Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The crimes I saw on the Mavi Marmara -- Lubna Masarwa


We were transferred to the upper deck. We were searched; our hands were tied, and we were forced to sit or kneel on the deck as a military helicopter hovered within meters above our heads. Heavily-armed soldiers with guns and knives strapped to their arms and legs stood guard over us with dogs. They were standing around us with the blood of their victims on their boots, joking and making lewd sexual suggestions to each other about the female prisoners. Then Israeli personell came and strutted around the ship. We were held this way for hours. I was held here until 1:40am on 1 June 2010.

As soon as the Israeli occupation forces learned that I was a Palestinian Israeli citizen, I was treated more harshly and isolated from the rest of the other imprisoned passengers. I was taken to a prison in Ashkelon where I was held in isolation and subjected to humiliations such as strip searches four times a day. The next day we were brought to court, and I was held in a small metal box inside the police car for eight hours with my hands and legs shackled. We were subjected to various accusations, from attacking soldiers to carrying weapons. The judge gave the police permission to extend our detention for another eight days. After international pressure forced the Israeli authorities to release all the foreign prisoners, all the Palestinian citizens of Israel were taken to court again. This time, the judge ruled that we would be subject house arrest and would be forbidden to leave the country for 45 days.

As an occupier and a colonizer, Israel depends on the principle of “divide and conquer” in order to maintain its control. It is especially threatened by people like the Palestinian delegation from 1948 (what is now referred to as Israel) who sailed to Gaza on the Mavi Marmara, because we defy Israel’s attempt to divide us as Palestinians. By struggling with our sisters and brothers under the siege, we also send the message that we are one people and our struggle is one struggle. Israel is threatened by solidarity.

That Israel should murder civilians in international waters is not strange. It is a direct continuation of its policy of targeting civilians with lethal force and deadly policies such as the siege of Gaza, and Israeli policies of occupation and apartheid.

Israel feels entitled to besiege, to kill and to attack civilians in international water. This results from the silence of the world that makes Israel believe it has the right to do so.

This is the time to break the silence and to take action. To say “enough is enough” for Israel. Israel’s impunity must end. Israeli war criminals, such as the ones who committed piracy and murder on the Mavi Marmara and their superiors, must be held accountable for their crimes in international courts.

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