3 June 2010
Israel’s raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip has left at least nine dead and several more wounded. On board were activists and aid workers from more than 30 countries, accompanying more than 10,000 tonnes of aid supplies intended for Palestinians in Gaza. Dana Wagner provides a round-up of responses from African governments and civil society groups.
The Israeli attack against an aid flotilla en route to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip has left at least nine dead and several more wounded. African countries have joined other members of the international community to express outrage at the latest show of aggression towards the Gazan Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s action against the ships, in international waters at the time of the attack, as a preventive measure to stop aid from reaching the blockade around the Palestinian territory, citing security. The blockade around Gaza has been enforced by Israel and along the Egyptian border since 2004.
The attack against aid workers from more than 30 countries aboard the flotilla has incited civil society groups and foreign ministries in Africa. Here is a glimpse of the words and the movements:
Dozens protest outside the foreign ministry in Cairo. Many hold pictures of late president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Meanwhile Cairo-based Arab League held an emergency session Tuesday to discuss the attack.
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights is a signatory of a statement issued by 33 groups gathered in Kampala that comdemns the Israeli attack.
Egypt has condemned the violence and the government has opened its border with the Gaza Strip at the Egyption-controlled Rafah point to allow for access to aid. The crossing, opened 2 June, will remain open indefinitely.
A night vigil was held 1 June outside St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. Protestors called on the international community to take action against Israel.
‘We need to do to Israel what the world did to apartheid in South Africa,’ said Salim Vally, chairperson of the Palestine Solidarity Committee of South Africa, in an interview with the Mail & Guardian. ‘Boycott, recall the South African ambassador to Tel Aviv, and expel the Israeli ambassador.'
Vally is also part of the Coalition for a Free Palestine that represents a number of South African CSOs that in a statement expressed outrage at the ‘Israeli massacre’.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) condemns the attack and in a statement calls for the international community to hold Israel accountable ‘for the murder of foreign civilians at sea and illegal piracy of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid’.
A vote for the expulsion of ambassador Dov Segev-Steinberg has been posted online on the news site iafrica.
The South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation condemns the flotilla attack and in a press release states it also ‘strongly condemns all military aggression by Israel against innocent civilians, including those in the occupied West Bank and Gaza’. The government recalled its ambassador to Israel 3 June.
The Forum Social Sénégalais (FSS), a CSO based in Dakar, condemns the Israeli attack as a monstrous crime in a statement issued 2 June. The statement labels Israel a terrorist state and calls on the UN to lift the Gaza blockade. FSS also asks that Israel be tried for crimes against humanity.
A union of CSOs is planning a march and demonstration 4 June in Dakar to end at the government foreign affairs ministry at Place de l’Indépendance.
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Rabat 31 May in protest of the flotilla attack.
La Coalition Marocain Pour La Cour Penal Internationale, a Moroccan CSO, is a signatory to a 33-group statement issued out of Kampala that condemns the Israeli attack.
A small group of demonstrators including intellectuals and journalists against the Israeli attack was blocked 2 June by police in front of the US embassy in Algiers. Algeria does not diplomatically recognise Israel, but demonstrations in the capital are banned.
The government of Sudan issued a statement condemning Israel for the attack and calling on the international community to act to end Israeli impunity.
The Kenyan-based civil society groups Kituo Cha Sheria and the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists are signatories to a statement signed by 33 groups gathered in Kampala that condemns Israel’s attack against the flotilla.
The government of Kenya said it ‘expresses deep shock and regret at this tragic loss of civilian lives and calls for a full investigation of this deplorable incident,’ in a statement released 1 June by the Foreign Ministry. The ministry also called for an end to the blockade encircling the Gaza Strip.
International NGOs, gathered in Kampala for the International Criminal Court Review Conference, issued a joint statement to condemn Israeli violence against Palestinians in Gaza after the attack on the aid flotilla. The statement was signed by 33 groups, including Uganda’s Hope After Rape, Uganda Women and Children Organisation, Disabled Women’s Network and Resource Organisation, Uganda Joint Christian Council and Human Rights Network-Uganda.
The Network Movement for Democracy Human Rights, Coalition for Justice and Accountability and Sierra Leone Coalition for the ICC, all based in Sierra Leone, are signatories of a joint statement of condemnation by 33 groups gathered in Kampala.
The Cameroon Coalition for Human Rights is a signatory of the 33-group Kampala statement.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO:
The DRC-based groups Femme pour la Paix, le Developpement et les Droit de l’Homme, Synergie des ONG’s Congolaise pour les Victimes and Ligue pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme are also signatories of the statement by 33 groups in Kampala.
The Muslim Public Affairs Centre in Nigeria condemns the Israeli attack and in a statement said ‘it is sad to see that in the face of the unspeakable massacre that Israel committed [31 May], not for the first time, the international community remains almost totally silent’. MPAC called on the Nigerian government to condemn ‘the Israeli siege’.
Dana Wagner is an intern with Pambazuka News.
 Reuters, 3 June 2010, http://www.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/
 NewsTime, 2 June 2010
 Mail and Guardian, 2 June 2010, http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-06-01-sa-adds-voices-to-outcry-over-gaza-flotilla-attack
 The Telegraph, 2 June 2010
 The Canadian Press, 3 June 2010.
 Sudan Vision Daily, 3 June 2010
 Ma’an News Agency, 3 June 2010
See on-line at: http://allafrica.com/stories/201006031043.html