Support the Free Gaza Flotilla

Follow its progress in near real-time on Twitter, here.
Robert Fisk reminded his audience in Qatar yesterday that back in 1948 the democratic nations of the west worked hard together to send essential supplies to civilians in a city– West Berlin– that had been blockaded by an authoritarian power.
Those of us not on the high seas this week should call our legislators and urge them to support the life-saving work of the flotilla. Israel’s illegal act of collective punishment against Gaza’s 1.5 million people has gone on far too long.

IDF planning re-entry, mass detention camps in Gaza?

Amir Buhbut reported in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv on Tuesday that,

    the IDF and Military Police forces are training for the possibility that the IDF would stage an offensive on the entire Gaza Strip, including Gaza City and other Palestinian cities, and would be compelled to govern them for an extended period.

The translation comes from INN.
Buhbut quoted an un-named military source as saying that an officer has already been chosen to be the military governor of Gaza under this scenario.
And this:

    The contingency plan also calls for setting up detention facilities that will be able to hold thousands of Palestinian detainees who are suspected of terrorist activity. “In order to hold them for a lengthy period of time, and under acceptable conditions, the preparations must be made in a clear and careful way,” the military source added.
    The Military Police intend to make use of an advanced biometric system that the IDF and Defense Ministry operated prior to Hamas’s rise to power in the Gaza Strip, in order to enable the entry of Palestinians to work in Israel, and to examine those who returned through the border terminals.
    “The biometric documentation process began a long time ago, but it will soon be renewed in order to ease matter for the Palestinian population that reaches Israel along with monitoring the population registry, and if we are called upon to classify the detainees or the population that is not involved in terror, we will do so successfully,” explained a military official who is involved in the training series, in preparation for the possibility of a deterioration in the Gaza Strip.

The mass detention operation, the “monitoring” of the population registry, and the “classifying” of the detainees or the population in general are all highly coercive steps, reminiscent of some of the most abusive moments in world colonial history like the “Pipeline” system that the British deployed against Kenyan nationalists (including Pres. Obama’s own grandfather) back in the 1950s.
Or, reminiscent of the steps the U.S. military took in Iraq in general, or in Fallujah or Tel Afar in particular.
Of course, Israel has its own long record of running mass detention operations. Today it holds some 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners, many of them for long periods and without charge or trial. Those thus detained include more than tree dozen members of the Palestinian parliament elected (in an election held with U.S. and Israeli approval) in January 2006.
The many different detention operations Israel ran in Lebanon during its 22-year occupation of the country, 1978-2000, were also notable. The prison it ran along with its proxy forces in Khiam was particularly notorious for the tortures enacted therein. In addition, in the aftermath of Israel’s large-scale 1982 aggression in Lebanon, it established three major detention camps, including the notorious Ansar I camp, in which it held thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese detainees.
(None of those detention/torture operations in Lebanon helped Israel to consolidate its rule in Lebanon. Instead, they further fueled the will of the Lebanese to resist the occupation, which coalesced in particular into the establishment of Hizbullah, which had not even existed prior to 1982. Now, 28 years later, Hizbullah holds a respected position in Lebanon’s parliament and government. Next week marks the tenth anniversary of the last Israeli ground forces slinking out of Lebanon in some disarray, back in May 2000.)
I do have a question, regarding this latest report from Buhbut, as to both why the military/sources “leaked” this information to him, and why the report was “allowed” to pass through Israel’s all-pervasive military censorship system.
Was it leaked, in fact, as a way of trying to scare Gaza’s population and the elected Hamas government in Gaza into making some concessions in, for example, the on-again-off-again negotiations over a prisoner release? If so, I doubt if it will have much effect.
But it does seem that some people in the Israeli military are still so frustrated and angry over the fact that the assault they waged against Gaza 18 months ago that they’re trying to figure out how to plan and launch another version of that assault that will actually succeed in dismantling Hamas’s structures in the Strip completely.
Ain’t gonna happen. (See Lebanon, above.)

Turkish IHH foundation plans new siege-busting project for Gaza

Turkey’s IHH humanitarian-aid foundation has now announced a plan to help lead a 20-ship siege-busting project for Gaza, to take place most likely in April. The project is called Noah’s Ark, and will set sail from a port in Turkey.
IHH President Bülent Yıldırım said,

    We are planning to go to Gaza with a fleet of 20 ships to be set up in an international organization probably in April 2010… The cargo ships will carry Israeli-embargoed building materials, generators, medication, medical equipment and educational materials. The passenger ships to accompany the cargo ships will carry journalists, human rights advocates, activists and lawmakers from various countries.”

IHH is planning to contribute five ships to the flotilla. I believe contacts are underway with other organizations to contribute the other ships.
This is a great project. Turkey’s moderate-Islamist (A.K. Party) government and many Turkish people and NGOs have all played a great role in supporting the people of Gaza through their many recent woes.