Flotilla campaigner to talk of Gaza experience

Ewa Jasiewicz
Ewa Jasiewicz

A PEACE activist who was aboard a boat attacked by Israeli naval commandos is visiting Hastings this week to speak about her experiences.

Nine protesters were killed when the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was targeted last year as it prepared to breach Israel’s enforced blockade of the Gaza Strip in order to deliver humanitarian aid.

Ewa Jasiewicz, was one of the campaigners on board, and will recall the dramatic day on Thursday at the Friends Meeting House in South Terrace from 7.30pm.

On May 31 last year, Israeli commandos boarded the ships from speedboats and helicopters to inspect the cargo.

And Jasiewicz says she saw Israeli soldiers mount a raid on the Mavi Marmara (another boat), killing activists and wounding many more, before soldiers came after her boat.

“Our engines failed and we stopped,” she told the Observer. “The Israeli soldiers were incredibly aggressive. They were saying ‘I’ll kill you’.”

The 32-year-old remains an activist, working as a journalist and covering anti-capitalist and social justice campaigns in Britain.

And, despite her bad experience, she plans to be on Gaza Flotilla 2, which is due to leave next month. She said: “Fighting for human rights in Palestine might start as principle or ideology, but it quickly becomes an emotional issue.”

And an activist from Hastings Against War will be joining a forthcoming follow-up flotilla - with the plan being to land at Ben Gurion airport on July 8, with written invitations to spend a week in the West Bank.

Maya Evans, who organised this week’s visit, said she hoped people attending the talk would support the flotilla.

She said: “I hope we can get folks to donate generously at this event. It would be nice to support a campaign which is helping people who are currently experiencing appalling human rights abuses.”

Hastings has long been associated with the peace protest movement. Both Maya Evans and fellow local Milan Rai were arrested back in 2006 under new laws designed to halt protests, and Hastings Against War regularly holds town centre events as part of wider campaigns.

For more information on the group, visit www.hastingsagainstwar.org.