- On June 2, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) approved
formation of an international committee (like the Goldstone Commission)
to probe the Flotilla attack, saying it will include lawyers and international
law and human rights experts, its findings to be presented in September
(during the Council's three week session in Geneva) after visiting Gaza
and contacting Israel, Turkey, Greece, and the Freedom Flotilla coalition.
- HRC's panel includes:
- -- Desmond de Silva, a UK lawyer and former chief prosecutor
for the Sierra Leone Special Court investigation into widespread killings
- -- Karl Hudson-Phillips, a former International Criminal
Court (ICC) judge and former Trinidad and Tobago attorney general and parliament
- -- Malaysia's Mary Shanthi Dairiam, active in gender
equality issues, including on the UN Development Program's gender equity
- In emergency session, the HCR criticized Israel's "outrageous
attack on aid ships attempting to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip,"
calling it "piracy, (an) act of aggression, (a) brutal massacre, (an)
act of terrorism, (a) war crime, (a) crime against humanity -unprovoked....unwarranted....atrocious,
(and) brutal," calling activists "peaceful...innocent...noble...unarmed,
(and) defenseless," setting the tone for what's to come, HRC president
Sihasak Phuangketkeow saying:
- "This is not about finger-pointing. It's about establishing
the facts of what took place because the incident was a humanitarian tragedy
and it's in the interests of everyone. So I'm hopeful and I'm urging all
the parties concerned to render their full cooperation, because it is in
their interests and it's in the interests of the international community
as a whole."
- "The expertise, independence and impartiality of
the members of the mission will be devoted to clarifying the events which
took place that day and their legality."
- Israel's response was expected, a foreign ministry official
saying the HRC acted in haste as part of its "obsession against Israel.
The Israeli probe, conducted with transparency, makes the organization's
probe completely unnecessary."
- Israel, of course, won't cooperate, and plans a whitewash
like its July 20 Gaza Operational Investigations: Second Update, responding
to the Goldstone Commission and other reports of widespread Cast Lead crimes
of war and against humanity.
- No serious investigation was conducted, the report citing
only four criminal indictments - two for using a minor as a human shield,
one regarding an attack on a family waving a white flag, and the other
for credit card theft.
- Hundreds of other serious crimes weren't addressed, including
high level culpability, a few low-level soldiers marginally hung out to
dry to absolve government and IDF officials - Israel's usual coverup of
appalling war crimes.
- Evidence of the Report's Whitewash
- On January 4, 2009, the Abu Hajjaj family was attacked,
despite carrying clearly visible white flags, resulting in two deaths,
Majeda Abu Hajjaj and Raya Abu Hajjaj, mother and sister. Yet Israel "found
gaps between (soldiers and Palestinian) testimonies," making it "impossible
to make a criminal connection between the described incident," relying
instead on soldier versions to whitewash the crime's severity. In addition,
investigators gave no credibility to complainants' sworn affidavits, or
requested corroborating evidence to confirm them.
- Willfully killing civilians is murder, a grave Fourth
Geneva violation. One soldier was charged with manslaughter for shooting
a "man," yet none were killed, only a mother and her sister.
- On January 3, Israeli forces attacked the Al-Maqadma
mosque near the Jabalia camp, an air-to-ground anti-personnel missile carrying
small cube-shaped fragments for maximum effect killing 15 civilians and
injuring 40 others. Israel claimed it targeted a "terror operative"
spotted firing rockets.
- Yet sworn affidavits and investigations showed no hostilities
or military activity in the area, a conclusion Israel didn't contest, saying
collateral casualties were unintentional. However, both the attack's timing,
shortly after sunset prayers, and the weapon used disproves the IDF's claim,
the Goldstone Commission concurring, another grave Fourth Geneva violation.
- Yet the officer in charge was merely disciplined even
though he willfully attacked a mosque at prayer time.
- On January 5, Israeli forces fired two tank shells with
flechette darts at a condolence ceremony, killing five civilians and injuring
17 others. Yet according to the commander and his forces, no civilians
were present, just "visually identified....terrorist operatives,"
attacked while loading a "Grad rocket" on "open terrain."
- None were there, just a clearly identifiable condolence
tent on a sidewalk about 10 meters wide on a road around 22 miles long
in a residential area, not "open terrain" as claimed. Many civilians
were present, ones soldiers claimed weren't seen, saying combatants were
attacked - a bald-faced lie, proved by dead and injured civilians, one
of hundreds of grave Fourth Geneva violations during Cast Lead, preceded
and succeeded seamlessly by many others.
- Yet no investigations were conducted, no assailants charged,
and no justice rendered, including by Israel's whitewash investigation,
the same kind examining the Flotilla massacre.
- Israeli Cast Lead Coverup
- The Goldstone Commission exposed and condemned numerous
Israeli war crimes, concluding that:
- "the Israeli military operation was directed at
the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing
policy aimed at punishing the (entire) population, and in a deliberate
policy of disproportionate force aimed at (civilians. These are war crimes
because) no justifiable military objective" was pursued.
- Yet on July 6, IDF Military Advocate General, Maj. Gen.
Avichai Mendelblit reported only the following:
- -- a Lt. Colonel was summoned to a disciplinary hearing
"for having deviated from military directives pertaining to the prohibition
on the use of civilians for operational activity;" a mild reprimand
resulted despite serious Fourth Geneva breaches;
- -- a staff sergeant was indicted for manslaughter, absolving
him of cold-blooded murder; his punishment will be minimal;
- -- a criminal investigation was ordered "to clarify
the circumstances of a specific incident;" expect no prosecutions
to result; and
- -- a captain was disciplined for "his failed professional
judgment in authorizing an attack against a (claimed) terror operative,"
killing and injuring only civilians.
- Gen. Mendelblit claimed over 150 incidents were examined
and nearly 50 investigations launched since Cast Lead's conclusion.
- Only mild disciplinary actions resulted besides one manslaughter
indictment, despite a 23 day rampage, committing extensive crimes of war
and against humanity, killing over 1,400, injuring over 5,000, many permanently
disabled, (civilians in most cases affected), and inflicting massive destruction
and devastation, unaddressed or relieved under siege. Gen. Mendelblit instead
- "Operation Cast Lead was limited in the scope of
fire and forces used. IDF soldiers operated in crowded urban areas while
Hamas made deliberate and cynical use of the Palestinian population (they
were protecting), creating a complex security situation. Hamas operated
from within civilian homes, schools, kindergartens, mosques, hospitals
and UN facilities (bald-faced lies) while the population in the Gaza Strip
was made hostage" - not by Hamas, its legitimate government, by Israeli
marauders, rampaging, killing and destroying lawlessly, omitted from the
- Israel's Inquiry Commission - Whitewashing the Flotilla
- On June 14, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced
its formation, an internal probe to suppress truths, its members including:
- -- former Israeli Supreme Court Justice, Jacob Turkel,
heading it, a man with little inquiry commission experience;
- -- Amos Horev, a retired Israeli major general, a prominent
military-industrial complex figure; and two non-voting foreign observers:
- -- David Trimble, head of Northern Ireland's Ulster Unionist
Party, First Minister of the Good Friday Agreement's power-sharing government,
Conservative Party life peer, earlier involved with loyalist death squads
and Royal Ulster Constabulary killers (RUC); and
- -- Former Canadian General Ken Watkin, earlier involved
in whitewashing Canada's role in committing Somalia atrocities in the early
- A June 15 Haaretz editorial was unimpressed, saying:
- "....the committees membership nor its authority
is suited to meet the challenges posed by the affair. (It's more) a public
relations tool (than a body appointed) to bring justice to bear on those
found responsible. It would have....been better if the (committee) had
never been born, sparing us the deceptive appearance of a real investigation,"
what the commission will scrupulously avoid, its findings to be willful
coverup, blaming the victims, not their assassins or culpable high-level
- An Israeli military inquiry was also conducted, headed
by retired Major General Giora Eiland, his released July 12 findings calling
the Flotilla attack justified, according to an official summary made public
- Eiland submitting a classified 150 page report to IDF Chief of the General
Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, and Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister.
Its conclusions were as follows:
- "....there were no wrongdoings and no negligences
in any fundamental areas during a complicated and complex operation."
- Fact Check:
- Nonviolent unarmed activists were delivering humanitarian
aid to besieged Gazans. In an operation planned weeks in advance, they
were willfully attacked in international waters, up to 15 murdered in cold
blood, commandos given names and photos of targets, incriminating evidence
found on board the mother ship, the Mavi Marmarra.
- -- "But on the other hand, there were mistakes that
were made in decisions, including some taken at relatively high levels,
which meant that the result was not as had been initially anticipated."
- Fact Check:
- The "anticipated" result was hostile interdiction,
assassinating nonviolent activists, seizing their cargo, arresting participants
on board, treating them harshly in detention, expelling them from Israel,
concealing murder and barbarism in international waters, and blaming victims
for their attackers' crimes.
- Assassinations and related violence were carried out
as planned, using commandos, trained killers as the assault force, not
Israel's equivalent of America's Coast Guard, charged with maritime law
enforcement, search, rescue, and other non-combat functions.
- -- "not all possible intelligence gathering methods
were fully implemented and (the) coordination between Navy Intelligence
and the Israeli Defense Intelligence was insufficient." In addition,
"the anticipated level of violence used against the forces was underestimated."
- Fact Check
- Faced with worldwide condemnation, the inquiry blamed
intelligence failures, not a well-rehearsed operation conducted as planned.
- "the operation relied excessively on a single course
of action." No other was prepared for in "the event of more dangerous
- Fact Check
- The attack was carried out as planned, every detail rehearsed
for precision, including the pre-attack filming on a ship resembling the
Mavi Marmarra, showing commandos were attacked, not activists - fiction,
- "....as far as is currently known, no country in
the world holds the ability to stop a vessel at sea in a non hostile manner."
- Fact Check
- The US Coast Guard and comparable agencies elsewhere
do it routinely as necessary, seldom encountering violence and not initiating
- "....alternative courses of action could have existed
had the process of preparation begun enough time in advance...."
- Fact Check
- Preparations began weeks in advance, including detailed
intelligence on the number of ships and activists, their names and home
countries, photos of targets to be assassinated, dates of departure and
expected arrival, and a well-rehearsed commando interdiction operation.
- The inquiry "determined that the Navy Commando soldiers
operated properly, with professionalism, bravery and resourcefulness and
that the commanders exhibited correct decision making....the use of live
fire was justified and that the entire operation is estimable."
- Fact Check
- Commandos are elite combat forces trained to kill "professionally."
They followed precise orders assassinating nonviolent activists in international
waters - a lawless cowardly act against unarmed civilians.
- The inquiry "noted with favor the various stages
of medical evacuation of the injured by air and by sea, including the injured
passengers of the Mavi Marmarra."
- Fact Check
- Commandos treated activists harshly, firing from helicopters
before boarding, followed by gas bombs, other weapons, beatings, and dumping
some bodies overboard. There was no provocation and no warning given. The
attack was premeditated and vicious, some passengers shot multiple times
in the head at point blank range.
- Dozens were injured, at least 20 seriously. Everyone
was taken prisoner. The few commandos hurt were treated by the ship's doctor.
He was shot in the arm while aiding victims. Wounded passengers were searched
and handcuffed like the others. Throughout the ordeal, soldiers were hostile
and abusive, injured activists further mistreated, kicked, struck with
weapons, and in some cases shot again.
- No compassion whatever was shown. Some wounded passengers
weren't taken to the hospital on arrival at Israel's Ashdod Port. Although
hurt, bleeding and needing treatment, they were kept on board, doctors
prevented from helping them.
- From interdiction to assault to seizure to detention
to deportation, the entire procedure was harsh, demeaning, and degrading,
the slightest reaction met by blows, some unharmed activists injured en
route to the airport for deportation. Others, before and during detention,
were seriously beaten, some tortured. Five stayed behind hospitalized,
too injured to leave. The whereabouts of some remains unknown.
- General Eiland said "the issue should be viewed
with perspective," believing Israel won't incur long-term damage,
- "....there's a tendency to draw general conclusions
based on a single incident....(In addition), the fact that the IDF examines
itself and others do not, results in that only the 'errors' of the IDF
- America, Britain and other nations do self-examine, as
shamelessly as the above account using coverup to suppress the truth and
avoid accountability. And when abuses are too great to hide, one or more
low-level soldiers are charged to absolve chain of command crimes, including
high-level civilians, how Israel, America and other nations duck responsibility
for lawless acts of violence, ones carefully planned in advance.
- 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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