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Gazans Living in the Darkness CLICK to see



Message from Sinead MacLochlainn , Chair of Derry Friends of Palestine:

The first (of many more) Freedom & Friendship Irish Delegation to Gaza was a big success, we covered so much. As an organiser of the delegation, I think we delivered for our members an experience they wont soon forget. As we all begin to attempt to settle back into “normal” life, bits and pieces of the long trip begin to find their places in my memory. We will, of course, eventually post reports on all the meetings we had with various Universities, NGO’s, Schools, and the main political parties. But I first want to tell our supporters about the frustration and anger of the experience.

Israel only allows 6 hours of electricity within each 24 hours. And as even more cruel punishment, this 6 hours can occur at any time within that 24 hour period, day or night, morning or middle of the night, always at israel’s discretion. This is done to demoralise the Palestinians even more, so that they cannot plan for anything in their lives with any assurance that they will have electricity available. It’s all about keeping them suffering, always keeping Israel in control of most aspects of Palestinians lives, making sure the people of Gaza are unable to control even the simplest of activities in their lives, like when they can flip a switch and a light comes on, or when they use a washing machine, or when they can charge their computers or phones, or when their children can study or play. For those who can afford it, tiny Generators and candles are what they mostly rely on.

University Student studies using Tiny LED light

So night after night as we returned to our hotel, we climbed the 5 flights of stairs, usually in darkness, up to the top floor Cafe which seemed to have generator power most nights. We came in search of an internet signal, or a cup of tea, or just to unwind and digest the realities of what we had witnessed that day. So we often sat on the top floor café which is an open space with a balcony which faces the ocean and the Gaza seashore which was in front of us. As you stand on the balcony and look across the darkness, the most amazing fact will hit you, as you stand there in Gaza and look across the water, you can, within a matter of minutes see the entire desperate sad story of Palestine encapsulated into one glance across the ocean.

Once, long ago, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived side by side in the land across the water, before Zionism took control of the Jewish religion and the region. For as I stood in the darkness on the balcony in Gaza and I cast my gaze across the water, I can see lights, millions and millions of lights twinkling in abundance. So what was once part of Palestine, it is lit up like a giant Christmas tree or Disney Land in the distance, welcoming the world to the now Jewish State as the people of Gaza suffer with candles in the darkness. This is the story of the “haves” and the “have nots” the occupiers and the occupied, the land stealers on one side, and on the other side in the darkness, those with the keys still in their hands.

And, what will strike you the most about Palestinians, is the smiles on their faces, and that they have nothing and yet want to give what they have to you to thank you for just visiting them, for just validating their story, and their existence. Because that is what this is really all about, Even the smallest child knows what the real battle is about, it’s the land, it’s always about the land, their land, their existence. They are fighting so as not to become a people without a land, they are fighting for their very existence in this world.

We must all redouble our efforts to help them in this noble fight for their existence!

Existance is Resistance

Clr Gerry MacLochlainn reports the following today:

I was happy to arrive again in Gaza and to visit old friends and new friends. However I was saddened to see that still nothing has changed from my last few visits. No rebuilding of homes, no cement allowed in.

Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their land

Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their land

(Above photo) In Zionist settlements north of Gaza – the area in front of these settlements was ethnically cleansed by Israeli Invasion forces in Operation Cast lead – No houses were left standingOnly those who fled survived the slaughter – the intensity of the Zionist aggression was such that a young girl of 3 years was killed running from her home but her body could not be recovered for another 20 days. Such is life in Gaza. Thousands of people are still being forced to live in tents or one room shacks 3 years on from the brutal attack on the civilian population.

The scene of yet another murder

(above photo) This crater which you now see, was once a fisheries police station until a week ago when Israel decided it had not killed enough Palestinians for a while. They bombed it and killed several policemen. There were no survivors – one policeman’s body was thrown some 30 metres away

I then spent the evening in Derry’s sister city of Khan Younis, meeting with my good friend Ahmed Al Najjar from the Gazan Ministry of Education, along with the Mayor of Khan Younis, Mr Muhammed Al Farra.

pictured from left to right: Mr. Ahmed Al Najjar, Ministry of Education, Clr Gerry MacLochalinn, Mr. Muhammed Al Farra Mayor of Khan Younis, Palestine

We spent the evening discussing future projects of mutual interest and ways that the people of Derry, Belfast and Ireland can help to improve the situation in Gaza. More on this when we get home to Ireland.

Today, Jennifer and I met the Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyah. As Jennifer and I are both former Irish political prisoners, we asked the Prime Minister if there was anything that we, as former political prisoners, could do to work with, assist, or help the Palestinian prisoners. Hundreds of them were recently released by Israel under the “Shalit” deal and there will be 500 more released soon. The majority of these prisoners are released into Gaza, even if they were from the West Bank. So they wer free from Zionist prisons, but not free to go home to the West Bank. Jennifer and I were honoured to be told by the Prime Minister that a meeting will be arranged for the two of us to meet with the prisoners and their families later today to explore what further work we can do, Insha Allah.

After meeting the Prime minister, I was one of two people selected to attend and speak at a press conference being held today with the Samouni family.

Clr Gerry MacLochlainn speaking at the Samouni Press Conference in Gaza

The Samouni’s lost 29 members of their family, mostly women and children when their home was deliberately attacked. Israel has denied any wrong doing and after it’s own “investigation” has decided the Samouni’s case and other cases like these will be “dismissed and closed.” yet another murderous war crime being swept under the Zionist rug.

Insha Allah, tonight Jennifer and I look forward to an evening spent with good friends, good Palestinian food, and good discussions.

Clr MacLochlainn with Adnan Abu Shabab from the Palestinian Embassy in Ireland

The organisation voted by an overwhelming margin of 107 nations for to 14 against with 52 abstentions.

Councillor MacLochlainn said:

“This is tremendous news for the oppressed people of Palestine – hopefully it is one more step on the way towards complete freedom for the Palestinian people

“It is obviously a move, which shows the overwhelming support of their struggle for freedom, justice and for their right to statehood.

“Unfortunately, the response from the US Government has been deeply disappointing and somewhat petty by removing some $60 million in funding from UNESCO in line with overtly undemocratic US legislation passed in the 1990’s.

“Secondly, any suggestion by the US that efforts by the Palestinian people to attain recognition of their statehood at the UN or elsewhere ‘undermines peace negotiations’ is complete and utter nonsense.

“Israel has full recognition of their state internationally, despite not having clearly defined borders and this is mainly due to their ongoing seizing of Palestinian land to facilitate illegal settlements.

“It is these actions that have undermined a peace settlement, yet the US stands idly by and placates Israel at every turn.

“The ‘Arab Spring’ is an opportunity for both the US and the European Union to build new relationships of trust in a region that has been blighted by conflict and failed by the international community.

“The US and the EU must now step up to their responsibilities to confront illegal Israeli settlements and broker a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.”

© rikwalton - all rights reserved

Published on Tuesday 5 July 2011 13:40

Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn has called upon to Irish government to intervene and protect Irish citizens after an act of sabotage on board one of the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ ships put lives in grave danger.

Colr MacLochlainn and fellow traveller Charlie McMenamin have just returned from the Mediterranean where they were among twenty Irish people on board one of the ‘Freedom Flotilla ships docked in the Mediterranean sea attempting to break the Israeli blockade and get aid to Gaza.

However, their boat, the MV Saoirse, was, they believe, badly sabotaged by Israeli agents, forcing them to abandon their efforts.

Colr MacLochlainn has just returned from his second attempt to get to Gaza, having managed to board another ship in the flotilla in an attempt to get to Gaza. He then transferred to Greece where he was to board another boat to Gaza. It was not to be.

“The Greek authorities seized and raided a US boat at sea and arrested its captain, who is now in jail. Despite protests, they also impounded all other boats and subsequently announced that they were not going to allow any boats to leave Greece for Gaza. If it wasn’t for the Greek government banning boats, I would be in Gaza today.”

Colr MacLochlainn has vowed to continue his efforts to enter Gaza and colleagues are currently waiting for the Irish boat to be repaired.

“We’re very lucky they didn’t sink it,” he added. “There is no question that this was sabotage. The Israelis cut a V-shaped cut into the boat’s propeller shaft which means that shaft would have snapped at sea and went up through the ship’s hull, probably killing everyone on board. We were then contacted by a Greek boat and they had a photo of the damage done to their own boat – it showed the exact same V-shaped fault.”

Colr MacLochlainn is in no doubt that the trip could have ended in tragedy and the incident has been reported to the Turkish authorities.

“We could have sank at sea and no-one would ever have known what caused it. This was the attempted murder of twenty Irish citizens – it’s a disgrace. We need the Irish government to step up now and get the Israeli government to show respect to fellow countries and their citizens. The have no respect for any country in the world and are prepared to murder Irish citizens if we oppose their genocide in Gaza. Our government must protect us.”

source

July 6th 2011


Israel must answer questions on MV Saoirse

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD this morning raised the damage done to the MV Saoirse in its efforts bring much needed humanitarian aid to the besieged citizens of Gaza.

Mr. Adams asked the Taoiseach if the government had spoken with the Irish crew who were aboard the MV Saoirse to seek their account of what occurred last week and their belief that their ship was sabotaged and that the lives of Irish citizens were placed in danger.

He also asked the Taoiseach if the government has spoken to either the Israeli or Turkish authorities on this matter.

Regrettably, the Taoiseach could not answer these questions but said he was raise these matters with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and come back to the Sinn Féin President.


Speaking after Taoiseach’s Questions Mr. Adams said:

“Serious questions must be asked of the Israeli government about the events surrounding the MV Saoirse and a thorough investigation of the damage done to the Irish boat is required.

The blockade of the Gaza strip is illegal. The boarding of the flotilla by Israeli forces last May and the killing of 9 aid workers was illegal. The separation wall is obscene and illegal and the construction of settlements on stolen Palestinian land is illegal.

I strongly support the right of the humanitarian aid workers and others to deliver very necessary humanitarian aid to the people of that region which they are being illegally denied by the Israeli authorities.

Providing humanitarian aid for the million and a half people who live under siege in Gaza and making a stand against the aggression and illegal actions of the Israeli state is hugely important.

The situation in that region and the illegal blockade of Gaza will not go away. It must be faced up to and the siege ended if there is to be any hope for peace.

The Irish government can play a key role in this by giving leadership within Europe and supporting the right of the Palestinian peoples to their own state.”

Note to editor: Gaza Statistics:

· 1.5 million people live in a piece of land 40 km long by 10 km wide.

· 80% of Gazans are now dependent on some form of aid.

· 100,000 estimated to have lost their jobs in the private sector since 2004/5.

· 56% of the population of Gaza is under 18. Schools in Gaza have often classes of over 50 children.

For immediate release 5th July


Government must get answers on MV Saoirse – Mac Lochlainn

Sinn Féin raise sabotage of Irish aid boat with Tánaiste

At today’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, TD, has challenged the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore on what efforts he has made to get answers on the sabotage of the Irish aid boat, the MV Saoirse, while docked in Turkey, last week.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore confirmed that he has been in contact with the Turkish authorities, seeking an update on their investigations and also that he has raised the matter with the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:

“There is widespread outrage at the obvious sabotage of the MV Saoirse. Those responsible recklessly endangered the lives of the Irish citizens aboard the boat and prevented them from carrying out their mission of solidarity and aid for the beleaguered Palestinian people of Gaza”.

“The facts are that the lives of Irish citizens were put at serious risk and all efforts must be made to get to the truth of this affair in a fashion deployed by the previous Irish Government when Irish passports were utilised to facilitate the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai Hotel. Israeli intelligence agents acting on behalf of the Israeli Government were subsequently held responsible”.

He concluded:

“I welcome the initial efforts of the Tánaiste but I expect a relentless pursuit of the truth.

It is absolutely incumbent on the Irish Government to ensure that a full and comprehensive investigation in to this shocking incident is carried out by the Turkish authorities and that answers are demanded of the Israeli Government, believed by many to be responsible”

The US boat, The “Audacity of Hope” set sail yesterday for Gaza. Within minutes it was surrounded by heavily armed Greek commandos, who eventually boarded the ship forcing it to immediately turn back to port. At the same time the Canadian boat the “Tahrir” was being boarded and their paperwork confiscated. Additionally all other boats had armed Greek police and Coast Guard personnel guarding the ships to keep them from leaving port. The Greek Announcement on the Flotilla can be read below. It is now clear that the siege on Gaza extends to Greece and its islands.

Armed Greek Commandos board American ship

Prohibition of the departure of ships with Greek and foreign flags from Greek ports to the maritime area of Gaza today

Pursuant to a decision by the Minister of Citizen Protection Mr. C. Papoutsis, the departure of ships with Greek and foreign flags from Greek ports to the maritime area of Gaza has been prohibited today.

By orders of the Hellenic Coast Guard Head Quarters to all local Hellenic Coast Guard Authorities, all appropriate measures are taken for the implementation of the said decision.

As it is known, the Hellenic Coast Guard local Authorities have already been instructed to submit to ships Masters of ships of any flag the relevant notice to mariners that designates the area of maritime blockade by Israel.

More specifically, for ships flying the Greek flag, relevant entries shall be made in the ships logbook together with the reception of the above mentioned notice to mariners as well as with the communication by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated 22 June 2011.

Furthermore, the broader maritime area of eastern Mediterranean will be continuously monitored by electronic means for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships allegedly participating in such campaign.

Finally, police controls of passengers and crews are conducted while there is cooperation with local police and customs Authorities for rigorous controls on issues of their competence.

Clr Gerry MacLochlainn, John Mallon and Charlie McMenamin sailing on the MV Saoirse just minutes before deadly sabotage was discovered. Photo by Phil McCullough

On Monday the ships 3 crew members along with Clr Gerry MacLochlainn, Charlie McMenamin (both from Derry) with John Mallon and Phil McCullough (both from Belfast) set sail on the MV Saoirse for re-fueling.

On the way back Pat Fitzgerald ship’s engineer noticed that something was very wrong with the boat. Upon returning to the dock the first inspections began, it was then we realised that sabotage had been done to Ireland’s boat.

Pat and the crew then hired experts to dive down and inspect the damage closer, upon their return to land it was noted that the boat has very serious damage done and that a piece was missing from one of the propeller shafts. The boat was then removed from the water and inspected on dry land (videos below) where the deep cuts inflicted onto the propeller shaft could be clearly seen and photos taken for evidence, the shaft was also very bent. These things together create a very dangerous life threatening situation for those who had just been sailing on the ship. The sabotage was intended to endanger and/or inflict injury or death on Irish citizens as the went abou their lawful right to sail on the high seas.

Clearly the terrorist divers had come up under the boat and intentionally cut out pieces of the propeller shaft, thus weakening it so that it would shear off and sink the boat or kill people onboard. As the boat’s engine placed stress on the shaft it would have given way and the propeller would have come up through the bottom of the boat, causing flooding in the engine room and the boat to sink. Moreover, any Irish passengers standing nearby when the propeller came through the deck could have been killed immediately, or seriously injured.

The passengers from Derry and Belfast who were onboard the ship travelling to the re-fueling point were a bit un-nerved when told the possibilities of what could have happened on that short journey they had just returned from.

The terrorists have now struck twice, in two different countries! This same type of sabotage was done to another vessel in Greece only days ago. We have the videos below of both the ship in Greece and the Irish Ship which was located in Turkey. Followed by a short video of Pat Fitzgerald the ship’s engineer after inspecting some of the damage.

This was a vicious attack on Irish property by terrorists against a boat flying the Irish flag. The ship is so damaged it will now be unable to take part in the Flotilla. However arrangements are being made to find seats on other ships for as many Irish passengers as possible including members of Derry Friends of Palestine. We will continue to keep you updated on this website regarding the Irish passengers who will be travelling now on other ships.

GREEK SABOTAGE DAMAGE

MV SAOIRSE SABOTAGE DAMAGE

Ships engineer Pat Fitzgerald inspects the damage, note that the damage was meant to sink the boat and would have cost Irish lives

Lia Tarachansky from RealNews interviews Israeli Defence Force Lieutenant Colonel Avital Liebovitz, Ray McGovern, a retired CIA officer on board the US boat to Gaza the “Audacity of Hope” and Gerry MacLochlainn, an Irish politician and member of Derry Friends of Palestine, from on board the Irish boat the MV Saoirse.

Flotilla members spoke about the pressure the US and Israeli government put on Mediterranean countries to stop the Flotilla from sailing. Lieutenant Colonel Avital Liebovitz states that the IDF will avoid “personal contact” with passengers on the Flotilla.


More at The Real News

Charlie McMenamin, John Mallon, Phil McCullough and Clr Gerry MacLochlainn

As part of the Irish Ship to Gaza national campaign there will be coordinated protests held in Derry and Belfast as follows:


DERRY-GUILDHALL SQUARE

TUESDAY
JUNE 28TH
1:00-2:00 PM

SPEAKERS:
Sinead MacLochlainn, Chair Irish Ship to Gaza Committee
Liam Gallagher, Derry Trade Union Council
Liam McConway, Derry Friends of Palestine

BELFAST-CITY HALL
WEDNESDAY
JUNE 29TH
1:00 PM

SPEAKERS:
TBA

Please show your support for the passengers sailing from Derry and Belfast on the Irish Ship the MV Saoirse as part of the Freedom Flotilla 2 to Gaza. Tell Israel to “Let Them Sail”

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