I will always remember where I was when Israel attacked the peaceful Gaza siege breaking flotilla. I was watching live transmission of interviews with some of the passengers on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara. I remember feeling excited but worried. Could the siege really be broken? Could this peaceful protest achieve what the Palestinians could not achieve on their own? What will Israel do? I never thought that a couple of hours later the shops would be attacked and a number of activists would lose their lives.
One of the last interviews I saw was with Sarah Colborne, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). The time was approaching midnight and I remember the reports talking of interference with the satellite transmission. Despite my best efforts, I could not stay awake and fell asleep.
I never thought that the events that unfolded would unfold. I woke up to the newsreel reporting there had been deaths on board and the numbers key rising. I remember how shocked I was. I simply could not believe that that the rogue state that Israel would kill peaceful protesters in International Waters. This act of piracy was unprecedented. I remember thinking that Israel had done some cruel and barbaric things to Palestinians and of course the Lebanese, but to International Solidarity activists? Surely not. It might try to sabotage the ships, rendering unusable. It might put its navy in between the flotilla and Gaza, but to kill nine innocent people?
This anniversary is particularly poignant as a tenth activist that the Israeli security thugs injured succumbed to his wounds and died. But there is some hope that he and the other nine as well as the hundreds that were abducted and mistreated by Israel will have justice at some point.
A Turkish court recently ordered the arrest of former Israeli officers, including Ashkenazi, over Mavi Marmara.. Israel dismissed this as a political act. But if Interpol act, this could for the first time bring some Israeli officials in front of a court of Law to explain their conduct and to face justice. The floodgates could then open as many more than these four individuals should answer for their crimes including Olmert, Livni and others.
There will be demonstrations on this anniversary to commemorate the tragedy and to shout about this crime. But it is also distressing that the siege on Gaza, which the Flotilla and the brave activists tried to break to help end the collective punishment is still in place. In fact, it has got worse, as events in Egypt has led to a closure to the tunnels, the supply line for so many goods and fuel to Gaza, and the almost Permenant closure of the Rafah crossing.
The best way the World can honour the martyrs of the Mavi Marmara would be for International pressure on Israel to mount and for the siege on Gaza to be lifted.