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Press intimidation, frivolous lawfare, and sabotage, it’s hasbarapocalypse

You're looking at an underwater photo of the starboard propeller of the passenger ship "Juliano" berthed in Piraeus, Greece, waiting to sail with the "Stay Human" Freedom Flotilla II departing soon to break the siege of Gaza. Reports of sabotage babelfished, even as some flotilla participants quickly issued a retraction. As diver video documented, someone assailed the propeller shaft casing, luckily repairable, but Greek authorities could seize on the incident to delay the activists with an investigation, or insist on further inspections, using anticipation of sabotage to delay or forbid the voyage. 25079

Gaza we are coming

Plans are once again underway for another attempt to run the blockade of Gaza. Two ships are set to sail from Lebanon today or tomorrow, despite intimidation from Israel --which worked to prevent the aid ship INFANTS OF GAZA scheduled to leave from Iran. As a result, the Israeli navy is maneuvering to intercept, as it did for the recent Libyan AMALTHEA, and the Irish RACHEL CORRIE before that. Israel is even preparing "Flotilla 13," the Shayetet commandos who killed nine activists on the Mavi Marmara in May. If it does leave, the Lebanese convoy will consist of a ship named MARYAM, carrying only women and nuns, and the JULIA (the Naji Al Ali) carrying journalist and Reporters Without Borders. It's hard to imagine what reception the journalists are intent to document, Israel can hardly surpass itself with brutality, so will it be news? 18196

Accounting for IDF missing intelligence

The results of Israel's self-investigation of the Mavi Marmara Massacre are in: surprise, the IDF commandos did no wrong, but were set back by a deficiency of intelligence. It's what many of us were already thinking, but there's another punchline which Israel invites by pairing the deadly raid with IDF "intelligence" assets gone missing. Six passengers of the humanitarian convoy are still unaccounted for. Rumors spread they may have been tossed off the ship, or languish in Israeli detention, but the trouble is, the six are also lacking for anyone missing them. Without friends or families registering concern, the convoy organizers can now deduce that the six were agents of Israel, who elected obviously to stay behind in Israel. Might this be because they were the principal provocateurs brandishing the pipes to give the IDF boarders pretext to fire upon the activists? 18116

MV Rachel Corrie outsmarts Israeli navy, Hasbara pundits, US media, itself

All eyes are on the MV Rachel Corrie, but where are the pictures?! There hasn't been a photograph of the relief ship since she left Ireland, even then in darkness. Worrying everyone that her attempt to run the Gaza blockade would be cloaked like the USS Liberty, the Freedom Flotilla straggler has pulled a fast one and approached Gaza from the East, visible from the coast of Egypt, not really. 17770

Flotilla video evidence escapes Israel, IDF has to conduct pantie raids now

Norman Finkelstein mentioned anticipated photographic footage that may have escaped confiscation by Israel which has been monopolizing the narrative with their selective accounts. A released Irish activist recounts how nonviolent resistance on the Challenger allowed time for an Australian journalist to secret what she had filmed. We await the unveiling of her evidence in Istanbul. In the meantime some video has escaped from the Mavi Marmara.

Which was more awesome: power of nonviolence, or right of self-defense?

Give praise to Allah where praise is due   As the Freedom Flotilla made its slow approach last week, a popular Huffpo article pronounced the convoy a testament to the awesome power of nonviolence. That sentiment went about as viral as activist-geeks can get. But the blockade running denouement proved something of the opposite, didn't it? I hope the sanctimonious pacifist will be brave enough to admit it. The Muslim Brotherhood bravely charging the Israeli navy was surely the definition of martyr, if anyone has ever earned it. Without pushing the IDF to bare its authoritarian fangs, there would have been no story, no outrage, the end. An entirely compliant convoy would have been led by the nose to Ashdod and diplomatic compromise. Neither Gandhi nor King nor Mandela gained without a massacre they didn't provoke. It's a slander to their legacy that nonviolent movements have been co-opted by religious purists who subordinate social justice to self-fulfilment, generally in the guise of your post-earthly reward. Labor organizers used to curse the industrialists' first line of union busters, the churches which practiced appeasement and promised "pie in the sky when you die, by and by." 17721

Flotilla not a Love Boat, it was a lynch, says Netanyahu, describing beating of IDF soldiers, not deaths of aid workers

What's a lynch? I find it intriguing that Israel's spin machine can drop an American pop culture reference like Love Boat, and simultaneously flub basic usage with "a lynch." According to Israel, that describes what befell their crack-troop Mavi Marmara party-crashers. What does "a lynch" mean? Apparently someone feels at liberty to shorten Lynch Mob, or Lynching, to coin a new threat to Israel. But doesn't it stretch credulity to imagine the IDF has never claimed to have been baited into an "ambush?" 17684

Hello London, Hello London. Warships hailing convoy in international waters

AT 23:00GMT, two Israeli ships are approaching IHH Mavi Marmara, drones heard overhead, satellite connection becoming interrupted. Passengers have donned life jackets, some prepare gas masks, maybe equipment Israel may prefer not reach Gaza. Descending on Freedom Flotilla: one large destroyer is visible, three total on radar. Challenger I reports being contacted as well. Blinking lights of something hovering above. Abbas Al Lawati writing from Marmara. UPDATE: Inflatables approaching ship as communications cease. 17603

As navy stalks Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Israeli measures already effective

First among the Israeli navy's expressed strategies to confront the international relief convoy approaching Gaza was to "pick off the participants before they could join the convoy." Today only five of intended nine ships have made it to the rendezvous. Sailing from Ireland, the MV Rachel Corrie has been impeded by propeller trouble, while both Challenger I and II suffered irregularities with their steering hydraulics. Suspicions of sabotage are not assuaged by fact that the healthier Turkish ships were not as easily accessible to agents. Less expected was the move, with the cooperation of Greek Cyprus, to prevent key passengers of the convoy to join the ships. Most predictable: media silence. 17589

Unusual mechanical failures delay, but fail to scuttle, Gaza Freedom Flotilla

First the MV Rachel Corrie suffered a breakdown shortly after leaving port. Then the Challenger I lost its steering mechanism and another Greek ship has to return to port. Though derided by Israeli critics as "tin buckets," the ships had been certified sea-worthy before the convoy set sail. Suspicions about system failures can wait until proper investigations. Cyprus denied the Challenger permission to harbor for repairs, so its passengers were transshipped to the Mavi Marmara, and the convoy delayed its rendezvous. The revised timing will deny the Israeli navy a chance to attack during the night. The relief ships will not be approaching the contested waters off Gaza until after daybreak. 17554

The Gazan People’s Front or People’s Front of Gaza less funny than Nazirene

A Gaza Flotilla PR mishap, as minor as a participant speaking out of place, was seized upon by one reporter to suggest rivalry between co-sponsors of the relief convoy due to convene Saturday at Gaza's door. When an interviewee said "Free Palestine Movement" instead of "Free Gaza," the reporter recalled scenes from Monty Python's Life of Brian and the mortal rivalry between the "People's Judean Front" and the "People's Front of Judea," often understood to lampoon the PLO and it splinter groups. Haha. But why didn't the reporter mention Python's other irreverent terrorist gang also fighting the Roman occupation: the uber-Zionist Nazirene? Because Otto and the Nazirene, that's right, not Nazarene, were cut from the video when control was wrestled from Monty Python for the rights. 17487

Gaza Freedom Flotilla sea rendezvous

Two vessels from the Gaza-bound humanitarian aid convoy met up this morning between the Aegean Islands of Amorgos and Astypalaia. The Swedish/Greek cargo Ship To Gaza FREE MEDITERRANEAN (formerly the Sofia) is now cruising along side the SFENDONI, a passenger ship for the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza. More pictures at Xstefanou's the Press Project and at Equal Society. (Below are updated photos of the growing fleet.) 17454

Live webcam on Gaza Freedom Flotilla Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara

GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA- DAY TWO. You can follow events from a live webcam on the Turkish passenger ship MAVI MARMARA, with camera pointing over bow. The Swedish/Greek cargo ship SOFIA is still livestreaming her loading in Athens. We await details of Algerian cargo AL-JAZAIR, Turkish cargos GAZZE and DEFNE Y, German passenger yacht CHALLENGER I and the Irish MV RACHEL CORRIE. (Details on each relief convoy ship at this post.) 17333

Relief convoy to bring media Armada

What this Freedom Flotilla has over previous relief efforts like the Viva Palestina caravans is a momentum building in the international press. It's the big ship effect that works for gunship diplomacy, brought to bear this time to enforce social justice, too big to ignore. (Update 5/24: Australia's Sidney Morning Herald has three articles: 1. the Turkish sendoff 2. Elvis Costello honoring the BDS cultural boycott, and 3. an in-depth story featuring the trademarked media logo BUSTING THE BLOCKADE!) 17152

T -6 for humanitarian convoy to Gaza

FREEDOM FLOTILLA UPDATE- As the MV Rachel Corrie steams past the Straits of Gibraltar, loading operations quicken in Istanbul and Athens and Gaza. Israel announces a counter-protest fleet to carry banners which finger Hamas and harangue Turkey for its Armenian genocide. The ships will not meet as Israel reasserts its intention to enforce a military zone to block the relief convoy. Flotilla plans a floating city until they are let through. Wouldn't a Venezuelan warship or two be just the escort the relief supplies would warrant?

Freedom Flotilla video streaming so far

Freedom Flotilla organizers have released video of the Rachel Corrie's setting sail from Ireland, presaging I hope, improved visual coverage of the Gaza blockade- running expedition. The Israel navy's past successful repulsions have been executed in darkness, eluding damning visuals, so the Corrie's nighttime sendoff wasn't a favorable sign of improved media savvy on the part of 2010 Freedom Flotilla. (Did you see it?) ShipToGaza/Greece is livestreaming a fundraiser from Athens. Will a live camera follow the ships to sea? 17041

John Pilger: Gaza flotilla is one of most important direct actions of our lifetime

Still waiting for aerial photos of MV Rachel Corrie leaving Ireland for the Mediterranean. Feel like you're missing out? This quote from Journalist-superstar John Pilger won't help: "The Freedom Flotilla is one of the most important direct actions of my lifetime. With its desperately-needed supplies and range of people from all over the world, representing sheer human decency, it sends a message of disgust to Gaza's oppressor and, above all, reaches out unreservedly to the people of Gaza." --John Pilger, 8 May 2010 16870

Freedom Flotilla flagship off to Gaza

The rechristened MV Rachel Corrie sails today from Dundalk, Ireland, to join the Freedom Flotilla intent on running the blockade of Gaza. Israel is already warning Cyprus against allowing the humanitarian convoy to shelter in its ports, rehearsing plans to intercept, and Turkish supporters are rebuffing Israeli threats to bomb relief ships which attempt to reach Palestine. In other news, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has accepted Israel's membership, cementing First World culpability for Israeli growth from conquest. Critics had urged Israel's disqualification because its capitalization has been owed to the occupation and illegal appropriation of Palestinian resources, but could the OECD ultimately disown the US-European joint colonial venture? 16790

Gaza Freedom Flotilla building steam

The Free Gaza Movement's FREEDOM FLOTILLA III is assembling itself ship by ship at European ports. Departure is set for later this month. You can already track the passenger ship MS Mavi Marmara and cargo ships Gazze, Sofia and MV Rachel Corrie on Google Earth. Will the humanitarian relief convoy succumb to Israel's blockade? UPDATED: photo-profiles of the IN v. FGM maritime contenders: 16465

MV Rachel Corrie to run Gaza blockade

Final preparations are underway at Brown's Quay in Dundalk, Ireland, to launch the Free Gaza Movement's next run against Israel's blockade of Gaza. FGM were able to acquire the 1,800 ton MV Linda impounded by the ITF for failure to pay its Latvian crew. Anyone who wishes to embark on the freighter's urgent relief mission to Palestine is enjoined to submit an application. Supporters with deeper pockets could consider adding tonnage to the flotilla. Riga's bankrupt Forestry Shipping abandoned two similar ships in Holland, the MV Defenderand MV Fairland, available for the cost of the back-wages due their sailors. 16175

Where is humanitarian airlift for Gaza?

    When the Soviet Union laid siege to West Berlin in 1947, the Western powers mounted a famous airlift to supply the city's inhabitants for ten months until the siege was broken. At its height, the Berlin Airlift hauled almost 9,000 tons per day. By contrast, the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip remain besieged for two and a half years now, where is the humanitarian effort to save them? 13594

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