Posts Tagged ‘Ship to Gaza’

Now we set sails towards the Gaza Strip!

June 25, 2012

For nearly a month more than 100 residents of the town of Umeå in northern Sweden have been working on the 90 year old schooner Estelle in top condition before the long journey towards the Gaza Strip. This Tuesday we weigh anchor and head for our first milestone: the island Gotland in the Baltic sea and the Almedalen week there.

The commitment for Ship To Gaza in the town of Umeå and the region of Västerbotten can only be described as overwhelming. People of all ages have helped us prepare the boat. We have grinded off corrosion, painted and renovated. Even seemingly impossible problems have been solved. When the worn out mizzen boom was to be replaced we were contacted by a man offering to take down a pine tree which was then planed, stained and painted with tar before finally being mounted by yet more volunteers.

In parallel with the practical work there has been children’s theater performed on the ship, lectures held at the university, a fundraising party hosted at Scharinska, along with other cultural events in Umeå in support of Ship To Gaza. Umeå has also been visited by Hanan Abu Nasser, from the Gaza Strip, who told about the situation there and the importance of initiatives like Ship To Gaza.

The departure is scheduled for twelve o’clock noon on Tuesday. We will be able to specify the departure time further during Monday. Be there well ahead of time for a tour of the ship.
Please contact us as soon as possible if there is interest in journalists joining Estelle onboard for a shorter part, or all the way of the journey to Nynäshamn or Visby.

Blockadvännerna, Ship to Gaza och Ship to Syria

April 23, 2012

Det är kul att ockupationsvännerna, murvännerna och blockadvännerna (ni märker väl att jag inte kallar de för Israelvänner) dvs. de som stödjer direkt eller indirekt Israels folkrättsvidriga politik har fått en ny ”fräsch” röst att tillgå. Det bli intressant att se hur Paula Neuding kan följa manuset som ockupationsvännerna, murvännerna och blockadvännerna verka följa. Plötsligt skriver alla som försvarar/stödjer/förstår Israels folkrättsvidriga politik om ”Ship to Syria”. Det är nästan skrattretande. Skulle man vara benägen att tänka konspirativt så skulle man tro på att någon har gett ett klartecken för en så kallad ”Ship to Syria” kampanj.

När t.ex. Jackie Jackubowski i Expressen, Paula Neuding i SvD, Lisa Abramowicz i Newsmill, Benjamin Greber i Newsmill Och Lars Anders Johansson i Barometern skriver som i väl orkestrerad kampanj som påminner oss om forna öststatskampanjer kan vi i ”Ship to Gaza” konstatera att skribenterna (propagandister för Israelsfolkrättsvidriga politik skulle vara rättare att säga) bekräftar bara att ”Ship to Gaza” har skapat en sorts standard för internationella solidarietetsaktioner med stort folkligt stöd. Artiklarna innehåller förstås påståenden om oss som vi kommer att bemöta på tid och plats som passar oss, Men jag kan konstatera att artiklarna närmast gör ”Ship to Gaza” en tjänst. Man frågar faktiskt varför vår metod inte används i fler sammanhang där det råder en nödsituation och där politikerna sviker.

Vi i ”Ship to Gaza” uppmana dessa skribenter att (precis som vi gjort i fallet Gaza) skrida till handling. Om de menar allvar med att de vill stödja de som gör uppror mot Assad bör de organisera demonstrationer och solidaritetsrörelser. Jag lovar att om de ställer sig i olika stadscentra med insamlingsbössor så kommer vi att lägga pengar i dem.

Solidaritet med Gazas nödställda folk står inte i motsättning till solidaritet med ett annat, tvärtom de stödjer varandra. Den dag dessa skribenter uttalar sitt stöd för såväl ”Ship to Syria” som ”Ship to Gaza” kommer vi att ta deras ord om mänskliga rättigheter på allvar, att de verkligen stöder Syriens folk (och andra förtryckta folk) och att det inte bara är en tom retorisk gest i en (väl?) orkestrerad kampanj.

“Ett stort ljus i mörkret.” K G Hammar hyllade Ship to Gaza

December 19, 2010

Ship to Gaza-Sverige Pressmeddelande 2010-12-19

“Ett stort ljus i mörkret.” K G Hammar hyllade Ship to Gaza i fullsatt Göteborgskyrka

På lördagskvällen genomfördes en solidaritetskonsert till förmån för Ship to Gazas arbete för den instängda befolkningen i Gaza i Annedalskyrkan i Göteborg. Närmare 500 människor i alla åldrar hade hörsammat inbjudan att tända ett ljus för Gaza i vintermörkret. De fick bland annat lyssna till sång och musik av Trio Samara och Sångensemblen Amanda, samt Sara Bessa som läste valda stycken ur de så kallade Gaza-monologerna. De fick också lyssna till ett engagerat och känsloladdat tal av förre ärkebiskopen K G Hammar:
– Ikväll tänder vi ett ljus för Gaza därför att Gaza är vår planets största fängelse. 1,5 miljon människor bor på en yta stor som en fjärdedels Öland. Instängda, utan möjlighet att ta sig därifrån.
Han fortsatte:
– Brottet är att några bland Gazas befolkning, på grund av den obalans i makt och tillgång till livsresurser som råder mellan grannarna, i frustration skickar iväg några raketer över gränsen. Brottet är att befolkningen i fria demokratiska val har valt fel regering. På det brottet utdelas straffet. En kollektiv bestraffning i fängelse.
Hammar betonade vikten av noggrant språkval. Det är inte judarna i allmänhet som bär ansvaret för ockupations- och blockadpolitiken, utan Israels politiska ledning. Och: ”vi måste kunna kritisera staten Israels politik utan att bli kallad antisemit”.
Hammar drog paralleller till Sydafrika. Det är ”möjligt att söka försoningens väg i stället för den kollektiva bestraffningens och hämndens.” Han påminde om Nelson Mandelas ord: ”Min frihet är beroende av din frihet. Så länge du inte är fri kan jag aldrig bli fri.”
K G Hammar avslutade med att hylla Ship to Gaza:
– Och ikväll minns vi särskilt ett stort ljus i mörkret. Ship to Gaza. För ett drygt halvår sedan avseglade en flotta som byggde på just de ljusfundament som vi alla kan erfara: gränsöverskridande solidaritet, folkrätt och mänskliga rättigheter som grund, och ickevåld som väg och medel. Inte minst det sista visade sig vara det som motparten fruktade allra mest. Mycket energi lades ned på att visa att det användes lite våld, lite motstånd för att legitimera den egna våldsanvändningen. Alltså, den som har all våldskraft är mest rädd för att någon står upp med ickevåld för då försvinner legitimiteten. Det är hoppfullt att vi lever i en tid då vi får uppleva detta.

Israel tries to prevent Ship to Gaza from seeking justice in Israel

November 6, 2010

Ship to Gaza-Sweden Press release 6 November, 2010

Israel tries to prevent Ship to Gaza from seeking justice in Israel

The Israeli Embassy in Stockholm issued a press release on Friday, 5 November, stating that Israel will prevent Ship to Gaza spokesperson Dror Feiler and member of Parliament Mehmet Kaplan from going to Tel Aviv to file a legal complaint against the Israeli government and
the Defense Ministry. The stated reason for preventing Feiler and Kaplan’s entry is that “any person who tries to enter Israel illegally will be denied entry into Israel for a period of ten years.”
    That is a curious statement, considering that none of the passengers aboard Ship to Gaza/Freedom Flotilla had attempted to enter Israel. Nor did they have any such intention. Quite the contrary: They were headed for Gaza when they were boarded, arrested and taken to Israel against their will. Nine people were killed and about 30 were seriously wounded during the attack. Vessels, cargo and personal property were all confiscated and, in most cases, have still not been returned.
  The complaint that Feiler and Kaplan intend to file with the Tel Aviv police department and the district attorney—on behalf of all Swedish passengers—is based on the incidents connected with the boarding. The charges are: armed robbery and/or larceny, kidnapping, unlawful deprivation of freedom and aggravated assault.
  Ship to Gaza-Sweden expects that Israel is a constitutional state which will allow people— who believe, on good grounds, they have been the victims of crimes committed by state authorities—to file a complaint with the police and prosecutors so that alleged crimes can be investigated. The Swedish passengers are represented by the reputable Israeli attorney, Gaby Lasky. Feiler and Kaplan will travel to Israel as planned on Sunday, in the hopes that justice will be allowed to be served.

Israel vill hindra Ship to Gaza från att söka rättvisa i Israel

November 6, 2010

Ship to Gaza-Sverige Pressmeddelande 2010-11-05

Enligt ett pressmeddelande från Israels ambassad i Stockholm på fredagen (5/11) tänker Israel hindra Ship to Gazas talesperson Dror Feiler och riksdagsledamoten Mehmet Kaplan från att på plats i Tel Aviv polisanmäla Israels regering och försvarsmakt. Som skäl hänvisas till den paragraf i israelisk lag som stipulerar att ”varje person som försöker att illegalt ta sig in i landet nekas inresa i Israel under en period av tio år”.
Det är ett egendomligt argument med tanke på att ingen av passagerarna på Ship to Gaza/Frihetsflottan försökte ta sig in i Israel. Inte heller hade de i avsikt att göra så. Tvärtom. De var på väg till Gaza när de långt ute på internationellt vatten bordades, tillfångatogs och mot sin vilja fördes till israeliskt territorium. Vid överfallet dödades nio människor och skadades ett trettiotal svårt. Fartyg, last och personliga tillhörigheter beslagtogs och har i de flesta fall inte återlämnats.
Det är just händelserna i samband med bordningen som ligger till grund för de polisanmälningar Feiler och Kaplan – på samtliga elva svenska passagerares vägnar – tänker inlämna till polisen i Tel Aviv och den allmänne åklagaren. Åberopade brottsrubriceringar är väpnat rån alternativt stöld, kidnappning, olaga frihetsberövande och misshandel.
Ship to Gaza-Sverige utgår från att Israel som rättsstat tillåter att personer, som på goda grunder upplever sig ha utsatts för brott begångna av landets myndigheter, bereds tillfälle att till polis och åklagare inlämna anmälan som gör att misstänkta brott kan utredas. De svenska passagerarnas talan förs av den välrenommerade israeliska advokaten Gaby Lasky. Feiler och Kaplan reser som planerat till Israel på söndag i förhoppningen att rätten ska få ha sin gång.

Freedom Flotilla Coalition Expands in Geneva

October 11, 2010

PRESS STATEMENT
11 October 2010
Freedom Flotilla Coalition Expands in Geneva

Legal, Political, and Grassroots Action to End Israeli Impunity

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition met in the home of the Geneva Conventions to welcome the Swiss Boat Initiative into the Coalition, as well as to discuss the various levels of our ongoing efforts to break Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza. The Geneva Conventions, a body of law agreed upon by the world community to protect human life and dignity, continues to be violated on a daily basis by Israel with near total impunity.
As members of civil society we are working to end this impunity that our governments have been shamefully silent about. Many of our countries abstained on the vote of the UN Human Rights Council investigation that found Israel guilty of “incredible violence”, and “grave breaches” of international law to support prosecutions against Israel for “willful killing” and torture. The United States vetoed this report that found one of their citizens was “executed” by Israeli forces. We refuse to accept this. We represent the voice of growing worldwide condemnation of Israel’s continued crimes and are working on legal, political and grassroots levels to hold Israel accountable.

In three days, on 14 October, we will be at The Hague to submit our complaint to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. In less than two weeks, lawyers from over 20 countries will meet to discuss lawsuits against Israel and ongoing efforts to indict Israeli war criminals. And yes, we are also planning to sail again.

If Israel is not stopped, they will daily continue to kidnap, arrest, demolish, maim and kill Palestinians, and they will use similar violence against those that protest these policies. With all arrogance Israeli leaders have announced they will use snipers and attack dogs against future flotillas of unarmed civilians. Despite these threats, we are not deterred and our numbers are growing. Today, seven new countries have joined our coalition from Switzerland, Italy, Holland, Malaysia, Ireland,Norway, and the United States, each of which is working on sending their own boat to Gaza. Our flotilla will sail again and this time we will not only have more people, more vessels, and more countries participating, but in the spring of 2011 we will be sailing from three continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa. We continue to call upon our countries to use all available legal and political means to ensure that Israel stops acting above the law so that we do not have to put our lives on the line to do so.

PRESS STATEMENT 27 September 2010 – Freedom Flotilla Coalition Grows in Athens

September 27, 2010

Freedom Flotilla Coalition Grows in Athens – Legal, Political and Grassroots Action to End Israeli Impunity

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition has just concluded its meeting in Athens, where we assessed developments related to our ongoing efforts to end Israel’s criminal blockade on Gaza and other illegal policies perpetrated against the Palestinian people. We have said that we would not allow Israel’s violence against Freedom Flotilla I stop our global citizen efforts to stand up to Israel’s ongoing intransigence and indeed it has not. Over the last three months, we have been joined by national coalitions in Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Canada, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Australia, and the United States, and other countries, each of which is working on sending a boat to Gaza. As we speak, a Jewish boat is on its way to Gaza in a statement to the world that Israel does not act in the name of world Jewry, nor does Israel’s blockade of Gaza have anything to do with protecting Jews. The people of Gaza anxiously await their arrival.
We have started a movement that Israel, with all its weapons, cannot stop. We have been forced to do this because our governments have not been willing to hold Israel accountable for systematic violations of Palestinian human rights. We expect our governments to support our nonviolent actions to uphold international law, and to take action when their unarmed citizens are violently attacked, beaten, arrested and killed. We lost nine of our colleagues to Israel’s senseless violence and this is only a fraction of the violence that Palestinians have been subjected to over the last 60 years.
Today the independent Fact Finding Mission, commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Council releases the conclusions of its investigation into the Freedom Flotilla raid. The UN flotilla report concludes that Israeli troops used “incredible violence” against us, committing “grave breaches” of international law. The report also says there is “clear evidence to support prosecutions” against Israel for “willful killing” and torture committed when its soldiers stormed our flotilla last May. Greece, as a signatory to the Rome Statute has the right to bring this matter before the International Criminal Court. Our respective countries have the ability to invoke universal jurisdictions to hold Israel accountable for its crimes.
Israel has consistently tried to label any individual or group that acts to defend Palestinian rights as “terrorist.” They launched a slanderous attack on our Turkish partners. The UN Flotilla report rejected the notion that intervention by civil society to address the cause of a humanitarian crisis is meddlesome. It called for space for both humanitarian intervention to alleviate the crisis in Gaza, and political action to address the causes creating the crisis. The Second Freedom Flotilla now being organized, like the one so brutally attacked by Israel, will aim to do both. In the meantime we call upon our countries to use all available legal and political means to ensure that Israel stops acting above the law so that we do not have to put our lives on the line to do so.

Jewish Boat to Gaza sets sail from Cyprus

September 26, 2010

Jewish Boat to Gaza sets sail from Cyprus

Netanyahu: I am innocent

June 23, 2010

A “Freedom Flotilla” is planning to sail for Gaza by the end of the month.

May 7, 2010

It will be the ninth expedition to try to reach Gaza by sea. According to the coordinators of the “Freedom Flotilla”, this time it will be bigger and better than ever.

This time, there will be Turkish involvement.

The organisers of the “Freedom Flotilla” are calling it “the biggest internationally coordinated effort to directly challenge Israeli’s ongoing occupation, aggression, and violence against the Palestinian people”.

The last attempt to reach Gaza by sea was in June 2009 — then, Free Gaza ships were intercepted by the Israeli Navy off Gaza, and forced to proceed to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, where the cargo was impounded (some of it was later transferred by land to Israeli crossings and sent into Gaza). The activists aboard were jailed before deportation.

The Government of Bahrain, which does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, sent a delegation to receive its arrested activists.

Now, a Turkish relief organization, IHH (Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, or Insani Yardim Vakfi), is making major preparations to participate in the coming “Freedom Flotilla”. The aim is to reach Gaza’s fishermens’ wharf by late May.

According to the organizers’ plans, the Freedom Flotilla will include several cargo ships, and perhaps five passenger ships with up to 600 high-profile international personalities, activists, and journalists aboard.

Some of the ships will reportedly be flying the Turkish flag.

This means that any Israeli attack on those ships would be considered tantamount to an attack upon Turkey.

Another one of the cargo ships, refurbished and outfitted in Ireland, has been re-named the MV Rachel Corrie, after the American solidarity activist who died while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in southern Gaza. She was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer.

Free Gaza organizer Mary Hughes Thompson said, “Although we were happy with the first trips, it was bitter-sweet, knowing that our small boats and symbolic amounts of relief paled in comparison to what was really needed in Gaza. Now, we finally feel we are helping to organize a powerful action, one with the potential to translate into a sustained campaign of much more effective challenges to Israel’s brutal siege.”

Israeli activist Jeff Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) said that “It seems like it’s a bigger expedition, with more people … and part of the idea is to keep trying … to rachet it up, in a PR sense”. Halper was on the first Free Gaza expedition into Gaza. He said in an interview with this reporter shortly after his return that he was received very warmly, and that many Gazans came up and spoke to him in Hebrew — a result of their long years of working in Israel, where they can no longer go, due to Israel’s policy of near-complete closure of the densely-populated Gaza Strip. Halper was arrested upon his return to Israel via the Erez border crossing from Gaza, but was freed on bail, and has not been summoned to court. (Israel has since declared that no visitors can exit Gaza from Erez if they entered Gaza from Rafah…)

Halper said he will not be going this month with the Freedom Flotilla, he said today. “I was told that ‘We know you, we love you, but it’s still a little too soon for Israelis to come to Gaza” — too soon, that is, after Operation Cast Lead.

The Free Gaza website says that “The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is comprised of: Free Gaza Movement (FG), European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG), Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), Ship to Gaza Greece, Ship to Gaza Sweden, and the International Committee to Lift the Siege on Gaza, with hundreds of groups and organizations around the world supporting the effort”.

The formation of this coalition was announced in early April in Istanbul.

IHH, the Turkish NGO, was founded in 1995, and has worked in Bosnia, Chechenya, Haiti. It is also, apparently, functioning in the West Bank. It was reportedly very supportive of the efforts to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza via Egypt’s Rafah crossing at the beginning of this year.

IHH says its basic objective is to assist those who are “distressed, victimized by war, disaster, etc, wounded, disabled, homeless and subjected to famine, oppressed”, and “to deliver humanitarian aid to all people and take necessary steps to prevent any violations against their basic rights and liberties”. See their website here.

IHH is calling this attempt “Noah’s Ark”.

What they are up against is a formally-declared Israeli naval blockade of Gaza’s maritime space (as defined in the map attached to the Oslo Accords, which is posted on the website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs here):

Gaza maritime space map attached to the Oslo Accords

The Israeli naval blockade was announced on 3-4 January 2009, as Israel began the ground offensive phase of its unprecedented military operation, Operation Cast Lead (27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009).

There has been no announcement that the naval blockade has been cancelled. Attempts today to seek clarification from Israeli Ministry of Defense spokespersons went unanswered.

The Freedom Flotilla organizers say that “In the wake of ongoing inaction by our governments to make Israel abide by international law, we – the citizens of the world – are taking action to stand up for justice”.

They report that they have received support from John Qing, Director of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, who said: “We believe that Israel will not intercept these vessels because the sea is open, and human rights organizations have been successful in similar previous operations proving that breaking the siege of Gaza is possible.”

One international commented: “Everyone — certainly everyone in the UN — says that the blockade against Gaza is illegal collective punishment”.

Nevertheless, Qing’s comment that “the sea is open” is puzzling, in light of the declared Israeli naval blockade.

“There’s more to this than meets the eye”, said the international.

The Free Gaza organizers issued a statement quoting Denis Halliday, former United Nations Assistant Secretary General who resigned from a position in Iraq to protest the effects of UN Security Council sanctions on the Iraqi population, as saying: “We welcome Mr. Ging’s statement, which recognizes the responsibility of the international community to oppose the illegal blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza”.

Denis Halliday is also, apparently, planning to be a participant in the Freedom Flotilla.

“There is a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza”, explains UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness, “and the blockade is disrupting education for thousands of five- and six-year olds in Gaza, while UNRWA has been forced to turn away 39,000 students”.

He said, however, that the UN “doesn’t currently have plans to use the sea route” to try to get supplies into Gaza.

The first Free Gaza expedition was in August 2008, and did arrive safely in Gaza — much to the chagrin of the Israeli military, who were ordered not to provide the activists with a “propaganda victory”. Then, Israel used progressively tougher tactics, ramming one ship which had to limp into a Lebanese port for repairs, and forcefully discouraging other Free Gaza expeditions.

Five Free Gaza expeditions sailed before the launch of Israel’s massive military operation, Operation Cast Lead. A boat in the sixth Free Gaza expedition was rammed by Israeli naval vessels — organizers say it was nearly sunk. The next two expeditions were also prevented from reaching Gaza.

Last June, it was nearly a fiasco. Cypriot authorities tried hard to discourage the Free Gaza organizers from setting sail, in light of the formal Israeli naval blockade, and Israeli warnings conveyed to the Free Gaza participants via various channels.

See our earlier reports here, and here, and here.

All previous Free Gaza expeditions took off from, and returned to, Cyprus.

Given the current division of Cyprus, the massive Turkish participation adds another diplomatic complication for is the upcoming “Freedom Flotilla”.

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel, a monitoring organization, has posted a map that it says it got from the IHH website, showing a planned boat route from Turkey to Cyprus — and the map seems to suggest that a landing was planned in Cyprus — perhaps in the northern (Turkish-occupied) èart of the island:

Freedom Flotilla route map from IHH website according to  Terrorism-info.org

A Cypriot diplomat in the region said today that “They wanted to stop at Famagusta, but we said no”.

(Jeff Halper said this was “a huge issue”, and now thinks there will now be no stops anywhere in Cyprus — the ships will try to sail directly from Turkey to Gaza.)

The Cypriot diplomat added that “We didn’t stop them, but we don’t encourage them to go — because of what happened last time. We don’t want to see people killed…”

The preparations for the Freedom Flotilla are, of course, being closely tracked in Israel.  The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel is reporting here that “In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas administration prepares to receive the international flotilla, including deepening and cleaning the local fishing port. The works are carried out jointly by the Hamas administration Labor Ministry and elements in Turkey. The first phase is now nearing completion and works have begun on the second phase (savegaza.eu, the ECESG website, April 28)”.

According to a bulletin issued in early April, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said, here, that “the possibility that Israel will try to prevent the arrival of the flotilla has been taken into account. In response, numerous actions have been planned in order to make it difficult for Israel…It appears that the parties involved in the flotilla (‘the ship intifada’, as Jamal al-Khudari said) are taking into consideration the possibility of confrontations with the Israeli navy, creating a provocation that will be used by Hamas and its partners for propaganda and political gains”.

The bulletin added: “We believe that Hamas thinks that the presence of Turkish ships and activists will thwart Israel’s attempts to prevent the arrival of the flotilla, and can be used to (further) compromise Israel-Turkey relations”.

The Turkish government’s regional cooperation with Israel has come under severe strain as a result of the Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. There was a public row over the Israeli military operation in early 2009 at the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Earlier this year, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon arranged media recording of petty humiliations he arranged when he summoned the Turkish Ambassador to Israel for a rebuke.

And, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center bulletin noted, the Turkish relief organization IHH “is banned in Israel”. It also said, without further detail, that “When some IHH activists landed in Ben Gurion Airport, they were denied entry”.

Meanwhile, blogs are reporting here that “Israeli authorities have taken Izzet Sahin, the representative and founder of IHH’s Office in West Bank, into custody on the 27th of April. Izzet Sahin has been taken into custody by the Israeli military while he was passing through the checkpoint in Bethlehem. Sahin was transferred to Ashkelon prison following his stay in the detention center of Israel Security Agency (ISA). Nobody has heard from him since the day he was arrested. No reason has been declared by the Israeli officials for Sahin’s arrest, who has been studying Hebrew in the Hebrew University … Israeli police raided Sahin’s home after the arrest and took some of his personal belongings including his computer”.

IHH reports on its website that “Bulent Yildirim, President of IHH, stated that the reason behind Izzet Sahin’s arrest might be to stop the flotilla campaign to Gaza in the end of May. Yildirim said ‘If Israel wants us to give up on the campaign by doing things like this, they are wrong. We will be taking the humanitarian aid to the people of Palestine by the end of May. We are not doing anything out of legal boundaries’. He went on to say, “Israel has been keeping our friend in custody for 8 days. He is now being interrogated. Israel’s previous actions make us concerned. There are people who lost their lives under Israeli custody, there are those who were subject to torture. The first two days we were not informed of our friend’s location. Apparently, Sahin had two receipts of aid with him when he got arrested, one from IHH, one from another aid organization in Palestine. He supposedly had videos of Sheikh Raed Salah’s [a leader of the Islamic movement in northern Israel] in his house. Israel declares these as their evidence for the crime … It is claimed that Sahin is harmful for Israel’s security. How come a person who studies at Hebrew University and coordinates aid work over there is thought to harm Israel’s security? How could this be the truth? …

Yildirim also mentioned that the Foundation wanted to send 3 lawyers to defend Izzet Sahin, however no response has been received from the Israeli side, ‘This is an insult to Turkey. Turkish state is now obliged to solve this by sending out a diplomatic warning of the highest degree’ he continued. Visa applications have been launched for the lawyers”. This is posted here. Sahin’s first court appearance is expected in the coming days.

Posted on May 6th, 2010 by Marian Houk