Channel 4: Gaza Blockade Under Pressure

June 6, 2010

There could be concessions from Israel on the Gaza Strip aid blockade, Channel 4 News International Editor Lindsey Hilsum reports from Ashdod, as it faces more international pressure after stopping another aid ship.

The Israeli navy diverted the Rachel Corrie - the last of the so-called "freedom flotilla " containing thousands of tonnes of aid for Gaza, as well as activists from Ireland and elsewhere - without incident.  

The ship, named after the American woman killed in Gaza in 2003, had ignored Israeli orders to divert to Israel's Ashdod port where Israel had offered to unload the cargo and deliver it to Gaza before inspecting it.

However, following the Israeli military intervention, it was escorted to Ashdod where the cargo was unloaded and the passengers were put onto buses to the airport to be deported.

The Rachel Corrie continued with its mission despite Israeli forces killing nine activists on board a Turkish aid ship on Monday.  

Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News International Editor, said that Israelis continued to support the blockade, despite the aid crisis in Gaza and international condemnation - although some alterations could be made to what kinds of items are blocked as a result of recent events, she said.

"Most Israelis seem to agree with their government that the blockade of Gaza is necessary in order to weaken the Hamas government in Gaza and prevent it from getting weapons," she said.

"But international reaction is now stepping up - with the White House saying that it is unsustainable, it has to change.

"But nonethless Israel seems quite determined...they think that if the blockade is lifted, there is a danger of weapons going into Gaza, that at least is what they say.

"But I think now there will be new negotiations to change at least what can go in and what can't. There is an Israeli list of goods which are allowed in and which aren't. Rather bizarrely, coriander is not allowed in, ginger however is allowed in."  

 

The humanitarian cargo on board the Rachel Corrie includes:
550,000 kilograms of bagged cement
20,000 Kgs of printing paper
25,000 kgs of school supplies and books
12,000 kgs of toys
150,000 kgs of medical supplies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying: "Forces used the same procedures for Monday's flotilla and Saturday's sailing but was met by a different response.

"On today's ship and in five of the six vessels in the previous flotilla, procedure ended without casualties. The only difference was with one ship where extremist Islamic activists, supporters of terrorism, waited for our troops on the deck with axes and knives."

 

Passengers on board the MV Rachel Corrie include:
Mairead Maguire, nobel Peace Laureate and Cofunder of Peace People, Northern Ireland.
Dennis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, nobel peace prize nominee, and winner of the UK Gandhi Peace Prize.
Matthias Change Wen chieh, Malaysia barrister and former political secretary to former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammed.

The ship was the latest attempt to break the four-year old blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel, with the stated aim of preventing Gaza's rulers Hamas from building up weapons to attack the Jewish state.    

It prevents materials such as cement from entering Gaza, which it says could be used for military purposes.

The latest incident comes after nine Turkish activists attempting to break the blockade were killed by Israeli military on Monday.

The Guardian newspaper reported today that autopsy results showed they had been shot a total of 30 times, many at close range. Five were killed by gunshots to the head, it said.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Chris Gunness, UN Relief and Works Agency spokesman, said that the key issue was that people in Gaza were absolutely desperate for aid.


"We have to get aid into Gaza. There is 80% aid dependency and 44% unemployment. Last year 100,000 people came to us because they could not feed their families, this year it was 300,000 so deep poverty has gone up three times," he said.

"There's a crisis in the health service in Gaza, there's a crisis in the education service in Gaza," he said.

"Thousands of five and six year olds can't go to UN schools today because of this illegal blockade, this collective punishment of 1.5 million people, which is why we say lift the sea blockade, lift the land blockade. We know we can do it and do it in a way which adequately accommodates Israel's legitimate security concerns."

He also said that his organisation had been working with Israeli authorities to get cement into Gaza, which showed that it could be done.

"If we can do it for two months, we can do it for two years. If we can do it for a few trucks, we can do it for a few tens of thousands of trucks," he said.  

International criticism has been heaped on the blockade following the incidents this week, including by Israel's ally the United States.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said: "We are working urgently with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other international partners to develop new procedures for delivering more goods and assistance to Gaza.

"The current arrangements are unsustainable and must be changed. For now, we call on all parties to join us in encouraging responsible decisions by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay increased the pressure.

"International humanitarian law prohibits starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and ... it is also prohibited to impose collective punishment on civilians," she said.

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There could be concessions from Israel on the Gaza Strip aid blockade, Channel 4 News International Editor Lindsey Hilsum reports from Ashdod, as it faces more international pressure after stopping another aid ship.

The Israeli navy diverted the Rachel Corrie - the last of the so-called "freedom flotilla " containing thousands of tonnes of aid for Gaza, as well as activists from Ireland and elsewhere - without incident.  

The ship, named after the American woman killed in Gaza in 2003, had ignored Israeli orders to divert to Israel's Ashdod port where Israel had offered to unload the cargo and deliver it to Gaza before inspecting it.

However, following the Israeli military intervention, it was escorted to Ashdod where the cargo was unloaded and the passengers were put onto buses to the airport to be deported.

The Rachel Corrie continued with its mission despite Israeli forces killing nine activists on board a Turkish aid ship on Monday.  

Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News International Editor, said that Israelis continued to support the blockade, despite the aid crisis in Gaza and international condemnation - although some alterations could be made to what kinds of items are blocked as a result of recent events, she said.

"Most Israelis seem to agree with their government that the blockade of Gaza is necessary in order to weaken the Hamas government in Gaza and prevent it from getting weapons," she said.

"But international reaction is now stepping up - with the White House saying that it is unsustainable, it has to change.

"But nonethless Israel seems quite determined...they think that if the blockade is lifted, there is a danger of weapons going into Gaza, that at least is what they say.

"But I think now there will be new negotiations to change at least what can go in and what can't. There is an Israeli list of goods which are allowed in and which aren't. Rather bizarrely, coriander is not allowed in, ginger however is allowed in."  

 

The humanitarian cargo on board the Rachel Corrie includes:
550,000 kilograms of bagged cement
20,000 Kgs of printing paper
25,000 kgs of school supplies and books
12,000 kgs of toys
150,000 kgs of medical supplies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying: "Forces used the same procedures for Monday's flotilla and Saturday's sailing but was met by a different response.

"On today's ship and in five of the six vessels in the previous flotilla, procedure ended without casualties. The only difference was with one ship where extremist Islamic activists, supporters of terrorism, waited for our troops on the deck with axes and knives."

 

Passengers on board the MV Rachel Corrie include:
Mairead Maguire, nobel Peace Laureate and Cofunder of Peace People, Northern Ireland.
Dennis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, nobel peace prize nominee, and winner of the UK Gandhi Peace Prize.
Matthias Change Wen chieh, Malaysia barrister and former political secretary to former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammed.

The ship was the latest attempt to break the four-year old blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel, with the stated aim of preventing Gaza's rulers Hamas from building up weapons to attack the Jewish state.    

It prevents materials such as cement from entering Gaza, which it says could be used for military purposes.

The latest incident comes after nine Turkish activists attempting to break the blockade were killed by Israeli military on Monday.

The Guardian newspaper reported today that autopsy results showed they had been shot a total of 30 times, many at close range. Five were killed by gunshots to the head, it said.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Chris Gunness, UN Relief and Works Agency spokesman, said that the key issue was that people in Gaza were absolutely desperate for aid.


"We have to get aid into Gaza. There is 80% aid dependency and 44% unemployment. Last year 100,000 people came to us because they could not feed their families, this year it was 300,000 so deep poverty has gone up three times," he said.

"There's a crisis in the health service in Gaza, there's a crisis in the education service in Gaza," he said.

"Thousands of five and six year olds can't go to UN schools today because of this illegal blockade, this collective punishment of 1.5 million people, which is why we say lift the sea blockade, lift the land blockade. We know we can do it and do it in a way which adequately accommodates Israel's legitimate security concerns."

He also said that his organisation had been working with Israeli authorities to get cement into Gaza, which showed that it could be done.

"If we can do it for two months, we can do it for two years. If we can do it for a few trucks, we can do it for a few tens of thousands of trucks," he said.  

International criticism has been heaped on the blockade following the incidents this week, including by Israel's ally the United States.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said: "We are working urgently with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other international partners to develop new procedures for delivering more goods and assistance to Gaza.

"The current arrangements are unsustainable and must be changed. For now, we call on all parties to join us in encouraging responsible decisions by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay increased the pressure.

"International humanitarian law prohibits starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and ... it is also prohibited to impose collective punishment on civilians," she said.



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