Kevin Ovenden was failed MP George Galloway’s parliamentary aide. He remains a trustee of the registered British charity Viva Palestina, Galloway’s Hamas support operation.
Now that Galloway has been booted out of office by East London voters, Mr Ovenden has more time on his hands. Last month he used some of it to join Turkish charity IHH’s convoy to Gaza. He was on the main ship, the Mavi Marmara. It seems he knew just what was going on. As the Israeli navy closed in, he sent this report:
At 22:41pm tonight May 30th, preparations aboard the Mavi Marmara are extensive. We are 90 miles away from land – 22 miles further than the Israeli decided 68 mile exclusion zone – but are being approached by an Israeli vessel. Triage is set up and various strategies implemented to resist seizure.
Now video evidence showing those “strategies to resist seizure”, including men cutting iron bars from the ship’s railings, is available:
Here is another video showing the ideological and psychological preparation on board. Bulent Yildirim, the president of IHH, is feeling boisterous:
Now they are saying that they will launch a fleet against us. That they will send the commandos here. And we say “If you send the commandos, we will throw you down from here and you will be humiliated in front of the whole world”.
An Egyptian MP does his bit to fire up the men:
Millions of martrys are marching to Gaza!
Raed Salah, the radical leader of the northern branch of the Islamic movement in Israel, can be seen in the front row of the group. (By the way, Salah is due in London next weekend. Apparently Kensington Town Hall has no problem hosting him and his backers, the Palestinian Forum of Britain (PFB). The PFB is the group that invited jihadi preacher Wagdi Ghoneim to London for another of its events. Ghoneim has since been banned from Britain.)
Back to Mr Ovenden. Last night he spoke in New York at a meeting about the IHH convoy organised by “Al Awda”, an anti-Israel group. The meeting was held at the House of the Lord church in Brooklyn, which was also the host of a Viva Palestina rally (pdf) last year.
A number of New York politicians were not best pleased about the meeting and protested against it. Al Awda issued a furious response. It includes this line:
They shamelessly demanded that the State Department investigate the invited speakers for “ties to terrorism.”
Come now. There is no need to be angry or coy. Here is Mr Ovenden grinning in Gaza with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in a meeting celebrating one of the Viva Palestina convoys. His companions are members of Neturei Karta, the tiny and reviled anti-Zionist sect.
In fact, Viva Palestina, like its Turkish partner IHH, serves Hamas happily. Read the record here for proof.
As for Mr Ovenden, he is starstruck. This is a video from a Viva Palestina meeting in the UK after the first convoy delivered cash and goods directly to Hamas in March 2009.
Listen to him:
And some of us were fortunate enough, privileged enough to meet the democratically elected prime minister of Palestine, Ismail Haniyeh. And I should explain about that. This was on the last night. It was not something which was possible for everybody to do, much as I would have liked everybody on the convoy to meet Ismail Haniyeh and the leadership of the government in Gaza. It’s not possible, because virtually every leader of prominence in Hamas has been assassinated by the Israelis.
That night we went to the house of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, a man who was killed after fajr prayer in his wheelchair by a missile. We met at one of the greatest heroes, greatest leaders that Palestine has ever known, met at his house, Abdul Rantissi, who himself was assassinated. And we knew, we know that Ismail Haniyeh is high up on Benjamin Netanyahu’s assassination list. And therefore it wasn’t possible for him to meet large numbers of us. We simply had to select ten people who could meet him secretly. And most of those ten, only two of us knew that we were even meeting him at that. And he was incredibly generous with his time. This is a man who hadn’t seen his family for 80 days. He’s been underground for 80 days. He’d not seen his close friends for 80 days. He’d only been surrounded by one or two people who knew his location at any particular time. We were privileged enough to meet him in his house, on his first day back at his house, after 80 days, and the only day he will be in his house, if anybody from Israeli intelligence is listening. He gave us two hours of his time, two hours of his time. Every minute of that time he was at risk from assassination. And he didn’t just know that we’d led the convoy, he knew the details of the convoy.
If anyone is “shameless”, it is people who deny that Mr Ovenden and his fellows have “ties to terrorism”.
They have had a very good run. But their luck may be turning. I understand that another scheduled speaker at the New York meeting, IHH trustee and Mavi Marmara passenger Ahmet Faruk Ünsal, was denied entry to the United States.