The stark contrast of two governments to the illegal hijacking of flotilla boats & their citizens
Kia Ora Gaza wrote an open letter to our Foreign Affairs minister, Winston Peters, on 31 July, calling on him to demand that Israel immediately release the flotilla boat and people they unlawfully hijacked and detained in international waters (including New Zealander Mike Treen), end their inhumane blockade, and allow the flotilla safe and unhindered passage to Gaza. Since then, all those illegally detained have been deported home, but the boats remain confiscated in an Israeli port and the fate of the cargo of medical supplies intended to be gifted to Gaza’s health service, is unknown.
To date no reply has been received to our open letter.
See our open letter to Winston Peters here – https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/minister-of-foreign-affairs-fails-to-address-the-issues/
In stark contrast to the total silence of our New Zealand government, the Swedish Foreign Affairs minister, Margot Wallstrom, has written to the Israeli authorities, in response to a similar open letter penned by our flotilla partners, the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign.
Wallstrom’s letter correctly declared that Israel’s capture of the Swedish-flagged flotilla boat, the Freedom, “constitutes a breach of international law” and her letter also “demanded that the ship, its cargo and the persons who were aboard be released.”
The Swedish Ship to Gaza campaign now wants to know what their government is doing to enforce these demands and steps to end the blockade of Gaza. Kia Ora Gaza wants to know when our government is going to make a stand over Israel’s flagrant breaches of international laws.
Press release, Ship to Gaza Sweden, 9 August 2018
Ship to Gaza [Sweden] has now received an answer to the open letter that we, through our chairman Jeanette Escanilla, sent to the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström on 5 August.
The Minister writes:
“Sweden upholds the principle of freedom of the seas and freedom of navigation. The government has been in contact with the Israeli authorities regarding Ship to Gaza, and has expressed that the actions of the Israeli authorities in relation to the Swedish-flagged vessel Freedom and the persons onboard constitutes a breach of international law. The government has also demanded that the ship, its cargo and the persons who were aboard be released.” (Translated by Ship to Gaza)
Wallström’s full reply can be read below. Ship to Gaza wishes to emphasize that the wording in the cited paragraph in principle corresponds with our own demands that the crew, cargo and boat should be returned to the place where they were boarded and be allowed to continue their journey to Gaza. We are now being notified that the activists and crew is being deported from Israel. This is not in agreement with our demands or with the requests of the Swedish government.
We also want to know what the Swedish government is doing now to enforce the demands regarding our ships, cargo and crew, but even more importantly, also with regards to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Foreign Affairs Minister Margot Wallstrom’s full reply:
Thank you for your letter dated 5th of August 2018.
The situation in Gaza is very critical. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described the situation as a humanitarian crisis. Furthermore, as you wrote, the lack of medical supplies is disastrous, not least since so many people have been injured as Israeli military has been deployed in connection with demonstrations along Gaza’s border in recent months.
Sweden upholds the principle of freedom of the seas and freedom of navigation. The government has been in contact with the Israeli authorities regarding Ship to Gaza, and has expressed that the actions of the Israeli authorities in relation to the Swedish-flagged vessel Freedom and the persons onboard constitutes a breach of international law. The government has also demanded that the ship, its cargo and the persons who were aboard be released. The Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv is monitoring the imprisoned Swedish citizens’ consular rights and visited all of them on Sunday, August the 5th.
The Swedish government will continue to work towards an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and towards a fair and sustainable two-state solution in which the two states can co-exist, peacefully, side by side. Ending the isolation of Gaza and providing humanitarian aid to its people are two critical, urgent steps towards that end.
(Translated by Ship to Gaza)
Roger Fowler is a Human Rights Activist and leads Kia Ora Gaza against Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine.