The following message was sent to us from aboard the SS Liberty, currently at sea – on the way to Gaza!
Admiral Marom’s Strange Proclamation
The signature of Israeli Navy Commander in Chief Admiral Eliezer Marom appears on a very odd document. (See attached.) (Note: I didn’t receive an attachment, but I’ve emailed them and I’ll be checking the website periodically. – TGD) Dated August 11th, 2008, it is not written on official stationery, nor is it addressed to anyone.
The document declares that the Israeli Navy is operating in a maritime zone off the coast of Gaza. Was there any doubt that they have been doing so continuously since 1967?
It includes the sketch of a map and a series of coordinates (also attached) to define the zone, which includes all of Gaza coastal waters, and a major slice of international waters as well. It advises all foreign vessels to remain clear of this zone because of a “security situation” that is apparently so
obvious that it requires no definition or explanation.
The only hint about the “security situation” is a reference to the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, which, according to the document, should be done only at the land crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip (i.e. by Israeli permission only). Why is the
Israeli Navy issuing a proclamation regarding the delivery of humanitarian aid by land?
The proclamation goes on to prescribe a set of protocols for vessels approaching the “maritime zone” and to prohibit vessels from entering Gaza because of the undefined “security situation.”
Finally, the document pronounces its benevolent intentions to ensure “safe navigation” and its neighborly undertaking to prevent vessels from approaching an area where their safety may be endangered. Endangered? By whom? By what?
There is, of course, an explanation for such a strange document, disseminated (as nearly as can be determined) to a narrow circle of maritime authorities. It is that the document itself is an embarrassment to Israel, which nevertheless feels compelled to issue it in some form, as a disclaimer for any forceful action that they might take against an unnamed threat.
The embarrassment is that the unnamed threat consists of the two converted fishing boats of the Free Gaza Movement, bought and refurbished in Greece, and flying the Greek flag. On board is a contingent of forty-three crew and human rights advocates, sworn to nonviolence, as well as a modest cargo of hearing aids for Palestinian children in Gaza. Among their ranks are a Greek member of
parliament, an 81-year-old Catholic nun and the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair.
Admiral’s Marom’s proclamation shows nothing so much as the desperation and paranoia of a regime that lacks the imagination and courage to embrace a project that harms no one and delivers hope as its primary cargo. It behooves Israel to welcome the Free Gaza initiative as a step towards mutual respect for the human rights of all persons who call the land of Palestine their home.
Written and sent from aboard the SS Liberty, one of two boats heading to Gaza as part of the Free Gaza Movement.
EDIT: Removed some offensive and problematic statements.