This SMS News Alert just came in:
31/5 Israeli warships attack one of 6 ships carrying aid for blockaded GAza, killing at least 2, Malaysians are on board one of those aid ships/STAR.My immediate thought and prayers for Matthias Chang, Shamsul Akmar and many other Malaysians and other activist in the Gaza flotilla humanitarian mission.
Was just informed volunteers from groups like Jemaah Islam Malaysia (JIM) is probably in the first group of people being shot at.
Matthias and Shamsul are members of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation volunteers that was part of this humanitarian mission to assist the Gaza Palestinians that have been blockaded from receiving supplies and aids since January 2009.
There is a call on all Malaysian to put aside party politics and demonstrate in front of the US Embassy, British High Commision and United Nation office immediately.
Update: Dr Mahathir will give a press conference at 4:00 pm at the Perdana Leadership Foundation (PLF), Presinct 8, Putrajaya.
Majlis Perundingan Melayu (MPM) called for an emergency meeting at 4:30 at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman. PC at 6:00 pm.
Palestinian naval police waiting for the arrival of the small flotilla
Blogger Greg Carlstrom gave a good honest rundown of the exercise here.
Israeli ships stalk pro-Palestinian aid flotillaAnother news from AP
HAIFA, Israel (AP) - Israeli warships stalked a flotilla carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, including a Nobel laureate and a Holocaust survivor heading for the Gaza Strip on Monday, edging closer to a naval showdown on the high seas. Huwaida Arraf, one of the organizers, said the six-ship flotilla began the journey from international waters off the coast of Cyprus on Sunday afternoon after two days of delays. She said they expected to reach Gaza, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) away, on Monday afternoon, and that two more ships would follow in "a second wave."
Two killed in Israeli attack on Aid Flotilla: ReportSMS from Dato Ibrahim Ali, Presiden Perkasa:
Israeli warships attacked at least one of the six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid for blockaded Gaza, killing at least two and wounding other people on board, an Arabic satellite service and a Turkish TV network reported early Monday.
CNN Turk television in Turkey reported that two people had been killed and 30 wounded.
The Israeli military denied that its forces attacked the boats but said they would enforce the decision to keep them away from Gaza.
The al-Jazeera satellite channel reported by telephone from the Turkish ship leading the flotilla that Israeli navy forces fired at the ship and boarded it, wounding the captain. The Turkish NTV network also reported an Israeli takeover with gunfire, and at least two people were killed.
The al-Jazeera broadcast ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, “Everybody shut up!”
A Turkish website showed video of pandemonium on board one of the ships, with activists in orange life jackets running around as some tried to help an activist apparently unconscious on the deck. The site also showed video of an Israeli helicopter flying overhead and Israeli warships nearby.
The reports came just after daybreak, with the flotilla still well away from the Gaza shore. Israel had declared it would not allow the ships to reach Gaza.
The head of the Gaza Hamas government, Ismail Haniyeh, condemned the “brutal” Israeli attack.
“We call on the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, to shoulder his responsibilities to protect the safety of the solidarity groups who were on board these ships and to secure their way to Gaza,” Mr. Haniyeh told The Associated Press.
Turkish television stations say police have blocked dozens of stone-throwing protesters who tried to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul after reports of the attack on the flotilla. CNN-Turk and NTV televisions show dozens of angry protesters scuffling with Turkish police, guarding the consulate in downtown Istanbul.
On Sunday, Huwaida Arraf, one of the organizers, said the six-ship flotilla began the journey from international waters off the coast of Cyprus on Sunday afternoon after two days of delays. She said they expected to reach Gaza, about 400 kilometres away, on Monday afternoon, and that two more ships would follow in “a second wave.”
The flotilla was “fully prepared for the different scenarios” that might arise, and organizers were hopeful that Israeli authorities would “do what's right” and not stop the convoy, she said.
“We fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation or threats of violence against us,” she said. “They are going to have to forcefully stop us.”
After nightfall Sunday, three Israeli navy missile boats left their base in Haifa, steaming out to sea to confront the activists' ships.
Two hours later, Israel Radio broadcast a recording of one of the missile boats warning the flotilla not to approach Gaza.
“If you ignore this order and enter the blockaded area, the Israeli navy will be forced to take all the necessary measures in order to enforce this blockade,” the radio message continued.
The al-Jazeera satellite channel reported that the ships changed course to try to avoid a nighttime confrontation, preferring a daylight showdown for better publicity.
The flotilla, which includes three cargo ships and three passenger ships, is trying to draw attention to Israel's three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. The boats are carrying items that Israel bars from reaching Gaza, like cement and other building materials. The activists said they also were carrying hundreds of electric-powered wheelchairs, prefabricated homes and water purifiers.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that after a security check, permitted humanitarian aid confiscated from the boats will be transferred to Gaza through authorized channels. However, Israel would not transfer items it has banned from Gaza under its blockade rules. Mr. Palmor said that for example, cement would be allowed only if it is tied to a specific project.
This is the ninth time that the Free Gaza movement has tried to ship in humanitarian aid to Gaza since August 2008.
Israel has let ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers in January 2009. The flotilla bound for Gaza is the largest to date.
Some 700 pro-Palestinian activists are on the boats, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, European legislators and an elderly Holocaust survivor.
The mission has experienced repeated delays, both due to mechanical problems and a decision by Cyprus to bar any boat from sailing from its shore to Gaza. The ban forced a group of European lawmakers to depart from the breakaway Turkish Cypriot northern part of the island late Saturday.
Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade on Gaza after Hamas militants violently seized control of the seaside territory in June 2007.
Israel says the measures are needed to prevent Hamas, which has fired thousands of rockets at Israel, from building up its arsenal. But UN officials and international aid groups say the blockade has been counterproductive, failing to weaken the Islamic militant group while devastating the local economy.
In particular, the ban on building materials has prevented Gazans from repairing thousands of homes that were damaged or destroyed in an Israeli military offensive, meant to stop Hamas rocket attacks, early last year.
Israel rejects claims of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, saying it allows more than enough food and medicine into the territory. The Israelis also point to the bustling smuggling industry along Gaza's southern border with Egypt, which has managed to bring consumer goods, gasoline and livestock into the seaside strip.
Israel has condemned the flotilla as a provocation and vowed to block it from reaching Gaza.
Mr. Palmor said foreigners on the ships would be “sent back to their countries.” Activists who did not willingly agree to be deported would be detained. A special detention facility has been set up in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod.
At Gaza's tiny port, meant for small fishing boats, Hamas officials, activists and foreign nationals prepared to welcome the flotilla, sitting in some 40 small boats that were bobbing in the sea and decorated with the flags of the countries of the pro-Palestinian activists, including Turkey and Algeria.
In other boats, Gaza boy scouts played music, while on shore, other activists released balloons with the faces of Palestinian civilians and militants killed in battles with Israeli forces.
In Syria, eight Damascus-based Palestinian groups urged Arab and Muslim states to work to support the flotilla and warned Israel against committing any “foolishness to impede the vessels”
“This could create more tension and trigger unpredictable reactions,” said the groups, which included Hamas and the militant Islamic Jihad.
URGENT MSG: Salam YB ... latest news at GAZA waters - komando/navy zionist attacking FREEDOM FLOTILLA, shooting civilians-2 dead! tlg gerak SEMUA rakyat/parti politik demo at USA Embassy asap. ALLAHUAKBAR .. (apa pandangan.apa patut kita buat. minta respon) TOK HIM.CNN News 046 GMT:
Israeli military boards ship in Gaza flotillaPacific Free Press comment:
Israeli soldiers boarded a Turkish boat carrying aid for the Palestinian territory of Gaza during a pre-dawn raid, the Free Gaza Movement said.
"At about 4:30 am, Israeli commandos dropped from helicopter onto deck of Turkish ship, immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians," a post on the group's Twitter page said.
Video aired on CNN sister network CNN Turk showed what appeared to be soldiers rappelling onto the deck of a ship.
Turkish media reported two dead and 50 injured in the alleged incident as a flotilla of six ships approached the Gaza coast.
"We did not attack any boat, we merely fulfill the Israeli government's decision to prevent anyone from going into the Gaza strip without coordinating with Israel," a statement from the Israeli military said. "The flotilla is a provocation made to de-legitimize Israel. Had they really wanted to deliver the cargo into Gaza they could have done so via Israel as it is done on a daily basis."
The convoy of boats approached Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade and had been shadowed by three Israeli warships. Free Gaza had earlier reported that they had been contacted by the Israeli navy.
Mainstream" Media Silence Meets Gaza FlotillaXinhua reports:
A Battle for the High Seas and the High Ground
by Lauren Booth*
If you’re hoping to see news about the extraordinary events taking place in the Med sea around Cyprus on either the BBC or Sky this weekend. Forget it. For now.
Despite the fact that almost three dozen Brits are amongst the 700 brave souls heading to Gaza on a fleet of ships laden with essential aid. Or the incredible military and political manoeverings surrounding Israels response to the peaceful attempt, major news channels in the West remain silent.
This despite the fact their news editors have the direct numbers of spokespeople on board and access to the live news feed.
After calls to newsrooms across the UK it is clear to me that the first ever sea bound fleet of international aid to Palestine is not of itself a big enough story for our media - until if fails. On Israel’s terms. The BBC has been taking some 200 calls in an hour from viewers wanting news of the mission - to no avail.
So what’s going on? Read on here
Up to 16 killed in Israeli attack on aid flotilla bound for GazaIsraeli is flexing their muscle. Juruselem post reports:Palestinians ride boats in a preparation ceremony to receive the international aid convoy "Freedom Flotilla" in Gaza Seaport, on May 30, 2010. (Xinhua/Yasser Qudih)
JERUSALEM, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Israeli forces on Monday attacked an international flotilla carrying aid to besieged Gaza, killing up to 16 and wounding more than 30 others, an Israeli television reported.
The clash happened after Isreali soldiers tried to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza. Israel's private Channel 10 television said Israeli forces opened fire after being attacked by a number of passengers.
The Isreali Army Radio also put the number of deaths toll at up to 16, saying that more than 30 others were injured.
The flotilla consisting of six ships were carrying about 10,000 tons of aid and activists who were making an attempt to break the blockade on Gaza.
Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the deck of a Turkish ship at about 4:30 a.m. and immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians, said a twitter of the human rights group Free Gaza Movement.
Read on here.
Ankara’s support for flotilla prompts Israeli backlashNew York Times reported below:
New survey shows that nearly all of Israel’s unions are boycotting organized workers’ trips to Turkey.
Turkey, once the number one destination for organized workplace vacations, is now facing a boycott from the same groups that used to storm its seaside resorts every summer.
On Sunday, a survey conducted by Va’adim, a company that gathers information on the social and economic activities of Israel’s unions, revealed that 95 percent of the unions had banned all organized trips toTurkey following that country’s involvement in organizing the aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Va’adim CEO Yakov Alush said that “Turkey had been wiped off the workers unions’ travel maps.”
“In a survey we conducted among the participants in the semi-annual union heads forum, we found that Israel’s workers’ unions have had enough of Turkey ’s hostility toward Israel, which in the past had been characterized by verbal attacks by the country’s prime minister, but had now shifted to active attempts to harm Israel’s sovereignty,” said Alush.
“The tourism boycott is a weapon that will send a message to Ankara that words and deeds have consequences.”
Read on here.
Gaza Flotilla Organizers Protest Israeli Response to Their Mission
Organizers of a flotilla of up to nine vessels carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists and thousands of tons of supplies for Gaza protested on Friday against what they called an Israeli disinformation campaign aimed at their mission.
Israel has vowed to stop the boats from reaching Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas, and insists that there is no humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian coastal enclave.
“For over four years,” the organizers said in a statement, “Israel has subjected the civilian population of Gaza to an increasingly severe blockade, resulting in a man-made humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.”
The boats were expected to approach the coast sometime over the weekend. The aim, the organizers said, was to break through the “illegal” Israeli blockade “in non-violent direct action.”
More stories in Goggle News on Gaza Flotilla here.