The nation-wide blockade of all goods to and from Israel is under way.
– Tens of containers were put under blockade tonight.
By midnight at 00:00 on the 23rd June the Swedish Dock-workers union week-long blockade of goods to and from Israel started. The ongoing nation-wide blockade in Swedish harbors, that is based on the request of the united Palestinian union-movement, is The Swedish Dockworkers Union’s attempt to contribute to pressure Israel into:
1. Lifting the blockade on Gaza
2. Allowing an independent, international investigation of what happened at the Israeli boarding of the so called Freedom Flottilla when nine people were shot to death.
In the harbor of Gothenburg the blockade were initiated without any complications. About ten containers, both Israeli imports and exports were immediately identified in the container terminal. All of which have been separated and will stand untouched in the harbor of Gothenburg until the end of the blockade at 24:00 the 29th of June.
– Everything has passed very calmly and I believe it will continue to do so until next Wednesday, says Peter Annerback, chairperson of the Swedish Dockworkers Union section 4 (Hamn4an) and member of the unions executive committee in a late comment.
– Since we are not in a conflict with our employers a “conflict-contained” container that carries any medical equipment will be allowed exemption, continues Annerback.
– We have identified more goods on its way to or from Israel than we had expected. We thought the flow of goods would be much lower considering the blockade has been announced for twenty days, says Hamn4ans trustee Erik Helgeson.
– Our ambition is of course that our action can be one of many grassroots initiatives that will keep the eyes of the world focused on the 800.000 children that lives isolated in Gaza. The Palestinian civilian population must be allowed to rebuild their economy, their infrastructure and freely integrate with the rest of the world. The war on Gaza and Israel’s brutal blockade have made all this impossible for over three years now, Helgeson ends.
The Swedish Dockworkers Union have explained the motives behind the unions blockade of Israeli goods in two articles:
By David Cronin
BRUSSELS, Jun 18, 2010 (IPS) – A leading Israeli supplier of warplanes used to kill and maim civilians in Gaza is in the running for two new scientific research grants from the European Union.
Israel’s attacks on Gaza in late 2008 and 2009 provided its air force with an opportunity to experiment with state-of-the-art pilotless drones such as the Heron. Although human rights groups have calculated that the Heron and other drones killed at least 87 civilians during that three-week war, EU officials have tentatively approved the release of fresh finance to the Heron’s manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Two projects involving IAI have recently passed the evaluation stages of a call for proposals under the EU’s multi-annual programme for research, which has been allocated 53 billion euros (65.4 billion dollars) for the 2007-13 period.
The Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, has confirmed that IAI is one of 34 Israeli “partners” involved in 26 EU-funded projects for information technology which are under preparation.
Among the other Israeli firms being considered for such funding are Afcon, a supplier of metal detectors to military checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the Erez crossing between southern Israel and Gaza. Afcon was also awarded a contract in 2008 for installing a security system in a light rail project designed to connect illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem with the city centre.
Mark English, a Commission spokesman, said that the procedures relating to the projects have not yet been completed. But the Israeli business publication Globes reported last month that Israeli firms stand to gain 17 million euros from the latest batch of EU grants for information technology. According to Globes, this will bring the amount that Israel has drawn from the EU’s research programme since 2007 to 290 million euros.
Israel is the main foreign participant in the EU’s science programme. Officials in Tel Aviv say they expect Israeli firms and research institutes will have received around 500 million euros from the programme by the time of its conclusion.
Chris Davies, a British Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament (MEP), expressed anger at how the Commission’s research department appears willing to rubber-stamp new grants for Israeli companies. Such a “business-as-usual” approach is at odds with tacit assurances from officials handling the EU’s more general relations with Israel, he said.
In late 2008, the EU’s 27 governments agreed to an Israeli request that the relationship should be “upgraded” so that Israel could have a deeper involvement in a wide range of the Union’s activities. But work on giving formal effect to that agreement has stalled because of the subsequent invasion of Gaza.
Approving EU finance for Israel Aerospace Industries “should be regarded as utterly unacceptable, incoherent and outrageously naive,” Davies told IPS. He argued that there appears to be “no communication” between different sets of EU representatives on how Israel should be handled. “Where’s the joined-up thinking?” he asked.
While the European Commission claims that all of its scientific research cooperation with Israel is civilian in nature, the Israeli government has been eager to publicise the almost umbilical links between the country’s thriving technology sector and its military. A brochure titled ‘Communications in Israel’ published by its industry ministry earlier this year refers to a “symbiosis” between the security and technology sectors in Israel. Several technology breakthroughs – such as the invention of voice recognition devices for computers by the Israeli army in the 1980s – have resulted from this “convergence”, the brochure claims.
Other likely Israeli beneficiaries of the new round of EU funding do not conceal how they have benefited from this convergence either. The Israeli subsidiary of SAP, the software manufacturer, has issued publications about how it has provided specialist equipment for the Israeli army. And both Emza and LiveU, two “start-up” companies, are examples of the numerous makers of surveillance equipment in Israel that have seen their order books fill up since the country tried to position itself as an indispensable part of the “war on terror” declared by former U.S. president George W. Bush.
Marcel Shaton, head of the Israel-Europe Research and Development Directorate (ISERD) in Tel Aviv, said that EU citizens should not have any qualms about financing Israeli arms companies. “All research supports the arms industry,” he said. “Non-military technology is used for military purposes all over the world.”
But Yasmin Khan, a specialist on the arms trade with the anti-poverty group War on Want, said that the EU has been complicit in the occupation of Palestine through its support for Israel’s military industry.
She noted that drones made by IAI and other Israeli companies have been bought by several European countries taking part in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. “The military industry is a central point of the Israeli economy,” she said. “The equipment it makes is sold as ‘battle-tested’, which is a dark way of describing its use in the occupied (Palestinian) territories.” (END
Almost two weeks after Israel’s attack on the humanitarian aid ships bound for Gaza, there still remain a lot of questions. This is partly due to the fact that while the deadly assault unfolded in open seas, the journalists and observers on board the ships were prevented from sending accurate reports of the brutal massacre that left nine people dead and many injured. President Obama, in a joint press conference with Mahmoud Abbas, supported the idea of initiating an investigation that “met international standards”: “We saw the tragedy with the flotillas, something that I think has drawn attention all around the world to the ongoing problems in Gaza. As part of the United Nations Security Council, we were very clear in condemning the acts that led to this crisis and have called for a full investigation. And it is important that we get all the facts out. But what we also know is that the situation in Gaza is unsustainable.”
Israel bluntly refused to allow an international investigation. The Free Gaza Movement, designed to deliver aid to besieged Gaza and “to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip” was described as “The armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organization” by Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Daniel Ayalon, who called the Movement a “premeditated and outrageous provocation” and accused the organizers of having “ties to global Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Hamas.” The outrageous accusations completely ignore the fact that according to the UN statistics, almost 70% of Gazans live on less than $US1a day, 75% rely on food aid and 60% have no daily access to water.
Mr. Ayalon’s contemptible comments attempt to hide the true purpose of Israel’s blockade of Gaza – to subject Gazans to collective punishment for electing Hamas in democratic elections and to weaken its popular support by creating unliveable conditions in Gaza. Accusing parliamentarians, international observers, aid workers, journalists, does not deflect the attention of the world from Israel’s “goal to bring down Hamas,” as much as it highlights the need to rethink the Western bias against a legitimately elected government of the Gaza Strip Israel calls a terrorist organization. In light of Israel’s latest massacre of unarmed civilians aboard Mavi Marmara, the West must not only rethink its attitude towards Hamas, but also must question the credibility of all of Israel’s claims – past and present.
While committing despicable acts of violence against the passengers of the humanitarian aid ships, Israel “tightly controlled the images of its naval raid on the flotilla, seized almost all of the photographic and video equipment of the passengers aboard the ship, also jammed all communications as they were raiding the ships.” A few managed to smuggle out videos and photographs that show the activities on board the ships prior to the Israeli assault and the reaction of the passengers during the attack as well as footage that includes the injured and the dead. New York filmmaker and activist Iara Lee’s hour-long unedited video and Australian photographer Kate Geraghty’s photos provide a glimpse of what actually happened on board the ships.
During her interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Iara Lee said that the activists on board “were prepared for a confrontation,” but did not think it was going to be so violent. “When we saw commandos coming down the helicopter and all these Zodiacs full of navy soldiers coming just around, it was just – we had no words.” ” … The Zodiacs came and surrounded, and the helicopters had their commandos coming down. And it was chaos, total chaos. The women were told to go downstairs and stay quiet and calm. And, you know, I was very concerned about my cameraman, my friends, so I went up. And by the time I went up just to see what was going on, I already saw many injured and dead bodies. It was terrifying … At the end of the operation we had all our equipment confiscated.” According to Ms. Lee, people had their cameras and video equipment during the raid and “everybody was documenting.” However, they could not get their footage or photographs out because “everything got confiscated.”
Soon after the attack, the megaphones in every room of the ship announced: “Stay quiet and calm. They’re using live ammunition. There is no way we can resist. They are taking over the ship. Just stay calm and don’t resist at all.” Indeed, apart from rubber bullets and tear gas, Israelis used live ammunition on Mavi Marmara. This statement is corroborated by the eyewitness accounts of two Australian Journalists on board Challenger One – Paul McGeough, the author of Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas, who is the chief correspondent of Sydney Morning Herald, and Kate Geraghty, photographer with the Sydney Morning Herald. In an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Paul McGeough said: “We were about … 150 meters off to the port side of the ship when the Israelis started lobbing sound grenades, tear-gas canisters onto the rear deck of the boat, where there was a big crowd. You could see them in their lifejackets. You could see the flashes of the incendiary devices. You could hear the noise of them exploding, and a panicked, angry reaction to that.”
As Challenger One was taken over, Kate Geraghty, who was photographing at the time, “took a jolt as she was tasered and thrown across the deck”: “I was photographing, standing right next to Paul. And I was looking over the side of the boat, as the commando came – an Israeli commando came up towards us. … [I] basically got hit on the arm just above my elbow, which knocked me about a meter, about a meter and a half. And then, I was immediately sick.” At the moment Kate started to throw up, the commando came towards her and “wrestled” her camera off. There could be no argument with these armed men, whose accomplishments are measured not in combat, but on high seas, in an act of piracy against tasered photographers and other unarmed civilians. What a sorry addition to a Military Résumé! What a poor use of military might! What an inglorious victory!
Sending military units specially trained to make dangerous raids against unarmed civilians was not “the result of an intelligence rift” as the group of top Israeli Naval reserve officers acknowledged in their denouncement of the raid. Israel has the capacity to intercept all radio communications, and knew in advance that the humanitarian ships carried no militants and no guns. Besides, six activists originally onboard Mavi Marmara, remain unaccounted for: “… They are not hurt, they are not injured, they are not killed. They disappeared … some people … speculate that we had spies, so maybe some of these missing people were … Mossad agents.” The assumption is quite reasonable and it helps answer the question as to why Israel used commandos in camouflage and masked faces to storm a humanitarian ship.
Just as Palestinians in Gaza feel the deadly force of the Israeli military for voting the wrong way, so too, must all supporters of Palestine. The attack was designed to intimidate and punish all those that feel compassion towards besieged Gaza – a collective punishment of sorts, imposed on parliamentarians, aid workers, activists, international observers, and journalists. Ironically, the best support for this statement comes from the Israeli commandos themselves who called Mavi Marmara a “hate boat,” despite the fact that some of their injured soldiers were given medical treatment by the passengers of the so called hate boat: “They [the passengers] managed to get hold of some Israeli soldiers, but obviously we were so brainwashed about nonviolence as our methodology that we didn’t kill any of the Israeli soldiers.”
Measuring their actions against their words leaves one puzzled: “Don’t the Israelis have any sense of Right and Wrong? In the middle of international waters, Israelis came onboard a humanitarian ship and “used live ammunition.” They didn’t “come to play ball … they came to kill.” Nine civilians died and forty-eight others suffered gunshot wounds. Yet, they dare call the ship a “hate boat.” The autopsy results for the nine dead confirmed the use of thirty bullets in each case. Five of the victims had gunshot wounds to the head. The nineteen-year-old Furkan Dogan that also held U.S. citizenship “was shot five times from less than 45 cm […], in the face, the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back.” Yet, Israel’s deputy foreign minister Daniel Ayalon dares call the Free Gaza Movement “the armada of hate and violence.” Shooting a human being at “a point-blank range” five times is not “hate and violence” but bringing aid to Gaza is! One has to question not only Israel’s comprehension of International Law, but also its sense of morality that expresses itself in brutal acts of violence.
While constructing a whole new prison facility to accommodate over 600 kidnapped activists of the Freedom Flotilla at Ashdod port of Israel, the architects of the premeditated attack also came up with an ingenious plan of blinding, silencing, obscuring all sources of information. Kate Geraghty’s camera was wrestled away, while she was vomiting – she suffered bruises, minor burns and nausea. Challenger One’s first mate, Shane Dillon witnessed the attack on Kate Geraghty and the “ripping” of equipment from Paul McGeough: “She was just doing her journalistic duties … She advised them she was a bona fide photographer.”
Despite the letter sent on May 24, 2010 by Sydney Morning Herald’s editor, Peter Fray, to Israeli authorities – “In the event that Israel apprehends the vessel on which they are travelling, I urge you to allow McGeough and Geraghty the freedom to pursue their journalistic duty …” – and despite the fact that the letter was received by the Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, before the Flotilla set sail, both journalist were prohibited from doing their job. “… Before they came on the ship, we were able to do our jobs as our contracts require of us. We were filing regular reports. We had satellites. We had handheld sat phones. We had computers that linked into those satellite phones. We had Kate’s very expensive cameras. Anywhere between $60,000 and $80,000 worth of equipment was confiscated from us, and we have not seen it. We were not given receipts for it.”
A similar sentiment was expressed by Iara Lee of Cultures of Resistance, whose hard drives and camera equipment were seized by invading commandos. Despite her demands – “… We demand our footage back … We could reconstruct the events, if we were given our footage back, and not … [in] a manipulative fashion. They [the Israelis] are extracting things for their stories and putting on the YouTube … This is like complete violation of respect for media” – in all likelihood she will not get her equipment. It would beat the purpose of Israel’s censorship.
Fully aware of the illegality of the attack, the Israelis mounted a disproportionate offensive against people repelling them with chairs, broomsticks, pieces of the boat and rubbish. Israeli authorities claimed that the “commandos were attacked by the protesters,” that there were, according to IDF, “hostile weapons on board.” Eyewitness accounts dismiss Israeli claims, reporting that the commandos used “stun grenades, tasers, high velocity paint ball guns,” rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition on unarmed civilians.
Israeli lies would have probably been swallowed wholesale, if there were no records of the raid. By confiscating “every recording and communication device it could find,” Israeli government “selected, edited and released footage they wanted the world to see.” Paul McGeough evaluates Israel’s attempt to censor the raid: “… The thing that – talking to people who were on all of the boats, while we were in detention – the systematic attempt and very deliberate first priority for the Israeli soldiers, as they came on the ships, was to shut down the story, to confiscate all cameras, to shut down satellites, to smash the CCTV cameras that were on the Mavi Marmara, to make sure that nothing was going out. They were hell-bent on controlling the story. If you go back to the Dubai disaster, where the story played so badly for the Israelis in January with the murder of the Hamas operative, they are so concerned and so aware of the importance of controlling the narrative at any volatile point in the crisis that their first priority was, as I said, to shut down any other story.”
While Israel “controlled the narrative,” civilians bled to death. The narrative control was not successful either. Iara Lee describes: “I think the miscalculation was that the Israelis thought, by jamming our satellite system, the world would not have any access to information. And they didn’t know that we had a backup system that was able to transmit live some of the events. And obviously it was dark in the middle of the ocean, so they thought they had it all taken care [of] as far as … no information would come out. They would be the only ones holding the information, because they were obviously filming. And we were hundreds of people, so some of us did manage to get … photographs and video footage out. And today we are showing raw, uncensored footage, and everybody can take the clue. And we’ll make it available to the world for investigations.”
Investigation or not, the world did see the raw footage of Israel’s brutality and it formed an opinion. Israeli commandos that were “captured and briefly detained during initial stages of the raid” were given back to the military. Iara Lee rightly observes: “[This] basically proves that we were not there to lynch anybody, because we had the opportunity of killing or really … mistreating these soldiers, and we didn’t … because we are humanitarian[s]. Despite the chaos, we knew we were supposed to stay nonviolent.” And non-violent they remained! One might ask how does Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Daniel Ayalon’s “armada of hate and violence” or the commandos’ branding of Mavi Marmara as “hate boat,” fit into the uncensored narrative. If there are violence and hatred – the attack on Freedom Flotilla certainly proves that there are – both are aimed at Humanity that hasn’t lost the capacity to care for the oppressed, despite Israeli lies, misrepresentations, distortions and censorship.
* Anait Brutian (B. Mus. with Honours in Theory, McGill University; M. A. in Music Theory, McGill University) is a student in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill. Her previous research includes a self-published book entitled: Reconciling Geometry, Rhetoric and Harmony: A Fresh Look at C. P. E. Bach. She is currently working on another book on mathematical paradigms in literature (Old and New Testaments), art, architecture, and music. She can be contacted at email@example.comYou might also like:
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Fatima Mohammadi is an Iranian-born American citizen, lawyer & activist.