Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:49PM
Interview with Adie Mormech, human rights activist
Israel’s Navy has intercepted the British-flagged aid boat “Irene” heading for Gaza just miles from the besieged territory.
Israeli warships escorted the vessel to the port city of Ashdod. Irene had been some 20 miles off the Gaza coast when it was stopped. Israeli, American and European Jewish activists are on board the vessel.
Gaza has been under Israel’s all-out siege since 2007. Tel Aviv prevents relief aid convoys from getting food and other supplies to Gazans. Earlier this year, Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists in international waters after they tried to reach Gaza.
Press TV interviewed human rights activist Adie Mormech on the interception of the Irene and the continuing Gaza blockade.
Press TV:Israel has stopped another Gaza-bound aid boat, 4 months after its deadly attack on an aid flotilla killed 9 Turkish peace activists. Tell us what is the humanitarian situation like in the Gaza Strip as we speak now?
Adie Mormech: Well, what I’d like to say is that this is obviously another crime, and see? Nobody is listening. There was a UN human rights commission report that said Israel used incredible violence and brutality and war crimes against the Flotilla that took place only a few months ago.
And everybody sees that report, everybody knows what’s happening, everybody sees how major those crimes are and everybody sees how much Israelis are committed to continuing the siege of Gaza.
I am in Gaza. I can see around just the extent of the siege, still continuing, still stopping vital supplies coming in, still making sure that Palestinians can’t live in a normal way, with a normal economic climate, with normal expectations of what can come in and what can come out, both in terms of products, both in terms of health supplies, and in terms of people moving. They can’t go out, they can’t come in. Only a few, a very few that have scholarships, but that still doesn’t guarantee them getting in and out.
You go to the refugee camps, you can see how much the children are living in poverty; you can see how much the houses have lacking, the water. Ninety percent of the water is not drinkable. … There is not hope there that because they are in a straightjacket. And this is exactly what the siege is all about. Israeli officials quoted putting them on a diet. This is exactly what it is. How can you do that to one and a half million people while the world watches on?
What I would also like to say is that the siege is continuing most of all for the fishermen. We saw these passengers taking away. I was also on a boat, the Spirit of Humanity, over a year ago. And this was the first boat that was boarded and attacked. They took us away, with obviously a peaceful mission, it was some symbolic supplies, and we were there to break the siege, because it was condemned internationally, by the international community, the Red Cross, by the United Nations even, by all the human rights groups operating here. Every single report said the siege must be lifted. It is inhuman it is collective punishment according to the Geneva conventions.
And so what have they been doing since then, since a year ago? They have killed nine Turkish activists on the boat. … They just take another boat, this time a Jewish boat. There are many Jews around the world that are fighting against what Israel is doing because it is breaches of humanitarian law, it is against human rights. And it is immoral, what’s happening to the Palestinians here. It is a disgrace. It is an open air prison, the world’s largest. And how on earth this can happen? With such documentation on it? With such research on it? With such evident horrific consequences for the people here? There is hundreds of people who have died because they haven’t got access to medical supplies. This is on top of the 1400 who were killed during the bombing and over 400 children. And it s because of the siege. That’s murder, more murder.
What I want to add is that they have been imprisoned. We went recently to meet an uncle of a fisherman that was killed, inside the tiny free mile limit that Israel imposes unilaterally on the Palestinian fishermen. It has destroyed the fishing industry. Sixty thousand have lost their jobs. There are only 90,000 employed now in the fishing industry. This is all continuous collective punishment. And these are crimes. And you can see everywhere around you here in Gaza. And it has to stop.
Press TV: As you said, the recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) depicts a very bleak humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Its major points are: Deteriorating public services; widespread poverty; food insecurity; unemployment and growing aid dependence by some 80 percent of the people of the strip. These are only some of the problems that the people of Gaza are facing. As an activist, what do you expect the international community to do to improve the situation?
Adie Mormech: I didn’t quite hear the question, but I would expect the situation to improve … [when] the international law is applied, whether to be basic acceptance of human norms here in Gaza. We’ve seen how the negotiations, for example, have been a complete waste of time. And I would suggest actually that they might … I’ve seen that before even Israel decided to continue the settlements in the West bank and East Jerusalem.
This is all completely against international law. Article 242 United Nations resolutions, Geneva Convention article 49, about settling places that you have attacked by force. This is continuing crimes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. You have the collective punishment here with the Geneva conventions. And ultimately you have just the basic acts of murder. This is what the grievance is that the people have here continuously, whether it is from 1948, ethnic cleansing, the majority of Gazans were refugees forced out… brutally, with violence, with massacres, where Israelis are now. Israelis built on the ruins of Palestinian refugees. So over two thirds … are in fact the … descendants of the refugees here … So …you have the slow-motion ethnic cleansing and the forced expulsion of so many thousands more Palestinians since then. And the extra violence of just shooting of innocents on a mass level.
And I would expect the situation to improve here the moment the international community sees that no boat has been taken away, this time a Jewish boat with Israelis on it even, and [when] they actually do something about it. They know it is wrong. They saw the international law and they’ve seen the different investigations … like the recent UN human rights commission report about the Mavi Marmara…
And the only way in which things are going to happen here and improve is if the world stops and looks. But the only thing I would suggest is going to happen now, given the negotiations are a waste of time, the international community is not doing anything, is the boycotts. It is time that for civil society to stand up and accept the best tool, it is a nonviolent tool. But it is a tool that says the international community is not doing anything. They are rewarding Israel. They are giving them 6 billion dollars of weapons every year. So it is time that the people stood up and said no, we are going to show Israel we are not going to buy their products.
Many artists have stopped… going to Israel … And many other academic institutions are boycotting Israel. … So are trade unions. All the major trade unions in England are now boycotting Israel. This is what everybody watching this needs to do. To get off their seats and say right, it is time for action. Boycotts, divests and sanctions, until Israel actually joins international community and international law, and stops punishing the Palestinians and stops all of these crimes like the boat that just has been taken away, like Mohammed Bakr, the 20-year-old fisherman that last week was killed … who was about to get married in one month time. This is why the world has to do something, and it is going to start with the people watching this, and getting on their feet and starting the boycott campaign. And I really do hope that is what happens…