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Posts Tagged ‘Activists’

German police, activists in long wait for nuclear showdown

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 6:22 am

All Rachel Corrie activists, crew deported: Israel

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2010 at 10:24 am

JERUSALEM, June 7, 2010 (AFP) – All 19 people on board the Rachel Corrie aid ship which tried to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza, have been deported, an Israeli immigration official told AFP on Monday.

Malaysian activists who were aboard the Rachel Corrie aid ship (AFP photo)

“They have all left,” she said, adding that the five Irish nationals, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, had flown out on a plane which left at around 5:00 am (0200 GMT).

Six Malaysians and a Cuban were deported on Sunday, leaving via the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan, while the remaining activists — including six Filipinos and a Briton — had left in the evening and overnight.

Israeli forces intercepted and seized control of the Rachel Corrie on Saturday as it tried to reach the Gaza Strip, in a peaceful operation which had a radically different outcome from an earlier raid on an aid flotilla that left nine dead last week.

Source: SGGP

Israel moves to expel Rachel Corrie activists, crew

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2010 at 10:18 am

JERUSALEM (AFP) – All activists and crew on board the Rachel Corrie aid ship which tried to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza would be expelled from Israel on Sunday, an Israeli immigration official told AFP.

“Everyone on board the boat will be expelled on Sunday after they signed a waiver renouncing their right to appeal to an Israeli judge,” said Sabine Haddad.

She said six Malaysian nationals and a Cuban would leave Israel through the Allenby crossing into Jordan, while the remaining 11 people would fly out of Israel from Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv.

An Israeli flag flutters in the foreground as the Rachel Corrie aid ship enters the military port of Ashdod in southern Israel. AFP photo

Immigration officials earlier said the process had been delayed after the five Irish nationals, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, had initially refused to sign the waiver.

Israeli forces intercepted and seized control of the Rachel Corrie on Saturday as it tried to reach the Gaza Strip, in a peaceful operation which had a radically different outcome from an earlier raid on an aid flotilla that left nine dead.

The Irish-owned 1,200-tonne vessel was escorted into the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, and the activists and crew were taken to the Holon immigration centre near Tel Aviv for questioning.

Israel said its forces boarded the Rachel Corrie — named after a US activist killed in 2003 as she tried to prevent an Israeli bulldozer from razing a Palestinian home — “with the agreement” of those on board.

“Our forces boarded the boat and took control without meeting any resistance from the crew or the passengers. Everything took place without violence,” a military spokeswoman told AFP.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the operation.

“We saw today the difference between a ship of peace activists, with whom we don’t agree but respect their right to a different opinion from ours, and between a ship of hate organised by violent Turkish terror extremists,” he said.

Saturday’s outcome stood in stark contrast to a botched navy operation against a six-ship flotilla on Monday, which ended in the deaths of nine activists — eight Turks and a US-Turkish citizen.

But the latest takeover prompted a furious response from the Dublin-based Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

“For the second time in less then a week, Israeli forces stormed and hijacked an unarmed aid ship, kidnapping its passengers and forcing the ship toward Ashdod port,” it said.

The Rachel Corrie was carrying around 1,000 tonnes of aid and supplies, half of which was reportedly cement which is barred by Israel which fears it could be used by the Islamist group Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip to build fortifications.

Saturday’s operation came at a sensitive time, with Israel diplomatically isolated after Monday’s deadly raid.

The bloody end to that humanitarian mission unleashed fury, with several thousand people protesting across Europe on Saturday, including an estimated 10,000 in Istanbul.

Turkish prosecutors are reportedly examining the possibility of prosecuting Israeli leaders over the raid.

Angry protesters chanting anti-Israeli slogans and waving Palestinian and Turkish flags also took to the streets of Dublin, Edinburgh, London and Paris as well as other French cities on Saturday.

In Lebanon, two pro-Palestinian groups launched a fund-raising campaign to buy a ship which they hoped to sail to Gaza next week.

A senior UN official on Sunday said the botched raid should be used as a reason for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

“We very much want to see what’s happened, or use what’s happened, tragic as it is, as an opportunity to try to… persuade Israel to change policy,” the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Holmes told AFP in Sydney.

Meanwhile, Britain said on Sunday it was giving 19 million pounds (27 million dollars, 23 million euros) for refugees in Gaza and repeated calls for Israel to lift its blockade of the territory, which has been in place since 2006 when the Islamist Hamas movement formed a government after sweeping parliamentary elections.

Source: SGGP

Turkey flies activists home after deadly Israeli raid

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 10:14 am

Hundreds of activists from the Gaza-bound aid flotilla seized by Israeli commandos arrived in Turkey Thursday, as Israel’s prime minister denounced some of them as “violent supporters of terrorism.”

A crowd of about a thousand people, some chanting anti-Israeli slogans, welcomed the three planes carrying 488 activists at Istanbul airport as they arrived in the small hours of the morning.

The planes were also carrying the bodies of nine activists killed when Israeli commandos took control of the six aid vessels in Monday’s pre-dawn operation, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told journalists at the airport.

Israel has identified four of the dead as Turkish nationals, but there has been no word yet as to the identity or nationality of the others.

An unidentified Turkish activist, who was expelled from Israel, is taken to a hospital in Ankara after arriving from Israel.

One of the new arrivals, a Turkish national of about 50 who refused to give his name, told cameras at the airport that he had been astonished at the brutality of the Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara.

The Turkish vessel was the largest of the six vessels in the aid convoy and it was here that the deadly clashes took place.

Earlier Wednesday, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag was on hand at a military base near Ankara to receive two seriously wounded activists, one Turkish and one an Irish national, as they flew in from Israel.

In Israel however, Netanyahu hit back at the international condemnation of the operation.

Since the activists had refused offers from both Israel and Egypt to deliver the aid to Gaza once it had been inspected, they had been left with no choice but to board the vessels, said the prime minister.

Israel’s forces had met violent resistance only on the Mavi Marmara, he added. “They were stabbed, they were clubbed, they were fired upon…

“This was not a love boat. This was a hate boat. These weren’t pacifists. These weren’t peace activists. These were violent supporters of terrorism.”

Organisers of the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” have denied the Israeli account, saying the soldiers had started firing as soon as they landed.

And they say Irish and Malaysian activists are on another aid ship heading towards Gaza despite the potential for more violence.

The Rachel Corrie, carrying building supplies, is in the Mediterranean, and organisers say it will be several days before it arrives in Gaza.

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin urged Israel to let them through.

“It is imperative that there should be no further confrontation or bloodshed arising from what has been all along a purely humanitarian mission by those involved in the Gaza flotilla,” he said.

Israel rushed to deport the activists after Turkey, in talks with the United States, warned of fresh measures against the Jewish state.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters he had asked US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene during their meeting in Washington Tuesday.

“No one has the right to prosecute people kidnapped in international waters,” he said.

Turkey has already recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and scrapped plans for joint military exercises.

Netanyahu, in his statement, argued that if aid convoys were allowed into Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement, they would become a conduit for rockets and other weapons to be used against Israel.

“Israel regrets the loss of life,” he said.

“But we will never apologize for defending ourselves. Israel has every right to prevent deadly weapons from entering into hostile territory.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon nevertheless renewed his call for Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, describing it as “counter-productive, unsustainable and wrong.”

The UN secretary-general also said that Israel should provide a “full and detailed account” of the commando raid.

Arab League foreign ministers meanwhile, decided to force the issue.

At a five-hour emergency meeting in Cairo late Wednesday League members decided to “break and to defy the Israeli blockade by every means,” Secretary General Amr Mussa told reporters.

The ministers welcomed Egypt’s decision Wednesday to open its Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip Wednesday, to allow travel and the delivery of humanitarian aid. It is the only access point to Gaza not controlled by Israel.

Israeli officials said 682 people from 42 countries, with Turks the most numerous, were on board the six ships that tried to break the blockade of Gaza, which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

Of that total, 527 had flown out to Greece and Turkey overnight, said a foreign ministry spokesman late Wednesday.

Seven activists wounded in Monday’s clashes were still being treated in an Israeli hospital, he added.

Three others — an Irishman and two women from Australia and Italy — remained in Israel “for technical reasons,” he added, without elaborating.

Others were deported earlier.

In Greece meanwhile, a plane carrying 31 Greek activists from the aid convoy, together with three French nationals and an American, flew into Athens airport in the early hours of Thursday, the foreign ministry said.

Source: SGGP

Israel begins deporting aid fleet activists

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 2:06 am

A man holds a sign during a rally in New York. AFP photo

JERUSALEM, June 2 (AFP) – Israel began deporting all foreign activists detained during a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, as international pressure mounted and Turkey warned it risked losing its “sole friend” in the Middle East.

“Israel is faced with the danger of losing its sole friend in the region and the greatest contributor so far to regional peace,” a statement Wednesday quoted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as telling US President Barack Obama in a one-hour telephone conversation.

“The steps that it (Israel) will undertake in the coming days will determine its position in the region,” Erdogan said.

He told Obama Monday’s operation on an international flotilla carrying supplies to the Gaza Strip, which resulted in nine deaths, was “unacceptable lawlessness,” the statement said.

Erdogan stressed Israel’s blockade of Gaza, in place since 2007, should be lifted and called on Israel to release the passengers and vessels of the seized flotilla.

Earlier a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “all foreign nationals who were on board the fleet and were arrested will be deported from Tuesday night.”

The operation was expected to be completed within 48 hours, it added.

About 120 people, mostly Algerians and Indonesians were about to cross the land border into Jordan, while 60 Turks were at Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, awaiting special flights home, Israeli army radio said Wednesday.

Another 70 Turkish citizens were on their way from prison to the airport, the radio said.

Of the 682 people from 42 countries aboard the six ships that were towed to an Israeli port after Monday’s bloody raid, 45 were flown out Monday and Tuesday.

The decision to release the activists came after mounting international pressure to free the detainees.

The UN Security Council called for the ships and the civilians who had been on board to be released and to transport the aid to Gaza.

It also called for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.”

Israeli troops said they had killed nine of the activists during Monday’s operation to capture the six-ship flotilla, which had 682 passengers from 42 countries.

Pierre Wettach, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation, said his group was checking on the condition and whereabouts of those wounded and those detained by Israeli authorities.

Israel’s decision to back down and release the detainees followed two days of stinging international criticism.

The White House declined to specifically condemn Israel, but US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the situation in Gaza was “unsustainable and unacceptable.”

“Israel’s legitimate security needs must be met just as the Palestinians’ legitimate needs for sustained humanitarian assistance and regular access for reconstruction materials must also be ensured,” she added.

Clinton backed an Israeli probe of the raid, while stressing that it had to be “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent.”

Israel insists the boarding would have been peaceful if the commandos had not been attacked by dozens of club-wielding activists on the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, which carried most of the passengers.

Organisers of the aid convoy meanwhile insisted they would push ahead with a fresh bid to break the blockade.

“We knew what the risk would be and we will continue to run these flotillas,” said Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement.

“The Rachel Corrie will probably be there within the week.”

The aid-laden cargo ship, currently off the east coast of Italy, is named after a US activist crushed to death in 2003 by an Israeli army bulldozer during a protest on the Gaza Strip.

Greta Berlin said organisers were also working on plans for a new flotilla that would leave for Gaza in July.

But Israel was adamant it would not let any ships through.

“We will not let any ships reach Gaza and supply what has become a terrorist base threatening the heart of Israel,” deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai told public radio.

While Israel blamed the activists for the confrontation, passengers had an entirely different story.

“Personally, I saw two and a half wooden batons that were used… There was really nothing else. We never saw any knives,” former MP Norman Paech, 72, said on his arrival back in Berlin.

“This was a clear act of piracy,” said Paech, who was on the Mavi Marmara, where the worst of the violence took place.

Netanyahu, who consulted with his security cabinet after calling off White House talks with Obama, insisted the commandos had “defended themselves from a lynching.”

But the Israeli press was scathing about the botched operation, criticising the failure of the political and military leadership to anticipate such a scenario.

Flotilla organisers said the ships carried some 10,000 tonnes of aid destined for Gaza, which has suffered a crippling blockade imposed by Israel in 2006 and largely backed by Egypt.

Israeli authorities said some of the fleet’s supplies had been trucked to Gaza and more would follow.

The political fallout from the incident continued late Tuesday, as Nicaragua suspended diplomatic relations with Israel.

Source: SGGP

Activists dodge Japanese whaling fleet after skirmish

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2009 at 2:09 pm

 Militant anti-whaling activists said they were dodging a Japanese surveillance ship in icebergs near Antarctica on Wednesday, following their first skirmish with whalers during the annual hunt.

Paul Watson, who is leading a campaign to harass this season’s hunt, said a ship loaded with Japanese security guards had been tailing his group since they left Western Australia on December 7.

When they attempted to approach the Shonan Maru No.2 from behind an iceberg on Monday, Watson said the Japanese targeted them with two water cannon and tailed them for two hours in a high-speed pursuit.

This handout photo released by the Sea Shepherd Society shows the Japanese ship Shonan Maru No. 2 in the seas off Antarctica on December 14.

“We had our water cannons at ready but we never opened up on them,” Watson told AFP, speaking via satellite phone from Antarctic waters.

“As long as they’re following us, they can relay our position to the whaling fleet so they can move if we’re approaching them,” he said.

Japan‘s government-backed Institute of Cetacean Research, which runs the whaling expeditions, said the water cannon was used because Watson’s ship had come dangerously close.

“It was only a normal warning procedure after we repeatedly issued verbal warnings,” said an official. “They know that we use water if they ignore our warnings and get close.

“Then they took pictures for the media, and the media got excited. We are only seeing the same pattern,” he said.

Watson said the Shonan Maru No.2 was still tailing them Wednesday, but that “we’re going to try and lose them in the ice pack down here off the coast.”

“They said if we try to block the operations they’ll put their ship between us and the harpoon vessels, which will most likely result in collisions,” Watson said.

“But we’re not going to back down, we’re there to block their operations and we’re not going to back down because they try to force us out of the way.”

Despite the beefed-up security, Watson said he was confident of disrupting the hunt for a sixth year, saying the activists had a futuristic powerboat which would be able to outrun the ships and block their harpoons.

“It’ll be our interceptor vessel, I think it will make a big difference,” he said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama this week asked visiting Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd to rein in the activists, describing their actions as “sabotage.”

The Sea Shepherd have chased Japanese whalers for years, sometimes hurling projectiles and climbing aboard Japanese ships, earning them the label of “eco-terrorists” in Japan and hardening the country’s position on whaling.

Hatoyama dismissed threats from Rudd that he would haul Japan before an international tribunal, saying his country’s whaling activity was legal.

Australia’s Greens party said the Rudd government should threaten to abandon a proposed free trade deal with Japan to force Tokyo‘s hand.

“Probably nothing else will get the Japanese prime minister‘s attention more than linking our concern and our desire to end whaling in Antarctica immediately with negotiations over the free trade agreement,” said Greens senator Rachel Siewert.

The FTA talks began in 2007, and the ninth round of negotiations was held in Canberra in July.

An international moratorium on commercial whaling was imposed in 1986 but Japan kills hundreds each year using a loophole that allows “lethal research” on the ocean giants.

Japan makes no secret that the meat ends up on dinner tables, and accuses Western nations of not respecting its culture.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share