Filmmaker smuggles out hour-long video of the deadly siege
In the predawn hours of Monday, May 31, showing a terrifying disregard for human life, Israeli naval forces surrounded and boarded ships sailing to bring humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. On the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, Israeli commandos opened fire on civilian passengers, killing at least 9 passengers and wounding dozens more. Others are still missing. The final death toll is yet to be determined.
Cultures of Resistance director Iara Lee was aboard the besieged ship and has since returned home safely. Despite the Israeli government’s thorough efforts to confiscate all footage taken during the attack, Iara Lee was able to retain some of her video recordings. Below is the unedited footage from the moments leading up to and during the Israeli commandos’ assault on the Mavi Marmara. You can also download this footage by clicking here.
Another video from a different source (Ed.):
There is a 15-minute version of the footage that has been edited from the video above and it can also be viewed on our Vimeo.com page [or here]. [Ed. Note: You can also watch an interview by Democracy Now! with Iara Lee.]
CALL YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES, JOIN IN PROTESTS, AND DEMAND A FULL, IMPARTIAL, AND INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION!
Shortly after returning home, Cultures of Resistance director Iara Lee wrote an Op-Ed about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Click here to read the article.
We are regularly updating the Cultures of Resistance page on Facebook with news updates and with action steps that you can take. Go to http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Cultures-of-Resistance/236643721652
Background: The Crisis in Gaza Continues
Since Israel’s military campaign of collective punishment against the Palestinian people in Gaza, waged in blatant violation of international law in late 2008 and early 2009, a devastating blockade of the area has remained in place. As a direct result, Gaza’s economy and infrastructure lie in ruins, with the vast majority of Palestinians there living on less than $1 a day.
Recently, Cultures of Resistance Director Iara Lee joined the Free Gaza Movement’s fleet of ships sailing to break the siege of Gaza. This flotilla, with 800 other activists from around the world aboard, is also carrying 10,000 tons of reconstruction and medical supplies in the hopes that basic humanitarian supplies can reach the people of Gaza. As Lee wrote in an Op-Ed that appeared in The Hill:
“Normally, such a goodwill mission would seem entirely innocuous. But in this case the crisis afflicting Palestinian civilians has been created by foreign policy: It is a product of Israel’s decision to besiege Gaza in defiance of international law and of United States support for this blockade.”
The Free Gaza Movement has attempted similar missions before—with the Israeli military halting the last three, including one that was rammed and nearly sunk—but none as large as this. The Israeli government has already vowed to stop the fleet from reaching Gaza, while activists remain resolute in the face of threats of force. Click here for updates on the flotilla’s progress.
Beyond the most recent flotilla, Cultures of Resistance, with support from the Lee and Gund Foundation and the Caipirinha Foundation, has long been involved with groups working in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Below are some examples of this work, as well as ways in which you can get involved.
Gaza Fishermen Under Siege
The Israeli government’s ongoing siege of Gaza has had particularly devastating consequences for Gaza’s roughly 3,000 fishermen. Although permitted by international law to fish within 20 miles of the Gaza coast, these fishermen are currently restricted to 3 miles by the Israeli navy, and as a direct result many have fallen into poverty. In addition, the fishermen report being frequently harassed by the Israeli navy. Cultures of Resistance investigated the situation in the following short film. [click here]
The Gaza Freedom March
During New Year’s week, Cultures of Resistance took part in the Gaza Freedom March, organized by the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza to mark the one-year anniversary of Israel’s attack. The Freedom March brought more than 1,300 protesters from more than 43 countries to Egypt’s border with Gaza. While the Egyptian government allowed only a small delegation to cross into Gaza, the Coalition nevertheless staged high-profile, nonviolent actions at the French embassy and United Nations offices in Cairo, in concert with other demonstrations in Israel and in cities around the globe. The the Caipirinha Foundation sponsored a live satellite link to transmit news from the Freedom March, and Cultures of Resistance was also on hand with our own film crew to document the proceedings. Our short film about the Gaza Freedom March includes footage from the entire week of action. [click here]
How You Can Help
Much critical work to promote human rights and uphold international law in Gaza remains to be done. The following organizations offer opportunities to join with others who are taking a stand on this important issue:
The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) has worked for more than two decades to bring direct humanitarian aid to Gaza in the form of food, medicine, and financial support for local development projects. Recent highlights of their courageous work include a four-ton shipment of medical supplies and the installation of fresh water systems to provide clean drinking water in Gaza’s elementary and middle schools. Find out about the next opportunity to get together with other activists and help pack a shipment of goods.
We recommend the following additional organizations that are working in solidarity with the people of Gaza and bringing aid to Palestinians caught in the humanitarian catastrophe.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights | www.mezan.org/en
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights | www.pchrgaza.org
International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza | www.codepinkalert.org
US Campaign to End the Occupation | www.endtheoccupation.org
American Near East Refugee Aid/ANERA | www.anera.org
CARE | www.carewbg.org
Gush Shalom | www.gush-shalom.org
Kinder USA | www.kinderusa.org
Palestinian Medical Relief Society/PMRS | www.pmrs.ps