Monday, 6 July 2009
MPT attended a small protest of about 50 people, in nearby Nablus on Monday on behalf of Palestinian and humanitarian prisoners. The protest was calm with no disruptions.
The protest was partly inspired by an incident on June 30 in which the Israeli Navy pirated the ship Spirit of Humanity, which was carrying three tons of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. They also detained the human rights workers on board. This is the fourth ship that has been sent by the Free Gaza movement. Among those detained were former Congresswoman and 2008 presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, and documentarian Adam Shapiro.
The aid came in response to Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has lasted over 24 months. Israel lets very little aid into the Gaza Strip to put economic pressure on Gaza’s government, strangling the civilian population of food, medicine, and communication to the outside world.
The protest was also inspired on behalf of Palestinian prisoners. According to Addameer, an organization promoting human rights for Palestinian prisoners, approximately 20% of Palestinians (about 40% of the male population) have been detained by Israel since 1967. As of March 2005, there are 7500 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel. Among these is Marwan Barghouti, one of the most powerful Palestinian politicians.
In addition to the Kafkaesque manner in which Palestinians are arrested and tried, they are held in poor conditions. The prisoners are held in overcrowded tents inadequate for extreme weather, are provided with low-quality food in small rations, and are not provided with medical attention, including those injured during their arrest and/or detention. In violation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, Palestinian children aged 14+ are tried as adults. During the protest, people held up a banner created by the Palestinian Prisoners Society which said, “There will be no peace, until the liberation of prisoners.”
The man pictured above, the founder and director of the Center for Global Consciousness, read the following translation of a press release from main political parties in the Nablus Governorate in regard to the attack on The Spirit of Humanity ship and the piracy that the Israeli government has practiced against international solidarity with the Gaza Strip and with the Palestinian people:
“The first point is the siege that is imposed on the Gaza Strip, from the air, and the sea, and the land is one of the worst, racist practices in modern history, and it’s a very clear violation of international law and the legitimacy of the United Nations resolutions.
The prevention of the ship of Spirit of Humanity from reaching the shores of Gaza that was carrying humanitarian aid is a very clear challenge from the Israeli government to the whole international community and its legitimacy again.
The ones who have killed the international solidarity activist, American young woman Rachel Corrie, the martyr of humanity is the same occupation that is now categorically besieging the Gaza Strip and preventing food and medicine from our people. This is the same occupation that should be boycotted on all levels – economic boycott, and social and political boycott – against this Israeli-led occupation.
Four: The claims by Israel that the waters adjacent to the Gaza Strip are Israeli territorial waters is completely against international legality, and against all UN resolutions, that present Palestinian land as occupied land and that Israel should withdraw from it in accordance to all international and UN resolutions.
Number five: The call by the international community to support the [???] of solidarity [???] solidarity with the Gaza Strip that is already besieged, especially the American ship that has been sent by the American people and that encompasses a hundred (persons) from around the world, among them the parliamentary George Galloway.
Number six: The attack on journalists and the imprisonment of journalists that accompanied the ship of Spirit of Humanity is a very clear attack on freedom of the press and is an attempt by Israel to divert attention from what’s happening on the ground. It’s an attempt by