PRESS RELEASE (Embargo: Immediate)
End the blockade. End the Israeli terror
Bags of cement, medical supplies, construction supplies. In the weeks since the third land convoy breached the Israeli blockade of Gaza, funds have been raised to fill a flotilla of six ships with these essential goods that the Israeli blockade of Gaza denies the Palestinian people. Since the appalling assault of Operation Cast Lead, Israel has prevented reconstruction or education in Gaza.
Viva Palestina, the Free Gaza Movement and the Gaza solidarity movement are expressions of the world wide mobilization to end the blockade. Today, at least 19 of our brothers and sisters died for the crime of daring to bring human assistance to the Palestinian people. More than 25 have been injured and 16 thrown into Israeli jails. Others are under arrest and being held. The desperately needed supplies were confiscated and towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod. 10,000 tonnes of human assistance has been taken.
The Respect Party is outraged at this murder. Our Turkish and Arab brothers and sisters whose lives were taken were brave and extraordinary people. When Respect Party members launched Viva Palestina, we found an entire movement of people willing to sacrifice all for the Palestinian people – we found that we are all Palestinian.
The ships were boarded in international waters. It was an act of piracy and murder. The Israeli government lies about the resistance to its piracy. The only guns on the ships were carried by Israeli commandos.
The Respect Party believes that the case for ending the blockade of Gaza is overwhelming. Israel is acting against international law and United Nations resolutions. The UN has declared the situation in Gaza to border on a human disaster. We demand the lifting of the blockade immediately and the transfer of the supplies on the flotilla to Gaza forthwith.
Every activist on the flotilla must be immediately released and allowed to return to their home. Those arrested must be released and those injured brought home as soon as medically possible. Respect Party Executive Committee member, Kevin Ovenden, is among those arrested. He has played a leading role in each of the Viva Palestina convoys and we demand his immediate unharmed release. His role in supporting Palestine is heroic and he deserves honour for his tireless sacrifice.
It is time to diplomatically isolate the Israeli government. This act of piracy must be answered in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Article 100. We demand that the British government close the Israeli embassy, expel the Israeli ambassador and recall the British ambassador in Israel. The British government contains ministers who have argued against the blockade – it is time to make a stand for Palestine and to threaten withdrawal from the government unless diplomatic action is taken.
George Galloway, Respect Party National Council and former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow stated: "Israel has massacred unarmed peace activists aboard a flotilla taking emergency aid to the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza. This is a watershed that will change the perception of the world, as Sharpeville and Soweto did to the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
"It unmasks Israel which no-one can now consider a member of the 'international community' but is rather a rogue state, a pariah state.
"The embargo and blockade of Gaza must be brought to an end. This has been underwritten by the United States, by Britain and the European Union, but this has got to end now."
Salma Yaqoob, Respect Party leader and councillor in Sparkbrook, Birmingham condemned the action: “This murderous attack by the Israeli government on an aid convoy sailing in international waters is an act of state sponsored terrorism. It is also an attack on the entire international community.
“Israel acts with such shameless contempt of world opinion because it feels it is above international sanction. And for far too long it has been. This situation must change. The British government must express its outrage at the attack on its citizens and the aid convey in the strongest terms. The British Ambassador should be withdrawn from Israel and the Israeli Ambassador asked to leave Britain. Support should be given to the Palestinian call for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Effective International sanctions must now be applied. The world must unite to send the strongest message that such acts of terrorism will not be tolerated. And the International Palestinian solidarity movement must send the strongest message that we will redouble our efforts to break Israel’s brutal siege of Gaza.”
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The Respect Party website is at http://www.therespectparty.net/ and can be contacted at email@example.com or 07794 192 670.
Viva Palestina, a registered UK charity (1129092), has the following website http://www.vivapalestina.org/home.htm.
George Galloway’s websites are http://www.votegeorgegalloway.com/and http://www.georgegalloway.com/
Salma Yaqoob’s website is at http://www.salmayaqoob.com/
The Respect Party has received firm evidence that Kevin Ovenden was not harmed in the assault on the flotilla but was among those held. It will monitor his treatment as with all those detained.
Respect National Office/Treasurer
07794 192 670
PO Box 167 Manchester M19 0AH.