967 must have unimpeded access to international waters and air space, in conformity with all UN resolutions and international law.
3. The lawful inhabitants of all territories occupied by Israel since June 5, 1967 have the right to control all entry and exit to and from those territories without Israeli interference.
4. Israel must withdraw its military presence from all territories occupied since June 5, 1967 and revoke all legislation, regulations, directives and practices that apply differently to different populations living in those territories.
5. Israel must demolish all barriers built to restrict passage in all territories occupied by Israel since June 5, 1967.
6. We recognize the right of all Palestinian refugees and exiles and their heirs to return to their homes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories; to recover their properties, and to receive compensation for damage, dispossession and unlawful use of such property. This is an individual and not a collective right, and cannot be negotiated except by the individual.
7. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, but support no particular political party or organization, without exception.
8. We agree to adhere to the principles of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance in word and deed at all times.