Some days ago I was able to speak with Dr. Tammam Kelani, the President of Arab-Austrian Federation of Doctors and Pharmacists, who had just returned from Germany after participating in a Congress of the Federation of Arab Doctors in Europe. I was thinking to speak with him about the humanitarian conclusions from that congress, in which the participants declared the 28 March 2009 as a day of solidarity with the children of Gaza in all of Europe, and to write about the activities of his association in support of the Palestinians in Gaza affected by the Israeli criminality. But the conversation with the doctor turned out to be far more interesting than what I expected.
Dr. Kelani shocked and surprised me when he accidentally exposed the scandalous collusion of the EU with Israel to keep humanitarian volunteers and medical relief workers and resources donated by private organizations and individuals throughout Europe, out of Gaza. He related to me information which I believed only when he gave me several documents (reproduced below). When I first read these documents I was speechless, because they only allow the conclusion that the EU and its member states are not only passively looking the other way, what is bad enough, but that they are in active collusion with Israel to continue and even aggravate the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza, and that these governments are actively engaged in a campaign of intimidation against their own nationals should they decide to show solidarity with the Palestinian population in Gaza. If these are papers which are being made public, then I must ask, what machinations are being done in secret?
EU Scandalous Documents
The first document is a fax from the Czech Embassy to all other EU embassies in Cairo from 21 January 2009, where “the EU Presidency”, currently held by the Czech Republic, informs the other embassies that a) only “people seeking urgent medical assistance” would be allowed to leave Gaza, b) that the ministry of foreign affairs (of Egypt) would inform the embassies about the procedure to “facilitate the entry of its citizens (human rights observers, journalists, NGOs, medical and humanitarian assistance)”. In passing, the note mentions that “… the border crossing at Rafah has been damaged by military action …”. No, Ambassador Stasek, it was not destroyed by “military action”, it was destroyed in the course of grave crimes of war committed by the State of Israel against the Palestinians of Gaza!
The second document is a fax from the Czech Embassy in Cairo from 29 January 2009, informing all other EU embassies there, that after a meeting “with Javier Solana, Tony Blair and George Mitchell” the border at Rafah would only stay open until February 4, and that all EU citizens “need to be evacuated until that date”. The note also alludes to an unspecified but already known to the embassies “entrance clearance procedure” for Gaza.
The third document facilitated to me is a copy of a form which the Austrian Embassy in Cairo requires its citizens to sign, and is apparently the key to the mysterious “entrance clearance procedure” for Gaza. It seems that this form is the Austrian variant of a form which is being distributed to all NGOs in Europe which would send volunteers to Gaza, based on the “procedure” for access to Gaza mentioned in the previous document. This short form reminded me of the extortive statements which the Israeli occupation always forced me to sign in order to be able to get my press card, or the continued attempts by the Israelis at the military administration at extorting all Palestinians needing medical treatment or a travel permit into collaborating with them, but it is even worse in its potential implications.
The translation of this form into English is:
Letter of recommendation for the entrance to Gaza
Here: Waiver of liability
Being fully informed of the life-endangering conditions present in Gaza, I petition the Austrian Embassy in Cairo for a letter of recommendation with the purpose of presenting it to the Egyptian authorities, what should make my entry to Gaza possible.
I waive any and all claims of recourse against the Republic of Austria.
Based on the above and on previous information of the actions of Israel, the EU and Egypt, it appears to me that the roles in this game are clear: Egypt requires a “letter of recommendation” from an EU Embassy, and the Embassy requires the person willing to go to Gaza to sign away all their rights. Egypt looks bad and gets money and guns, the other participants in the charade send money and guns and look the other way, Israel gets away with murder and worse.
Dr. Kelani told me that he personally knows at least one case in which a person willing to give medical support in Gaza shied away from travelling due to this statement. Foreigners are traditionally welcome in Palestine, and foreign helpers even more so. Taking that in consideration, signing that statement means only that whoever goes to Gaza is fair game for the Israelis, and that if some Israeli murders them for the heck of it, as for example in the case of Tom Hurndall, or if they are abducted by the Israelis, the government in question does not need to be bothered with “causing problems” in Israel. But signing such a statement goes far beyond being sold out by ones own government, signing away ones human condition. It potentially allows the government in question to deny the undersigning person protection under the laws of the country, retirement money, or unemployment benefits, among other rights which are usually taken for granted as part of being the citizen of any country whatsoever.
Sign Away All Your Rights as a Citizen
The sheer indecency of extorting persons willing to show solidarity with victims of a genocide campaign, to effectively sign away all their rights as citizens, and potentially signing away their retirements and their unemployment benefits as well, is shocking to say the least. While I do not want to attack anybody, neither the EU nor any of its countries, what else should I conclude after reading these documents? How else should I understand that volunteers are extorted into signing “I waive any and all claims of recourse against the Republic of Austria”, when the obligation to sign such statements is not known for dangerous places like Sudan or Iraq?
Dr. Tammam Kelani described the blockade of Gaza as an Israeli-Arab blockade. He said that a group of Austrian doctors expressed their will to reach Gaza to help the Palestinian surgical team in the hospital. They sent the request to the Egyptian authorities, who sent back a negative answer. The Austrian doctors were refused entering Gaza for “security reasons”. Dr. Tammam laughed and said the that doctors who were refused were Austrians “from the side of the mother and the father”, that these doctors had never participated in political activities, that they were just doctors.
I think that the ungrounded negative on part of the Egyptian authorities to allow people willing to help into Gaza is suspicious. It is a sign that either elements connected to Israel, or the EU (in this case Austrian) authorities are compiling and providing to Israel names of people who should not be allowed into Gaza, and Israel in turn is passing them on to the Egyptians. The only purpose of not letting certain people into Gaza, apart from increasing the misery of the victims, would be to cover up the whole magnitude of the crimes of Israel, and to keep people not directly connected with Arabs uninformed, because these doctors do wield far more influence than the doctors who are Arab immigrants, a possible danger to the Israeli “support base” among the generally uninformed Europeans.
Questions to the EU
As a journalist, I have many, many questions, and I invite anybody from the EU to answer them, either as a comment below, or in an Email to me, which I will publish.
- Does the EU fear Israel, or do they willingly collaborate in the Israeli occupation and genocide in Gaza?
- Why do the European Union countries force their citizens who are willing to provide volunteer medical and humanitarian relief to the victims of the Israeli genocide in Gaza Strip to renounce their full rights at the European Embassies in Egypt as a basic requirement before they get into the Gaza concentration camp?
- Are these European “measures” a clear violation of the obligations of these countries under international humanitarian law, for example the Geneva Conventions of 1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 1948 , and other international laws and treaties to which they are parties ?
- Is it against national laws, international humanitarian laws and treaties, and the European Charter of Human rights, to require from citizens willing to provide needed humanitarian support to sign away their rights, or is this legal, does it correspond to human rights which must be defended, and even something decent and moral to do?
- Are these European Union measures, which hinder and disrupt humanitarian relief by imposing a draconian price on their citizens willing to go to Gaza, being implemented in order to appease the criminal Israeli occupation state?
- Are EU countries actually selling out their own citizens to a “state” which sponsors practices equal or worse than those of the Nazis? Is it legal under the laws and constitutions of these countries to nullify the rights of their citizens in such a way?
- Instead of conniving with Israel to commit genocide against the Palestinian people and cover up war crimes, would it not correspond to the written laws of all these countries and to basic human decency to simply implement and enforce the laws concerning genocide, crimes of war and crimes against humanity, and to pressure Egypt to open the border at Rafah to anyone needing to travel for whatever reason?
- What is the interest of all these governments to collude with Israel to commit unconscionable crimes, while this is against the interests and sentiments of the majority of their population, when it would be far easier and much more in line with their national and common interests to shun Israel altogether?
- Why are so many politicians and officials of EU countries defending the morally indefensible?
I would appreciate if anybody from any EU government takes the time to clarify all my questions, and I sincerely hope that I am wrong in my conclusions. I would equally appreciate if readers who understand something about laws could find out about the legality of the activities of these embassies. If possible, I ask that anybody who was hindered from going to Gaza without discernible grounds let me know and if possible publish here.