- Ongoing since its May 14, 1948 "Declaration of Independence,"
Israel systematically reigned terror against Palestinians and neighboring
states, always claiming self-defense - bogus then, bogus now, historian
Ilan Pappe describing Israel as a "settler Prussian state: a combination
of colonialist policies....manifested in the dominance of the army over
political, cultural and economic life," then adding:
- "You probably have to be born in Israel, as I was,
and go through the whole process of socialisation (sic) and education -
including serving in the army - to grasp the power of this militarist mentality
and its dire consequences. And you need such a background to understand
why the whole premise on which the international community's approach to
the Middle East is based, is utterly and disastrously wrong," so much
so that Israel is slowly self-destructing, preventable only by an entirely
- Public discourse won't admit it or that Palestinians
"lost 80% of their homeland" in a few short months, about 800,000
of them either dispossessed or massacred. Then in 1967, "they lost
the remaining 20%," not recovered after 43 years, nor have they received
any measure of justice, Cast Lead and Gaza's siege the most extreme recent
- On May 31, no wonder Israeli commandos attacked peaceful
activists trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Gazans. Defense Minister
Ehud Barak once commanded a similar unit, and Benjamin Netanyahu's eldest
brother, Yonatan (a martyr and national hero), led 100 commandos in Operation
Entebbe, the July 4, 1976 hostage rescue mission at Uganda's Entebbe Airport.
- That was heroic, not murdering unarmed, peaceful activists
in international waters, an unconscionable crime, one the Turkish-based
Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH)
calls a premeditated terrorist attack in a newly issued report titled,
"Palestine Our Route, Humanitarian Aid Our Load Flotilla Campaign
Summary Report," saying:
- "While Israel continues to distort the truth....this
report provides information about (the flotilla's) purpose and content,"
its humanitarian mission, and "the Israeli attack it was subjected
to, the way in which the attack took place and the losses" as a result.
- Why Gaza?
- Under embargo since Hamas' January 2006 election and
a suffocating three year siege, 1.5 million Gazans (900,000 in eight refugee
camps), have suffered months under a humanitarian nightmare, slow-motion
genocide, acknowledged by Pappe and international law expert Francis Boyle,
citing the provisions of the 1948 Genocide Convention, saying prior to
- "Israel has indeed perpetrated the international
crime of genocide against the Palestinian people (and a) lawsuit would....demonstrate
that undeniable fact to the entire world," more than ever today after
Cast Lead and Gaza's strangulation under siege.
- Why a Humanitarian Aid Flotilla?
- It tried "to pierce the blockade....with 9 ships
full of humanitarian aid....to bring some (relief) to the people of Gaza,
who have lived for many years in such deprivation....People from South
America, Africa, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Middle East....the Far
East (and North America) came together, people with different languages,
religions and races, all came together to bring (desperately needed) aid...."
- Items included were 10,000 tons of:
- -- food;
- -- clothes, towels, bedding, shoes, fabrics, carpets,
kitchenware, quilts, blankets, couches and beds;
- -- ultrasound scan devices, x-ray equipment, electric
patient beds, dentistry units and gear, doppler echocardiography devices,
regular and electric wheelchairs, electric scooters for the disabled, stretchers,
deambulators, autoclaves, mammography devices, microscopes, blood circulating
and hemodialysis machines, radiology monitors, crutches, ENT units, cat
scan machines, operating beds, gynecological couches, and various medical
- -- medicines;
- -- 750 tons of iron;
- -- 100 precast home units;
- -- tiles, timber, fiberboard, cage, plumbing supplies,
electric equipment, plastic window frames, glass, steel cables, measuring
tools, hand carts, nails, mountings, bathroom fittings, paint, power distribution
units, ladders, insolation materials, and other construction supplies;
- -- 3,500 tons of cement;
- -- 50 tons of ceramic tile adhesive;
- -- units compromising 16 children's playgrounds;
- -- two truckloads of wood;
- -- two electrical power generators;
- -- electric hand tools, machines, ovens, and other hardware
- -- power units (one of 35 kws, five of 85 kws, one of
100 kws, two of 145 kws, six of 150 kws, and three of 165 kws;
- -- another 80 one, two and five kws power units;
- -- an ETC;
- -- two desalination units; and
- -- 20 tons of paper.
- Israel confiscated the entire cargo, claiming it would
deliver select items through the UN, meaning only permitted foods, fabric
items, and some medicines, most everything in all categories strictly prohibited
- thousands of non-military items in total.
- Summary of Events - the Mavi Marmarra Mother Ship
- Its 600 passengers were attacked in international waters
after its Turksat satellite frequency and satellite telephone communications
were blocked to prevent massacre reports getting out and connections to
- Late at night, Israeli ships surrounded the Mavi Marmarra,
including one or two submarines, after which helicopters circled overhead.
After warning passengers, "masked, armed soldiers....tr(ied) to grab
onto the boat with heavy grappling irons," at the same time live fire
began, including high frequency sounds, machine guns, and loud noises resembling
gas bombs, after which soldiers descended from helicopters, shooting before
landing on deck.
- There was no provocation, and no warning was given. Unarmed
civilians were attacked, some at point blank range, at least nine of them
murdered in cold blood, some shot in the head multiple times, perhaps more
as bodies were dumped overboard, and some passengers remain missing. Dozens
more were injured, at least 20 seriously. Everyone was taken prisoner.
- The few Israeli soldiers hurt were treated by the ship's
doctor. Confirming video showed it. On board, after hearing about civilian
deaths, IHH President, Bulent Yildirim, told passengers over a loud speaker
to sit in the lounge and not resist, except for medical workers continuing
their work. He, in turn, removed his white shirt, waved it at soldiers,
asking for a ceasefire. He was ignored.
- Despite good faith efforts, "the Israeli soldiers,
who had surrounded the lounge, continued" firing live rounds - even
at medical workers treating their own injured comrades. A doctor providing
aid was shot in the arm.
- More soldiers boarded the ship with specially trained
K9 dogs. Passengers were searched and handcuffed. Their possessions, including
passports were confiscated. Women were seated on benches, men forced to
kneel uncomfortably on deck. No one was allowed "to fulfill their
most basic needs." It became a "long war of nerves...."
- Throughout the ordeal, soldiers were hostile and abusive,
"trying to agitate (passengers) to create problems." In control
of the ship, they took it (and the others) to Israel's Ashdod Port, a trip
taking 10 hours, passengers not knowing their destination or fate once
- En route, "Some of the wounded were purposefully
mistreated, kicked and hit with weapons, while others were shot at, despite
being wounded. Some wounded people" weren't taken to the hospital.
Although bleeding and needing treatment, they were kept on board, doctors
not allowed to help them.
- At Ashdod, passengers were taken off in handcuffs, accompanied
by policemen. Interrogations and security checks followed, including strip
searches down to underwear, fingerprinting, and photographing. Then a health
check, after which participants were told told to sign "certain documents,"
to be released. Otherwise, they faced prison and confinement for at least
two months for entering Israel illegally despite being taken there forcibly.
- Most refused, were put on freezing cold buses, taken
to Beer Sheva prison, and placed in two to four-person cells, separated
from others, given no information about them or allowed to make phone calls.
Instead they were told: "This is now your home, forget going back."
- Requests to meet consular officials were refused. Sleep
was denied for two nights. Harassment was punishing, including repeated
(day and night) interrogations to state their names, and explain where
they came from, and why - besides being forced to "carry out every
type duty," including "carrying things, distributing things,
(and) cleaning up after dinner, etc."
- After nearly a day, consular officials got in. Then by
noon the next day, passengers began being released to be deported. Others
waited an extra day, some longer. The entire procedure was made as arduous,
demeaning, and degrading as possible, the slightest reaction met by blows.
- Some participants "who had left the prison unharmed
arrived at the airport with injuries." Others before and during detention
were seriously beaten, some tortured. Five stayed behind hospitalized too
injured to leave. The whereabouts of six or more remains unknown. Likely
they're dead, murdered in cold blood.
- Events on Other Ships
- On May 30 evening and throughout the early morning May
31 hours, before the Mavi Marmarra massacre, the Defne was harassed, told
to change course, and abandon its mission, what it and other vessels refused
- At 6:10 AM, commandos stormed the ship, took it to Ashdod,
imprisoned its passengers, confiscated their possessions and the cargo.
No one on board was killed, nor on other vessels who were treated like
Defne's, all personal property and aid items seized, the entire ordeal
(from boarding to imprisonment to deportation) made as uncomfortable and
painful as possible, a lesson Israelis hoped would intimidate others from
coming, an experience emboldening participants to come back, undaunted
by their intimidating experience.
- Eight of the nine known dead were Turks. The ninth was
a Turkish American. Most of those wounded were also Turks or of Turkish
or Arabic origin. Clearly they were identified in advance. Commandos had
names and photos of assassination targets, ordered by top Israeli officials,
including IDF commanders to commit cold-blooded murder.
- A Final Comment
- Besides violating maritime law in international waters,
Israel massacred as many as 15 or more passengers in cold blood, injured
dozens more, some seriously. In addition, ship communications were cut
off, participants illegally arrested, repeatedly interrogated, initially
denied consular contact, intimidated, imprisoned, and treated horrifically
for two - three days, including harassment, humiliation, and physical abuse
involving beatings, in some cases torture.
- Further, their passports and personal possessions were
stolen. Permission "to fulfill their basic needs" was denied.
Humanitarian aid cargo was confiscated. Individual testimonies bore witness
to Israel's lawless, callous, and degrading treatment.
- Mevlut Yurtseven, the Mavi Marmarra's doctor, said dozens
were wounded, at least 20 seriously. "They forced the wounded to stand
up and tried to make them walk. They did not bring stretchers. Because
I protested (I) was handcuffed."
- Press TV - UK's Hassan al Banna Ghani said "They
set attack dogs against me and another (UK) volunteer. They gave us nothing
to eat for 20 hours on the ship. They stole our personal belongings and
damaged them." Volunteers were treated violently.
- UK emergency aid worker Nur Choodhury explained "We
were physically abused: kicked, slapped, pinched, and elbowed. Our hands
were tied tightly with cables; this was extremely painful and caused us
to lose feeling in our hands." They were prevented from using toilets
or phoning families.
- Sema Islek, a Turkish nurse, called their "psychological
oppression and physical torture....very great." Turks and other Muslims
were treated the worst, former German MP Norman Paech said "Israeli
soldiers displayed openly raci(st) behavior....treat(ing) us much better
than the Turkish and Arab passengers."
- Those waging war on peace will lose, the report concluded,
legal professionals already enlisted to represent families of those killed,
the injured, and everyone imprisoned, tortured, abused, robbed, and subjected
to cruel and humiliating treatment - crimes against humanity by a nation
mocking democratic freedoms, defiling the rule of law, affording rights
solely to Jews, and endorsing racism, extremism, violence and torture as
official state policies, including against peaceful activists bringing
essential humanitarian aid to Gazans in desperate need.
- The report's final comment wondered what kind of a world
they'd be "if other countries....follow(ed) the path of Israel....?
What kind also when leaders committing these crimes aren't held accountable,
world leaders turning a blind eye, some providing active support, making
them culpable - complicit in crimes of war and against humanity, including
against activists bringing humanitarian aid.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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