An important message for you from Amy Goodman

Your Donation: $
Thursday, June 30, 2011 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Debunking the Israeli-U.S. Effort to Thwart Gaza Freedom...
2011-06-30

Exclusive Tour of Gaza-Bound U.S. Ship, Audacity of Hope; Saboteurs Damage Other Ships in Flotilla

Guests

Yonatan Shapira, former Israeli air force pilot turned peace activist who is now a crew member on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla’s U.S.-flagged ship, The Audacity of Hope.

Aaron Maté, Democracy Now! producer reporting from Athens, Greece, where he is covering the Audacity of Hope’s journey, part of the Second Freedom Flotilla to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.

DONATE →
This is viewer supported news

Organizers of the humanitarian flotilla to the Gaza Strip say another one of their ships has been sabotaged. The engine of an Irish ship docked in Turkey was reportedly so badly damaged it would have sunk in the middle of the ocean, threatening the lives of the passengers on board. It’s at least the second flotilla vessel to be targeted this week following damage to a Greek-Swedish ship docked in a port near Athens. Activists have accused Israel of orchestrating the sabotage, but say they have no direct proof. The Israeli government is trying to stop the ships from leaving port and has vowed to intercept them should they set sail. An Israeli official quoted in the Jerusalem Post said, the more "[they] have to run in place in Athens, the better it is for Israel." One of the ships in the 10-vessel flotilla is the U.S.-based "The Audacity of Hope," named after President Obama’s bestselling book. At least three dozen U.S. citizens are on board, carrying letters from Americans to the people of Gaza. Democracy Now! producer Aaron Maté and videographer Hany Massoud are in Greece to cover The Audacity of Hope’s journey. On Wednesday, Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli Air Force pilot turned peace activist who is now a crew member on the U.S. boat, gave Democracy Now! a rare look inside the ship and talked about the threat of sabotage. “I see it as an obligation of me as an Israeli and a Jew to help steer the wheel of this boat into Gaza in order to challenge these war criminals and to send this message to the Palestinian people, to the Palestinian children in Gaza and the rest of the world, that they are not alone and we support them, and one day they will be free,” Shapira said. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Organizers of the humanitarian flotilla to the Gaza Strip say another one of their ships has been sabotaged. The engine of an Irish ship docked in Turkey was reportedly so badly damaged it would have sunk in the middle of the ocean, threatening the lives of the passengers on board. It’s at least the second flotilla vessel to be targeted this week, following damage to a Greek-Swedish ship docked in a port near Athens.

Activists have accused Israel of orchestrating the sabotage but say they have no direct proof. The Israeli government is trying to stop the ships from leaving port and has vowed to intercept them, should they set sail. An Israeli official quoted in the Jerusalem Post said, the more, quote, "they have to run in place in Athens, the better it is for Israel."

AMY GOODMAN: Well, one of the ships in the 10-vessel flotilla is the U.S.-based Audacity of Hope, named after President Obama’s bestselling book. At least three dozen U.S. citizens are on board, carrying letters from Americans to the people of Gaza.

Democracy Now! producer Aaron Maté and videographer Hany Massoud are in Greece to cover the Audacity of Hope's journey. On Wednesday, Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli air force pilot turned peace activist who's now a crew member on the U.S. boat, gave Democracy Now! a rare look inside the ship and talked about the threat of sabotage. For our TV audience, we had to shoot this video carefully at the request of flotilla organizers, who don’t want to give away the ship’s location.

YONATAN SHAPIRA: So, we are now inside the Audacity of Hope. My name is Yonatan Shapira, and I’m a crew member on the Audacity of Hope, together with four other people. We have a captain from the United States, another crew member from Washington, and two other crew members from the U.K. And I’m from Israel. And we have the passengers that are about 36, 40, and probably around 10 media persons that are going to be on board. The boat is approximately 35 meters. It was bought in Greece. And yeah, we are hoping to leave soon to Gaza. We are carrying a very dangerous weapon: it’s letters from people in the United States to Gaza. I have my own very dangerous weapon, that is my harmonica. And I hope that the Israeli navy will not choose to do the mistake and stop us and arrest us for carrying letters to Gaza. So let me show you upstairs real quick.

It’s a lovely deck, and that will be the place where probably we’ll spend most of the time, because it’s nice breeze and comfortable benches. And what we know already that happened to other boats—it was all published in the last, I think 24 hours—is that the boat of the Swedish-Norwegian-Greek group was sabotaged by divers, and I guess everyone can guess who did it. It’s my brothers from Israel. What they did is they cut small cuts on both of the shafts that goes to the propellers, and as soon as the captain of their boat, just for checking the engine, turned it on, it completely bended it. And the boat is now dry-docked, and they hope to be ready in maybe a couple of days or so.

They are definitely trying whatever they can not to let us go. Yesterday, as an act of safety, I dived around the boat in this quite filthy water, but we wanted to make sure that our boat is still fine. But we have to guard 24 hours a day and make sure that no one is sabotaging our boat, which is of course an act of crime. It’s a completely criminal thing to sabotage engines, propellers of a boat. It can create an accident. It can create a very, very dangerous potential harm for passengers, for crew. So we have to be very, very careful, but determined with a lot of audacity and a lot of hope.

AMY GOODMAN: Israeli air force pilot Yonatan Shapira on the Audacity of Hope, the U.S.-flagged ship that contains more than 50 people—we’ll go there live in a moment—that are trying to set sail to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza. When we come back, we hear Yonatan Shapira’s own story.

Show Full Transcript ›
‹ Hide Full Transcript

Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.