Saturday, July 4, 2009

Falk, Jewish UN humanitarian law expert on Free Gaza ship hijacking

I think I mentioned the Free Gaza movement at least once. More news today about the hijacking of the 7th of these ships who break the Israeli illegal blockade (I had the pleasure of being there for the arrival of the 3rd -- breath of fresh air and hope.)

UN's Richard Falk: IDF seizure of Gaza-bound ship is 'criminal' [Reuters. In Haaretz today]

A United Nations human rights investigator on Thursday called Israel's seizure of a ship carrying relief aid for the Gaza Strip "unlawful" and said its blockade of the territory constituted a "continuing crime against humanity". Israeli authorities on Tuesday intercepted the vessel, which was also carrying 21 pro-Palestinian activists, and said it would not be permitted to enter Gaza coastal waters because of security risks in the area and its existing naval blockade. Richard Falk, an American Jew and the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the move was part of Israel's "cruel blockade of the entire Palestinian population of Gaza" in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting any form of collective punishment against "an occupied people".

Falk, who is an expert on international law, said Israel's two-year blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza restricted vital supplies such as food, medicine and fuel to "bare subsistence levels". The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a report this week that Israel was also halting entry to Gaza of building materials and spare parts needed to repair damage from its 22-day invasion late last December. "Such a pattern of continuing blockade under these conditions amounts to such a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions as to constitute a continuing crime against humanity," Falk said in a statement released in Geneva. Prior to leaving Cyprus, the ship was inspected by Cypriot authorities in response to Israeli demands to determine whether it carried any weapons, according to the UN investigator. "None were found and Israeli authorities were so informed." "Nonetheless, the 21 peace activists on the boat were arrested, held in captivity and have been charged with 'illegal entry' to Israel even though they had no intention of going to Israel," Falk added.


The article goes on to give the retort of Israel's Ambassador to the UN, which contends that:
"Clearly the purpose of that ship was to create a buzz and serve as a propaganda vehicle against Israel"
That is called chutzpah, as the only reason the ship draws attention is because Israel not only kidnapped the people on the ship, but is choking Gaza and strangulating it. Let's remember one simple fact here: the ship left Cyprus, sailed international waters, with passengers as dangerous as a Nobel Prize Laureate, and tried to sail into a territory on which Israel has no claim, a.k.a. Gaza.

Oh - and it carried humanitarian goods - maybe some pasta, which Israel deems--in its wisdom as the 'natural' rulers of Arabs in Palestine--cannot be entrusted to the Palestinians of Gaza.

If you want another piece of irony, after hijacking and kidnapping the passengers of the ship and bringing them against their will to Israel, Israel charged them with "illegal entry."

If Iran did stuff like this, we would be SCREAMING and saying they are breaking international law, are trespassing beyond their national authority, they are a pariah state and must be brought to abide by the rules of human civilization.

With all due respect, I say the same goes for Israel. Period. It's not more complicated than that. Don't give me any incoherent security ramblings and justifications. This is a clear case of unlawful oppressive behavior.(1)

This conflict is not all that complicated once you look at things as they come.
I--for one--would like to see the US Ambassador to the UN call for the end of such behavior.

Period. The US will have no credibility in the Middle East until it does so -- apart from that of dollars, which I hear might run out if Beijing calls it off, and that of the gun.

If you are priviledged enough to be a citizen of a free country with some international clout, consider writing to your elected officials and asking them to respond to this outrageous action. (For US citizens, it's really easy by going to

Peace, one day. Happy July 4th to the Americans- hoping Palestinians can soon know in-dependence.


(1) Of course I have a hidden agenda. It's not so much the fate of internationals on a goodwill mission that worries me. If we taken on that battle, and the next and the next and the next, pretty soon it's the entire premise of the subjection of the Gazans to the capriciousness of Israel that we want to take down. We don't want to improve the conditions in which an entire population is held hostage. We want the occupation to end. (And if you don't know that Gaza is occupied, you haven't been reading.)

ps: Those of you who visit somewhat regularly this site are of multiple origins and background: Humanist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, even a few goold old Leftists, and yes even a few Conservatives who deserve a medal for coming. For those of you enclined to believe we need a "Higher Power" to get us out of that mess while we try our best, "people of faith" [in the commonly accepted sense, which is a misnommer as I think more people are "of faith" than is accounted for], there's a site (Christian site) trying to encourage prayer for peace--for a real peace. Here's a plug for it:

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