You may have missed this important story due to the mainstream U.S. media's very limited coverage, but in mid-September, the boat Zaytouna-Oliva left Barcelona, Spain, sailing for Gaza. On board were 13 unarmed civilian women who were attempting to break the illegal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Among the women aboard during the last leg of the trip were Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. diplomat and retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright.
There were no weapons on board, and the boat was not carrying any cargo that would aid the Palestinians living under the criminal Israeli siege of Gaza. On Oct. 5, the Israeli navy, in a violation of international law, intercepted the boat in international waters and towed it to Ashdod, Israel. The Israel forces arrested the women and detained them for a number of days against their will. It is surprising that the U.S. didn't publicly express concern about the kidnapping and detaining of a U.S. citizen.
The U.S. touts the right of freedom of the seas in the South China Sea but ignores Israeli violations of this freedom in the Mediterranean. This contradiction calls into question U.S. support for freedom of the seas.
Israel operates with impunity, attacking Gaza and the West Bank whenever it wants. The 2014 Israeli campaign against Gaza, with disproportionate Israeli attacks on civilians and the civilian infrastructure, shocked much of the world. More than 2,100 Palestinians (65 percent civilians) were killed, whereas 66 Israeli soldiers and six civilians lost their lives.
Israel's repeated military campaigns and war crimes committed against the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza in addition to its almost decade-long illegal siege of Gaza bring no sanctions. Even worse, instead of Western nations assessing sanctions against Israel, the U.S. rearmed Israel during the 2014 attack.
Israel's ongoing criminal siege prevents Gaza from being able to repair sanitation systems or rebuild homes, from having adequate nutrition, etc. The lack of clean water is a continuing crisis, and the U.N. estimates that Gaza will not be livable by 2020 if current trends continue. Unfortunately, these trends are worsening. Yet the West remains silent, failing to show any concern about Palestinian lives and human rights. Making matters worse, the U.S. just approved a 10-year $38 billion military aid deal for Israel.
Using John Kerry's description of the bombing of Aleppo, Israeli and Western behaviors regarding Gaza especially as well as the West Bank are indeed "beyond the pale."
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.