First of all, our concern must be for the safety of the women on board the Zaytoun, which was intercepted in international waters by the Israeli navy yesterday. Israel, as we know, has a record of violence against civilian vessels, not only those trying to break the illegal siege of Gaza but also Palestinian’s beleaguered fishermen.
We will all — the people of Palestine and their supporters around the world — breathe a sigh of relief if there are no injuries to report. The boat set out on a purely humanitarian mission — the symbolic breaking of the siege of Gaza.
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It would be good to see the mainstream media, if it covers the story at all, go beyond Israel’s claim that the boat and the women on board pose a threat to the state’s national security. Such a claim, of course, is utter nonsense; is Israel so insecure that unarmed women on a small boat pose a threat?
Given Israel’s record of attacks on civilians, much of the coverage has been focused on whether and how Israel will stop the boat in international waters. Anywhere else and this would be condemned as piracy, but Israel gets away with it.
The paradox is that Israel will continue to be lauded as “the only democracy in the Middle East” while continuing to treat international law with contempt. Those who resist, or try to end, Israel’s military occupation of Palestine face opprobrium and accusations of terrorism.
It is high time that the world imposed sanctions on the villain of this piece, the Zionist state of Israel. Sanctions should not only cover goods originating in illegal settlements but also those from companies which profit from the occupation, wherever they are based. And supplies of arms and ammunition should also be stopped.
International efforts like the Women’s Boat to Gaza are entirely peaceful; there is nothing sinister or underhand in what they set out to do. In this case, women from around the world want to embrace their Palestinian sisters and children in solidarity with their struggle against injustice and oppression.
The immorality of the siege is clear to all reasonable and peace-loving people. As Gideon Levy once put it, it is the only case he knows of where sanctions are imposed on the occupied, not the occupier. Only the warmongers fear freedom.
Politicians in Europe and the Americas, Asia and Africa, and Oceania need to know that if they give political, material or military support to Israel and its occupation, the tide of public opinion is against them. That is why such efforts as the Women’s Boat to Gaza are successful, even if they don’t break the siege. In fearing a boat full of unarmed women, Israel has already lost the PR war; the credibility of its claims about “national security” has taken a further beating. The world knows that the siege of Gaza is immoral; now Israel and its politicians know it too.
This is the text of an open statement prepared by Palestine solidarity activists in Italy.