Thursday, June 10, 2010

Investigate the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla!

Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara in the middle of the night guns already out and aimed at passengers.

What would you do?

On the Mavi Marmara some of the people bringing humaniatarian aid to Gaza defended themselves with “poles” and “bars” that were in fact railings and pieces of deck chairs hastily improvised – pieces of the boat they were sailing on. What knives and “weapons” the IDF found were those normally found on board a ship for necessary maintenance and work. When the ship had been boarded in Turkey Turkish officers inspected everything going on board, putting people through metal detectors and screening as complete as if they were boarding a plane. (Just as they had inspected all the supplies the relief workers were bringing them.) Turkey is a member of NATO, a long time ally of the US and – at least so far – an ally of Israel. Is their word not good enough?

Turkish aid volunteers were shot in the face. Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old Turkish-American boy was shot four times in the face at point blank range. Is that defensive? Trained commandos who are shooting in purely self-defense would aim at legs and arms. At close range the IDF shot Turkish passengers in the head, and in the chest. That’s not self-defense. That’s murder.

Wounded passengers were denied medical care or access to bathrooms. Many were forced to soil themselves while captive and bound by IDF soldiers. Even when they were bound soldiers aimed guns at them whenever they would talk. Al this from survivor testimonies at

As soon as they took control of the ships – not just the Mavi Marmara – Israeli soldiers took all telephones, computers, cameras – anything used to communicate or record what was happening. Even professional journalists’ cameras, recorders, and computers were taken from them. The aid workers and news people were stripped of any ability to document what was happening. Beyond their own testimony any proof of what was happening was immediately taken and destroyed by the IDF. That was clearly their aim anyway. Some footage was sneaked out. Some of this is visible in an interview with Iara Lee at Ms. Lee’s description of the attack is eloquent, clear, and consistent. I urge everyone to see this! Ms. Lee also has a written account at

While aid workers, sailors, and journalists were kept in captivity Israel controlled the information going to the media. Not only were they able to control information getting out, they would not release the names of the killed or wounded leaving friends and families uncertain and worried.

Israeli soldiers also took all wallets, cash, and credit cards. Returning relief workers have been finding charges on their accounts being made in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities they had never been to.

Much noise has been made accusing the Turkish relief organization, IHH of having ties to terrorists. Even the Washington Post, a firm supporter of Israel, reports that there is no substance behind these charges. ( ) Yes, there are some dealings and contacts with Hamas, but Hamas is the de facto government in Gaza. If you want to save people from starving and illness in Gaza, how do you propose not having dealings with Hamas? Previous loads of supplies confiscated by Israel, which they had promised to distribute, were kept so long that clothes were too destroyed by mildew to be passed on. Food was rotted, and building supplies were denied to the Gazans whose homes were destroyed by Israeli bombs. Not exactly building credibility there.

Having destroyed most of the documentary evidence of what actually was happening on the ships Israel now wants to prevent any outside neutral investigation. Even Israeli naval officers apparently concerned for their own integrity say that an outside investigation is absolutely necessary.

It is not at all unreasonable to demand that Israel be held to the same standards of international law that other countries are obliged to follow. The Israeli government too often complains of being held to a double standard, but they constantly invoke exceptional conditions to justify their own double standard. If their charges against the activists on the Mavi Marmara are true they certainly have nothing to fear by an outside investigation of the events in question, and should even welcome the chance to exonerate themselves.

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