Two New Zealanders have reportedly been detained by the Israeli military after the ship they were on attempted to break a blockade on Gaza.
Maori Television reporter Ruwani Perera and cameraman Jacob Bryant were aboard one of the ships in the Freedom Flotilla III, when it was boarded by Israeli forces, One News reported.
It’s understood the ships are carrying solar panels, medical supplies and other aid items.
The flotilla was trying to breach Israel’s exclusion zone on Gaza, and take supplies to residents on the Gaza Strip. The Israeli blockade has been in force since 2007.
What has this got to do with Maori TV? Shouldn’t they be spending their money on shows like Native Affairs, not being activists in the Middle East?
Maori TV is funded by the taxpayer. They risk a backlash if they spend their funding on stunts like this.
A reader has sent me a summary of what no less a person that Sir Geoffrey Palmer found over the Gaza blockade:
The UN-commissioned ‘[Sir Geoffrey] Palmer Report’ regarding the Gaza Flotilla Incident of 2010 deemed the naval blockade by Israel to be a legitimate security measure to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and to protect the Israeli population. The report stated that “people may, of course, freely express their views by peaceful protest. But to deliberately seek to breach a blockade in a convoy with a large number of passengers is in the view of the Panel a dangerous and reckless act. It involves exposing a large number of individuals to the risk that force will be used to stop the blockade and people will be hurt.”
The Palmer Report goes on to recommend that “Attempts to breach a lawfully imposed naval blockade place the vessel and those on board at risk. Where a State becomes aware that its citizens or flag vessels intend to breach a naval blockade, it has a responsibility to take pro-active steps compatible with democratic rights and freedoms to warn them of the risks involved and to endeavour to dissuade them from doing so.”
So a state owned television station is sending its staff into a highly dangerous situation.
Some issues for Maori TV:
Māori TV has put its staff’s lives in imminent danger. Māori TV staff are on-board the Marianne av Göteborg on official Māori TV business. Deliberate attempts to breach a lawful blockade represent dangerous and reckless acts that could result in people being hurt. A previous attempt to breach the naval blockade of Gaza resulted in nine deaths;
Māori TV’s participation in the flotilla likely breaches its obligations under both the current Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and the proposed Health & Safety Reform Bill exposing its directors and the company to unnecessary risk and exposure;
Māori TV’s participation in the flotilla is inconsistent with Māori TV’s stated purpose. There is no clear link between the flotilla and Māori language or culture.
Māori TV staff risk breaking international law through its willing participation in an illegal act. The United Nations has declared the naval blockade of Gaza as being legal and legitimate. Under international law, violation of a lawful blockade constitutes unlawful activity.
I’be long been a supporter of Maori TV and their funding. If they keep doing stuff like this, I’ll be joining the ranks calling for their funding to be diverted elsewhere for public broadcasting.