Friday, June 24, 2011

Obama Threatens to Jail 87-year-old Holocaust Survivor

In an announcement many will find stunning, the Obama administration has upped its threat level to Americans participating in the 2011 Gaza relief flotilla:
The U.S. State Department said Friday that attempts to break the blockade are "irresponsible and provocative" and that Israel has well-established means of delivering assistance to the Palestinian residents of Gaza. It noted that the territory is run by the militant Hamas group, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and that Americans providing support to it are subject to fines and jail.
The Americans "providing support" include:
Hedi Epstein, an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor

Alice Walker, beloved poet, writer and Pulitzer Prize winner

Ray McGovern, former CIA intelligence expert and staff member for seven presidents

Col. Ann Wright, 1997 recipient of the U.S. State Department's Award for Heroism

Medea Benjamin, perhaps America's most prominent peace activist
and over 30 other Americans.

Here's a link to the U.S. State Department's June 22nd warning in its entirety. Here is the pertinent part of the Wednesday announcement regarding flotilla participants:
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strictly controls the crossing points between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel. The Government of Israel has announced its intention to seek ten-year travel bans to Israel for anyone participating in an attempt to enter Gaza by sea. On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem are not able to provide consular assistance in Gaza or on the high seas or coastal waters.

From December 27, 2008, through January 17, 2009, Israel conducted a military operation in Gaza. Israel and Hamas, a State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that violently seized power in Gaza in June 2007, declared separate truces to end the fighting. Small clashes continue to occur along the boundary of the Gaza Strip. Rockets and mortars are still fired into Israel from Gaza, and Israel continues to conduct military operations inside Gaza, including airstrikes. Israel has also declared an exclusion zone inside Gaza along its boundary with Israel and has taken lethal measures against individuals who enter it.
The State Department web site has no link to the Friday announcement yet. I'll post it when it appears.

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