Remember the Flotilla that set sail for Gaza one year ago?
Remember the Mavi Marmara?
Remember the worldwide outrage when the IDF killed 9 IHH members on board?
Israel was accused of piracy on the high-seas and murder.
Well, the flotillaniks are at it again.
So what’s it all about? What are the real objectives of the “Peace Flotilla”?
StandWIthUs have put together extensive information.
First there are Ten Quick Facts
This is elaborated here.
The US State Department issued a statement you can see here.
So what’s my blog title about?
Well, one of the US ships has been named ‘The Audacity of Hope’ mocking President Obama’s book of that name. This venture was trailed as a massive new Flotilla and the Israelis would have problems stopping it this time by sheer weight of numbers.
Yet we find to day that the number of participants will be approximately 300. There were 600 on the Mavi Marmara alone.
So the whole purpose of the flotilla is not humanitarian aid; that lie can easily be countered by the fact that both Egypt and Israel have offered ports where cargo can be checked and aid sent through to Gaza. In any case, Gaza does not need this aid.
The purpose of the Flotilla is to embarrass Israel. It is a blatant provocation. The organisers are Hamas supporters. They know that if they can break the blockade then it is invalidated and weapons from Iran can pass freely to Hamas. If there is a confrontation, they hope to further their aim to delegitimise the State of Israel and isolate it internationally.
The flotillaniks say that they carry no weapons, yet a report today that is going the rounds of the Twittersphere is that extremists on the flotilla have chemicals aboard and want to kill IDF soldiers.
Here is what the Jerusalem Post reported:
While the organizers of the Gaza-bound flotilla said in Athens Monday that the passengers are taking to sea “without weapons,” government sources said Israel had information that some of the passengers had hid chemicals, such as sulfur, on theboats to be used against IDF soldiers.
This is what Reuters said:
An Israeli military source said Israel had information that some activists were planning to attack soldiers with acid and lethal chemical agents if they boarded the ships.
Dror Feiler, an Israeli participant in the flotilla, denied the allegation in an interview with Israeli Army Radio and said all of the passengers had signed a pledge of non-violence.
Senior officials in Jerusalem said Monday that Israel has received information that organizers of the Gaza flotilla may be bringing chemical substances on the ships to use against Israeli soldiers to prevent them from boarding the ships.
The senior officials also said that Israel had been notified that several extremists among the Gaza flotilla participants had recently claimed that they intend on “shedding the blood of IDF soldiers.”Moreover, despite earlier reports, it seems that activists from the Turkish organization IHH, which was involved in the deadly IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara in last year’s Gaza flotilla, will be joining several of the ships sailing for Gaza as part of the flotilla.
Israeli officials claim that two activists participating in the flotilla have connections to Hamas. They named the first one as Amin Abu Rashad, who they claim is one of the head Dutch organizers for the Gaza flotilla and had served in the past as the head of the Hamas’ Charitable Foundation in Holland. The foundation closed down following Dutch authorities’ probe into its involvement in funding terror activities.
The second activist is Mohammed Ahmed Hanon, which Israel claims is a Hamas activist who stands at the head of the ABSPP, which is involved in transferring funds to terrorists.
It remains to be seen whether these reports are well-founded. If they are, then any veneer of peace activism is blown out of the water.
You might also like to see this post from the Elder of Zion about the organisers of this new Love Boat.
There is also a fine article by Ruth Dudley Edwards in the Irish Independent:
Let us be clear. Whether they know it or not, that gaggle of posturing, ignorant Irish clowns who are setting sail towards Gaza on the MV Saoirse are driven by anti-Semitism. Otherwise they would be protesting against — for instance — the Islamist killings and bombings that are forcing tens of thousands of Christians to flee the Middle East, the ethnic cleansing in the Sudan, the ill-treatment of servants and women in Saudi Arabia, the hanging of gays from cranes in Iran, the massacres of protesters in Libya and Syria, the torture of Irish-trained doctors in Bahrain for tending to injured demonstrators and the vicious anti-Jewish propaganda that teaches Arab children to hate.
I also refer you to the Howard Jacobson post I wrote recently.
Meanwhile, we find that in the a UN draft report into last year’s Mavi Marmara incident found that the Israeli maritime blockade was not illegal and they were within their rights to stop the flotilla.
A draft of the report, due to be released within two weeks, was given to Israel and Turkey about six weeks ago. The committee determined that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is in keeping with international law, and therefore its actions to stop the flotilla were also legal.
This same report states that Israel’s actions were “disproportionate” – that word again. Yes, it’s really disproportionate to make sure you kill someone who is fanatically committed to killing you or to die. But maybe that merits another post at another time. No doubt we’ll soon be looking at second UN Report and another attempted hatchet job on Israel in the coming days.
For the legal aspects also, read this by the Elder which refers to a Zeit Online article.
There has been some interesting attempts on the Israeli side to use lawfare against the ‘Peace Flotilla’ (great name for those who believe language is just another weapon of war – it’s called propaganda, usually).
First marine insurance companies were warned off insuring the boats because if it could be shown they were breaching international law, then they would in effect be liable to be sued by victims of Hamas terrorism:
A human rights group has warned insurance companies that they could be aiding terrorism if they insure ships that break the blockade of Gaza.
Israeli organisation Shurut Hadin has written to almost all major insurance companies worldwide, including Lloyd’s of London, the biggest in the world.
It warns them that they could be liable for massive damages if the ships they insure break Israel’s blockade around Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder of the group, explained: “We sent these letters to the largest insurance companies in the world, including Turkish companies, which represent over 99 per cent of the maritime insurance business worldwide. We warned them that, if they insure these ships, they could be sued by victims of Hamas attacks.”
Then a US citizen invoked a 220 year old law to try to try to seize the US boats intending to take part.
Dr. Alan Bauer, who along with his son Jonathan was seriously wounded in Palestinian Authority Arab suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem in 2002, filed the suit in a federal court in Manhattan. He is represented by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Israeli-based Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) and New York attorney Robert J. Tolchin.
Bauer’s suit seeks to confiscate 14 ships outfitted with funds “unlawfully raised in the United States by anti-Israel groups, including the Free Gaza Movement.” The lawsuit contends that furnishing and outfitting the ships, which are being used for hostilities against a U.S. ally, violates American law.
A Canadian citizen who is a resident of Sderot has taken out a lawsuit against the Flotilla organisers:
Sderot resident and Canadian citizen Cherna Rosenberg has filed a million dollar law suit against two Canadian organizations raising money to sponsor a ship – The Canadian Boat to Gaza – to join the international flotilla to Gaza.
The suit, presented by Toronto barrister and law professor Ed Morgan and New York attorney and former AIPAC executive director Neal Sher to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Monday, argues that the groups, Turtle Island Humanitarian Aid and Alternatives International, both based in Montreal, are part of a chain of conduct that “ultimately leads to the rocket attacks that have traumatized the plaintiff and caused her much suffering and loss.”
The Greeks have waded in with their own attempt to derail the flotilla sailing from Athens:
Ynet has learned that six ships that were meant to take part in the Gaza-bound flotilla are being detained by the port authority and the coast guard in Greece. Senior officials in Jerusalem have confirmed the report.
While the organizers of the maritime convoy claim that more than 1,500 activists are set to take part in the initiative, it now appears that not more than seven ships, carrying 200-500 passengers, will participate in the flotilla.
Of course, the Hamas-huggers are whingeing about all these efforts because they are getting a taste of their own medicine. Too bad!
So, the Peace Flotilla, replete, allegedly, with its chemical weapons and who knows what else, sets off for Gaza, not to build a nation, Palestine, but destroy another, Israel.
How sad. How tragic. How much longer will Palestinians allow themselves to be used as the pawns of Green-Red political posturing?
How much longer will they allow themselves to be sacrificed on the altar of anti-Zionist, Jew-hatred and far Left ideological fantasising.
Audacity of Hope? Or the Morality of the Cesspit?
Chas Newkey-Burden (OyVaGoy) has pointed me to his own blog post on this issue.
When I saw that Panorama, one of the BBC’s longest running investigative programmes, was being fronted by Jane Corbin, I was not sure that Israel would get a fair hearing. The last time I saw Ms Corbin in action on this programme was to report on evictions and demolitions in Jerusalem which ultimately failed to deliver a lot of context.
This time Corbin managed to tell the Israeli side for a change and also interviewed key players on the IHH side. The IHH being a Turkish humanitarian organisation that behaved in anything but a humanitarian way and has links to Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda. There are calls for its being proscribed in the USA and Europe.
The programme did an excellent job of piecing together video into a timeline. This was interspersed with interviews of IDF soldiers who actually took part, received injuries and fired on their attackers.
Interviews with the IHH were predictably disingenuous, representing their actions as defensive and claiming the IDF fired first.
The accusation of firing first was, perhaps, the only disappointing feature in this documentary. Jane Corbin said there were conflicting accounts. In other words, she sat journalistically on the fence. She did say, however, the the IDF could not have fired a weapon and rappelled on to the deck at the same time. The IHH claimed that the IDF shot first so their attack with knives, iron bars, captured pistols and, according the the Israelis, another firearm not used in the IDF, was purely defensive.
This claim is demonstrably nonsense. Firstly, if you are standing on a deck waiting for soldiers to come down a rope and they are somehow managing to fire at you, and you are so defenceless, wouldn’t you get the hell out of the way? If you do not have firearms and someone is shooting at you, would you just wait to attack with iron bars and knives? It’s ludicrous.
The IDF admitted that once they had seen there was strong resistance they should have regrouped and considered more carefully their next move. Instead, they decided to land on the deck even though they had already seen that this would meet with violence. This was a blunder and the current enquiry in Israel will surely further reinforce that fact, already admitted by the military. Israeli intelligence as to the nature of the threat failed miserably. The Mavi Marmara was hijacked by about 40 IHH activists and their plans to attack the IDF, clearly shown from their own videos, were unknown to the majority of activists on the ship who were completely innocent of any intentions other than, perhaps, passive resistance; and this was what happened on all the other boats.
The conclusions any sensible person would draw are these: you may not agree with the boarding of the Mavi Marmara, but it was clearly demonstrated that the Israelis were using paintball guns before they landed on deck and that this was their ‘weapon’ of choice as a non-lethal crowd controller. Handguns were only used when the attack on them became lethal.
It is also clear there was considerable confusion and fear amongst the soldiers, some of whom were taken below and one reported that he believed he would be killed. One of the Turkish activists protected him and probably saved his life. In this respect, his actions are praiseworthy. Other activists seem to have tried to treat the injured Israelis.
There was still no explanation of how and when and where the 9 activists were killed. The fact that 50 were also injured demonstrated, to me, that the soldiers, in fear of their lives, with good reason (some had already been bludgeoned, thrown off deck rails, stabbed and even shot) did what any soldier would do, namely use enough force to stop the immediate threat and discourage further attack. One IDF soldier, when asked if he killed anyone, said he shot at his assailants’ legs and this was then reinforced with video of an injured activist with leg wounds.
I believe that the soldiers went for non-lethal shots, but as they feared being overwhelmed and being killed they used lethal force. Maj Gen (Ret) Giora Eiland, who carried out the IDF investigation, made the remark that, under the circumstances, casualties were low. He didn’t elaborate why, and such remarks don’t play well with international audiences. This was not a well-judged remark, but at least it was honest.
Jane Corbin herself concluded, having seen the remnants of the aid, that the whole flotilla was a political provocation, not a humanitarian one. The Mavi Marmara carried no aid whatsoever (a point not made in the film) and other items were of such little importance to Hamas that they either did not let them through as a form of protest, or they were out-of-date medicines. You can see details of the aid carried by the other boats and what the Israelis did with it on a previous post of mine here.
No doubt apologists from the Free Gaza Movement will simply say that the whole incident would not have happened had it not been for the blockade, the Israelis are liars etc. But I ask you, if the Beeb can’t find anything with which to beat Israel up then maybe the IDF did indeed enter a trap and protected itself from lethal force with lethal force.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has completely lost it. He is campaigning for Turkey’s entry into the European Union and thus for placing a growing Islamist country, that has strong ties with the enemies of the West, at the heart of Europe.
All this might have been acceptable in the past when Turkey was recognised as a secular Muslim country sitting between the West and the Islamic world, a democracy with a mixed Western and Eastern culture and an honest broker between the West and Islam.
But Cameron seems to have overlooked completely Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist program.
At the same time that he shows little understanding of the threat posed to Europe by the regime of Erdogan, he attacks in an unwarranted, ill-informed and just plain ignorant way the EU’s only real friend in the Middle East, and its only democracy, Israel, by declaring Gaza to be a ‘Prison Camp’.
His speech in Turkey mirrored President Obama’s in Cairo with its cringing agenda of appeasement instead of confronting Turkey with the manifold reasons as to not only why it should currently be shunned by the EU but also suspended from NATO, as I wrote earlier this year after the Turkish flotilla incident.
As the BBC reports:
Mr Cameron said he wanted to “pave the road” for Turkey to join the EU.
Maybe this road should be called the Islamic fundamentalist highway.
“When I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a Nato ally, and what Turkey is doing today in Afghanistan, alongside our European allies, it makes me angry that your progress towards EU membership can be frustrated in the way it has been.
Yes, the old Turkey, the secular Muslim state with democratic values, not THIS Turkey.
“So we need Turkey’s help now in making it clear to Iran just how serious we are about engaging fully with the international community,”
Cameron recognises that Erdogan has the ear of Iran’s president Ahmadinejad, but for what purpose?
What has happened to the secular, democratic, Muslim state created by Kemal Attaturk and so lauded for decades as a blueprint of what a modern Islamic nation should look like, (despite many issues of human rights)?
A telling analysis by Andre Mozes reveals:
Before entering Turkish national politics, Erdogan served as Istanbul’s mayor. In this colorful city… one learns to speak the languages of all; of moderate Muslims, of cosmopolitan and of Islamist Turks alike. Erdogan learned them well, but in his deeds he always belonged to the third group. In earlier Turkish elections fundamentalist Islamic parties were banned, according to the secular laws and tradition of Turkey, preserved successfully since Ataturk turned Turkey from a backward Muslim monarchy, into a progressive secular modern nation.
In the elections of 2002, however, Erdogan’s Islamic party succeeded in changing its appearance - including by its beautiful name: Justice and Development Party (AKP) - sufficiently to circumvent the ban. They won a convincing election victory, primarily in the less developed rural regions, where most votes were controlled by the local imams. The army – the traditional watchdog of Ataturk’s legacy – decided, after difficult arguments only, not to veto the election results, and so Recep Erdogan came to power.
Mr Cameron appears blissfully unaware of this history; the erosion of Attaturk’s values by craft and deceit.
While praising Turkey’s secular and democratic traditions, Mr Cameron stressed that Turkey must continue to push forward “aggressively” with economic and political reform to maintain momentum towards EU membership.
The only thing that Erdogan is aggressively pursuing is an alliance with radical left-wing regimes (Chavez in Venezuela), Islamists (Ahmadinejad in Iran) and dictators (Assad in Syria).
As the Guardian* reported in October last year with the headline “‘Iran is our friend’, says Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan”:
Erdogan’s partiality towards Ahmadinejad may surprise some in the west who see Turkey as a western-oriented democracy firmly grounded inside Nato. It has been a member of the alliance since 1952. It will be less surprising to Erdogan’s secular domestic critics, who believe the prime minister’s heart lies in the east and have long suspected his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development party (AKP) government of plotting to transform Turkey into a religious state resembling Iran.
Erdogan vigorously denies the latter charge, but to his critics he and Ahmadinejad are birds of a feather: devout religious conservatives from humble backgrounds who court popular support by talking the language of the street.
But all this came to a head in May with the infamous Freedom Flotilla incident in which the Israeli navy intercepted a flotilla attempting to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and, when boarding the lead ship, ‘Mavi Marmara’, were attacked. In the ensuing melee 9 ‘activists’ were killed. An outraged Erdogan condemned Israel, demanded an apology, threatened to break relations, demanded a UN enquiry and made huge political capital of the incident.
This led to Erdogan’s being lionised across the Islamic world; Israel’ s best friend in the Near East, and the only Muslim country which had good relations with Israel, was distancing itself from the Zionists. The dictators and the terror groups were jubilant. Erdogan’s star was in the ascendant in the Muslim world. He appeared to be bidding for leadership of that same world. But some believed he was over-reaching. Had he revealed his Islamist hand too soon?
It was only a little later that the facts came to light about the nature of the IHH, which organised the Freedom Flotilla, a humanitarian organisation with links to terror, including Al Qaeda.
A decidedly anti-Western and virulently anti-Israeli group took over the Mavi Marmara and announced that their aim was to reach Gaza or to die as martyrs. They then meticulously prepared a reception for the Israeli commandos who rappelled on to the ship’s decks to be met by lethal force. Subsequent Israeli investigations have revealed that all but one of the fatalities had ‘form’ which linked them to Hamas and Islamic terror groups. The IHH is an organisation formerly recognised and supported by the Turkish government. This links Erdogan’s regime indirectly to anti-Western, and that includes anti-European groups. But nice Mr Cameron doesn’t see that. All he can muster is, and I repeat:
Turkey must continue to push forward “aggressively” with economic and political reform
Mr Cameron has thus joined the legions of the politically blind. Blind to the fundamentalist threat which he responds to with:
“Those who wilfully misunderstand Islam, they see no difference between real Islam and the distorted version of the extremists. They think the problem is Islam itself. And they think the values of Islam can just never be compatible with the values of other religions, societies or cultures.”
But it is Erdogan who is cavorting with these extremists and who is leading his country down the same path.
The Italians certainly know what the IHH is all about as MP Fiamma Nirenstein is seeking to outlaw the group in the very EU that Mr Cameron wants Turkey to join:
I just presented a parliamentary question to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs requiring to evaluate the possibility to insert the Turkish organization IHH (“Insani Yardim Vafki”), one of the main promoters of the Mavi Marmara and responsible for its violent implications, in the list of terrorist organizations of the European Union.
Several investigations and reports testify the involvement of IHH in global terrorism and many videos and documents attest its jihadist attitude finalized at “martyrdom in the name of Allah”. Because of its connection to Hamas and the “Union of Good” (an Islamic umbrella organization affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood that was put in the US’ terror list in 2008), Germany has recently banned IHH and in the USA, a bipartisan group of Senators appealed to President Obama with a request to enter the IHH in the US’ list of terrorist organizations.
You can read below the entire interrogation.
And here’s the link http://fiammanirenstein.com/articoli.asp?Categoria=5&Id=2412
Is this the group we want a member country of the EU to be supporting, Mr Cameron?
But it is on the situation in Gaza that Cameron was at his egregious worst.
“Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza can not and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp,” he said.
As Stephen Pollard of the Jewish Chronicle amusingly points out:
What exactly are the humanitarian goods that will flow from Gaza to Israel and Egypt?
Will Cameron lobby President Mubarak of Egypt to open the Rafah crossing?
What humanitarian aid is NOT getting into Gaza?
All humanitarian aid has always been allowed through into Gaza; only the Egyptians have actually blocked aid both from Viva Palestina and, more recently, Jordan.
And Gaza doesn’t need humanitarian aid any more. The shops are full. What it needs is rebuilding and jobs. But what is holding it back is the Islamist, anti-Semitic, Hamas regime which Erdogan actually supports. On the 6th April this year Mr Erdogan declared that Hamas is not a terrorist group. Mr Cameron should remember that the EU has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation. So why does Mr Cameron want to support a country which condones terror?
The Jerusalem Post reported Erdogan as saying:
“I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization. … They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land.”
And that ‘land’ is, of course Israel which Hamas wants to call Palestine, from the river to the sea.
Is this Mr Cameron’s idea of the type of leader Europe, and particularly Mr Cameron, should be embracing?
In his address Friday, he said the Ten Commandments should have deterred the soldiers from killing the nine passengers who died on board the ship. “If you do not understand it in Turkish I will say it in English: You shall not kill,” he reportedly said – repeating the phrase in Hebrew.
But Mr Erdogan’s forces kill Kurds almost daily in their fight for their own independent state. On June 20th 2010 the BBC reported :
Turkey has vowed to fight Kurdish rebels until they are “annihilated”, after attacks killed 11 soldiers.
PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday’s “cowardly” assaults would not end Turkey’s determination to fight the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) “to the end”.
Is this the sort of hypocrite that Mr Cameron wants to fast-track into Europe? Imagine if Israel said this about Hamas.
Cameron seems to be stuck with the idea that Erdogan is an important link between Europe and the Islamic world, so he conveniently glosses over the Kurds, Northern Cyprus – which Turkey has occupied and populated with its nationals against International Law since 1974; he conveniently glides effortlessly over Erdogan’s support for Hamas and, therefore, implicitly, the destruction of Israel.
Is this the Turkey which, as Mr Cameron says, is “vital for our economy, vital for our security and vital for our diplomacy”?
Mr Cameron’s characterisation of Gaza as a prison-camp uses the overblown rhetoric of Israel’s enemies not because Cameron believes it, but because it is politic and ‘even-handed’ just to throw it in there as a sop to his audience. He also forgets that the only real prisoner in Gaza is kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, who has been in captivity, without access to the Red Cross, for four years, contrary to the Geneva Convention and the laws of conflict.
He is therefore willing to lie and twist the truth for diplomatic reasons. He really believes that risking an Islamist state in Europe, as well as NATO, is good for the UK’s, the EU’s and the West’s security. He really believes that giving Israel a good kicking will, Obama-like, make the Islamic countries see him as fair and rush towards his outstretched hand?
They must be be rolling about in uncontrollable glee and laughter.
How is it that Conservative Cameron has caught the Obama appeasement bug without realising it. Too much kissy-kissy in the White House, perhaps.
Like the previous government, Cameron is strong on diplomacy and weak on statesmanship; like those who have gone before him he is prepared to be Abraham to Israel’s Isaac and hope that someone shows up with a ram before he has to do the dirty deed.
And what of the euro-sceptics in the Conservative Party? Indeed, what of Cameron’s own scepticism on Europe? The same David Cameron who wants a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Why should his party europhobes agree to an expansion of the EU they wish to dismantle?
Or is this Con-Dem Frankenstein’s monster of a government just lurching about calling out “Friend, friend” in the desperate hope it can find one, even if he’s an Islamist in a sharp suit with an even sharper knife tucked behind his back?
The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has released a list of those killed aboard the Mavi Marmara. Eight out of nine had links to terrorism. Several wrote wills or expressed their wish for martyrdom.
The report notes that no Western or Arab/Muslim human rights activists were killed; they all had Turkish nationality.
Here’s the summary, for details follow the link the link:
The following conclusions arise from analyzing the identity and affiliation of the nine Turkish nationals killed aboard the Mavi Marmara:
- The major role played by the Islamic organization IHH: out of the nine people killed, four were identified as IHH operatives or activists. Four others were members of Turkish Islamic organizations or parties affiliated with the IHH. The remaining victim is an ordinary Turkish volunteer who was caught in the event for unclear reasons.
- Operatives from the Turkish Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi): at least two of the people killed belong to the Felicity Party, an Islamic party established in 2001 with the support of ex-politician Necmettin Erbakan (after his Welfare Party, Refah Partisi, was banned from politics). The party espouses cooperation between Muslim countries, war on Zionism, and confrontation with the West. In April 2010, the party announced it would take part in the flotilla together with the IHH and the Free Gaza movement.
- Thugs among those killed: one of the people killed is a former Taekwondo champion; another worked at an Istanbul sports association; still another worked as a security guard at IHH conferences in the city where he lived. It should be noted that one of the Mavi Marmara passengers related during questioning in Israel that he had seen several IHH thugs carrying clubs. Statements taken from Israeli navy commandos show that there were thugs among the operatives who fought them. The presence of those thugs among the hard core of IHH operatives was part of the preparations for the confrontation.
- Statements made by relatives of those killed about their desire to become shaheeds and preparation of wills: relatives of four killed operatives testified that they wanted to die as shaheeds. It was reported that two of the killed operatives had left a letter or a last will before setting sail. “I pray that Allah will give us a happy endings, just like those shaheeds”, says one of the killed operatives on a video tape found aboard the Mavi Marmara.
- No human rights activists among the victims: conspicuously absent are human rights activists from Western countries and from the Arab/Muslim world, some of whom came on board the Mavi Marmara out of a genuine desire to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Those activists avoided joining the organized fighting against the IDF, stayed inside the ship, and did not go to the upper deck where the fighting took place. One of the Turkish nationals killed was a high school student. We have no information that he was connected with any Islamic organization.
As I write, most of the aid from the Freedom Flotilla and the Rachel Corrie that Israel has sent through to its crossings with Gaza is not being allowed in by Hamas.
Can you believe that? Its people are in such dire need but Hamas will not allow in this ‘vital’ aid.
Where are the protests from the Free Gaza Movement about Hamas’s inhuman blockade? Why are the IHH not slammimg Hamas. Why is Turkish prime minster Erdogan not taking Hamas to task? Where is Ban Ki Moon? John Ging (UNWRA) anyone? Amnesty International? Save the Children? Human Rights Watch? All silent. Desmond Tutu? Shtum.
I see. It’s only when Israel blocks anything that it’s wrong. Now I see. Thank you so much you irrational bunch of hypocrites. At last I am enlightened.
What the hell is going on when no-one says anything about this!
To anyone that has half an unbiased brain to think and at least one unclouded eye to see, the evidence supporting Israel’s account is mounting.
Sadly, there is now a long history of Israel’s many accounts of its actions not being accepted.
The unrelenting propaganda as well as Israel’s often lamentable ability to make its case or explain its actions mean that Israel has to change. The government must find a different way to defend Israel and one that shows up its enemies to be what they are. Israel must engage with those who claim to be its friend and let them put there actions where their mouth is.
But first, even before any investigation, internal or otherwise, is cobbled together to appease world opinion, this is my version of what happened garnered from a growing body of evidence:
Whether you like it or not and whether you think it legal or not, Israel has imposed a maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip. The single most important reason for the maritime blockade is fear of arms smuggling from Iran. Israel has repeatedly said that it will not allow Iran to have a port a few tens of kilometres from Tel Aviv. This article about the Francop shows you the size and extent of such arms smuggling. This would be considered an act of war by many countries. Note that the ship was flying the Antiguan flag. This is not an isolated case. Iran supplies Hamas through Somalia and Egypt and Hizbollah, a Hamas clone, in Lebanon via Syria.
The Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish-based IHH (both ostensibly and evidentially aid organisations) organised a flotilla, loaded it with aid and set out with the expressed intention of ‘breaking the blockade’. The delivery of aid was secondary and here’s why:
There is an impression given that Gazans are starving, but they are not. The UN claims that only between one quarter and one fifth of goods previously entering before the blockade gets through Israel’s and Egypt’s border checkpoints.
It should be noted that Egypt also imposed a ‘blockade’ and has built a 30ft deep steel barrier across its border with Gaza.
Whilst there is no doubt that Gazan’s are suffering economically, it is in the interests of Israel’s enemies to use overblown and inflammatory claims. Sometimes, the truth does get out. May I refer you to this article in the Daily Telegraph: Dispatch: Just how hungry is Gaza?
“There is no starvation in Gaza,” said Khalil Hamada, a senior official at Hamas’s ministry of justice. “No-one has died of hunger.
But it is, however, true that there is hardship. This cannot and should not be denied. What is often lacking is context and moderate language. The moral issues at stake here, and your view of them, depend on your particular bias or understanding of the conflict. You may simply hate Israel and be prepared to do anything to destroy it or to blacken its name internationally. You may support Israel and be blinkered to, or underplay, Palestinian suffering.
Given the difficulties of the Gazan people, aid organisations which support Palestinians and Gazans in particular, and reject Israel’s security concerns, have sought to make political capital by attempting to run the blockade with the express intention of breaking it. At the same time they load up their ships with aid, including food and building materials. Their mission, they believe, is a moral one and they are motivated by their sense of outrage to pursue their goal.
Such activists have a right to protest. They can even try to break the blockade, but they know they will not be allowed to do so. They know, however, that this will be a propaganda victory. They know that the aid will still get through.
But their main motivation, as expressed many times in the recent Freedom Flotilla disaster is to break the blockade. One pebble cannot break a wall but eventually you will chip away enough to get through. It must also be said that these same people would never attempt to run a blockade by Iran or North Korea because they know they would be risking their lives. They know, if they are honest with themselves, that Israel may use force, but it will not be lethal. So why did it become lethal?
It is now becoming clear that at some point the flotilla was infiltrated by activists with links to terror and who had planned confrontation with Israeli forces. They brought on a board an assortment of knives, clubs and slingshots. They may have brought firearms, although there is no conclusive evidence. They were filmed by reporters on the boat chanting there intention to kill the Jews. They gave interviews stating it was Gaza or martyrdom. They did not care that they were about to risk the lives of hundreds of people including women and children (why would you bring children!)
Israel spent 6 hours trying to negotiate that the ships divert to Ashdod for inspection. The flotilla leaders refused. 6 hours! If they had real murderous intent they would have just sunk the ships.
Israeli commandos, include females, successfully boarded 5 of the 6 flotilla boats without encountering any resistance. There may have been some rough handling, but no-one on either side was injured. When Israel commandeered the 7th, delayed boat, the Rachel Corrie, yesterday, there was no resistance and no-one was injured.
But when the Mavi Marmara, the large lead ship, was boarded something went wrong.
Israel botched the Mavi Marmara assault. They used the wrong kind of troops and the wrong tactics. However, it is also clear, if you open your eyes even to what may be unpalatable to your viewpoint, the commandos came on board with a paintball gun and a Glock pistol. As each commando landed on the top deck wielding their paintball gun they were assaulted extremely violently with metal bars and knives. The ‘activists’ even had stun grenades, apparently.
The activists took two pistols from the Israelis and shot them. One was hit in the stomach. Another soldier was thrown over a guard rail and suffered serious head injuries. Three soldiers were taken hostage and moved below decks.
As his comrades lay on the deck injured, an Israeli Staff Sergeant dragged them to the side, stood in front of them to protect them, and took out his semi-automatic pistol. Given the Turkish autopsy evidence, 9 ‘activists’ were then shot and killed by 30 bullets suffering shots to the legs, lower body and lethal shots to the head, including the back and side of the head. Several others were injured.
Those looking for atrocity stories and who don’t understand how lethal force is applied will see this as disproportionate. Just think. You are that Israeli. You have seen your comrades beaten unconscious and shot. There is a mob advancing on you with clubs and knives and maybe guns. Your life is in danger. You try to disable your assailant by shooting him in the leg, it’s dark and you are on a heaving ship. Some leg shots may hit the lower abdomen. He keeps coming. He is about to stab you or shoot you or beat you. You are in fear of your life. You have asked for and been given permission to use your firearm. Your training tells you you have to shoot twice in the head. You keep doing this until they stop coming. You have been joined by a comrade who is doing the same thing. 9 men are dead and your assailants stop coming at you. At last there are enough of you to take charge of the boat.
They have their victory. Israel has committed another ‘atrocity’. The IHH infiltrators, with links to terrorism have won. They have provoked the tiger. Now the lies and distortions that an all too willing world wants to hear can begin.
Claims that the Israelis opened the firing from deck or even from the helicopters do not make sense. Why fire live rounds them come down a rope with a pop-gun? If the activists were unarmed surely live rounds would have cowered them? Maybe they fired stun grenades or even tear gas, who knows. We do not even know where the dead fell and whether all casualties were on deck.
The non-Turkish flotilla leaders have not acknowledged this infiltration. They either refuse to accept the evidence either because there is some form of cognitive dissonance going on, or they are deliberately ignoring it because it doesn’t play to their political preconceptions. They have already demonised Israel and nothing Israel does in national self-defence or individual self-defence will make them tell it otherwise.
Israel must recognise that it has lost the battle for world opinion long ago. A combination of its poorly thought out strategies and its opponents successful manipulation of public opinion has turned the only redoubt of democracy in the Middle East to a pariah state with a lower standing than genocidal Iran. Israel was once surrounded by neighbouring enemies who wanted to destroy it. Now most of the world is either its enemy or wants it to give in to those who would destroy it.
Israel must now stop trying to fight battles as if it were still the 1970′s. In this century of mass communication and instant sound bites, so-called human rights and NGO’s, Israel has to be more humble and a lot cleverer; it has to be less defensive diplomatically and fight back not with weapons but with diplomacy and legal instruments. It must make the same use of international courts and UN bodies as its enemies. It has to show the world more forcefully what it is up against.
What Israel must not do is lift the maritime blockade. It should get together with its ‘friends’ and the UN and ask a simple question: how do we stop Iran arming our enemy and rebuilding its capability whilst, at the same time enabling Gazans to rebuild their broken homes and lives? How will you help us? How long will Gilad Shalit rot in some hole in Gaza (if that’s where he still is?) What pressure will the UN bring on Hamas to allow the Red Cross or the Red Crescent visit him? Where are the pro-Israel NGO’s fighting to tell Israel’s story?
Israel has to agree to some form of international enquiry not because it should but because it is diplomatically the right thing to do. This should be the start of a new strategy for Israel and its fight back in the propaganda war that could destroy it. If it stops acting as the victor and starts acting a bit more like the victim the tide could turn.
Here are links to material which support the article above.
For some videos see my post http://www.raymondcook.net/blog/index.php/2010/06/03/col-kemp-israel-and-double-standards/
All news and videos about the flotilla see http://www.jta.org/bigstory
Last week I was approached by the London Evening Standard to write a letter about the Israeli interception and boarding of the Freedom Flotilla and its aftermath.
This is what was published:
THE deaths on the Freedom Flotilla and the international outcry resulting from Israel’s interception and boarding are the result of a carefully calculated plan by the convoy’s organisers.
If they were allowed through they would have scored a victory; if they were stopped, the Israelis would undoubtedly be vilified for preventing “humanitarian aid” entering Gaza. This was a win-win situation for the organisers, the Turkish-based IHH charity which is also a covert supporter of Hamas and international terrorism.
The refusal to dock at Ashdod for inspection and the expressed intention to head for Gaza was deliberately confrontational. Israel was unaware that an ambush awaited its commandos as they landed on the lead ship.
The commandos had paintball guns and pistols and had orders only to use their weapons in extremis. Israeli video clearly shows they were attacked, beaten, stabbed, thrown over a deck rail and fired at. They were in danger of their lives.
But it is now the default position internationally to blame Israel first and let the facts be buried. Israel can no longer take any action to defend its citizens against a murderous neighbour and its fanatical supporters without international condemnation.*
*Letters to the London Evening Standard June 1st 2010
I wish I wasn’t in the middle of my day job when the request came in as the letter would have been a little diffrent, but it’s nice to be approached for your opinion.
The ‘Freedom Flotilla’ organised by the Free Gaza Movement was bringing vital aid, right?
Nine people were tragically killed trying to deliver it, right?
Israel has been embroiled in an international incident. Angry mobs have attacked Israeli targets all over the world and demonstrated in Turkey.
But when the aid does finally arrive in 20 trucks (Israel delivered over 30,000 truckloads in 2009, that’s about 100 a day by the way) they have been stopped at the Rafah checkpoint by Hamas as the IDF blog reports:
As of right now, the State of Israel has loaded 20 trucks with various types of aid found onboard the flotilla. Expired medication, clothing, blankets, some medical equipment and toys were among the aid found on the ships.
Unfortunately, the Hamas terror organization is unwilling to accept the cargo and the trucks filled with humanitarian aid have not been allowed to enter the Gaza Strip. It appears that Hamas is in fact stopping the transfer of the humanitarian aid.
CNN has a little more on this:
Palestinian sources confirmed that trucks that arrived from Israel at the Rafah terminal at the Israel-Gaza border were barred from delivering the aid.
Ra’ed Fatooh, in charge of the crossings, and Jamal Khudari, head of a committee against the Gaza blockade, said Israel must release all flotilla detainees and that it will be accepted in the territory only by the Free Gaza Movement people who organized the flotilla.
So first of all the sum total of aid (I believe 8 trucks had already been delivered yesterday) was about one quarter of what is delivered daily through Israel and the organisers bleat:
Those held illegally by the Israeli government have committed no crime, they have simply attempted to avert a humanitarian disaster by bringing much-needed medical supplies into Gaza. (Betty Hunter, general secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
Much-needed out of date medication which could do more harm than good. But the way the ships were carelessly and chaotically laden bears witness that the aid was just a front; a front for confrontation. As the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday:
In a statement to reporters at the port on Tuesday, Colonel Moshe Levi, commander of the IDF’s Gaza Strip Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), said that none of the equipment found on board the three cargo ships was in shortage in Gaza.
“We have been working non-stop for the last twenty-four hours examining the cargo holds of the three large cargo ships and I can say with great assurance, that none of the equipment on board is needed in Gaza. The equipment that we found is all equipment that we have regularly allowed into the strip over the past year,” said Levi. “This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the whole premise of the voyage was for propaganda and provocation and not for humanitarian purposes.”…..
Gidi Gofer, head of the Defense Ministry’s international transport division, said that the equipment that arrived in the cargo ships did not have proper transport manifests or any of the paperwork required to legally ship cargo by sea. “The cargo did not meet international safety or operational standards,” said Gofer.
Many in the flotilla who thought that they were on a genuine humanitarian mission were duped by the IHH who were behind the attempted lynching of the Israeli commandos; the real purpose of the flotilla for them was to cause an incident, kill some Israelis or become martyrs (see my post here).
So Hamas think so little of these 20 trucks that they are holding their own people to ransom in order to win some pathetic battle to release people they know will be released anyway. These are the people the poor misguided humanitarian organisations are really supporting. Their people are so deprived of medicine and a bit of food that they can afford to use them as bargaining chips in some obscene political game.
If this doesn’t tell us the true nature of Hamas or the the true intent of the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ then what will.
This morning I awoke to the worst possible headlines and yet another depressing chapter in Israel’s history of PR disasters. My belief that Israel had the ‘perfect answer’ was wrong.
They messed up badly.
We don’t yet know how many died or will die, but one thing is certain: Israel will be blamed and vilified and this will be another martyrdom to be added to litany of hate against Israel. All we know is that Israeli commandos intercepted and boarded the flotilla that was sailing from Turkey to break the maritime blockade and deliver aid to Gaza. On one of the boats, it appears, that an ‘activist’ grabbed a weapon from an Israeli commando and shot him in the stomach. Bearing in mind this is at night amid chaos it appears that other commandos opened fire and several were killed. It also appears that this was a planned attack and the activists who had previously claimed that they would not resort to violence did just that.
The Jerusalem Post got it right:
For the international media and its consumers, the reasons behind Israel’s decision do not make much of a difference, since what Israel is doing fits the way it is already widely perceived – as a violent aggressor abusing a weak and poor Palestinian people.
The article then goes on to state that the flotilla of aid was unnecessary because thousands of tons a week enter Gaza via the Keren Shalom crossing and in an attempt to improve its PR image the Israeli government invited journalists to witness this. What hasn’t been reported widely is that:
the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the Turkish organization that is behind the flotilla, described as a “radical Islamic organization” that was outlawed by Israel in 2008 for allegedly serving as a major component in Hamas’s global fund-raising machine
In other words, under the cover of an aid convey, the real intention was to provoke Israel to some precipitate action.
And as far as the hostile world is concerned, this is exactly what happened. On BBC News this morning Mark Regev, the Israel spokesperson, was asked if there were any illegal arms on board, to which he, of course, answered that he had no such intelligence.
And so the waters are immediately muddied: why did the Israelis have to stop the flotilla? If they had let it through there would have been no deaths. In other words Israel is the provocateur, not the IHH. The deaths are Israel’s fault and caused by the blockade, not by an activist who recklessly grabbed a weapon and actually used it.
As I have said in previous posts, this was a win/win for Hamas and a lose/lose for Israel. If the flotilla were allowed through, as the JP also points out and as Danny Ayalon, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister described here and in his press conference this morning, the floodgates would be open and Iran would succeed in delivering missiles to Gaza that would be used against Israeli towns and cities.
This is why there is a maritime blockade and why all ships which wish to deliver anything to Gaza have to pass through an Israeli port for inspection .
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has now published this account.
1. Numerous warning were given to head for Ashdod where the aid would be delivered after inspection
2. This was refused
3. The Israeli commandos boarded the ships and on one ship they were, apparently, fired on by weapons already on board (2 pistols) which had been taken but one of which was then grabbed back.In addition the activists had knives and clubs. This is despite prior protestations that they would not use violence.
4. This seemed to be a planned ambush by a section of the activists. So it is clear.
The aid flotilla was a sham. Its intention was to provoke violence and it succeeded. If it was just and aid convoy it could have docked at Ashdod. The organisers are a Turkish NGO (IHH) which has connections with terrorist organisations including Hamas But none of this will matter. The forces of terror have had a clear victory. The Palestinian Authority has already declared 3 days of mourning and Hamas call it a ‘massacre’.
Could Israel have handled it better? I’m sorry to say the answer has to be ‘yes’.