Friday, June 4, 2010

Information instead of Bed Linen for Gaza traveller Victoria Strand

Today the last Swedes that took part in the “Ship to Gaza” convoy are expected to land back in Sweden. One of the activists on the first flight back from Israel was Victoria Strand; she was received in Sweden with applause.  Now that she’s back home, it is beyond comical to find Strand complaining that her trip was not comfortable enough.

In an interview published in Expressen Strand explains to the Swedish public that:
- “The time was around two or two-thirty at night. A large moon was lighting up the Mediterranean Sea that was lying still [very dramatic]. Then the Israeli ships arrived and it all starts with helicopters, tear gas and shots…”
She continuous:
“The soldiers were masked and had their [paintball] guns aimed at us. Afterwards the boats were taken to Ashdod where the military had established a gathering camp  for the aid personnel [activists] that had been arrested by the police. When we came ashore there were hundreds of military personnel lined up on the dock. We had to go through three body searches where they took fingerprints and they photographed us. It was physically demanding. I tried to push forward in able to speak to Mehmet [Kaplan, Swedish MP Greens] but then they started pulling me.
Talking about the Israeli prison Strand continues:
-”In prison the aid personnel [activists] were not given fresh water, or food [note that they were given both water and food but not food fitting Strand’s standards]. They tried to psych us out. There were only plastic mattresses in the cell and no linens. ”

When reading Strand’s statements I wonder if she herself is embarrassed by these bourgeois complaints. “There were only plastic mattresses and no linens” Could it be that Strand wanted to go on a deluxe cruise, but boarded the wrong boat?

It seems rather clear that the Swedish political activists, such as Victoria Strand, don’t realize that they tried to break a weapons import blockade imposed by a country that is currently in a war situation, facing a terrorist organization whose business is killing innocent civilians. Strand completely fails to understand that Israel has a right to prevent Hamas from importing missiles and other weaponry.
In order to further Ms Strand’s education, I am posting the following  letter from the European Friends of Israel , kindly forwarded by politician Annelie Enochson:

2 June 2010

Dear Distinguished Member of Parliament,
We are writing you following the tragic events which have recently unfolded aboard Gaza-bound vessels carrying humanitarian aid.
Although many questions still must be answered, we would like to present to you additional background information, which we believe can assist when attempting to fully understand the development of events.
Brief Historical Background
A state of armed conflict exists between Israel and the Hamas regime controlling Gaza. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union.
In the past years, Hamas has launched 10,000 rockets against Israeli civilians, and is presently smuggling in arms and military supplies into Gaza, by land and sea, in order to fortify its positions and continue its attacks.
In order to prevent the importation of additional weapons, Israel has undertaken measures, including the imposition of a maritime blockade to curb Hamas rearmament.
Despite the blockade, Israel maintains an ongoing humanitarian corridor for the transfer of food and humanitarian supplies to Gaza, used by internationally recognized organizations including the United Nations and the Red Cross.
Under international maritime law, when a maritime blockade is in effect, no vessels can enter the blockaded area.
The Organizers of the Flotilla
Prominent among the coalition organizations participating in the aid flotilla were Turkish IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi, IHH, “Humanitarian Relief Fund”).
Similar to other radical Islamic organizations, it leads a broad program of important activities in distressed areas around Turkey.
However, sorrowfully, besides its legitimate humanitarian activities, IHH supports radical Islamic terrorist networks, such as Hamas. In 2006 a Danish research institute called the Danish Institute for International Studies conducted a study which reported that in the past IHH had connections with Al-Qaeda and global jihad operatives (Find paper here: – See pages 10-14)
Development of Events
As the flotilla approached Israel’s territorial waters, the ships participating in the protest flotilla were warned repeatedly that a maritime blockade is in effect off the coast of Gaza and were given due notice of its exact coordinates.
Moreover, Israel repeatedly, many days before and once again at this opportunity, offered the flotilla organizers to land in the port of Ashdod, and to transfer their aid to Gaza through the existing overland crossings, after they have been thoroughly examined to assure no weapons were included.
The flotilla organizers rejected this offer, stating clearly that "this mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege." (Greta Berlin, AFP, 27May10).
While the organizers claim to have humanitarian concerns, they did not have similar concerns for the fate of the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and when asked, refused to even make a public call to allow him to be visited by the Red Cross.
When it became clear that the protest flotilla intended to violate the blockade despite repeated warnings (see warnings here: ), the Israeli political leadership ordered to halt the flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip and breaching the naval blockade.
Thus, the Israeli Naval personnel decided to board the vessels of the flotilla and redirect them to Ashdod.
Fighting Breaks Out
Although no resistance was noted while boarding 5 out of the 6 vessels, according to the Israel Defense Forces, a large group of passengers on the biggest vessel physically attacked the boarding soldiers with light weaponry including knives and clubs and live fire, including weapons grabbed off IDF soldiers. You can see a film, documenting the initial violence, here: , and the weapons found on board, here:
As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including initially paintball guns but when proven useless in ceasing the violence, live fire was used.
According to reports, these events resulted in nine deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injured. In addition, more than four naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries from heavy blows.
The intention of the flotilla participants to resist Israeli Naval personnel was made clear in numerous television interviews.
The following video shows participants chanting battle cries which invoked:
• the killing of Jews
• the return of the army of Mohammed
• martyrdom
Although many questions still should be answered, it is important to note that:
• The Gaza blockade exists for only one reason: Hamas Terrorism
• Hamas is deemed a terrorist organization by the European Union
•    The organizers refused on several occasions to pass their aid through Israel after it was duly screened for weapons

•    It s therefore clear that the aim of the flotilla was clearly not about delivering humanitarian aid.
• Those vessels that acted peacefully were escorted unharmed to Israel, as had happened with previous vessels that tried to violate the maritime blockade.
•In the immediate aftermath of the incident, there was a rash and unbalanced media response. Coverage was quick to condemn Israel and describe as peace activists, organizers who were in fact armed and in violation of international law.
We, at the EFI office, remain at your total disposal for any additional question or request you may have regarding this event.
With kindest regards,
European Friends of Israel
168 rue Joseph II,
1000 Brussels, Belgium                            
+32 2 235 72 70 (phone)   
+32 2 235 72 71 (fax)

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