The Israeli navy has seized a ship of Palestinian solidarity activists seeking to break the U.S.-backed siege of the Gaza Strip. The Estelle was the latest boat attempting to reach Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. On Saturday, Israeli navy vessels surrounded the ship and deployed forces on board to seize the passengers, taking them to a prison inside Israel. The passengers and crew were nationals from Canada, Israel, Norway, Sweden and the United States. Hours before the Israeli raid, ship organizer Mattias Gardell spoke to Democracy Now! from aboard the Estelle.
Mattias Gardell: "We are not breaking any laws, we are not the provocateurs. It is Israel that clearly violates international public law and decent human standards. They are provoking the world and by doing so -- by inviting the world to witness this crime against humanity they are also presenting each and every one of us with a choice: either you choose to be a part of the problem, or you choose to be part of the solution."
A lawyer for the detained passengers has accused Israel of using taser weapons during the raid on the ship, saying Israeli forces committed "electro torture." Israel has denied the claim.
In related news, author and professor Noam Chomsky made his first trip to the Gaza Strip over the weekend, appearing at an academic conference. During his visit, Chomsky said he was inspired at witnessing how Palestinians survive under Israeli occupation, and later expressed solidarity with the detained Estelle passengers seeking to break the blockade.
Noam Chomsky: "[My] main impression is how inspiring it is to see people living under extreme duress but never the less remain vibrant, vigorous, active, hopeful, resilient and continuing the struggle. ... I should say that every time Israel stops a boat that's another blow to its diminishing legitimacy and another element of support, both to the those who resisting internally and to those who are opposing the policies outside, and sooner or later the wave will sweep over the barriers."
Published on Oct 22, 2012 by democracynow