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Emerging From An Israeli Prison, Freedom Flotilla Captain Accuses Canada’s Government Of Complicity PDF Print E-mail
Aug 14, 2018 at 12:00 AM

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This is Dmitri Lascaris, reporting for The Real News Network from Montreal, Canada.

For the past few months, The Real News has been covering the voyage of the Freedom Flotilla from Scandinavia to Gaza. Matters came to a head in late July when Al Awda, the lead vessel of the flotilla, was hijacked in international waters by Israel’s navy. Its passengers were then forced to enter Israel and were incarcerated there. The second vessel in the flotilla, the Freedom, was hijacked by Israel’s navy a few days later. Freedom was captained by Canadian human rights activist John Turnbull. The Real News spoke to John by satellite phone a few days before Israel’s seizure of the vessel. And last week, John was finally released from an Israeli prison after the seizure and was permitted to leave the country. He joins us today from Paris, France. Thanks very much for joining us, John.

JOHN TURNBULL: You’re very welcome, Dimitri. Good to be here.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: John, why don’t we start with the moment at which the vessel the Freedom was first contacted by Israeli forces, and then talk to us, please, about the seizure of the vessel. How did that unfold?

JOHN TURNBULL: Well, we are a sailboat, a fairly heavy, reasonably large sailboat, 72 feet long. We were waiting for nightfall, expecting to be contacted, and in fact hoping that they might let us go until sunrise the next day. But that was not to happen. Around 7:00 we received a VHF call. It was fairly standard call asking for identity. But when the questions got a little farther than our simple identity, which is convention, I objected. That I didn’t understand the nature of the call, or the intent behind it.

At that point, the Israeli navy read two statements- in fact, I think it might have been a recording of a statement- basically saying we were entering a military zone and our vessel could be confiscated. And then a few moments later there was a sort of second degree, but similar, message. We began at that point, and now it’s about 8:00, to notice lights surrounding us on all the cardinal and intermediate points of the compass. Those lights came closer. A little bit like seeing the eyes of wolves in the forest, if that’s happened to you.

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Toward the Establishment of a Palestinian Civil Society Defragmentation Strategy

Final Statement of the Palestinian Civil Society Conference,
Cyprus, 16–18 October 2007

As part of the effort by the Palestinian civil society organizations to overcome the state of forced Palestinian fragmentation and consolidate the national role of the Palestinian NGOs in all their places of residence, a conference titled "Toward the Establishment of a Palestinian Civil Society Defragmentation Strategy" was held in Agros, Cyprus, between 16 and 18 October 2007 at the initiative of Ittijah-The Union of Arab Community Based Associations. Forty-four participants representing a broad sector of Palestinian civil society networks, coalitions, and associations in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Kuwait, in addition to a number of international partner organizations supporting Palestinian rights, attended the conference. The Israeli occupation authorities banned the travel of a delegation representing civil society organizations in Gaza.

The conference discussed a number of issues, notably: The Palestinian situation and Palestinian, regional, and international developments, including the Annapolis conference; the collective Palestinian strategy against the forced fragmentation; the endeavors to rebuild terms of reference and assert the constant Palestinian principles; the strategy of collective Palestinian advocacy; Palestinian media strategies; and local and international coordination on the Palestinian question.

The participants in the conference set bases that would help strengthen the overall Palestinian struggle for liberation in all its contexts: the occupation, the displacement and uprooting, and the assault on Palestinian existence in the 1948 areas.

A draft of a collective organizational structure and an action plan were also devised, and a follow-up committee to implement this plan and lead the agreed process was set up.

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