Defying Israel, Jewish activists sail for Gaza

FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:38am EDT

1 of 4. Jewish activists sail away from the port of Famagusta in Cyprus for Gaza September 26, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Andreas Manolis

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FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus (Reuters) - A group of Jewish activists set sail for the Gaza Strip on Sunday, intent on defying an Israeli blockade and highlighting the suffering of Palestinians who live in the territory. Nine activists from Israel, Britain, Germany and the United States left Famagusta port in northern Cyprus with a small quantity of aid aboard their British-flagged catamaran, "Irene." Uninterrupted, their trip to Gaza would take around 24 hours.

"I want to raise my voice against evil and draw attention to 1.5 million people under siege. This is inhuman," said Rami Elhanan, an Israeli peace activist who lost his 14-year-old daughter Smadar to a Palestinian suicide bomber in 1997.

Israel, whose Gaza policies have been under international scrutiny since its marines killed nine Turkish activists in brawls aboard an aid ship on May 31, dismissed the Irene mission as a "provocation."

"If they were serious about wanting to transfer aid to Gaza, they could easily do so after undergoing a screening for smuggled weaponry," said Andy David, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, referring to ports in Israel and Egypt that have received cargo for overland transport to the Palestinians.

Asked whether Israel's navy would try to turn back or intercept the Jewish activists, David declined comment.

Since May, Israel has eased land crossing into Gaza but maintains the naval blockade in what it says is an effort to stop arms being smuggled to Palestinian Hamas guerrillas.

"Compared to the restrictions which preceded them this is very small," said the Irene's captain, Glyn Secker, a 60-year-old Briton, referring to an easing of the restrictions. "(Gaza) is very much a barricaded society with a lot of suffering."

The group said they were taking a symbolic load of medicine, a water purifying kit and educational toys to Gaza.


"Israel doesn't have moral borders," said Reuven Moskovitz, who at 82, is the oldest member of the group and a Holocaust survivor.

"I'm going because I am a survivor. When I was in a ghetto and almost died I hoped there would be human beings who would show compassion and help."

Cyprus lies about 220 miles away from the shores of Gaza and has been used as a springboard for aid before.

Famagusta itself has resonance for many Jews; hundreds of them were interned in camps there by Cyprus's then British colonial administration as they attempted to head to what was then Palestine, also under British rule, between 1946 and 1948.

Famagusta is now in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, a breakaway state that is recognized only by Ankara.

Ports in the southern Greek Cypriot-controlled areas of Cyprus were used to launch Gaza-bound activists from 2008 to mid-2009. Greek Cypriot authorities have since banned the sailings.

(Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Noah Barkin)

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Comments (3)
colindale wrote:
Is war crime by any state, acceptable?

In 1948, the world accepted the majority decision of the UN for the establishment of a new state of Israel, in Palestine.

Those nations that subsequently recognised the new state, and therefore, the authority of the UN – which include both Britain and the US, must now also accept the authority of the UN when it officially reports that Israel has committed war crimes, not only in Gaza during operation ‘cast-lead’ in 2008/9, but now also recently on board the flotilla boat bound for Gaza where its troops unlawfully killed nine civilians.

No UN member state can pick and choose when it will accept or deny the specific authority of the world’s only legally constituted, representative council, particularly in regard to war crimes. Any state that does so, should have its membership withdrawn but still be liable for any of its nationals accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity to be apprehended by any UN member state and taken to the International Criminal Court for trial.

Otherwise, the UN has no authority that is recognised worldwide and the international community has no voice and no recourse to action against any state that kills at will for political or criminal purposes. Then, there will be no law to protect us: only anarchy will prevail on a scale never before experienced.


Sep 26, 2010 10:11am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Banned wrote:
“Israel doesn’t have moral borders …I’m going because I am a survivor. When I was in a ghetto and almost died I hoped there would be HUMAN BEINGS who would show COMPASSION and HELP!” Reuven Moskovitz 82, Holocaust survivor. No clearer expression of the human circumstance in Palestine than Mr. Moskovitz statement. Israel and fanatic/radical Jews in general, lack moral ‘compasses’, it is as if they are not members of the human race. They want the world to either serve them or burn, and by God’s grace, these monsters will have neither!

Sep 26, 2010 6:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
And we do not allow export for fear that the import of weaponry we fear will be used against us will be exported where it might be used against someone else. The logic is overwhelming. A new record for the Lieberman’s misuse of the Foreign Office

Sep 26, 2010 6:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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