Cape journo on aid ship

2010-05-31 16:50

Johannesburg - Cape-based Radio 786 was anxiously waiting to hear from its reporter Gadija Davids who was on board the Gaza-bound aid ship involved in a confrontation with Israeli soldiers on Monday that left at least 10 people dead.

Programme director Mansur Modak said: "Unfortunately we haven't been able to make any contact with her."

"We are hoping for everyone's sake that she is okay," he said as news spread that the survivors had been arrested.

"We are working on the principle that no news is good news," he said, confirming that the department of international relations was trying to get information for her mother and father.

"Her mother is quite strong, but her father is in a state of trepidation."

The Israeli Defence Force soldiers confiscated communications equipment after the clash, which was condemned by governments around the world, including South Africa.

The Mavi Marmara ship had been carrying aid supplies to Gaza when the Israeli soldiers moved in.

The Israeli government said it supported the soldiers' actions, saying the group had not allowed the ships to be searched and had started attacking the soldiers first as they boarded.

Boarded ship

Modak said the assignment to cover the aid flotilla was Davids' first big story.

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and a group of retired global leaders had joined international leaders in condemning the incident.

"We as elders condemn Israel utterly for this attack. The actions of the Israelis is inexcusable," said Tutu.

He was speaking at the conclusion of a meeting of the group formed in 2008 to highlight humanitarian issues. Members include former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and former US president Jimmy Carter.

Reading a statement, Tutu said the Elders wanted an urgent investigation into the "tragic incident" after Israeli forces boarded the Mavi Marmara as it sailed with a flotilla to Gaza.

He said it should draw the world's attention to the "terrible suffering of Gaza's 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18".

The Elders considered Israel's blockage of Gaza illegal collective punishment of its inhabitants and said it was also counterproductive.

"This is because it creates unacceptable suffering, in the process empowering extremists and undermining moderate forces in Gaza", they said.
South Africa's foreign office said the incident should get the "highest level of international condemnation".


The Congress of SA Trade Unions called the incident "state sponsored piracy" and urged a boycott of Israeli products, while the SA Municipal Workers' Union issued a statement on behalf of a large group of civil society organisations calling it a "massacre".

"The convoy of ships was carrying 750 people from 40 different countries, including 35 international politicians, members of parliament, former diplomats, human rights activists, aid workers and journalists and was destined for the Gaza port of Rafah later on Monday.

"The flotilla carried essential aid material, such as medication, construction material, toys, workbooks, chocolate and pasta to Gaza," which the organisations said were banned by Israel.

They said South Africa should immediately recall its ambassador to the capital Tel Aviv, expel the Israeli ambassador in South Africa and sever diplomatic ties with Israel.

The organisations represented in the statement included the Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Muslim Judicial Council.