URGENT: At least 60 journalists were aboard flotilla, most still held (keeping the Israeli Hasbara going for awhile more)

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its urgent appeal to the Israeli authorities to release the journalists who were accompanying the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla that was intercepted on 31 May. According to the latest information available to the press freedom organisation, at least 60 journalists were aboard.

“We point out that the journalists were there to do their job, which was to cover what happened,” Reporters Without Borders said. “They should not be confused with the activists. Three hundred of the flotilla’s passengers are about to be deported but journalists are still being held. We call on the Israeli authorities to free all the detained journalists and return their equipment, which was seized by the military.”

Three hundred passengers are currently at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, from where they are to be deported today. Some journalists are among them.

Reporters Without Borders has also learned that the Al Jazeera crew that was aboard the flotilla, including correspondent Abbas Nasser and cameraman Isaam Zaatar, was expelled yesterday.

Reporters Without Borders is aware of 16 journalists being held at Be’er Scheva detention centre. They are Svetoslav Ivanov and Valentin Vassilev of Bulgaria’s BTV, Muna Shester of the Kuwait News Agency, Talat Hussain of Aaj TV, Paul McGeough and Kate Geraghty of the Sydney Morning Herald, Mario Damolin of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, David Segarra of teleSUR, Ayse Sarioglu of Taraf, Murat Palavar and Hakan Albayrak of Yeni Safak, Sümeyye Ertekin, Ümit Sönmez and Ersin Esen of TVNET and Ashwad Ismail and Samsul Kamal Abdul Latip of Astro Awani.

Reporters Without Borders has tried repeatedly to get in touch with them, so far without success.

Ref: Reporters without borders

The truth about the war in “Gaza, the Black

Book”

What really happened between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 in the Gaza Strip during the Israeli military offensive called Operation Cast Lead? Did the Israeli armed forces use weapons banned by international treaties? Did they deliberately target civilians? Did Hamas use Gaza’s civilian population as human shields?

Valuable information has been published by Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations and by international NGOs. The media have investigated and so have the United Nations.

The most important extracts from these publications, some of them not previously published in French, have been brought together by Reporters Without Borders in “Gaza, the Black Book.”

Foreign press criticizes Israel for using captured videos

JERUSALEM — The Foreign Press Association attacked Israel’s army on Thursday for using confiscated videos to justify its deadly raid against a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

The organization, which represents hundreds of journalists in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said the military seized video and equipment from dozens of reporters on board the main ship.

The FPA demanded Thursday that the military stop using the captured material without permission and identify the source of the video already released. The material appeared Wednesday on the army’s YouTube site labeled as “captured.”

The FPA said the military is now selectively using footage to bolster its claims that commandos opened fire only after being attacked.

Ref: Al Jazeera

VIDEO: The fine democracy of Israhell

Fight breaks out in Knesset as members turn violent towards Arab MK who took part in Gaza flotilla
Knesset members on Wednesday slammed MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad), who took part in the flotilla to Gaza raided by the IDF on Monday. Fears of violence against her by other MKs have led the Knesset to grant her personal security guards.

MK Zoabi: Israel wanted highest number of fatalities / Sharon Roffe-Ofir
Arab Knesset member who participated in Gaza aid flotilla holds press conference says, ‘It was clear from size of force that boarded ship that purpose was not to stop sail, but to cause largest number of fatalities to prevent future initiatives’

MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu) chased Zoabi in an attempt to keep her from speaking, and a fight broke out at the podium. Other MKs tried to separate between the two women, and eventually Michaeli was removed from the hall.

Each MK was allotted one minute to speak, but Zoabi took longer because of the many disruptions by other MKs present. When Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin asked her to descend from the podium she refused, and also had to be physically removed.

MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) was also one of the MKs forced out of the debate. Zahalka said that the entire world condemns the IDF raid on the flotilla to Gaza.

“I want to call for the release of leaders of the Arab public,” he told the plenum before his removal, referring to Sheikh Raed Salah and others who were arrested for taking part in the sail. “MK Zoabi deserves an award. She fulfilled her duty.”

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) intervened and said, “She deserves an award from Hamas!” He was also removed from the debate.

A heated debate took place before the speeches as well. “Zoabi is party to a double crime — joining terrorists and a moral crime against the State of Israel,” she said during a heated Knesset session Wednesday. “She must be punished. We don’t need Trojan horses in the Knesset.” MK Miri Regev (Likud) even shouted at Zoabi in Arabic, “Go to Gaza, traitor.”

“She (Zoabi) stood here over a year ago and pledged her allegiance to the State of Israel and its laws. My intention is not to harm freedom of speech — but in MK Zoabi’s case — this isn’t freedom of speech. The sail to Gaza was a sail of terror. Zoabi must be punished. We don’t need Trojan horses in the Knesset,” Regev said.

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) also told Zoabi to visit the Strip. “I just wish you would go to Gaza for at lease a week and then we’ll see how you talk about women’s rights and civil rights. Just one week, and we’ll see what happens. One week in Gaza as a 38-year old single woman and we’ll see how they treat you! You are the last person capable of preaching morals to us,” he cried out.

Rightist lawmaker Moshe Mutz Matalon (Yisrael Beitenu) told Zoabi, “Nice work. In one day you’ve managed to accomplish what the treacherous people around you have been trying to do for years. Unfortunately, the (commando) fighters (who raided the aid flotilla) acted with too much restraint. They left only nine floating voters.”

MK Nachman Shai’s (Kadima) attack on Zoabi was a bit more refrained. “I respect democracy, but an MK cannot participate in such a journey, which is against the law and deifies the country that is mine just as much as it is yours.

“I respect your opinions, but it was wrong of you to stand on that ship’s deck. It’s unacceptable,” he added.

Next to speak was Hadash chairman Mohammad Barakeh. “We stand by our colleague MK Zoabi and consider her actions noble, as they were meant to lift the siege off of an entire nation.”

Rightist MKs interrupted the Arab lawmaker’s speech with calls of “Enemies. Enemies. Shame on you.” Barakeh responded by saying, “You are trying to justify the cold-blooded murder of protestors. The responsibility does not lie with the soldiers, but with those who organized this crime — mainly Netanyahu and Barak.

“I am holding the political echelon responsible. Not one country is taking Israel’s side in this crime. You are swimming against the entire world. You are hurting your own nation,” said Barakeh.