Gaza activists from Australia seek Gillard support 15Jun11 June 17, 2011

The Australian -  15 June 2011

THREE Australians who will be aboard a boat hoping to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza have called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to demand Israel not attack them.

Former NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale says the Australian Government should exert its influence to ensure there is no repeat of last year’s violence, when nine people died while trying to break the blockade.

On May 31, 2010, Israeli marines stormed the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of an international aid flotilla bound for Gaza, killing nine Turkish activists in international waters and drawing international condemnation.

“Turkey has warned Israel against a repetition of last year’s lethal attack on the first Freedom Flotilla – our Government must do the same,” Ms Hale said. “We call upon the Government of Australia to remind the government of Israel of its obligations under international law and to demand the immediate cessation of the blockade.”

Ms Hale said it would be “deeply disturbing” if Australia stood by and did nothing.

Youth worker Michael Coleman said the passengers on board the boat would be acting “completely lawfully”.

“We are committed to non-violence and will offer no active resistance should our boat … be attacked,” Mr Coleman said. “We will give Israeli forces no pretext for any assault.”

He said the boat would be carrying medical supplies and messages of good will and support to the people of Gaza.

Israel maintains that attempts to breach the naval blockade are political rather than genuinely humanitarian.

It has offered to transfer any bona fide aid shipments directly to Gaza, provided it can inspect the cargo to prevent arms smuggling to Hamas and other militant groups.

 

MEDIA RELEASE

15 June 2011

PM Gillard must act against Israel attacking Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

Members of the Australian delegation joining the Flotilla to break the blockade of Gaza have written to Prime Minister Gillard outlining their reasons for participating in the Flotilla and urging her to warn Israel against attacking the Flotilla and to demand an immediate end to the Blockade:
“We call upon the Australian Government to exert its utmost influence to prevent a repetition of last year’s attack and to ensure the safety of all on board Freedom Flotilla 2.”
“We call upon the Government of Australia to remind the Government of Israel of its obligations under international law and to demand the immediate cessation of the blockade.”
“Turkey has warned Israel against a repetition of last year’s lethal attack on the first Freedom Flotilla. Our government must do the same,” said former Greens MP Sylvia Hale.
“It would be deeply disturbing if Australia stands by and does nothing, when it knows full well how violent the Israeli assault could be.”
“Israel’s 2010 attack in international waters left nine people dead and dozens wounded,” said Vivienne Porzsolt of Jews Against the Occupation. “It was almost universally condemned.”
“The Australian Government must not wait until after the event before acting.”
“We are acting completely lawfully,” said youth worker Michael Coleman. “We are completely committed to non-violence and will offer no active resistance should our boat, the Tahrir ['Liberation'], be attacked. We will give Israeli forces no pretext for any assault.”
“”We will be taking medical supplies and messages of good will and support to the people of Gaza,” the three Australian delegates said.
“We therefore expect our Government to do its utmost to prevent Israel forces injuring or detaining participants in the peaceful convoy or confiscating their possessions,” they said.

For more information:
Vivienne Porzsolt, 0411 366 295; Sylvia Hale, 0417 466 095


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