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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/29/11

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla-One Year Later and Another Flotilla on the Horizon

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UN Secretary General Calls Israeli Blockade "Unsustainable" and Israel should take "further meaningful and far-reaching steps" to end the blockade of Gaza

On May 27, 2011, UN Secretary General Bon Ki-moon in letters sent to countries in the Mediterranean stated that the Gaza situation was "unsustainable" and Israel should take "further meaningful and far-reaching steps" to end the blockade of Gaza.

Bowing to Israeli pressure, Bon Ki-moon also asked those countries to dissuade activists from attempting to sail to Gaza calling the flotilla "unhelpful." A UN spokesperson said, "The secretary-general called on all governments concerned to use their influence to discourage such flotillas, which carry the potential to escalate into violent conflict. He further called on all, including the government of Israel, to act responsibly and with caution to avoid any violent incident." Ban also said that all aid for Gaza, which is blockaded by IDF forces, should go through "legitimate crossings and established channels" -- which in practice means through Israel.

Gaza Flotilla, One Year Ago

A year ago, I was on one of the six ships in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. All six ships were brutally attacked by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) commandos. More than 30 Israeli ships surrounded the unarmed, civilian flotilla that was sailing to Gaza to challenge Israel's illegal Israeli naval blockade that is imprisoning 1.5 million Palestinians.

IDF commandos killed nine unarmed civilians on the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara. One of those killed included 19-year old American citizen Furkan Dogan. Five passengers, including Dogan, were executed with gunshots to the head. The heavily armed commandos shot Dogan five times. Another passenger is still in a coma, one year after he was shot, but is deteriorating and will probably die soon according to friends.

US Government Not Assisting Family of Murdered American; CCR files Lawsuit Demanding Documents

The United States government refused to conduct an investigation into the death of American citizen Dogan, instead stating that the U.S. would rely on Israel's investigation into its own actions. The United States even refused to cite Dogan's death in the recently released State Department's annual Human Rights report on Israel, the first time the violent death of an American citizen in the West Bank or Gaza has not been acknowledged in this report.

Last week, Professor Ahmet Dogan, the father of Furkan Dogan was in the United States to demand justice in the death of his son at the hands of the IDF. This was his second trip to the United States in an attempt to get the U.S. government to assist him. After again speaking with representatives in the State Department, Justice Department and with members of Congress, Professor Dogan joined with the Center for Constitutional Rights in filing a lawsuit against the United States government for failing after 11 months to provide documents concerning U.S. contacts with Israel concerning the Gaza flotilla requested through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA requires the U.S. government to respond in some manner to FOIA requests in 20 days.

The U.S. government, 11 months later, still refuses to respond. The lawsuit asks the courts to order the United States government to comply with federal law and respond to these requests.

In a press release concerning the lawsuit, Professor Dogan said, "I have travelled twice to Washington, D.C. seeking answers and support in my efforts to achieve justice and accountability for my son's killing. So far, my efforts have not been successful. I call upon the United States government to at least release information related to the flotilla attack and what it knows about my son's death. Why isn't the United States investigating the death of a U.S. citizen in this case?"

More International Citizen Pressure on Israel to End the Blockade of Gaza

This weekend I am in Istanbul, Turkey for the commemoration ceremonies for the nine who were killed and the 50 passengers who were wounded a year ago in the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla. Passengers on all of the ships were subjected to brutal treatment by the IDF commandos who fired percussion grenades through the glass windows of all the ships, spraying glass everywhere and breaking eardrums. They shot paint bullets into the faces of some passengers, fired tasers at passengers and pushed others onto the deck into the broken glasses.

Demonstrations against the Israeli brutality erupted all over the world and Israel was condemned by virtually all nations of the world, except the United States, for its disproportionate use of force on an unarmed, civilian flotilla.

The United States continues to attempt to protect Israel from criticism no matter what criminal actions the Israel government takes, including trashing the Goldstone report that criticized primarily Israel, but also Hamas, during Israel's 22-day attack on Gaza that killed 1,440 Palestinians, wounded 5,000 and left 50,000 homeless. Just last week, President Obama said that the United States will continue to protect Israel from criticism.

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Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand (more...)
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