Dear sisters and brothers, friends and loved ones,
I write to you from cell 9, block 59 Givon Prison near Ramla in Occupied Palestine. Although I was tasered during the assault on the Tahrir, and bruised during forcible removal dockside (I am limping slightly as a result) I am basically ok. We, Ehab, Michael, Karen from Tahrir, as well as Karen, Kit (US) and Jihan who we saw briefly this morning. We are most concerned about our Tahrir shipmate, Palestinian Majd Kayyal from Haifa, last seen by us at Ashdod being photographed and put in a police car.
Although Michael and I (among others) were transported in handcuffs and leg shackles, let me stress that we are neither criminals nor illegal immigrants but rather political prisoners of the apartheid state of Israel. Four from the Tahrir are imprisoned with 12 Irish comrades from the Saoirse, who have more experience with such issues. The four of us, Ehab and I (Cdn), Michael (Aus) and Hassan (UK) have joined with the Irish in their political prisoners’ committee in order to press our collective demands:
Association in the block – i.e. open cells
Adequate writing and reading material
Free communication with outside world – i.e. regular phone calls
Information about shipmate women held at same prison
We add one Tahrir-specific demand: that Israeli state recognize the professional status of Democracy Now journalist Jihan Hafiz in accordance with her credentials from the US government. All political incarceration is unjust but let me stress that in duration and conditions, our situation pales in comparison to the plight of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners and to the open air prison of Gaza.
If you have energy to devote to solidarity actions in the coming days, please concentrate on them. We must get Tahrir back and hope Freedom Waves continue.
Free Majd Kayyal! Free all political prisoners! Free Gaza! Free Palestine!
Anishnabe-debuewin, restons humaine, stay human, in love and struggle,
David Heap of London, Ontario
Majd Kayyal was released, but it appears the other political prisoners weren’t told where he was taken.
Freedom Waves journalists held in Israeli prison
It seems that at least one of Kit and Jihan, and probably both, is still in Israeli detention. This AFP story was filed minutes ago. My understanding is that among the journalists, Jihan and Hassan refused to sign the deportation order.
A group of 21 activists who tried to sail to Gaza in breach of an Israeli blockade of the territory remain in Israeli custody, pending legal proceedings, the interior ministry said on Sunday.
“There are 21 passengers detained who refused to be expelled immediately and are engaged in proceedings against their deportation before an Israeli judge,” interior ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP.
“Only after these proceedings are complete… can they be deported,” she said. The 21 activists were among 27 passengers and crew aboard two ships intercepted by the Israeli navy as they tried to run the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli commandos boarded the Irish-flagged Saoirse (Freedom) and the Canadian ship Tahrir (Liberation) in international waters off Gaza on Friday before the navy escorted them to the port of Ashdod, the Israeli military said.
On Saturday, Israel freed six of the passengers — an Arab-Israeli, two Greek crewmen, and three journalists from Egypt, Spain and the United States.
She said the remaining 21 people were still being held at a detention facility in Ramla near Tel Aviv, after questioning by immigration authorities.
Those still in Israeli detention are from Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland and the United States.
The attempt to sail to Gaza was the latest in a string of activist missions aimed at breaching Israel’s blockade of the territory.
In May 2010, six ships led by the Turkish Mavi Marmara tried to reach the coastal strip, but were intercepted by Israeli commandos, who stormed the boats, killing nine Turkish activists and sparking a diplomatic crisis with Ankara.
Earlier this year, a second flotilla tried to reach Gaza, but several ships were sabotaged — which activists blamed on Israel — and the one boat that made the sailing was intercepted before it could reach Gaza.
Israel says its blockade is necessary to prevent weapons from entering the coastal territory, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement. Two months ago, a UN report on the 2010 flotilla raid accused the Jewish state of acting with “excessive force” but found that its naval blockade of Gaza was legal.
Just Foreign Policy
naiman [at] justforeignpolicy [dot] org
Israeli naval forces invaded and hijacked medical aid ships to Gaza