Israeli Navy sailors embark on a warship in order to stop a flotilla of activists attempting to deliver aid to Gaza in spite of Israel's blockade May 30, 2010 in Haifa, Israel. During the last few days, the naval force has been conducting drills to prepare for the anticipated standoff.
Protesters are staging a demonstration today outside the Israeli consulate in downtown San Francisco - the second such protest in as many days - in response to an Israeli raid on an international civilian aid mission to Gaza in which at least nine people were killed and dozens more injured.
Several Bay Area activists were part of the Freedom Flotilla, a six-ship fleet that set sail a week ago from Piraeus, Greece, to bring medical equipment and other supplies to the Gaza Strip.
Early Monday morning, Israeli troops boarded one ship, the Mavi Marmara, and fired on its passengers, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens more. Israeli officials said the troops were met with pre-planned violence and responded with "sufficient force to protect their lives."
Activists from several Bay Area groups have condemned the incident, and protesters from several organizations are gathering this afternoon outside the Israeli consulate.
"It is high time that all people worldwide come together and join hands to say that it is wrong, including the people of San Francisco," said Monadel Herzallah, an organizer for the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, in a prepared statement.
Also Tuesday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on yesterday’s incident aboard Gaza-bound ships.
"I regret the loss of life and look forward to learning the facts from a credible and transparent investigation. This event underscores the urgent need for negotiations designed to achieve an enduring and comprehensive regional peace.
A spokesman for the consulate said the consulate general was aware of the planned protest but declined to comment further on the event.
"We of course regret any fatalities," spokesman Daniel Morgan said of the Mavi Marmara incident.
Morgan said at least five Bay Area citizens participated in the Freedom Flotilla, and four are in the process of being deported from Israel after refusing to sign voluntary departure papers. Information about a fifth local resident was unavailable, he said.
Morgan declined to name the Bay Area activists involved, but the El Cerrito-based Free Palestine Movement identified them as Gene St. Onge and Janet Kobren of Oakland, Paul Larudee of El Cerrito, and Iara Lee of San Francisco.
The protestors will gather today in front of the Israeli Consulate at 456 Montgomery St. at 4:30 p.m.
Hundreds participated in a similar protest Monday that was attended by members of Code Pink, Women for Peace and other San Francisco activist groups. Protests are being staged around the world in response to the events.
Bay City News