Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Free Gaza Movement: "We are sailing to Gaza"

RT- Organizers of the humanitarian flotilla to Gaza are sending two more ships to confront the blockade within a few days.

Currently one ship is underway and another, with three dozen people onboard, is preparing to leave, the AP reports, quoting Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement.

“This initiative is not going to stop,” Berlin said. The two vessels are expected to arrive in the disputed region by the end of this week.

Israel, meanwhile, says it will continue to check ships approaching Gaza for weapons for Hamas. The country’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said, despite international criticism, Israel must stop arms flowing to the Palestinian territory, Associated Press reports.

Shocked by the deadly attack of a flotilla ship by Israeli commandos, the international community has called for lifting the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Egypt opened a checkpoint at the border with Gaza for unhampered passing of Palestinians, representatives of the Republic of Egypt reported, TASS reports.

That’s the only checkpoint which is not fully controlled by Israel.

It is still unclear whether this measure is connected with the Israeli attack on the humanitarian flotilla on Monday. Egypt opens this checkpoint every month for a few days, Al Jaseera reports, according to Interfax.

Christopher King, a blogger on international affairs in London and thinks that the current situation in Gaza is absolutely terrible.

“I am speaking, I think, for everybody who’s been following this, these deaths, this violence – its’ absolutely incredible… against an entirely peaceful flotilla,” King told RT. “I think we have to bear in mind what they are doing, too – they are trying to break an embargo against people who are actually being starved, the food is actually being rationed into Gaza, food itself.”

“Israel has become so used to violence, I think, that they don’t know any other response,” the blogger claimed. “And they’ve got away with it so far – they are giving excuses, the Unites States backs them up. Indeed, the United States has voted down the United Nations resolutions that they wanted to pass.”

Palestinian and Arab officials are putting pressure on Cairo to keep the checkpoint opened permanently.

Despite the latest developments, the United States has remained dogged in its determination to stand by its ally in the face of total world condemnation and its unlikely to change its stance, says Dr. Said Shehata, a specialist in Middle East Politics and International Relations from the London Metropolitan University. “Israel is the strongest ally for the US and I can hardly imagine any pressure coming. Maybe in corridors, but not in public,” he explained.

Political journalist Israel Shamir claims that the very idea of a siege in the modern world is unprecedented.

“You can’t find anything similar in the modern political scene that all of a sudden a country takes a city, takes 1.5 million people, locks them up and says ‘Well, that’s it. You don’t get in, you don’t get out and you [will be taught a] lesson,’” Shamir told RT. “So the flotilla was actually a very ‘Don Quixotic’ step in idea of breaking through the blockade.”

“I hope that it [lifting the blockade by Israel] will happen and more pressure will succeed to generate upon Israel,” he said.

“Middle East peace process is dead for so many years,” Shamir proceeded. “We had a prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who is in a limbo, not alive, neither dead for many years. Something similar is going on with the peace process – it’s a non-existent thing. And it’s a really good time to start to find some new solution, new ways out because going out and speaking about some peace process leads nowhere and everybody is totally tired of it.”

There is indeed no hope for peace in the Middle East, says historian and author Tariq Ali.

“As long as Israel occupies Palestinian lands, as long as the Israelis keep Gaza under siege, as long as they do not retreat back to the ‘67 frontiers, there is not going to be any peace. The two-state solution is dead,” the historian says. “So you either have a single-state solution or the Israelis move back to the ‘67 frontiers and they are prepared for neither. So this dreadful situation where the Palestinians are being victimized for decades now is going to carry on.”

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