Tuesday, 1 June 2010


The brother of a Dundee man, missing after Israeli commandos intercepted a flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza, led a 200-strong protest in Dundee City Square last night.

Khalid El-Awaisi’s 21-year-old brother Ali was on board one of the boats boarded by Israeli troops early yesterday morning, with nine people reported dead.

Last night Khalid addressed local politicians, friends and activists gathered outside City Chambers to demonstrate against the Israeli action.

Khalid said, “Thank you all for having the heart to come out and say to Israel: No, enough is enough.

“Israel is now attacking international civilians in international waters and it thinks it can get away with it. This is what’s been happening for the last 40 years of the life of Palestine.

“We have to say no to Israel, our governments have to move.”

Ali El-Awaisi is the only participant from NE Scotland on the boats which were carrying about 10,000 tonnes of aid, including around £30,000 worth of goods from Dundee.

It is understood the Israeli navy boarded the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara in international waters, 80 miles off the coast of Gaza in the early hours of yesterday. Supporters of the aid mission said the Israelis then opened fire on some of those on board the ships.

Back in Dundee Khalid watched the action unfold on live footage from the boat his brother was on.

“I’m continuously watching it,” he said. “I heard the news at 2.30 this morning. I could hear the screaming and the shouting and the shooting.

“All of a sudden I saw my brother so that was uplifting, but then they cut the live feed so no one knows about the other ships.”

Khalid told the Dundee Courier last night he believed his brother would already have been interrogated by the Israeli troops.

He indicated that he had little faith in anything the Israelis did being fair or humane, or indeed to have any respect for international law.

Israel claimed its troops had been attacked and had returned fire in response.

Dundee’s Lord Provost John Letford showed his support for the El-Awaisi family at the demonstration, and condemned the Israeli forces. He said, “There’s no indication it (the aid flotilla) was anything but humanitarian, and this is an affront, but we’re really not in a position to do anything but voice our protest.

“Terrorism is unacceptable in any description. To shoot someone down who is waving a stick in my opinion is unacceptable.”

Yesterday’s demonstration was organised by activist group Tayside for Justice in Palestine, and group member Edith Constable paid tribute to the crowd saying: “It’s very short notice but it’s a credit to Dundee that we can do this sort of thing.

“This was a massacre of innocent people taking aid to Gaza. The UN states that only a quarter of what they need in Gaza actually gets through the blockade. We in Dundee have sent nearly £5000 to Gaza because innocent people are dying because of the lack of medical supplies.”

There were demonstrations across Scotland yesterday in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, Aberdeen and Banff.

There will be a public meeting in Dundee University’s Tower Building at 6pm today to discuss further action and buses will be organised to take activists to a nationwide demonstration in Edinburgh on Saturday. Protesters will march from the Mound to the First Minister’s residence to request further action from Alex Salmond.

Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already said Israel's actions had been "rightly condemned around the world".

Dundee West MSP Joe Fitzpatrick spent time with Khalid El-Awaisi and his sister Alla at the Central Mosque in Brown Street yesterday, trying to assist with the flow of information from the Foreign Office.

He said, “What I have been doing is working with Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie to get answers from the Home Office to try to find out what’s going on and we will also be raising it in the Scottish Parliament.

“But right now this family wants to know what’s happening to their brother Ali. The problem is there is no information about who has been killed or injured.”

Dundee West MP Jim McGovern and Dundee-based North East MSP Marlyn Glenn have also condemned the Israeli actions.


  1. The Evening Telegraph said Ali has been located safe and well in one of the jails so it should turn out ok thankfully. Sad news about the dead and injured though.
    It does seem a bungled raid by the Israelis but why did it need 600 people to deliver the aid ? Normally only a dozen or so crew would be required for that size of cargo.
    I think when the passengers started knifing the commandos then all hell would be let loose..


    ( video of commando being stabbed )

  2. Its time we reconsidered our commitment to the state of Israel which only make them less likely to cede anything to the Palestinians.
    The Americans have a policy dictated by right wing religious lunatics who believe the Jews have to rebuild the temple so as to herald the second coming of Christ(I mean WTF).

    And at the end of the day the Arabs have all the Oil (well nearly all) and Israel has lots of sand.(and we need cheap oil)

    Israel in its own way has become as much a rogue state as North Korea and its time we treated it as such.

  3. Umm!

    Outrage of Dundee

    Have seen some of their Comments in the Times

  4. Anon: That's good news. Not particularly because the guy is a Dundonian; it makes no difference where he comes from in these matters.

    Yes. They need to look into the reasons there were so many people aboard. I have no idea.

    What I know is that Israel has left the Palistinians in insufferable conditions after the war, and although other rich coutries in the Middle East have offered to rebuild the place, they have been refused the entry. No construction materials are allowed in.

    Imagine what that feels like... and we complain about a few pot holes, or a bus that's late because of a burst water main.

    If only they had water!

  5. It certainly seems to get away with whatever it wants Niko. We hear nothing about nuclear weaponry in the hands of their mad prime minister. That is an outrage.

    But it's the same with Pakistan.

    When America is your friend you can get away with murder, quite literally.

  6. I see the stuff there Niko. I wish people would stop associating anti-semetism with a dislike of the way that Israel behaves.

    It's not necessarily the same thing.

  7. There's more to the story than meets the eye Tris. The original account of what happened seems not to have been totally accurate and seems more to have been designed to start a media frenzy.

    Israel could still have handled this a lot better though.

  8. yeah! knife wielding Passengers(two) attack Fully armed Israeli commandos.........get real

  9. QM. I'll wait and see if there is a change in the news story, I'll withdraw and apologise, but whatever, as you say they have handled they whole situation badly.

    Why can't they obey international law?

    After all, their crack commandoes wouldn't have been attacked with bars and knives if they hadn't been landing on the Turkish ship in international waters.

  10. Tris

    I have commented on this storey a few times in various areas and my opinion has not changed.
    Israel had no right to board the ships in international waters and the killing of civilians is totally unexceptable.

    I have watched the TV pictures and the biased reporting from the BBC (what is it with the UK media and its apparent fear of Israel?) and the pictures do show armed commandos being attacked as they land on the ship but consider this!

    If I was on my own boat in international waters and armed thugs came down from helicopters on ropes then I would pick up and use any weapon or item I could find to repel them.

    Israel accused the peace activists of being armed and ready, do you think if they were armed and ready then Israel would had got off with just a couple of wounded soldiers?

    I recognise Israel has the right to defend herself and even in times of extreme combat I know Israel has called off certain missions to save innocent lives but this was murder on the high seas.

    Thankfully the new UK government has condemned the atrocities as has the Scottish government where as Labour would had kept its mouth shut for fear of upsetting the voters in Eastwood/EastRen.

    Turkey should send its navy to Gaza to ensure safe passage for vital goods to the people of Gaza and I am glad to see that Egypt has opened up its border with Gaza.

    Despite taken the side of the Palestinians I do hope they see sense and dissociate themselves with Hamas which is are real problem here but in reality who else can the Palestinians turn too when their plight is ignored?

    Hope the Scots on board the vessels along with everyone else are returned home soon.

  11. Quiet Man

    10 people dead and you say "Israel could still have handled this a lot better though".

    Strong stuff!

  12. I keep hearing that Israel has blockaded Gaza for 3 years. No one mentions the Gaza border with muslim Egypt which has also been closed. Even Egypt are terrified of letting Hamas supporters cross back and forward freely into Egypt.

  13. Anon

    I mentioned it and I also mentioned Hamas but the point is that 1 million people are being punished for being Palestinians seeking self determination.

    Maybe if the Wannabe superpower British had not meddled about with the borders in the area then today's problem would not have arisen.

    Remember, even the Israelis have said that today's problems in the middle east were a result of British interference in the area.

    In fact, just about every major conflict on the planet has an element of British interference about it.

  14. Yes Allan. That was a great post. There are faults on both sides, and I'd not like to be living on the Iraeli side of the border with home made rockets coming into my garden on a daily basis.

    I just think that the whole situation is a mess and has been from day one. I can imagine why the Palestinians feel agrieved. You know, therte you are in your country and Britian comes along and says "well, the bible says this is the home of the jews, so there you go... you guys will have to give it up. You can go on living here but the Israelis will be in charge and we're changing the name of your country as well... OK?" Yes the Arabs fought back, but, wouldn't we if someone else had our country... Oh no, I forgot, we wouldn't.

    I realise that is a simplifiction, but it's roughly what happened as I see it.

  15. Anon: The border is now open for humanitarian aid to cross.

    The main reason that the Egyptians closed the border is that the way the Israelis are allowed to treat the Palestinians means that most of them would leave and go live as refugees in Egypt if they could easily pass through.

    Egypt has a fragile economy, being mainly desert. They don't need shed loads of refugees.

    Really you have to see the Arab point. Sadam has a pea shooter, and some nasty chemicals that he bought from George Bush senior (which he has used up on the Kurds). And so Bush Junior with Tony Bush, oh sorry Blair I mean, launches "Shock and Awe and tears the country to pieces.

    On the other hand, Israel has nuclear weapons and daily treat Palestinians worse than if they were sheep in the fields and we (US/UK), who run the world, occasionsally say "tut tut".

    They could be excused for thinking that there was a little tiny bit of bias there.

  16. LOL I've said that often Allan. The trouble in the world that would have been saved if the European powers (France, Britian, German, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Holland and Belgium) hadn't decided that the rest of the world was theirs for the taking, but they'd all have to live like us.

    So, I agree absolutely with you, but I'd add that the Brits weren't the only ones.

    Still, in a few years China, Brazil and India will have taken over and we may find ourselves in the situation that we dared to put other people. We are already way behind in many things... and broke, compared to them.

  17. Actually Allan, we're broke compared to a tramp, never mind China or Brazil!

  18. Allan

    I agree that both sides in the conflict have to shoulder some blame.
    The British tried to stop the Israelis from populating Palestine so it's strange for Israel to blame us for the problem. Don't forget about the Stern gangs murdering Britisih troops and this episode aswell...


    The Egyptian border could easily have been used as a conduit to bring aid into Gaza from supporters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait etc. It could still have prevented the population from escaping into Egypt tris. Despite the rhetoric from the rich Arab world the UN says only a quarter of the required aid is getting supplied so they're not putting their hands into their pockets as much as the EU ( who supply most of Palestines funding)

    Hamas have stated that they want an Islamic state like the one that exists in Afghanistan...


    If I had a choice of neighbour I'd prefer a Western type neighbour like Israel rather than a Hamas government who want a world Islamic caliphate.

  19. Tris

    Exactly both sides are at fault and I know we should not always look back at history but today's problems do stem from British interference and the creation of artificial borders.

    Of course Israel has a right to exist and the rhetoric that comes out from the Iatola humeni Abominable snow man in Iran is pure vile but Israel is building on occupied land and the Americans themselves have said that it's illegal.

    I hope the new British government has some guts to stand up to Israel because what do we have to lose? Well unless you are into eating dates then I can't see what loss losing Israel as an friend would be.

    Tris your right again. Indeed Europe colonised a lot of the world and now some of it is coming back to haunt us.

  20. Anon

    Only recently the British have tried to stop Israel building on Palestinian land. The creation of Israel (borders) was British and it overlap into Palestinian land.

    But that was then and today's problem is the systematic punishment of 1 million people.

  21. Anon.

    I missed the last part of your post. I would also rather live next to a pro western country like Israel than Hamas and Hamas (despite funding Schools and paying out compensation to victims of Israel) are terrorists but imagine Scotland was cut off from the outside world and poverty was rife, do you not think some of us would also turn to unorthodox means just to survive?

    People don't just become terrorists for the sake of it, it usually stems from some crap foreign policy from a superior nation imposing it self on others.

    It is a cry for help but I do deplore acts of terror but we need to sort out the problem before we can end terror.

  22. I wouldn't much care to live near to either Israel or Palestine to be honest. The English, the Irish the Danes and Icelanders, the Faeroese and the Norwegians are fine neighbours.

  23. I'm not seeking to cause trouble, but I do believe in having my say [as poor Tris and Munguin know all too well ;)] - but here goes.

    Israel is entitled to self defence, and if that self defence means embargoing Hamas controlled areas, I support it unreservedly.

    Indeed as Jewish chairperson for Stirling Uni Jewish Society I feel that it is my duty to defend the homeland when honeycombed friends like this Democratic whitehouse abandons it..

    thus I say Netanyahu ought not to bow to any UN investigation. The General Assembly is riddled with pro-Arab bias.

    Sorry to cause trouble,


  24. Dean...

    You know that you're entitled to your opinion and always will be on this blog. Evben though as in this case I profoundly disagree with you.


  25. On an interesting note however, what do you think this shall do to the coalition? I ask because as a member of the lobbyist group 'Conservative friends of Israel' the natural grassrootsy state of mind on our PCP back benches is pro-Israel...Hague has lost some more of his 'darling' points I reckon...

  26. It must be difficult in any coalition, but certinaly one with the left wing Liberals and Right wing Tories involved, to formulate a serious foreign policy on matters to do with the Middle East. Added to which Britian's foreign policy really does have to be passed by Washington, a least on important things.

    Poor wee Willie... but then matey, no one siad it was going to be easy....

    I suspect Dean, that the coalition will have to find a way to agree, even if it means tears before bedtime. C'est la vie, n'est-ce pas!!