Several Costa Rican organizations protested outside the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday in response to Israel´s raid on Monday of an aid flotilla carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian goods headed for blockaded Gaza.
Two protesters held a Palestinian flag, while next to them, a woman carried a poster of an Israeli flag with the Star of David replaced by a Swastika. The sign read: “We hope to break relations with the genocidal state of Israel.”
Close to 20 people showed up at the steps of the Casa Amarilla, the headquarters of the Foreign Ministry, on a rainy afternoon. But cars that drove by the protest occasionally honked their horns or flashed “thumbs up” in support of the protesters.
“We’re joining the international community in our outrage,” said Isabel Macdonald, executive director of the Friends’ Peace Center. “We’re angered by what happened. “We’re in solidarity with all these activists.”
Tens of thousands of people protested around the world today. On Monday, Israel raided a flotilla of boats carrying about 600 activists from 20 countries. At least nine activists have been confirmed dead. All but approximately 45 of the activists remain detained in Israel.
“We must take action because Israel is asking for action,” said Dr. Abdul Sasa, a Palestinian who has lived in Costa Rica for 38 years. “And the world needs to make them see the consequences – to teach them that there are international rights.”
In spite of the protests, responses from Costa Rica and the United States governments were notably reticent. Both countries expressed “deep regret” about the loss of lives – but said they would not comment further until an investigation on the incident was completed.
The groups protesting in San José were demanding a meeting with Foreign Minister René Castro to discuss options such as boycotts affecting Israel or the possibility of eliminating diplomatic relations with the Middle Eastern country.
The Israeli Embassy in Costa Rica’s only comment was a copy of the statement that the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, made before the UN Security Council today.
Shalev insisted the activists had weapons, saying “These are not activists of the peace.” They came to Israel “to send a message of hate and instigate violence.”
“The results of the events from last night are tragic and unfortunate,” Shalev added. “And Israel laments every loss of innocent life. But the country cannot jeopardize its security.”
Costa Rica’s left-of-center Citizen Action Party presented a motion to the Legislative Assembly condemning “the disproportionate and lethal force used by the Israeli army against a humanitarian mission.”
LEARN MORE ABOUT PALESTINE:
What: Presentation on the history and current issues concerning Palestine
Who: Professor Muriel Schmid, University of Utah
Where: Friends’ Peace Center at the Casa Ridgeway in downtown San José, Ave. 6, Calle 15
When: Thursday, June 3, at 4:30 p.m. for an English presentation and 6 p.m. in Spanish.
For more information call: 2222-1400 or 2233-16168