28 children orphaned by Flotilla attack
Sat, 05 Jun 2010
Twenty-eight children lost their fathers as a result of the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla.
Nine people were shot dead on May 31 by Israeli soldiers who attacked the Turkish vessel M.V. Mavi Marmara as it attempted to transport humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.
Eight of them were fathers whose children are now yatims due to the Israeli assault on the Freedom Flotilla.
The Arabic word yatim is usually translated as orphan. However, in the Islamic religion, the word yatim actually means a child whose father is dead or whose father and mother are dead. This is the reason why Islamic media outlets are calling the children orphans.
Following are brief biographies of the nine people, as reported by Lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com:
1. Ibrahim Bilgen
Ibrahim Bilgen, 61, was an electrical engineer from Siirt. He was a member of the Chamber of Electrical Engineers of Turkey. He ran as a Saadet (Felicity) Party candidate in the Turkish general election of 2007 and the Siirt mayoral election of 2009. He was married with 6 children.
2. Ali Haydar Bengi
Ali Haydar Bengi, 39, ran a telephone repair shop in Diyarbakir. He was a graduate of Al-Azhar University, Cairo (Department of Arabic Literature). He was married to Saniye Bengi and had four children — Mehunur (15), Semanur (10), and twins Mohammed and Senanur (5).
3. Cevdet Kiliçlar
Cevdet Kiliçlar, 38, was from Kayseri. He was a graduate of Marmara University's Faculty of Communications and formerly a newspaper journalist for the National Gazette and the Anatolia Times. For the past year, he was a reporter and webmaster for the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH). He was married to Derya Kiliçlar, and had one daughter, Gülhan, and one son, Erdem.
4. Cetin Topçuoglu
Cetin Topçuoglu, 54, was from Adana. He was a former amateur soccer player and taekwondo champion who coached Turkey's national taekwondo team. He was married and had one son, Aytek. His wife, Cigdem Topçuoglu, was also aboard the Mavi Marmara, but survived.
5. Necdet Yildirim
Necdet Yildirim, 32, was an IHH aid worker from Malatya. He was married to Refika Yildirim and had one daughter, Melek, aged three.
6. Fahri Yaldiz
Fahri Yaldiz, 43, was a firefighter who worked for the Municipality of Adiyaman. He was married and had four sons.
7. Cengiz Songür
Cengiz Songür, 47, was from Izmir. He was married to Nurcan Songür and had six daughters and one son.
8. Cengiz Akyüz
Cengiz Akyüz, 41, was from Iskenderun. He was married to Nimet Akyüz and had three children — Furkan (14), Beyza (12), and Erva Kardelen (nine).
9. Furkan Dogan
Furkan Dogan, 19, was in his senior year at Kayseri High School, where he was awaiting the results of his university entrance exams. He had hoped to become a doctor and loved chess. He was the son of Dr. Ahmet Dogan, an associate professor at Erciyes University. He was a Turkish-American dual national with two siblings.
The Israeli military attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea early on May 31, killing nine Turkish citizens on board the six ships and injuring about 50 other people.
The fate of three other Freedom Flotilla activists is still unknown.
Israel also arrested nearly 700 activists from 42 countries on board the Freedom Flotilla, which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza in order to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian assistance to the long-suffering people of the territory.
Hundreds in Oakland protest Gaza blockade
Victoria Colliver,David R. Baker
San Francisco Chronicle
June 21, 2010
Marshall Schwartz of Oakland waves an Israeli flag across the road from pro-Palestinian supporters protesting the Israeli Zim Shipping Line at the Port of Oakland on Sunday.
Protesters disrupt unloading of Israeli cargo ship at Port of Oakland:
(06-21) 04:00 PDT OAKLAND -- Hundreds of demonstrators, condemning Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, picketed at the Port of Oakland on Sunday and may have prevented an Israeli cargo ship from unloading for the day.
Two shifts of longshoremen agreed not to cross the picket line, leaving nobody to unload the vessel.
"Our objective was to boycott this ship for 24 hours, and we succeeded in doing that," said Richard Becker, with the ANSWER Coalition, one of the groups that organized the protest.
The demonstrators first gathered before dawn at Berth 58, where a ship from Israel's Zim shipping line was scheduled to dock Sunday, first in the morning then in the afternoon, protesters said. It eventually arrived around 6 p.m., Becker said, but by that time the dockworkers had agreed not to show up to unload the vessel.
An Israeli Consulate representative disputed that account, saying the ship was always scheduled to arrive about 6 p.m.
International pressure to end the Gaza closure has increased since Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of ships attempting to run the blockade on May 31, killing nine people.
Israel formally announced on Sunday it would ease its blockade of Gaza, allowing more goods to enter the impoverished area. Israel said it would expand operations at the land crossings already operating to enable processing of "a significantly greater volume of goods" and "the expansion of economic activity."
More than 500 people showed up about 5:30 a.m. Sunday to begin the protest, according to police estimates. By around 10 a.m. the crowd dispersed, but about 200 protesters returned in the afternoon when the second shift of dockworkers were scheduled to work.
Becker said some workers showed up for the morning shift, but virtually none did for the second. All agreed not to unload the ship or cross the picket lines, citing concern for their personal safety.
"I want the Palestinian people to have peace and land. They have been suffering for 60 years, and it's time for them to have justice," said Marina Gutierrez of Kensington, a demonstrator who showed up both in the morning and the afternoon.
In the afternoon, two Israel supporters stood across the street from the pro-Palestinian demonstrators waving Israeli and American flags.
"Israel is a democracy, just like America, and Israel is faced with a fight for its life," said Faith Metzer of El Cerrito.
E-mail the reporters at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Israelis Targeting Grassroots Activists
By Mel Frykberg
EAST JERUSALEM, (IPS) - Israeli authorities are increasingly targeting and intimidating non-violent Palestinian grassroots activists involved in anti-occupation activities who are drawing increased support from the international community.
Several weeks ago masked Israeli soldiers stormed the home of Ehab Jallad from The Jerusalem Popular Committee for the Celebration of Jerusalem as the Capital of Arab Culture for 2009.
"Around 3am the soldiers started kicking and banging on the door and threatened to break it down if I didn't open immediately. My young daughters were terrified as they didn't know what was happening," recalls Jallad, a young Palestinian architect from Jerusalem.
"The soldiers then proceeded to ransack my home before confiscating my laptop, several computers, files with my contacts and my ipod. When I asked them why they were doing this and told them I wanted to call my lawyer, they told me to shut up and threatened to beat me up," Jallad told IPS.
This is just the latest incident in which the Israeli authorities have arrested and taken Jallad in for questioning over his organisation of cultural events marking East Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture. Jallad has also been monitoring the protests outside Al-Aqsa Mosque during the last few weeks.
"The Israeli officer questioning me said he knew I was in contact with the media but stated this would not help. He further warned me that I was being monitored, and if I continued with my activities my family and I would be subjected to further raids and harassment," said Jallad.
The same morning that Jallad was arrested Israeli security forces raided a warehouse used by Jerusalem community groups and cultural events organisers.
"They vandalised material we use for cultural events and confiscated other material," Jallad told IPS.
To date Jallad has not been charged with anything. But a war between Palestinians and Israeli continues unabated over Israel's continued Judaisation of East Jerusalem.
This has involved the expulsion of Palestinian residents from their homes in the eastern sector of the city and the expropriation thereof to make way for Israeli settlers.
A number of Palestinian families continue to live in tents pitched on streets outside their former homes as they watch Israeli settlers go about their daily business in their former homes.
Periodic violence between the two groups has broken out during the last few weeks with the Israeli police selectively arresting only Palestinians.
The Jerusalem Municipality has deliberately limited building permits for East Jerusalemites despite a chronic housing shortage, while the settlement of Israeli settlers in the area has been actively encouraged. Palestinian homes built without permits are regularly destroyed.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) envisions East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Under international law East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian occupied West Bank.
The PA has tried to counter Israel's Judaisation efforts by asserting its presence in the contested part of the city. Organising cultural events has been part of the effort.
Hatem Abdul Qader, a PA official for Jerusalem Affairs, has been arrested by Israeli security forces several times over the last few months. He has also been banned from the city for several weeks on a number of occasions.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Othman, 33, from the northern West Bank village Jayyous continues to languish in solitary confinement in a dirty Israel prison cell devoid of natural light or windows.
Othman has been labelled a "security threat" by the Israelis ever since his arrest on Sep. 22 as he crossed into the West Bank from Jordan. Othman had returned from a trip to Norway where he met with senior officials to discuss human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Norwegian government has divested its funds from Elbit, an Israeli company which supplies drones and other military technology.
During his incarceration Othman has been subjected to hours of interrogation, handcuffed, seated in stress positions and denied sleep. Like Jallad he has had no involvement in military activities which could constitute a security threat to the Jewish state. He too, has not been charged with any infringement of the law.
But Othman, a political activist, has been joining the Stop the Wall Campaign against the illegal Zufim settlement built by Russian billionaire Lev Leviev. The Stop the Wall Campaign is fighting against Israel's construction of a separation barrier which separates Israel proper from the West Bank.
The wall cuts through swathes of Palestinian territory dividing Palestinians from their agricultural fields, and trapping some Palestinian communities in pockets of territory between Israel and the West Bank.
The wall was ruled illegal by the International Court at the Hague, and several years ago an Israeli high court ordered the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to reroute parts of the wall, arguing that is compromised the livelihoods of Palestinian farmers.
Othman is also involved in the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign which has been drawing increased international support.
Othmans supporters believe his main "crimes" are his activities on behalf of the BDS which wants to see a boycott of Israel along the lines of the former boycott against apartheid South Africa.
"I think Israel is worried about its reputation amongst the international community now that more people are waking up to the human rights abuses and injustices being committed here," Jallad told IPS.
"I think in some ways we are perceived as more of a threat than an armed cell of Hamas fighters precisely because we are non-violent and what we are fighting for is reasonable."
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