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Update Alert: Palestine – Israel to be brought to account for massacre and blockade

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Israel still defends its murderous actions, refuses to lift the blockade on Gaza and insists on an Israeli led investigation.

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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04 June 2009

Update Alert: Palestine – Israel to be brought to account for massacre and blockade

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letters


1. Summary

Despite wide spread international condemnation of the flotilla massacre; Israel still defends its murderous actions, refuses to lift the blockade on Gaza and insists on an Israeli led investigation.

So far the death toll is 9 and the organizers of the Foredoom Flotilla state that there is a list of missing persons which still have not been accounted for.

According to eye witness accounts of those on board the Mavi Marmara, Israeli navy fired tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets from the Sea. Live ammunition was fired from the helicopters before commandos landed on the deck of the ship. This resulted in the death of one activist, who was shot in the head, according to the eye witness account of Jamal el Shayyal, al Jazeera journalist.



2. Background

Yesterday, Turkey held the funeral for the 9 activists who were killed on board the largest ship in the flotilla. Amongst the dead was a 19 year old student Furkan Dogan who had dual American/Turkish nationality and Turkey’s Tai Qwando champion Çetin Topçuoglu, who coached Turkey’s national Tae Qwando team. According to the organizers of the Foredoom Flotilla there are still a number of missing activists that have not been accounted for.

Disturbing eye witness accounts and experiences left many activists traumatised and deeply distressed. Activists were shot with live ammunition, beaten and once subdued were made to sit down with their hands tied behind their backs. According to al jazeera reporter Jamal el Shayyal, the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) would not allow the activists to move or use the bathroom.  White flags and messages in Hebrew of surrender were completed ignored by commandos who fired indiscriminately at the crowd. An Arab member of the Knesset, Hanin Zoabi, approached the commandos asking them to take away the injured, they however ignored the requests and many of the deaths were as a result of a slow medical response. British activist Sarah Colbourne described the attack as ‘horrific’ and like a ‘horror movie’.

Since the end of operation Cast Lead in 2008/09 Israel has enforced a blockade upon the Gaza strip, controlling movement via land, air and sea. According to Gisha, an Israeli advocacy organisation items such as coriander, chocolate and fresh meat are prohibited from going into the Gaza strip. The Israeli’s also prevent construction material from entering the strip on the basis that Hamas will use it to build bunkers.  Chris Gunness from the UN relief and works agency (UNWRA) refuted such claims by stating that a successful pilot scheme in the Gaza strip has ensured that all construction material had been used for essential reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure. He has guaranteed that any construction material that goes in will be used for rebuilding. Gunness also stated that the number of Gazans depending on foreign aid has increased from 100,000 in 2009 to 300,000 in 2010.

The Israeli government justifies the blockade on Gaza because its population voted for Hamas, who they consider to be a “terrorist”   organisation, this amounts to "collective punishment" and violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to which "no protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.” The UN Security Council concluded from their emergency meeting on Monday 31st of May, that the blockade is ‘unacceptable and counterproductive’ highlighting its illegitimacy. Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires States to ensure, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to the occupied population.

Outrage and condemnation has been expressed by the international community including the UN, who has called for an inquiry. Israel however insists on an Israeli led enquiry as opposed to an International inquiry.  IHRC calls for an immediate lifting of the blockade, for every Israeli official involved in the massacre to be held accountable and an international inquiry supervised by the UN Human Rights Council.



3. Action required

Write to the following authorities requesting them to lobby for a lifting of the illegal blockade, for every Israeli official involved in the massacre to be held accountable and an international inquiry supervised by the UN Human Rights Council.

a) Minister of foreign affairs in your country, UK campaigners will find the address in the sample letter provided

b) UN Secretary General

c) European Commission Secretary General


4. Sample letters
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A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

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a) Minister of foreign affairs in your country. (UK campaigners can write using the address supplied below, fax: +44 (0)20 7839 2417 or email: private.office@fco.gov.uk)

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Rt. Hon. William Hague MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr. Hague,

Re: Israel to be brought to account for massacre and blockade

I’m utterly outraged by the murderous actions of Israel on the 31st May 2010. How a so called ‘democratic’ state can behave in such a barbaric manner and not be prosecuted as war criminals is beyond belief.

Disturbing eye witness accounts and experiences left many activists traumatised and deeply distressed. Activists were shot with live ammunition, beaten and once subdued were made to sit down with their hands tied behind their backs. According to al jazeera reporter Jamal el Shayyal, the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) would not allow the activists to move or use the bathroom.  White flags and messages in Hebrew of surrender were completed ignored by commandos who fired indiscriminately at the crowd. An Arab member of the Knesset, Hanin Zoabi, approached the commandos asking them to take away the injured, they however ignored the requests and many of the deaths were as a result of a slow medical response. British activist Sarah Colbourne described the attack as ‘horrific’ and like a ‘horror movie’.

Since the end of operation Cast Lead in 2008/09 Israel has enforced a blockade upon the Gaza strip, controlling movement via land, air and sea. According to Gisha, an Israeli advocacy organisation items such as coriander, chocolate and fresh meat are prohibited from going into the Gaza strip. The Israeli’s also prevent construction material from entering the strip on the basis that Hamas will use it to build bunkers.  Chris Gunness from the UN relief and works agency (UNWRA) refuted such claims by stating that a successful pilot scheme in the Gaza strip has ensured that all construction material has been used for essential reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure. He has guaranteed that any construction material that goes in will be used for rebuilding. Gunness also stated that the number of Gazans depending on foreign aid has increased from 100,000 in 2009 to 300,000 in 2010.

The Israeli government justifies the blockade on Gaza because its population voted for Hamas, who they consider to be a “terrorist”   organisation, this amounts to "collective punishment" and violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to which "no protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.” The UN Security Council concluded from their emergency meeting on Monday 31st of May, that the blockade is ‘unacceptable and counterproductive’ highlighting its illegitimacy. Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires States to ensure, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to the occupied population.

Condemnation is not enough. I would urge you strongly to pressure the Israeli government to immediately lift the illegal blockade, hold accountable every Israeli official involved in the massacre and demand an international inquiry supervised by the UN Human Rights Council. Since the UK is close allies with Israel, their actions will inevitably affect our standing in the international arena as a law abiding beacon of democracy.


I look forward to your response on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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b) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (Fax: +001 212-963-7055 or email: ecu@un.org )

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations
New York,
NY 10017
USA

Dear Mr. Ki-moon,

Re: Israel to be brought to account for massacre and blockade

I’m utterly outraged by the murderous actions of Israel on the 31st May 2010. How a so called ‘democratic’ state can behave in such a barbaric manner and not be prosecuted as war criminals is beyond belief.

Disturbing eye witness accounts and experiences left many activists traumatised and deeply distressed. Activists were shot with live ammunition, beaten and once subdued were made to sit down with their hands tied behind their backs. According to al jazeera reporter Jamal el Shayyal, the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) would not allow the activists to move or use the bathroom.  White flags and messages in Hebrew of surrender were completed ignored by commandos who fired indiscriminately at the crowd. An Arab member of the Knesset, Hanin Zoabi, approached the commandos asking them to take away the injured, they however ignored the requests and many of the deaths were as a result of a slow medical response. British activist Sarah Colbourne described the attack as ‘horrific’ and like a ‘horror movie’.

Since the end of operation Cast Lead in 2008/09 Israel has enforced a blockade upon the Gaza strip, controlling movement via land, air and sea. According to Gisha, an Israeli advocacy organisation items such as coriander, chocolate and fresh meat are prohibited from going into the Gaza strip. The Israeli’s also prevent construction material from entering the strip on the basis that Hamas will use it to build bunkers.  Chris Gunness from the UN relief and works agency (UNWRA) refuted such claims by stating that a successful pilot scheme in the Gaza strip has ensured that all construction material has been used for essential reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure. He has guaranteed that any construction material that goes in will be used for rebuilding. Gunness also stated that the number of Gazans depending on foreign aid has increased from 100,000 in 2009 to 300,000 in 2010.

The Israeli government justifies the blockade on Gaza because its population voted for Hamas, who they consider to be a “terrorist”   organisation, this amounts to "collective punishment" and violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to which "no protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.” The UN Security Council concluded from their emergency meeting on Monday 31st of May, that the blockade is ‘unacceptable and counterproductive’ highlighting its illegitimacy. Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires States to ensure, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to the occupied population.

Condemnation is not enough. I would urge you strongly to pressure the Israeli government to immediately lift the illegal blockade, hold accountable every Israeli official involved in the massacre and demand an international inquiry supervised by the UN Human Rights Council. If the UN is to retain any credibility then it must act swiftly to bring justice to the victims of this appalling massacre.

I look forward to your response on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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b) European Commission Secretary General, Lady Catherine Ashton.

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Lady Catherine Ashton
European Commission
Secretariat-General
B-1049 Brussels
BELGIUM

Lady Ashton,

Re: Israel to be brought to account for massacre and blockade

I’m utterly outraged by the murderous actions of Israel on the 31st May 2010. How a so called ‘democratic’ state can behave in such a barbaric manner and not be prosecuted as war criminals is beyond belief.

Disturbing eye witness accounts and experiences left many activists traumatised and deeply distressed. Activists were shot with live ammunition, beaten and once subdued were made to sit down with their hands tied behind their backs. According to al jazeera reporter Jamal el Shayyal, the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) would not allow the activists to move or use the bathroom.  White flags and messages in Hebrew of surrender were completed ignored by commandos who fired indiscriminately at the crowd. An Arab member of the Knesset, Hanin Zoabi, approached the commandos asking them to take away the injured, they however ignored the requests and many of the deaths were as a result of a slow medical response. British activist Sarah Colbourne described the attack as ‘horrific’ and like a ‘horror movie’.

Since the end of operation Cast Lead in 2008/09 Israel has enforced a blockade upon the Gaza strip, controlling movement via land, air and sea. According to Gisha, an Israeli advocacy organisation items such as coriander, chocolate and fresh meat are prohibited from going into the Gaza strip. The Israeli’s also prevent construction material from entering the strip on the basis that Hamas will use it to build bunkers.  Chris Gunness from the UN relief and works agency (UNWRA) refuted such claims by stating that a successful pilot scheme in the Gaza strip has ensured that all construction material has been used for essential reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure. He has guaranteed that any construction material that goes in will be used for rebuilding. Gunness also stated that the number of Gazans depending on foreign aid has increased from 100,000 in 2009 to 300,000 in 2010.

The Israeli government justifies the blockade on Gaza because its population voted for Hamas, who they consider to be a “terrorist”   organisation, this amounts to "collective punishment" and violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to which "no protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.” The UN Security Council concluded from their emergency meeting on Monday 31st of May, that the blockade is ‘unacceptable and counterproductive’ highlighting its illegitimacy. Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires States to ensure, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to the occupied population.

Condemnation is not enough. I would urge you strongly to pressure the Israeli government to immediately lift the illegal blockade, hold accountable every Israeli official involved in the massacre and demand an international inquiry supervised by the UN Human Rights Council.

I look forward to your response on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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