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AMP Demands Safe Passage for Freedom FlotillaSalem-News.com
"These ships are carrying motorized wheelchairs, prefabricated houses, and medicine" - Dr. Hatem Bazian, UC Berkeley
(CHICAGO) - The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) has learned from people directly associated with the Freedom Flotilla that Israeli gunships have approached the Mavi Marmara in international waters.
AMP is extremely concerned for the safety of all on the Freedom Flotilla, particularly the American citizens aboard. The US citizens include Joe Meadors, a U.S. Navy signalman who survived Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. Meadors was to have led a memorial service today to honor his comrades were killed in the Israeli attack.
Also on board is Ambassador Edward L. Peck, who served as a paratrooper during two tours of wartime active duty; spent 32 years in the Foreign Service; including stints as Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania, Deputy Director of the Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism at the Reagan White House, and State Department Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon; and after retirement was Executive Secretary of the American Academy of Diplomacy.
Other US citizens aboard the Freedom Flotilla include:
The Freedom Flotilla, a coalition of some nine vessels, is en route to Gaza loaded with 10,000 pounds of donated medical and humanitarian supplies in efforts to break the total blockade Israel has had on the tiny strip for more than three years. Contrary to statements made by Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgore Lieberman last week, the 1.5 Palestinians of Gaza have been living under an extreme humanitarian crisis since the total siege began in June 2007.
Fully 90 percent of the residents rely upon the United Nations for food aid yet Israel allows in less than 20 percent of the life-sustaining humanitarian aid, according to the UN.
For days, Israel has been threatening to use military force to intercept the flotilla and redirect them to the port city of Ashdod, where the 800 civil resistance and humanitarian activists will be detained and/or deported, according to Israeli press reports.
"These ships are carrying motorized wheelchairs, prefabricated houses, and medicine,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, AMP chairman and professor of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
“The siege amounts to collective punishment and is illegal under international law. Now, Israel is threatening to commandeer these vessels in international waters. This is a grave breach to international maritime laws and as such any perceived support of Israel by allowing it to act with impunity is also a risk to U.S. national security.”
Dr. Bazian added: “AMP calls upon U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to compel Israel to allow these ships safe passage to Gaza. Furthermore, AMP calls upon Congress to hold Israel accountable for its grave breaches of international law by withhold the more than $7 million per day it receives in U.S. foreign aid.”
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