Archive for November 15th, 2011

Israeli Navy Seizes French Flotilla Ship

By Shannon Liao
July 19, 2011

The French Gaza flotilla ship, Dignité/Al Karama, was seized by four Israeli naval ships this Tuesday morning, 40-50 miles away from the Gaza coast.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that they offered the ship an invitation to dock at the Israeli Port of Ashdod to unload their cargo of humanitarian aid. This offer was rejected, thus leading to the seizure.

The Free Gaza Movement website makes it clear that their mission was to break through “Israel’s illegal blockade” of Gaza and makes no mention of providing humanitarian aid.

An IDF statement said that once the ship is led to Ashdod, its passengers would then be “turned over to officials from the Israel Police, the Immigration and Population Authority and the Interior Ministry,” says an IDF statement.

Currently there is no contact with the ship’s 16 passengers who are in Israeli custody. Organizers sent a letter to the European Parliament asking that action be taken to re-establish communication via satellite or telephone with the passengers.

In response to the seizure, flotilla organizers said they would hold a rally in central Athens on Tuesday 7:00 p.m. local time in protest.

The ship had been allowed to sail from the Greek island of Kastelorizo whose mayor was born in Gaza, the Free Gaza website reported on July 17.

Prior to the ship’s capture, a statement from Free Gaza said that they could not predict how Israel would behave as the ship approached but that Dignité/Al Karama intended to reach its destination.

Gaza is ruled by the terrorist organization Hamas. IDF has said before that the flotilla organizers want to dispute Israel’s right to repel a group that has terrorized Israel for years.

The Dignité/Al Karama is part of a 10-ship flotilla with participants from various countries such as France, Canada, Greece, Sweden, and Tunisia, whose goal is to protest the Israeli blockade on Gaza. Many of the flotilla’s ships have been intercepted by Greek authorities.

Greece had showed its support for Israel by refusing the flotilla permission to leave Greek ports. Greece has offered to transport humanitarian aid to Gaza without the flotilla’s help, but activists have refused the offer.

The crew of the American ship, The Audacity of Hope, ended their journey in early July to return home to their jobs and families.

Source: The Epoch Times.

Horror in Homs after Syrian forces kill 10 mourners

July 20, 2011
By Duraid Al Baik

Dubai: Syrian security forces opened fire at a funeral procession yesterday, killing at least 10 people in a city that has been rocked for days by some of the most serious violence yet in the country’s four-month-old uprising, activists said.

The killings bring the death toll in Homs to about 50 people since Saturday, according to a number of activists, human rights groups and witnesses.

“We haven’t slept since yesterday,” a Homs resident was quoted by the Associated Press as saying by telephone, the sharp crackle of heavy machine-gun fire in the background. “I am lying down on the floor as I talk to you. Other people are hiding in bathrooms.”

He described Homs as a “ghost city”.

Sectarian fighting

Abu Jaafar Al Homsi, spokesman for the self-proclaimed Syrian Revolution Coordination Committee in Homs, said the regime’s forces were very angry since its plot to create a fight between Alawite and Sunni residents of the city failed to gain momentum.

A day after Qatar shut down its embassy in Damascus, Nabeel Al Araby, secretary-general of the Arab League, said his recent visit and meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad was to evaluate the situation in Syria.

Al Araby visited Damascus last week in his first Arab tour since he took over as Arab League chief earlier this month.

In his visit, Al Araby publicly denounced any foreign interference in reshaping Syria’s leadership, but the European Union warned on Monday that it was considering tougher sanctions against Syria.

“Arabs, mainly the Gulf countries, will form a unified stand towards the incidents in Syria and the stand of the Arab League should become clearer and firmer towards Syria,” one analyst said.

Dr Ammar Qurabi, head of National Human Rights Organization in Syria, said: “Al Assad was given more than four months to handle the uprising during which nearly 2,000 people were killed, 12,000 arrested and 15,000 people became refugees in neighboring countries.

“This has to stop and the Arab League should play pivotal role in helping Syrians to achieve their goals of freedom and democracy.”

Source: Gulf News.

Erdogan affirms Gaza visit


Al Qassam website – Turkish premier Recep Erdogan on Tuesday affirmed intention to visit the Gaza Strip later this month.

Turkish media quoted Erdogan as telling reporters before leaving on a visit for Northern Cyprus that given appropriate circumstances he would consider visiting Gaza.

He pointed out that the Turkish foreign ministry was currently preparing for the visit and that his visit would depend on such preparations.

The Turkish deputy premier said earlier that Erdogan would visit Egypt after visiting northern Cyprus, adding that the visit would take place on 23rd July or within ten days.

Source: Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades – Information Office.

Hamas condemns Israel’s piracy


Al Qassam website – Hamas has strongly condemned ”the international piracy” against the pro-Palestinian activists on board the French Dignite – Al-Karama boat, which set out to challenge Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli army spokesperson has announced that Israeli naval forces intercepted the yacht on Tuesday as it neared the Gaza coast.

The force claimed the boat had weapons on board, which the passengers have denied altogether.

Israeli Radio said the interception took place without incidents reported.

Hamas said in a statement that ensued: ”The Zionist occupier’s continuance in preventing the supporters and humanitarian aid from arriving to the besieged Gaza Strip and its attacks on them will not stop the solidarity campaigns with the Palestinian people, but will increase the determination and work until the siege and injustice on our people in occupied Palestine is lifted”.

Hamas emphasized the need for continued siege-busting campaigns and called on human rights groups not to surrender to Israeli pressure and to help expose Israel’s practices and prosecute its leaders in the international courts.

Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, also condemned the attack, adding that the Israeli government was responsible for the safety of the Dignite’s 17 passengers, who were taken to the Israeli Ashdod port and detained.

He added that the act contravened the most basic human rights principles and international law.

Discussing the next step to be taken, Bahar called on Arab and Muslim organizations to lead a rights movement in facing Israel’s acts by filing legal complaints with all international courts.

In a separate statement, the popular committee against the siege on Gaza blamed world silence for Israel’s continued attacks on pro-Palestinian activists who come from abroad.

Another statement by Hamas leader Ismail Radwan calls the boat takeover a war crime.

Radwan called on the international community to act urgently to preserve the safety of the pro-Palestinian activists who were on board and allow the Dignite to be released to the Gaza Strip.

Source: Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades – Information Office.

Rights group: Release of Raed Salah a ‘victory for justice’

Tuesday 19/07/2011

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A European human rights NGO has welcomed the release of Sheikh Raed Salah after 3 weeks in British detention.

The chairman of UFree Mohammad Ramdan on Monday called the release a “victory for justice” and said Salah’s arrest had tarnished the reputation of Britain’s justice system.

UFree believes he was arrested following a campaign of lies and smears against him by the pro-Israeli right wing press in the UK, Ramdan added.

“We understand that Sheikh Salah’s lawyers will now take action against journalists who have spread unfounded rumors against the Sheikh to clear his name.”

Sheikh Raed Salah’s arrest has been widely condemned by sections of Palestinian and Arab society.

UFree is an independent European-wide human rights network set up to defend the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.