The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) stands in strong support of the ”Freedom Flotilla” which was attacked by Israeli Defense Forces in international waters on May 31, 2010. We express our sympathy for the loss of life and hold those who were killed and injured and their families in prayer. We commend the people of the flotilla for taking on the delivery of aid in a show of non-violent solidarity with the suffering people of Gaza and deeply regret that a military action by the Israeli Defense Forces has resulted in violence and loss of life. We call on our church leadership and the Obama administration to insist on a full and complete investigation, carried out by non-military officials.
The Freedom Flotilla, composed of over 600 citizens from 50 countries, including the United States, was on a mission to deliver humanitarian relief supplies to the civilian population of Gaza who number more than 1.5 million. Gazans have been living under a severe blockade imposed for almost three years and the flotilla aid was considered a crucial delivery of 10,000 tons of food and medicine as well as building supplies for rebuilding of infrastructure such as the water and sewage systems, hospitals, schools and homes that were destroyed after Israel’s 2008/9 invasion in which 1400 civilians died.
The collective punishment of these civilians is a violation of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and on such a massive scale, as Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories has said, it is a crime against humanity. In a press release on May 31, 2010, Mr. Falk said “Israel is guilty of shocking behavior by using deadly weapons against unarmed civilians on ships that were situated in the high seas where freedom of navigation exists, according to the law of the seas. It is essential that those Israelis responsible for this lawless and murderous behavior, including political leaders who issued the orders, be held criminally accountable for their wrongful acts.”*
This network supports Richard Falk in his call for worldwide action to stop Israel from flagrantly and continuously violating international law and agrees with him that “it is time to insist on the end of the blockade of Gaza. The worldwide campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel is now a moral and political imperative, and needs to be supported and strengthened everywhere.”*