Your day, like mine ten hours ago, is probably beginning with the gruesome news of the Freedom Flotilla massacre.
I was awoken with the news by a friend, Emily. We sat on my bed and groggily tried to process this repulsive act. Ten hours later, Emily is now undergoing emergency surgery in which she'll lose an eye. An Israeli soldier fired a tear gas canister directly at her face. She was standing peacefully in a crowd protesting the massacre.
Information is scarce; here is what I can confirm as accurate (information I am also releasing as ISM):
-- Before dawn, while the ships were in international waters, Israeli soldiers surrounded the ships with gunboats and helicopters, and rappelled onto the deck of Mavi Marmara, the lead boat with over 600 civilians aboard.
-- Israeli military say that passengers initiated the violence, although footage clearly shows soldiers opening fire immediately upon hitting the deck. The passengers are all unarmed civilians.
-- Multiple ships were attacked. Most of the dead were on Mavi Marmara, but the European Campaign to End the Siege boat reports three wounded, including the captain.
-- At least 16 are now dead, with Al Jazeera reporting 19. Injuries are in the dozens. Names and nationalities are not known.
-- Some of the ships have been docked in Ashdod, where the passengers will be detained in a special detention facility designed specifically for their arrival.
-- Demonstrations across the West Bank and Israel are being brutally repressed. Emily was shot with a gas canister which was fired directly into her face. She's currently undergoing emergency surgery, and will lose an eye. Emily is 21, from Maryland. She's an art student.
-- In the village of Beit Ommar, a settler ran over a Palestinian pedestrian. His/her condition is unknown.
-- I am working within a community of people very closely linked to those on the boats. We have absolutely no idea who was shot, or where our loved ones are.
-- Here is a film designed for "worst case scenarios", but I doubt this was ever taken into consideration. Please watch: http://palsolidarity.org/2010/05/12586/
Please get involved. There are surely demonstrations near where you live. If not, somebody needs to start them. Those of you who know me understand that the people attacked by the IOF as they slept on the boats were the same: many young, all humanitarian-minded, all innocent. Whatever the Israeli military releases about these people, which our media will likely parrot, simply isn't true. They're people like me. Angie, Margarite, so many. I have no idea my friends are alive. And as the world waits, white-knuckled, for names, someone will have to hear the bad news. This makes me realize: it could be Angie. It could be me. It really doesn't matter. Whoever they were, they were us.
ACT. In any way you can possibly brainstorm.
Check witnessgaza.com for information.
I'll write more when information has been updated and I can clear my mind. If you're the praying type, it wouldn't hurt Emily's situation. Same applies for the other injured, families of the dead, Gaza and Palestine in general, etc.