EHAB LOTAYEF, [in Montreal] lotayef at gmail.com, @lotayef58
ROBERT NAIMAN, [in D.C.] naiman at justforeignpolicy.org, @naiman
MAHFOUZ KABARITI, [in Gaza] kabariti80 at hotmail.com, @GazaArk
Lotayef, Naiman and Kabariti are spokespersons for Gaza Ark, whose ship was attacked very early Friday morning. Gaza Ark is “part of the ongoing international Freedom Flotilla Coalition challenging the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza” imposed by Israel.
The group released a statement: “During an attack on the port of Gaza, the area came under fire from the Israeli Occupation forces. At about 2:00 a.m. local time Gaza Ark caught fire. The sustained Israeli assault prevented the civil defense fire brigade from extinguishing the blaze until approximately 3:30 a.m. … In the context of so many innocent civilian Palestinian deaths, the destruction of homes, hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, the material damage to our project pales to insignificance. We are all thankful there was no loss of life in this particular attack, and we mourn with you all the senseless destruction and killings of Palestinians by the ongoing Israeli attacks.”
Lotayef said today: “The Israeli government’s rhetoric is that they are bombing to ensure security. But they are striking targets that obviously have nothing to do with security, like civilian homes, like infrastructure, like the port, like our ship. Israel has been targeting peaceful actions like Gaza Ark — we were attacked on the 29th of April as well — because Israel wants to suffocate Gaza, force people to leave. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza to reduce the cost of occupation, not to end the occupation. Our project is focused on trying to get goods out of Gaza so the Palestinians there have a chance at interacting with the outside world. We try to export things like preserved food and Palestinian embroidery. But Israel doesn’t allow a port and is suffocating even fishing boats.”
Naiman — who is also policy director of Just Foreign Policy — recently wrote the article “Netanyahu’s War: What Is It Good For?” which states: “The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a new war on Palestinians in Gaza, a war whose purported justifications make George W. Bush’s excuses for his illegal invasion of Iraq smell nice by comparison. So far, the United States, Netanyahu’s chief enabler, has been unwilling to stop the carnage, as it could easily do, because Washington hasn’t yet heard enough complaint from Americans not to use their tax dollars to kill children in Gaza.”