[News] Freedom Waves Prisoners Abused and Imprisoned

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 7 12:13:51 EST 2011


Anonymous Hacker Strikes Back

Freedom Waves Prisoners Abused and Imprisoned

by BEN LORBER
http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/07/freedom-waves-prisoners-abused-and-imprisoned/

West Bank.

In the immediate aftermath of the illegal capture 
of the Freedom Waves flotillas, Israel’s public 
image has been tarnished, as reports of violence 
at sea surface to counteract its claims of a 
peaceful takeover, and as human rights 
cyber-resistance group Anonymous retaliates by 
shutting down Israeli government web sites.

As Israeli naval soldiers boarded the Tahrir and 
Saoirse Friday afternoon, the IDF released a 
statement saying that the ships were intercepted 
peacefully, and that no activists were harmed in 
the takeover. In addition, in an attempt to 
portray its own reasonable benevolence, the IDF 
released a video of soldiers contacting the ship 
and offering to reroute its humanitarian aid by 
land or through Ashdod, shortly before releasing 
another video which seemed to show Israeli 
soldiers peacefully and non-threateningly boarding one of the flotillas.

When Egyptian journalist Lina Attalah, an 
activist aboard the Tahrir, wrote an account of 
Israel’s seizure of the boats after her release 
on Saturday, however, the world began to see a 
different picture.  “Towards the early 
afternoon,” she said, “we saw three Israeli 
warships in the horizon
 Soon after, the Israeli 
presence in the waters around us intensified. We 
counted at least 15 ships, four of which were 
warships, and the rest a mix of smaller boats and 
water cannons. From inside the smaller boats, 
dozens of Israeli soldiers pointed their machines 
guns at us. This is when our communications 
system was jammed and we lost contact with the 
world
the Israelis sent radio messages to our 
boat, asking us to stop sailing because they 
would board the boat and take us to the Israeli 
port of Ashdod. When our boat refused to 
surrender, they aimed their canons at us, 
showering us with salty water. The boat had 
become highly unstable and panic was in the air
 
Israeli ships hit our boat and soldiers started 
boarding. Dozens of masked soldiers screamed “on your knees,” and “hands up.””

The violent nature of Israel’s takeover of the 
Tahrir and Saoirse became more apparent with a 
statement released mid-Sunday by Fintan Lane, the 
National Coordinator of the Irish Ship Saoirse, 
in a hurried phone call made from an Israeli 
prison. “The whole takeover [of the Saoirse by 
Israeli naval authorities] took about three 
hours”, claims Lane. “It began with Israeli 
forces hosing down the boats with high pressure 
hoses and pointing guns at the passengers through 
the windows. I was hosed down the stairs of the 
boat. Windows were smashed and the bridge of the 
boat nearly caught fire. The boats were corralled 
to such an extent that the two boats, the Saoirse 
and the Tahrir, collided with each other and were 
damaged, with most of the damage happening to the 
MV Saoirse.  The boats nearly sank. The method 
used in the takeover was dangerous to human life.”

The same day, Saoirse activist Paul Murphy, 
Socialist Party and United Left Alliance MEP for 
Dublin, related in a 3-minute phone call, 
monitored by Israeli prison authorities, that 
“our boat was almost sunk by the manner in which 
it was approached and boarded by the Israeli 
navy. People were shackled and deprived of all 
personal belongings. In Givon  prison the 
authorities tried to disorientate us through 
sleep deprivation and the removal of our watches 
and the prison clock recording the wrong time. We 
have been given no time frame as to how long we 
will be kept here before the deportation trial. 
We were denied our right by Israeli law to 
contact our families within 24 hours of our arrest.”

Also on Sunday, Greek captain of the Tahrir 
Giorgos Klontzas, after his release from jail, 
told Greek Omnia TV that during interrogation, 
Israeli forces handcuffed him tightly and stuck fingers in his eyes.

The clearest testament to the abuse suffered by 
the activists at the hands of the Israeli 
military has come from British activist David 
Heap, in a letter smuggled out of his prison 
cell.  “I write to you from cell 9, block 59 
Givon Prison near Ramla in Occupied Palestine”, 
the letter stated. “Although I was tasered during 
the assault on the Tahrir, and bruised during 
forcible removal dockside (I am limping slightly 
as a result) I am basically ok
 [we] were 
transported in handcuffs and leg shackles
[we 
have created] a political prisoners’ committee in 
order to press our collective demands- 
association in the block, i.e. open cells; 
adequate writing and reading material; free 
communication with outside world- i.e. regular 
phone calls; [and] information about shipmate 
women held at same prison”. In response to the 
shortage of information regarding the female 
activists currently behind bars, the Women’s 
Organisation for Political Prisoners (WOFPP) 
offered Sunday night to send a lawyer free of 
charge to visit the female prisoners.

As reports of Israeli military violence leaked 
throughout the weekend, an international group of 
hackers named Anonymous released a video 
threatening retaliation against “a clear sign of 
piracy on the high seas.” The ‘Open Letter from 
Anonymous to the Government of Israel’ was 
pointed in its critique- “your actions”, it 
claimed, “are illegal, against democracy, human 
rights, international and maritime laws”, and an 
example of “justifying war, murder, illegal 
interception and pirate-like activities under an 
illegal cover of defense” which “will not go 
unnoticed by us or the people of the world”. 
Anonymous, which has temporarily disabled many 
web sites in past publicized acts of moral 
retribution, further threatened that “if you 
continue blocking humanitarian vessels to Gaza or 
repeat the dreadful actions of May 31st 2010 
against any Gaza Freedom Flotillas, you will 
leave us no choice but to strike back, again and 
again, until you stop
.we do not forget, we do not forgive. Expect us.”

A day later, Haaretz reported that “the websites 
of the IDF, Mossad and the Shin Bet security 
services were down”, likely due to an Anonymous 
cyber-attack. Hours later, however, the Israeli 
government released a statement on Facebook 
claiming that the websites were down “due to a 
systematic malfunction of the servers”, denying 
that Anonymous was behind the crash. It is highly 
unlikely, however, for this shutdown to follow so 
soon after Anonymous’s threat as a matter of pure coincidence.

As the international community rises in 
condemnation of Israel’s illegal takeover of a 
ship in international waters, 21 of the 27 
activists captured by Israel remain in prison 
awaiting deportation, and the whereabouts of one, 
PressTV journalist Hassan Ghani, remains unknown. 
The Irish activists have refused representation 
by a lawyer in the Israeli court system, on the 
grounds that they do not acknowledge the 
legitimacy of Israel’s legal system. In addition, 
they refuse to sign a waiver which would forfeit 
their claim to legal representation before a 
judge and allow for their immediate deportation, 
because the offered waiver claims that they came 
to Israel voluntarily and entered illegally, 
statements which are patently untrue in light of 
the fact that Israeli naval boats seized the 
activists from the Tahrir and Saoirse, and 
forcibly transported them to Ashdod. They will 
therefore, according to Israeli law, be detained 
for 72 hours and then brought to court, where 
they will almost certainly be deported- though, 
because they refused to sign the waiver, the 
deportation will occur without their consent.

As Israel unsuccessfully attempts to save face in 
the aftermath of its illegal and violent seizure 
of innocent civilians on a humanitarian aid 
mission in international waters, the 
international community once again bears witness 
to the fact that, in the words of a Saturday 
press release by the Canada Boat to Gaza team, 
“there is no legal justification for stopping or 
in any way impeding the passage of the totally 
peaceful Freedom Waves boats from the 
international solidarity movement with 
Palestinian people”. What is clear to all, in 
spite of Israeli repression, is that the recent 
aid mission is only the first of many Freedom 
Waves bound for Gaza’s shore. “Whatever the 
Israeli Occupation Forces do to us,” said David 
Heap and Ehab Lotayef, steering committee members 
of the Tahrir, from behind Israeli prison bars, 
“this flotilla marks the launching of the Freedom 
Waves. It is the continuation of many efforts 
over the years to bring the plight of Gaza and 
Palestine to the world’s attention. We will keep 
coming again and again, until the closure of Gaza 
is ended and Palestinians have been able to 
achieve liberation and justice
 Expect us. Again 
and again. The Freedom Waves are just beginning.”

Ben Lorber is an activist with the International 
Solidarity Movement in Nablus. He is also a 
journalist with the Alternative Information 
Center in Bethlehem. He blogs at freepaly.wordpress.com.




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