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Did Israel Deliberately Kill Civilians Aboard Freedom Flotilla?

category international | crime and justice | news report author Wednesday June 02, 2010 20:49author by GazaFriendsauthor email gazafriends at lists dot riseup dot net Report this post to the editors

Post on behalf of [GazaFriends] as not yet online

PRESS BRIEFING - WitnessGaza.com
related vid - Israel Navy Massacres Freedom Flotilla Passengers in International Waters

(I am aware that this is a post of a mai, but given the situation I ask that it is left up...)

Israeli Ambassador to the United States admits that ships were "too large
to stop with nonviolent means."

On May 31st, 2010, elite Israeli military commandos stormed six
humanitarian aid ships taking part in the 'Freedom Flotilla' to Gaza,
killing between 9-20 civilian passengers and injuring dozens more. As the
facts of the attack come out it is clear that these killings cannot in any
way be justified.

The Freedom Flotilla was an effort by a coalition of human rights and
humanitarian organizations to nonviolently break through Israel's illegal
blockade, and deliver much needed humanitarian and developmental aid to
the Palestinians of Gaza. Almost 700 passengers from 40 different
countries joined the flotilla, including: human rights workers,
humanitarian aid workers, Members of Parliament, doctors, nurses,
teachers, community leaders, and international journalists.

The lead coalition partners included:
* Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), the largest coalition partner, contributing 2
Turkish-flagged cargo ships, the Turkish-flagged passenger ship "Mavi
Marmara," and 380 Turkish nationals to the effort. This was IHH's first
attempt to break the Gaza blockade.
* The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, contributing the
Greek-flagged passenger ship "Sfendoni." This was the European Campaign's
second mission to Gaza.
* The Free Gaza Movement, contributing the U.S.-flagged passenger ship
"Challenger I." This was Free Gaza's ninth mission to Gaza.
* A Ship to Gaza, Sweden, and A Ship to Gaza, Greece, contributing the
Greek-flagged cargo ship "Eleftheri Mesogeios." This was the first voyage
of A Ship to Gaza, Sweden, and the fourth of a Ship to Gaza, Greece.

All ships were thoroughly searched by local port authorities in Greece and
Turkey prior to their departure. Additionally, the coalition hired an
independent security firm to search the ships and certify that no weapons
were on board. All passengers went through nonviolence training and were
likewise searched for weapons prior to boarding. The Turkish government, a
member-state of the NATO alliance, vetted all the Turkish passengers to
insure there was no one with ties to extremist groups. These precautionary
steps were deliberately taken to prevent Israeli propaganda officials from
ever being able to claim that the Freedom Flotilla posed any 'security
risk' to Israel.

There was a live satellite feed broadcasting the voyage from the Mavi
Marmara, as well as GPS transponders showing the exact location of the
flotilla at all times to anyone viewing the coalition website. The
intention of the Freedom Flotilla was never to 'provoke a confrontation,'
but simply to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to besieged Gaza, and
in so doing to draw attention to the brutal Israeli policies that are
forcing the Palestinian people into a state of impoverished dependency.

PRIOR TO THE ISRAELI ATTACK - The Israeli Government
On 27 May, Bloomberg News reported that Israel was threatening to use its
military forces and “use all available means to stop the ships” ('Israel
Threatens Naval Action to Stop Aid Ships Bound for Gaza').

On 28 May the Associated Press reported that the Israeli government was
prepared to stop the flotilla "at any cost," including being "prepared to
use force." ('Israeli gunships head to sea to block flotilla'). It was
further reported that masked naval commandos were being "trained" to stop
the flotilla.

On 1 June the Guardian reported that Matan Vilnai, Israel's deputy Defense
Minister, suggested that the Israeli military had sabotaged several of the
Freedom Flotilla ships. The flotilla was in fact delayed by two days due
to unexpected mechanical problems, and 3 of the original 9 ships intending
to join the flotilla were forced to drop off. ('Gaza aid flotilla: Israeli
sabotage suspected,' Guardian, 1 June 2010)

On 31 May, under cover of darkness, Israeli military forces surrounded the
Freedom Flotilla in international waters. Armed and masked commandos
stormed all 6 ships from sea and from air, killing between 9 and 20
civilians. After more than 2 days, Israel still refuses to release the
names and identities of the dead, nor even confirm the number of
passengers killed by their forces.

An Israeli military spokesperson, Avital Leibovich, confirmed the attack
took place in international waters, stating: "This happened in waters
outside of Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves."

Did the passengers aboard the Mari Marmara possess a similar right to
defend themselves?

Israel released highly-edited videos of the confrontation, claiming that
civilian passengers aboard the Mari Marmara attempted to "lynch" the
well-armed military commandos when they first stormed the ship. Israeli
Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the commandos, stating: "You carried
out the mission and prevented the flotilla from reaching Gaza. We need to
always remember that we aren't North America or Western Europe, we live in
the Middle East, in a place where there is no mercy for the weak and there
aren't second chances for those who don't defend themselves." ('Barak: In
the Middle East, there is no mercy for the weak,' Haaretz, 2 June 2010.)

Again, one wonders whether this sentiment extends to the civilians killed
by those commandos as well.

In contrast to the Israeli account of events, which is self-evidently
absurd, Jamal Elshayyal, an Al-Jazeera correspondent aboard the Mari
Marmara was able to issue a brief report before Israeli forces cut all
communications with the ships. Elshayyal's report contradict the Israeli
version of events, stating that Israel fired live ammunition on the
civilians after they had raised a white flag. View the live report
yourself at:

Eyewitness testimony from the handful of passengers who have been released
directly contradicts Israel's version as well. According to Nilufer Cetin,
who sailed on the Mari Marmara with her one-year-old baby, "The operation
started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the
Mavi Marmara wouldn't stop these warnings turned into an attack," she
said."There were sound and smoke bombs and later they used gas bombs.
Following the bombings they started to come on board from
helicopters."('Israelis opened fire before boarding Gaza flotilla, say
released activists,' Guardian, 1 June 2010)

Cetin's account is just one of several contradicting the Israeli
narrative. Haneen Zoubi, a Member of the Israeli Knesset, and just one of
several parliamentarians aboard the flotilla, stated that Israeli warships
surrounded the Mavi Marmara, firing on the ship before the commandos
stormed aboard.

At a press conference in Nazareth, shortly after her release, MK Zoubi
also stated that: "“Israel had days to plan this military operation. They
wanted many deaths to terrorize us and to send a message that no future
aid convoys should try to break the siege of Gaza.” ('Israeli Knesset
member rejects navy account of attack,' Irish Sun, 2 June 2010)

Yonatan Shapira, former pilot in the IDF for the very squadron that
conducted the assault on the Mavi Marmara stated: "No Israeli pilot would
drop commandos on a ship in the middle of the sea, in the middle of the
night, during such an operation without the soldiers carrying live
ammunition. Paint ball canisters may have been attached to the automatic
weapons that they had, but there is no doubt that the soldiers had and
were prepared to use live ammunition"

In an interview on the Diane Rehm Show on 2 June, a nationally-broadcast
radio program in the United States, Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador
to the United States, stated that in planning their assault the Marmara,
the Israeli government had concluded that the ship was "too large to stop
with nonviolent means."

There is clear evidence present that the State of Israeli may have
deliberately and with forethought intended to provoke a conflict in order
to assassinate civilians sailing aboard the Freedom Flotilla, and
therefore violently discourage any further attempts to deliver
humanitarian aid to the Palestinians of besieged Gaza.

The Free Gaza Movement calls upon the international community to enforce
international standards and laws, fully investigate these crimes, and hold
Israeli officials accountable for the willful murder of international
human rights and humanitarian aid workers aboard the Freedom Flotilla.

For More Information, please contact:
Free Gaza:
Greta Berlin or Mary Hughes, +357 99 187 275 / + 357 96 383 809

Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH):
Ahmet Emin Dag, +90 530 341 1934

European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza:
Mazen Kahel, +33 1 4681 1292

Yonatan Shapira, former IDF pilot
+1 443 465 7610

WitnessGaza.com http://witnessgaza.com/

Related Link: http://witnessgaza.com/

Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Thu Jun 03, 2010 13:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would think they were working off the same derrent logic as they showed when they dropped the dozer blade on Rachel.Standard Operating Proceedure.At the minute I would guess there are fierce debates as to how much aggresion agains the MV will be tolerated.If Evrony was turfed they would walk a little softer and maybe put their big stick down.

author by anti-semanticismpublication date Thu Jun 03, 2010 13:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the Gaza flotilla massacre, the first soldiers were sent by helicopter into a situation that could never end well for them.

In other words, Israeli commanders broke military engagement protocol in order to ensure that the first soldiers were attacked in self-defense by the mob on the ship.

They made sure there would be a self-defense reaction by firing on the ship first, before boarding it.

It seems that it was the intention of theisraeli military planners to have the first soldiers killed or injured, in order to provide the basis for the lie that the IDF acted with the minimal force necessary and in 'self-defense'.

there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything . . .
there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything . . .

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Thu Jun 03, 2010 14:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

No need for the military at all,except maybe as backup in event of armed response.A few powerful tugs could have overridden the steering capabilities of the flotilla I would think,and controlled their passage without boarding unless resistance required.They were playing(as I misspelled it) for the deterrent factor of overt brutality.BACKFIRE BLOWBACK is what they are getting.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Fri Jun 04, 2010 20:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

According to one Irish survivor of the murders by Israel, it certainly seems as if the commandos, three of whom were Australian-Israeli, came full tilt on to the ship, clearly on instructions to do whatever it took to stop the vessel. Protected from the law at home by their generals, Israel being effectively a military State, and abroad by the United States from international law, murder will go unpunished and they know that. I' say it is a good guess that no attention was paid to possible loss of civilian life.

author by Israelipublication date Fri Jun 04, 2010 20:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Israelis made the same mistake as the Brits did on Bloody Sunday.

The Israelis put in The Marines when a police action would have sufficed.

Marines and Paratroopers are trained to shoot at the opposition.

On Bloody Sunday the most highly trained hyped up soldiers on Earth,The Paratroopers, confronted a civilian crowd.
They did what they were trained to do.
They started shooting.

The Israeli Marines seem to have made the same mistake.

There is a world of difference between a "police action" and a "military action".
Israeli soldiers are all too used to seeing every confrontation as "life-or-death".

Soldiers shoot first.

Police are trained soothe a situation..

Police would have done a much better job.

author by anti-semanticismpublication date Fri Jun 04, 2010 21:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

it is very important for everyone to remember that according to al jazeera reporter on board as well as numerous survivor accounts, the IDF shot and killed 2 people on the ship BEFORE the IDF forces even attempted to land on the ship - so every Israeli statement claiming 'self-defence' because they were 'attacked' is a complete and utter LIE.

Irrespective of whatever the Israelis claim happened AFTER they stormed the ship, irrespective of IDF-bullshit about an 'attack' by the passengers, irrespective of whatever implements the IDF claims were used in the 'attack', the IDF made certain that there WOULD be a reaction by signaling to the passengers, by the wonderfully expedient method of murdering 2 of them BEFORE the IDF forces even attempted to abseil onto the ship , that a violent attack was about to be launched on the passengers of the ship -

Once the FACT that the IDF murdered 2 passengers, who could have posed absolutely no threat to them since there were no IDF personnel on board the ship at the time of the 2 murders, is known it is then obvious that all IDF statements concerning weapons, attacks etc should be treated as, at best, deliberate misrepesentaions of events, or more likely ,as outright lies and that the intention was always to provoke a hostile reaction so as to send a loud and clear message to anyone else thinking of running the illegal blockade

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