Israel/Palestine: “Unarmed activists slaughtered” by IDF paratroopers

Irish Socialist Party MEP calls for solidarity demonstrations with activists and Gaza

According news reports, anywhere between 9 and 19 people were killed when Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip. Armed forces boarded the vessels overnight, clashing with some of the 600 protesters on board. It took place around 40 miles (64 km) out to sea, in international waters. Peace activists say Israeli troops came on board shooting.

Israel has maintained a blockade of the Palestinian territory of 1.5m people, and previously halted activist ships, although some others have reached Gaza.

The convoy set off in international waters off Cyprus yesterday in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade of Gaza.

Protests against this atrocity are taking place today, and over the next days, across the world. CWI members are participating in many of these protests, including in Israel.

The following statement by Joe Higgins, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) MEP was released shortly after news circulated about the IDF shootinings.

More reports will follow on

News reports have not yet provided a definitive account of the extent of the IDF attack on the flotilla of eight humanitarian aid ships on their way to Gaza. However, it is clear that IDF forces have taken over some of the ships and at least 10 unarmed activists have been slaughtered and others injured. There are at least eleven Irish nationals on this flotilla and we do not yet know the condition they are in.

An IDF officer is reported in this morning’s Jerusalem Post describing how IDF paratroopers landing by helicopter on the ships in international waters were “ambushed” by aid workers “armed” with whatever was at hand! I am already aware that language has lost all meaning to the Israeli authorities having received some e-mails myself from the Israeli Embassy in Dublin late last week defending their position when I making representations to them in anticipation of the attacks on the aid flotilla.

The Israeli government and the IDF commanders order these atrocities safe in the knowledge that their allies in the West will leave them unchallenged. Indeed, by welcoming Israel into the OECD last week, the Israeli political establishment can now label itself as part of the “advanced” West.

I condemn this attack and demand that that MV Rachael Corrie, which left Dundalk harbour this weekend carrying aid for Gaza, be allowed to make its journey without harassment. I call on people to attend the demonstration today at 6pm in O’Connell Street in solidarity with these activists and the people of Gaza.

While the Israeli government claims to be acting in the interests of the Israeli population, it uses methods, like the permanent blockade of Gaza, that are reminiscent of the collective punishment imposed in the past on Jews in the old ghettos of Europe. This Israeli government does not defend the real, long-term interests of Israeli citizens and oppresses the Palestinians.

Only a joint movement of ordinary Palestinians and Israeli Jews against the Israeli capitalist state can prevent further atrocities and secure democratic rights for all.

The Egyptian government must immediately open its border with Gaza and allow free movement acros it.

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May 2010