Amira Hass describes experience on Dignity

Speaking from Ramallah on a radio interview with the Democracy Now radio program, Amira Hass gave one of the few accounts publicly available about what happened during the Israeli Navy’s interception and commandeering of the yacht, Dignity, that was tring to sail to Gaza.

NOTE: Amira Hass usually refuses to give interviews.
UPDATE: Her own account has been published by Haaretz, in English, on Sunday 24 July here — in which she describes “discomfort as an act of political rebellion”. And, she wrote in her article, about “the contradiction of which everyone was aware: The means (a sea voyage to protest the siege of Gaza ) had turned into the end itself. The adventure had become the goal. And this boat would sail!” Countering the accusations of “lying”, made by the IDF chief spokesman himself, partly to justify the commandeering of the yacht, Amira Hass wrote in Haaretz that “The official destination was Alexandria. The idea was to refuel there and then to continue to Gaza. That plan was abandoned out of a desire not to become involved in the sensitive political entanglements in Egypt”…

Amira Hass’ interview was aired by Democracy Now on Thursday 21 July, a day after 15 of the others on board were apparently deported [including the jounalists???].  The transcript of her remarks is posted here.

She told Democracy Now:
Some 60 miles away from Gaza, we got the signal from an Israeli warship asking where we were heading to. One of the—one on board said, “To Gaza.” Then they said, “It’s illegal. It’s not allowed.”  The person—it’s Professor Vangelis Pissias, the Greek—tried to explain that this is a mission of peace and solidarity. There are no arms, no cargo, just wishing to reach Gaza.  And they were replied again by, “No, this is not legal, or not allowed.”  Immediately then, all communication was jammed.  We could not call anymore. We could not get calls anymore. The internet did not work.

And soon after, we saw four commando boats, very quick, very fast boats, approaching us. Masked men were aiming their rifles at us. They were, of course, in uniforms, IDF uniforms.  They were aiming all sorts of guns that I don’t even know how to name them. There were two cannon—two of them had—each of them had a cannon, a water cannon.  Then, three more were added to the four.  They distanced a bit, then returned.

At around 2:00, they approached, started to use the water cannon, and shouted something. One of on board, Dror Feiler, who is an Israeli, shouted back in Hebrew. Another activist, Claude Léostic of France, said, “This is—we are on the way to Gaza. This is international water. You have no right to impound us.”  And yet, they managed to enter on board.

It was not violent as the former flotillas or the boats that were in past years, when they attacked people physically.  But the very act, of course, is violent, the very act of—imagine 10 vessels, three warships and seven gunboats, attacking this small bucket.  We looked like a bucket rocking in the sea.  This was very violent.  But physically, we were spared what—the fate that was the one of the Mavi Marmara

Continue reading Amira Hass describes experience on Dignity

Mubarak stepping down?

UPDATE: At 11:00 pm, five hours after schedule, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak made his third pre-recorded speech to the nation. However, he did not step down, as had been expected. In one brief sentence that almost passed without notice, he delegated powers to the Vice President he appointed two weeks ago, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. An, he said he had just proposed amending several articles [76, 77, 88, 93, 189] of the Egyptian constitution, and the annulment of another article [179] which, he said, would “clear the way to abolishing the Emergency Law”, once the security situation was ensured. Mubarak also said he would not be separated from the soil until he was buried beneath it.

Earlier this week, Egyptian human rights activist Hossam Baghat [founder and executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights] said, in an interview on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! radio program on 7 February: “Look, the consensus amongst everyone is right now that the solution can only begin with [Egypt’s President Husni] Mubarak stepping down. Now, there are some differences, technical differences, about, you know, whether he should resign fully, immediately, or whether he should step aside by delegating all of his powers to the vice president, like he did when he was hospitalized in 2004 and later in 2010, and then, in a couple of weeks, resign once we have ensured that we the provisions that are necessary for a meaningful presidential election. I am of the view that if Mubarak is to resign immediately, then it is 100 percent certain that Omar Suleiman will be elected within 60 days as president for a full presidential term of six years. That is not a prospect that would satisfy me as an advocate for democracy and human rights and someone who wants to see a real end to three decades of Mubarak rule. And Omar Suleiman’s succession will unfortunately be a continuation, in my view, of the Mubarak regime and the violations perpetrated under Mubarak. So I am of the view that Mubarak must immediately step down by delegating all of his authorities to his vice president, that we need within a couple of weeks to put to a public referendum some amendments of the constitutional provisions to make sure that we can have free and fair presidential elections”.

The full radio program is posted Continue reading Mubarak stepping down?