As part of P10K – Palestine 10,000 - O'Keefe wishes to secure an "Agreement in Principle" from Palestinian militant factions which would see an end to their operations inside Israel contingent upon the arrival of the 10,000 strong "P10K FORCE". Securing the agreement would create huge political stresses for Israel if it tried to refuse entry to the force, as the security of its own citizens would be contingent upon allowing their entry.
O'Keefe said: "My detention is a futile attempt to silence my charge that Palestinian Gaza is nothing less than a massive prison with Israeli control that denies entry to all it sees fit. There is no 'legal' channel permitting someone like myself to enter Gaza."
"If I am deported it is because I went to Gaza armed only with an "Agreement in Principle" that if agreed upon would bring a legitimate chance for Truth, Justice and Peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike."
"Based on two previous ceasefires (2001, 2003) it is my belief that Hamas and Islamic Jihad would agree to give the P10K ceasefire the opportunity to succeed in compelling the application of International Law, which demands an end to Israel’s illegal occupation."
"I am conducting a hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinians who have no freedom, no justice; it's food for the human soul."
O'Keefe has maintained the hunger strike since his arrest on Thursday 10th June.
The standard policy of allowing foreigners access to their mobile phone has been violated by the Commander at Suhar Detention Facility. However, Ken's number is:
00 972 (0)555 13990.
O'Keefe can legally be detained for up to 14 days.
O'Keefe formally renounced his US citizenship in Spring 2001 but this renunciation has been rejected by the US State Department, in violation of their own laws. Ken has burned his US passport twice, once in the Netherlands, and once in Baghdad.
O'Keefe was detained in Gaza with Ian Hodgson, a P10K coordinator from Oxford, UK. Hodgson was released late on Thursday evening after signing a document agreeing not to reattempt entry to Gaza on his current visa.
Personal Message from Ken O'Keefe
"I, Ken O'Keefe, have been systematically denied contact with the outside world by order of Suhar Detention Facility, Negev, by a Commander (Name Not Provided) and likely by higher authority.
I believe this decision has been made in a futile attempt to silence my charge that Palestinian Gaza is nothing less than a massive prison with Israeli control that denies entry to all it sees fit. There is no 'legal' channel permitting someone like myself to enter Gaza: I do not have a 'valid' press pass (approved by Israel), nor do I have an invitation from a 'valid' NGO (such as those run or approved by a disgraceful United Nations which has been completely derelict in its supposed function to provide "security" and "peace" to our world). Furthermore, the UN is largely complicit with Israeli war crimes by virtue of US vetoes, its capitulation in the alleged Jenin massacre and more.
Due to the above realities, I attempted entry to Palestinian Gaza without authorization. Any subsequent Israeli charge that I am in any way a threat to Israeli "security" is a farce. If I am deported it is because I went to Gaza armed only with an "Agreement in Principle" that if agreed upon would bring a legitimate chance for Truth, Justice and Peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
I am conducting a hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinians who have no freedom, no justice; which is food for the human soul.
I have repeatedly formally, and now publicly objected to my detention, and pending deportation, I demand a full trial with the ability to legally answer any charge that I "threaten Israeli security", or "endanger Israeli life".
Suhar Detention Facility
Near the Israeli-Egyptian border
Description of Attempted Entrance into Palestinian Gaza
In the pursuit of advancing the P10K Mission, myself and P10K coordinator Ian Hodgson decided to attempt entry into Palestinian Gaza so as to personally submit the P10K "Agreement in Principle" to resisting factions; specifically Islamic Jihad and Hamas. The objective of this Agreement in Principle is to broker a "cessation of all offensive operations" inside Israel, in return for 10,000 western citizens (the P10K FORCE) arriving in the occupied territories.
Based on two previous ceasefires (2001, 2003) it is my belief that Hamas and Islamic Jihad would agree to give the P10K ceasefire the opportunity to succeed in compelling the application of international law, which demands an end to Israel’s illegal occupation.
So with these objectives in mind, we approached the main gate into Gaza at Erez. We met a female Israeli soldier and told her that we were entering Gaza for a meeting and that we would be no longer than one day. She checked our passports and the one backpack which contained business cards, video and photo cameras, a mobile phone, several documents, including the Agreement in Principle, and a few other miscellaneous items. She said "okay" and waved us through.
From there I am reasonably confident that we were supposed to go to a reception station to the left, where we would have been asked to provide official documents "authorizing" access to Palestinian Gaza. We had no such documents, because it is virtually impossible to get authorization without a valid press pass (authorized by Israel) which was not possible, or an invitation from an officially recognized NGO, which again was not an option.
Sadly, our initiative not to "call" for International Observers but to actually become International Observers does not merit such an invitation. So we casually walked by the reception area and two more Israeli soldiers as if we knew exactly what we were doing and had every right to walk through; we were not questioned.
We then turned down a road that appeared to have the path of least resistance. But 500m down this road we were confronted by two Israeli police at another checkpoint. We asked where to get a taxi, but when told that none were available, said we would call our friend to pick us up past the checkpoint. We did not volunteer our objective of getting into
Palestinian Gaza; they let us through.
We walked perhaps half a mile to a high point on the sand dunes beside a settlement, and could see the mosques and flags of Palestinian Gaza less than a mile away. But our reconnaissance revealed that we would have to cross a fence in order to reach the Palestinian side. We then decided to head towards the sea and work out if it would be more feasible to enter along the waters edge on the beach.
Ironically, we solicited a passing settler bus to stop and give us a ride to the beach, a bus full of teenage Israelis who were very happy, and curious about us. The experience became more surreal as the bus turned off the road to the beach and spent 5 minutes driving around the settlement to drop people off. We got off the bus at Shiqma Beach, removed our shoes, and took a picture before starting to walk south besides the waves towards Palestinian Gaza.
As we approached Palestinian Gaza, we could see a large guard tower just short of the fence and "security zone" separating Palestinian Gaza from Israeli Gaza. As we got closer to the fence, perhaps 500m away, we saw an Israeli military jeep drive along the road running parallel to the sea about 500m to our left. We kept walking casually, even stopping to pick up shells, and I waved to the guard tower quite happily. The moment of truth was coming and we reached the security zone where a sign warning not to enter Palestinian Gaza was posted on the fence about 20m from the waters edge. But the fence essentially stopped before the water and we casually walked past it, into the "security zone".
We progressed perhaps another 20m before shouts and a vehicle horn from behind us beckoned us to halt. Turning around we saw a jeep and an APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) carrying between them about 10 soldiers. Despite the tenseness of the situation, we attempted in futility to maintain that we were heading into Palestinian Gaza, but their orders were made clear when several soldiers started to hurriedly come around the fence. We came back and were taken to Erez Police Station in the back of the military jeep.
(press release Sunday 13th June, 2004)
ian (fwded by c_m)