Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Israel navy chief demands flotilla cancellation

Ma'an – Israel's navy chief called Sunday for international powers to halt the progress of the Freedom Flotilla II, a sea convoy of at least 10 ships setting sail for the Gaza Port.

Israel's Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom, told naval cadets at a training graduation session, that it was the flotilla's "clear intent to come to a confrontation with [Israeli] troops. This is a flagrant attempt to delegitimize Israel and create a PR stunt."

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz confirmed that the navy was moving forward with plans to block the ships, which are supported by peace and activist groups from 20 nations.

[Among the participants on the ships will be a former US ambassadors, a US Navy survivor of Israel's attack on the USS Liberty, an American holocaust survivor, and EU parliament members.]

According to Marom, the flotilla - which aims to break Israel's five year siege on the Gaza Strip - is "driven by hate," and said that supplies being loaded onto participating ships could be delivered into the coastal enclave "via the land crossings in a coordinated manner."

The official also claimed that "a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is nonexistent."

In their last public statement, flotilla organizers reasserted that: "There is no doubt about the need for the flotilla. Israel’s policy of collective punishment remains intact. The so-called 'established channels' for delivering aid to Gaza, referred to by global leaders seeking to stop our mission, do not allow for the needs of the people of Gaza to be met due to Israel’s many restrictions, nor do they permit freedom for Palestinians."

The naval chief called "upon the relevant actors to use their influence so that this provocative flotilla will not come to be."

In May 2010, when the first Freedom Flotilla set sail to the Gaza Strip, Israeli naval commandos intercepted the boats in international waters. The largest ship in the convoy, the Mavi Marmara, was boarded and soldiers attempted to commandeer the vessel but faced opposition from the activists on board.

In order to take control of the ship, Israeli forces shot and killed nine activists, eight of them Turkish nationals and one dual US-Turkish citizen. The seizure of ships in international waters, together with the brutal attack and the strict measures Israeli forces used to prevent the aid ships from docking, angered the international community, which demanded an end to the blockade of Gaza.

More than one year later the siege remains in place, with fishing limits unilaterally imposed only three nautical miles off the Gaza shore, and a gradual closure of all but one crossing terminal between Israel and Gaza. UN observers say supplies entering the Strip amount to less than 40 percent of pre-siege levels.

Gaza residents are also prohibited from crossing into Israel and gaining passage to the West Bank, and are forced to seek exit via Egypt and the sole recently opened Rafah crossing. In order to access family, friends and business partners in the West Bank, Palestinians in Gaza must travel to Egypt, then Jordan, and seek permission to enter the West Bank from Israel, at the Israeli-controlled border crossing.

The Gaza Port remains forcibly closed to international vessels, despite calls to have it opened from the international community.

The first attempt to break the siege by boat was made in August 2008. It was successful and welcomed on the Gaza shore. Two additional boats which sailed in the fall of 2008 were also permitted to land in Gaza.

After Israel launched its Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008/9, the fishing limit in Gaza was reduced from six nautical miles to three, and ten attempts to sail ships into the area were forcibly blocked.