Assault on Gaza Flotilla Ship: 'Sabotaged by Divers' in Port, Attacked by Legal Group Funded by Christian Right 'Mad Pastor' John Hagee
The following are two news stories revealing an orchestrated attempt to prevent the launch of the 2nd flotilla ship aimed at breaking Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.
Gaza flotilla ship 'sabotaged by divers'
by Dahr Jamail, Al Jazeera English
A Swedish ship due to join an upcoming Gaza-bound aid flotilla has been sabotaged in the Greek port of Piraeus, organisers say.
In a statement, they said "hostile divers had destroyed the propeller house and cut the propeller shaft" of the vessel Juliano on Monday.
The ship is part of the 10-vessel Freedom Flotilla II that is expected to set sail from Greece and elsewhere for the Gaza Strip in the coming days in a bid to break Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory.
About 350 pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries are likely to participate.
Israel insists the latest flotilla is a "dangerous provocation" and has vowed to intercept it.
Organisers of the flotilla, however, remain defiant and said the Juliano would be ready to sail within one or two days after being repaired. They said they had documented the sabotage with their own camera-equipped divers.
"We are sad that people are doing such things but we are determined to continue to Gaza," Dror Feiler, one of the organisers, told Al Jazeera from aboard the Juliano.
"We will not be frightened by Israel, and we are going to continue. Our friends from all around the world are with us, and we are all going to Gaza."
Mattias Gardell, a spokesperson for Ship to Gaza Sweden, also condemned the act of sabotage.
"It's one thing for a foreign power to press the Greek government to delay our voyage with red tape. It is quite another thing for enemy agents to operate on Greek territory.
"It is high time for the international community to put their foot down and say: Enough!"
Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted senior Israeli officials as saying that "radical elements" among the flotilla activists had stated an intention to "spill the blood of Israeli soldiers".
According to Tel Aviv daily Yedioth Aharonoth, military sources said participants of the flotilla were planning to pour chemicals, such as sulfur, on Israeli soldiers.
But according to activist Feiler, the goal of the flotilla is to "come in peace" to Gaza.
"We are shocked by the Israeli actions, and their propaganda that we have weapons and acid and are going to attack Israeli soldiers, when we are all dedicated to peace," Feiler said. "We will not throw objects or attack them in any way."
The flotilla comes a year after another aid shipment was intercepted by Israeli commandos. At least nine activists were killed when commandos stormed Mavi Marmara, the Turkish-owned lead aid ship.
Besides the Juliano - named after Juliano Mer-Khamis, the Arab-Israeli actor, director and political activist who was shot dead in the West Bank town of Jenin in April - boats from Greece, France, Italy and Spain are also among those joining Freedom Flotilla II. Two cargo vessels will carry medicines, a fully equipped ambulance car, and cement.
A number of journalists are among those taking part in the bid to break Israel's five-year naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is home to 1.5 million Palestinians.
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, and several international leaders have urged the flotilla not to set sail, and the US has warned its nationals not to join the attempt to break the embargo.
The border has remained largely shut since June 2006, when Israel imposed a tight blockade on the coastal territory after Palestinian fighters snatched Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still being held.
The UN has called the blockade illegal and repeatedly demanded it be lifted. A ban on civilian goods and foodstuffs was eased last year but many restrictions remain in place.
Right-Wing Christian Megapastor a 'Major Funder' of Legal Group's Efforts to Prevent Flotilla Launch to Break Israel's Naval Blockade of Gaza
by Max Blumenthal, MaxBlumenthal.com
On June 24, Joseph Dana, a journalist who will traveling aboard the US boat to Gaza, discovered that an anonymous private legal complaint had been filed against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The complaint alleged that US boat, “The Audacity of Hope,” was not sea worthy and therefore was unfit to sail. In response, the harbor master in Athens, Greece, where the boat was docked, told the crew that he could not allow them to leave until the complaint was resolved.
Two days later, the Israel Law Center, Shurat Hadin, accepted responsibility for the complaint, which was essentially a baseless but startlingly successful exercise in legal harassment. Who is Shurat Hadin, and what is their agenda? According to the group’s website, Shurat Hadin is a Tel Aviv-based law center that specializes in lawsuits against “terrorists.” Its founder, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, describes herself in her bio as a “human rights activist.”
Darshan-Leitner began her harassment of the US boat to Gaza began weeks ago when it filed a civil action against “perceived supporters of Hamas” on behalf of Alan Bauer, an American doctor who was injured along with his son in a 2002 Jerusalem bombing attack. The action also threatened maritime insurance companies with legal consequences if they insured any of the boats involved in the flotilla.
I have discovered that a major donor to Shurat Hadin is the homophobic far-right Pastor John Hagee. In March 2010, I reported that Hagee appeared beside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a major rally in Jerusalem to denounce the two state solution and announce the financial contributions he and his supporters were making to Israeli organizations. Among the organizations Hagee said he had bankrolled was Shurat Hadin.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican Senator John McCain repudiated Hagee’s endorsement as soon as Hagee’s statements describing the Holocaust as a fulfillment of divine prophecy came to light. Hagee has also asserted his belief that the anti-Christ was “partially Jewish, as was Adolph Hitler.” As the researcher and reporter Bruce Wilson has documented, Hagee preaches that the Jewish Rothschild family controls the US economy through the Federal Reserve and conspires to attack the American middle class by devaluing the dollar. In his 2006 book Jerusalem Countdown, Hagee claimed that a lineage of “half-breed Jews,” descended from Esau and which included Adolf Hitler, have persecuted full-blooded Jews throughout history. Hagee prophesied that God intended to exterminate that “half-breed Jew” line.
These statements — and countless more demonizing gays, Muslims, and anyone else Hagee deems to be allied with “the Enemy” – have been widely reported. However, nothing Hagee says or does seems to deter the “human rights activist” Darshan-Leitner and Shurat Hadin from embracing him and benefiting from his riches.