Media Suppression by Israeli Authorities

Release Osama Qashoo & the Gaza Flotilla activists

The figure in this grab from C4 news on Monday evening of the scene aboard the Mavi Marmara at the moment of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, is Osama Qashoo, an award-winning documentary film-maker, a Palestinian peace activist from the West Bank, and a member of the Free Gaza Movement. He arrived in England in 2003 as a political refugee, gained a place at the National Film School, and now holds British nationality.
The Foreign Office has confirmed that he is now (Tuesday 1st June) being held in the Ela prison in Beersheba, and knowing him well, I suspect he is one of those who has refused to sign the document that would allow his immediate deportation, on the grounds that they were all kidnapped on the high seas. By refusing an easy way out, their intention is to take Israel to court—its own courts. It seems they will be supported by a team of Israeli lawyers, some of whom (or others) were reported in the Jerusalem Post yesterday to have petitioned the High Court with the charge that Israel had violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Doubtless Israel will argue that it is not in violation of the Convention—because they haven’t signed it. Like they haven’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, so they don’t have to admit they have nuclear weapons.
Osama first took up a camera in reaction to the conditions on the West Bank. He has written:
‘I found a broken camera and discovered that when I pretended to film—at the check points, in demonstrations or during the many curfews—soldiers acted differently. My camera became like a physical reaction to what was happening around me.’
Unfortunately this time the presence of cameras didn’t stop them.
Before being forced to flee, Osama worked in Palestine for five years for Palestinian radio and television companies, as a photographer for Reuters, and a translator for European journalists in Palestine. I remember when I first met him soon after his arrival in the UK that we spent a whole night talking about his experiences back home, and myself explaining to him that not all Jews are Zionists. (Click here for information about his films.)
It is difficult to find the words to express the depth of the anger and dismay that I feel, along with so many others, and not for the first time, at the Israeli action. It is not enough to say that it was illegal, over-reactive, ill-considered, misconceived, cack-handed. It’s much worse. For my part I concur with the comment of actor and comedian David Schneider on Twitter that ‘As a Jew, Israel’s like a close family member who’s hooked on heroin and you just don’t know what to do with them any more’.
The fact is that Israel is a rogue state, addicted to its own paranoia, brazen in its oppression of the enemies it has created for itself, its acts of murder and state terrorism, shameless not only in the use of military force against peace activists but also in bombarding the world’s media with lies, absurd rationalisations and blatant deceit, whose senseless and insane behaviour only places in question the legitimacy of its entire political class.
On behalf of Osama and his fellow activists, now fellow prisoners, please make your voice heard in protest in any non-violent way you can, not perhaps in the hope that Israel itself will take any notice, but to achieve its international isolation diplomatically, economically, culturally and economically until it complies with international law, lifts the blockade against Gaza, and reverses its inhuman rejection of justice for Palestine.
Now go to the Gaza Flotilla website and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

Israeli forces detain journalists aboard humanitarian flotilla

New York, June 1, 2010  Israel should immediately release the journalists it detained along with hundreds of peace activists on Monday after Israeli forces stormed a convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. According to international news reports and CPJ interviews, Israeli forces arrested at least 20 journalists aboard the humanitarian flotilla; three have since been released.

“We condemn the arrests of these journalists, who were on the boats reporting an unfolding news event,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “Israel must give a full accounting of all the journalists in its custody. We call on the government to release all journalists immediately so they can continue to cover this breaking story.”

Sydney Morning Herald
 correspondent Paul McGeough and photographer Kate Geraghty are being held at Ela Prison in Beersheba, Janet Rosenberg, the Sydney Morning Herald's night chief of staff, told CPJ. Both McGeough and Geraghty have received consular visits and will be deported in the next few days, Rosenberg said. Brazilian documentarian Iara Lee is also being detained by the Israeli military, according to her Web site, Cultures of Resistance.

Israel also detained at least six members of an Al-Jazeera crew, although it released Othman Battiri, Mohammed Vall, and Ali Sabri today, according an Al-Jazeera news bulletin. Abbas Nasser, Waseema bin Saleh Wissam, and Andre Abou Khalil remain in custody in a prison near Beersheba, West Bank-based Al-Jazeera producer Wessam Hammad told CPJ.

Reporter Svetoslav Ivanov and cameraman Valentin Vassilev of the Bulgarian television station BTV were arrested then transferred to the deportation division of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, where they are being held, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said in a media statement. South African Radio 786 correspondent Gadija Davids was arrested but her whereabouts were unknown, Radio 786's News Editor Zubeida Samsodein told CPJ. David Segarra, correspondent for Caracas-based South American television channel Telesur is missing, according to the channel. CPJ was unable to ascertain Segarra’s condition or whether he is in Israeli custody. Telesur called for his immediate release in a statement.

Abbas al-Lawati, correspondent for the Dubai-based Gulf News was being detained in Israel and should be deported in the next few days, his brother Mohamed al-Lawati told CPJ. Talat Hussain, correspondent for Pakistani television channel Aaj TV was arrested, and is expected to be released within next 12 hours, the Pakistani Ministry of Interior said in a statement. Muna Shester, reporter for the Kuwait News Agency, was also said to be missing, according to international news reports. CPJ was unable to determine Shester’s condition or whether she was in Israeli custody.

Foreign News Chief Sümeyye Ertekin, producer Ümit Sönmez, and cameraman Ersin Esen of the Turkish broadcaster VNET were arrested and transferred to Ben Gurion Airport to be deported, according to Turkish news reports. Italian journalist Angela Lano is being held in Ela prison, according to the Rome-based ANSA news agency.

Six ships left Turkey on Sunday carrying approximately 700 people to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.

June 1, 2010 5:55 PM ET | Permalink