US group demands info on flotilla attack 2Jul10 July 4, 2010

Palestine Note -  2 July 2010

Washington – The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has called for the US government to release information on the May 31 flotilla raid, a CCR press release said Thursday.

The Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara was the largest ship in the Gaza-bound “Freedom Flotilla” aid convoy, holding 600 passengers. It was also the scene of the worst violence – nine activists were killed by Israeli commandos and several activists and soldiers were injured in the fray. [Freegazaorg - Flickr]

The release explained:

Yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed eight Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding the United States government’s knowledge of, and actions in relation to, the May 31, 2010 attack by Israel on a flotilla of six vessels in international waters seeking to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, and U.S. policy towards the blockade of Gaza, which has entered its fourth year. The FOIA requests were made to a number of U.S. departments and agencies, including the Coast Guard, the Department of State, the Navy and the U.S. European Command.

US citizen of Turkish origin Furkan Dogan was killed by Israeli commandos during their raid of the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara. Other US citizens were “injured, detained and had their property taken, and a U.S.-registered vessel seized by Israel… in international waters,” CCR attorney Katherine Gallagher said.

Gallagher continued:

“Serious questions remain unanswered about the U.S. response to the attack, its actions and policies, particularly in the context of the blockade of Gaza, internationally condemned as illegal and unjust. Citizens need to know their government will protect their rights under U.S. and international law vis-à-vis a foreign government, including Israel—the biggest recipient of U.S. aid over the last fifty years.”

CCR explained its mission in submitting the FOIA requests:

Specifically, the FOIA requests seek information on what, if any, communications were made between the U.S. government and Israel prior to and after the attack; what, if any, information the U.S. shared before or after with Israel about any of the U.S. citizens abroad; what was done to secure the release of detained citizens; and what is being done to return property seized from U.S. citizens and other passengers and to ensure that such property, which includes evidence for any investigations into the attack, is not tampered with or destroyed.

US President Barack Obama will meet with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday July 6. Their meeting was originally scheduled for the beginning of June, but Netanyahu had to return to Israel immediately from Canada following the flotilla raid May 31.

The White House previewed issues to be discussed in the Tuesday meeting between Obama and Netanyahu, but the White House did not specify whether the issue of Dogan’s death or other issues stemming from the flotilla incident would be addressed.

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