Activist heading off to Gaza despite being held at gunpoint

Theresa McDermott is planning another trip to Gaza

By Cara Sulieman

A SCOT who had a gun held against her head by an Israeli soldier during a raid on a aid flotilla that left nine dead is getting ready for another trip to Gaza.

Theresa McDermott was on the convoy of six ships taking aid to the war-torn Gaza strip that was stormed by Israeli commandos at the end of May.

The postal worker had a soldier point a gun against her head and threaten to kill her after her ship was boarded by forces as they tried to deliver aid to the blockaded Palestinian strip.

Her boat was near the MV Mavi Marmara which soldiers opened fire on after apparently coming up against fierce resistance from the activists on board.

Despite this, and previous experiences where Theresa has been arrested and jailed by Israeli forces, she is planning another flotilla with the Free Gaza group in October.

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Fears grow for Gaza mercy mission Scots

By Paul Thornton

FEARS grew last night for the safety of five Scottish peace activists who were caught-up in the Israeli capture of a convoy of ships taking aid to Gaza.

Theresa McDermott, 43, and Ali Awaisi, 21, Hasan Nowarah, 45, Hassan Ghani, 24, were among hundreds of campaigners on six ships heading to the war-torn Gaza strip.

Israeli commandos stormed the flotilla on Sunday night into yesterday morning, killing at least 10 people and injuring many more.

Some reports have placed the death toll as high as 19.

Another Scot is believed to be part of the group, the survivors of which are believed to be being held by Israeli authorities.

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Disappointment as too few Jews sign up to Scots squad

Flag2By Michael MacLeod

A LACK of players has forced Scotland’s Jewish football team to pull out of their own version of the Olympics.

Despite thousands of pounds in funding available to fly a team out to Israel next month, only a handful signed up.

It was due to be the first time athletes sported the Saltire at the Maccabiah Games, after Alex Salmond gave his backing to a Scottish Jewish Olympic team breaking away from Team GB.

Hopes were high that at least 50 fifty Jewish bravehearts would represent Scotland at what is touted as the third biggest sporting event on earth, with 10,000 participants expected.

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Protestors take to city streets

By James Martin

MORE than 100 pro-Palestinian campaigners have gathered outside Edinburgh University in a protest against Israeli military action in Gaza.

 The demonstration, called ‘Stop Bombing Gaza: Ceasefire Now’, took place in the city’s Bristo Square featuring marching and chants calling for an end to Israeli military action in Gaza.

And the demonstration passed peacefully unlike many of the pro-Palestinian rallies elsewhere in Europe which have resulted in arrests.

Holding banners reading “Stop The Massacre” and “End The Siege”, students marched round Edinburgh chanting: “Occupation is a crime, free, free, Palestine”.

The students – which included representatives from the Edinburgh University Palestine Solidarity Society – concluded their march outside Holyrood.

Australian student, Yasmin Bushby, called for an end to hostilities which have left hundreds of innocent civilians dead. 

She said: “I’m not going to comment on the complexities of sixty years of conflict and obviously we also want an end to the rockets damaging life in southern Israel. 

 “But what we want above all is an end to violence and then an attempt to try and establish peace between Israel and Gaza.”

 Simon Hodge, a radio producer from Fife, joined in the protest after being unable to attend Saturday’s main rally in the city.

He said: “I felt compelled to attend because it’s too easy to say it doesn’t affect us, so we therefore don’t need to attend. 

 “Innocent civilians are dying and we have to stand together and ask our leaders to try and bring about pressure for a ceasefire.

 “Unfortunately, I don’t think it can happen until America puts pressure on Israel to end its campaign.”

The Israeli army started its campaign to destroy the terrorist branch of Hamas in Gaza nearly three weeks ago, with around a thousand Palestinians, some of whom were innocent civilians, believed to be dead.

Around 4,000 protestors marched through Edinburgh last week, with demonstrations at the gates of the American consulate resulting in the throwing of shoes and red paint.

Jewish team fly flag at Olympics 163

By Michael MacLeod

SCOTLAND will have its own team at the next Olympics – exclusively for Jews.

For the first time ever, athletes will proudly sport the Saltire at the Jewish Olympics in Israel next summer.

Fed up listening to political wrangling over whether there should be a separate Scottish team at the 2012 London Olympics, Scottish Jews have taken the decision to break away themselves.

Now 50 Jewish bravehearts are being sought for the 18th Maccabiah Games in July, touted as the third biggest sporting event on earth with 10,000 participants.

First Minister Alex Salmond’s SNP backed the Scottish Jewish Olympic team as a “great” idea which proved “small nations can compete on the world stage.”

They said: “Chris Hoy’s three gold medals will inspire those in Team Scotland next year at the Maccabiah games.”

Athletes will compete in 30 different sports as diverse as chess, bridge and lawn bowls, alongside the traditional track, field and swimming events.

The breakaway from Team GB was “entirely mutual and friendly” according to the new Jewish Scotland squash team manager Alan Susskind.

He said: “I’ve won six medals for Team GB at various European Maccabiah Games and it felt great.

“But to be honest I would prefer to be representing Scotland than Great Britain.

“The decision to break away was actually done with the support of Team GB, so there’s been none of the stuff we’re seeing in the papers just now.

“It was entirely mutual and friendly, which is what we expected.

“Getting the support of Alex Salmond and the SNP is terrific and we really welcome that.

“The debate for a lot of Jewish people now is to decide whether they want to represent GB or Scotland, but I for one am really excited about competing in Israel representing my country.”

Rather than spend four years competing in heats, Jewish Olympic hopefuls are simply being invited to join the Scotland team in Israel next summer by applying online.

David Shenkin, head of the Scottish delegation, represented Team GB at seven previous Jewish Olympics and always hoped an independent Scottish team would be possible.

He said: “Over the years I have seen the number of participating countries grow, and my wish has always been for Scotland to be one of them.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Scottish sportsmen and women to participate at the highest level of Jewish sport.

“The success of the Scottish competitors at the Olympics has lifted the country and in our own way we hope the Maccabiah will do the same.”

The 2005 Maccabiah Games in Rome attracted its largest attendance since inception in 1932, with more than 7,700 athletes.

Unsurprisingly, Israel finished at the top of the medal table with 227 gold medals, while the United States was a distant second with 71 golds and Russia came in third with 15.

The Scottish Jewish football team are already in training ahead of the Olympic tournament next summer.

Footballer Danny Gardner has also represented GB in Israel, but can’t wait to wear a Scotland shirt for the first time.

He said: “I’ve played for GB in Israel before, but there’s nothing quite like the good old Scottish banter.

“Nothing can compare to being away with the lads and being part of your ‘home’ football team.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “Team GB have performed tremendously and the highlight for all Scots is undoubtedly seeing Chris Hoy grab that third gold medal.

“We are immensely proud of all our Olympians and I am sure their success will inspire those in Team Scotland next year at the 18th Maccabiah games.

“The Maccabiah games is one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world and it is great to see a Scottish team taking part for the first time.

“It is always good to see Scottish athletes taking part in any international competition.

“Small nations have showed that they can compete on the world stage and Scotland is no different.”