A group of So- called “independent experts’ criticized the conclusions of Palmer’s Report on the legality of the Israeli naval blockade.
First, these So- Called “independent experts” are not independent at all. A member of the expert group, Richard Falk, a former UN official on human rights, is famous for his biased attitude towards Israel. He has a long history of anti- Israel policy.
Second, the so – called “independent experts” report deals with the blockade as a human rights issue of the Palestinian population and totally ignore the war against Israel conducted by the terrorist government of Gaza. They totally reject Israel’s right to defend its civilians against the rockets on its villages and towns.
Israel civilian population has been under constant attack of rockets from the Gaza Strip since 2006, despite of the fact that Israel destroyed all the settlements and removed all its citizens and soldiers from Gaza Strip in 2006. There was no naval blockade before 2006.
Third, the so- called “independent experts” totally ignore the statements made by the terrorist government of Gaza on its determination to eliminate the Jewish state by terror. This terrorist regime is closely connected with Iran, whose president declared of his policy to eliminate the Jewish state. Iran sends rockets, weapons and ammunition to Gaza by land and by sea. Israel has captured Iran’s consignment of arms by land and by sea. The naval blockade is the only way to prevent Iran from sending weapons and ammunition to kill Israeli civilians.
Gaza can get all it needs through its border with Egypt.
Why the so- called expert” don’t demand Egypt to open its border. They deal in their report only with Israel.
Also, Gaza gets daily shipments of food and other needs from Israel on a daily basis.
The Gaza terrorist government can put an end to the naval blockade by declaring change of its policy and by stopping targeting Israeli civilians with rockets.
According to the so- called “independent experts” Israeli civilians have no human rights. Their lives are not the concern of the experts.
In short, the real issue is not the human rights of the Palestinian population, but the human rights of the Israeli population. The terrorist government of Gaza is responsible for the Israeli naval blockade and it can bring an end to the blockade by stopping its war against Israeli civilians.
The way to deal with the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is by negotiations. The problem is the terrorist government of Gaza does not recognize the right of Israel to exist and is no interested in solving the conflict but in the elimination of Israel.
P.S: Britain bombed Dresden upon a daily base during Second World War. The people of Dresden were short of food, water, medicine and shelter.
Would the so-called “independent experts” blame Britain for the same accusations against Israel?
Germany could stop the suffering of the people of Dresden by stopping the war.
The same goes for Israel. The Hamas can stop the war against Israeli civilians and the naval blockade will be removed.
It looks like the Middle East has found a new Nasser for the 21st century.
Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, has announced a series of military and civil measures and sanctions against Israel since the publication of the Palmer Report enquiry into the Mavi Marmara incident over a year ago.
Even before the report Erdogan was making bellicose noises.
It appears that Erdogan is using the incident and Israel’s refusal to apologise as an excuse not only to withdraw from his country’s long and happy friendship with Israel, but to promote himself as a champion of the one cause that unites the Arab and Muslim worlds – the Palestinian grievance with Israel.
Erdogan came to power with a decidedly Islamist agenda. Turkey has been a secular state ever since Kemal Attaturk established the new Turkey in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. For decades Turkey was an example of how Islam can be a national religion and identity whilst retaining secularism.
Turkey’s record on human rights has not always been without blemish, but it is a member of NATO and would like to join the EU.
In April 2010 a so-called Freedom Flotilla of pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist groups announced their intention to beat Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza and deliver ‘humanitarian aid’.
As it turned out, there was little aid of any use on the boats and it was not only clear but also admitted that the true reason was confrontation with Israel and to promote the anti-Zionist agenda.
What is also clear is that the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara, registered under the flag of the Cormoros, was owned and led by the Turkish Islamist group the IHH.
I will not rehearse events which are now well known and which I have written about here, here, and here and in several other posts.
Despite worldwide outcry and condemnation before the facts were known Israel always maintained that its soldiers fired as a last resort and in self-defence. This was the conclusion of a BBC documentary. This was broadly the conclusion of the Palmer Report whose main conclusions were reported by Honest Reporting here:
1. Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal.
The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.
2. The Turkish IHH, which organized the flotilla, was looking for trouble with the IDF.
The majority of the flotilla participants had no violent intentions, but there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH. The actions of the flotilla needlessly carried the potential for escalation.
3. The IDF used excessive force.
Israel’s decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable . . . .
The loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the take-over of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable. Nine passengers were killed and many others seriously wounded by Israeli forces. No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the Panel by Israel for any of the nine deaths.
4. IDF commandos defended themselves from pre-meditated violence.
Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers. Several others were wounded.
5. Gaza aid should be delivered by land.
All humanitarian missions wishing to assist the Gaza population should do so through established procedures and the designated land crossings in consultation with the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Despite this, Prime Minister Erdogan said that the report is worthless and ‘null and void’.
Erdogan knew what was in the report. He knew that both Israel and Turkey would be criticised and he knew that the criticism would be mainly against Turkey.
Well before the report was published Erdogan was demanding an apology for the killing of 8 Turks. If this apology were not received by the time the report was published he threatened a tsunami of measures against Israel and he is, if nothing else, true to his word.
But Erdogan has form, as it were.
Here he is walking out on Israeli President Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2009.
He accuses Israel of hypocrisy. He cites firstly the death of children (it’s always children) on a beach in Gaza supposedly from Israeli fire. Yet the ‘crime scene’ was quickly cleared by Palestinians and the IDF asserted that it did not shell the beach. There was a strong suspicion that this might have been a misdirected militant shell. But Erdogan does not give his supposed friend the benefit of the doubt.
Second he mentions two previous Israeli Prime Ministers saying they were happy when they entered Palestine in tanks. It is not clear which Prime Ministers he refers to or what he means by Palestine, but it was probably the Six Day War. Of course they were happy to force back the Jordanian armies from the West Bank and reunite Jerusalem. The notion of ‘Palestine’ that we have now did not exist in those days. The West Bank was occupied illegally by Jordan. I don’t recall the Palestinians complaining too much about that. Or maybe he is referring to tanks entering Gaza. Whatever he means, he is implying that Israelis are joyful aggressors rather than defenders fighting an existential threat.
He is angry with the crowd applauding Peres who spoke about peace but the willingness to defend against aggressive neighbours. He criticises the audience for applauding, in his interpretation, killing. He goes on to remind Peres of the commandment not to kill.
Hypocrisy appears to be writ large for Mr Erdogan. I’m sure the Kurds,the Armenians and the Cypriots know a thing or two about Turkey and killing. Only Israel is not allowed to defend itself.
This is not a very impressive performance from Erdogan who comes over as aggressive and claims that the chair of the meeting won’t let him speak.
This incident was the first clear indication that Erdogan did not much like his ‘friend’. As a result of this incident Erdogan was lionised across the Arab world and in the Palestinian territories for standing up to Peres.
Nevertheless, Turkey and Israel maintained relations, shared military manoeuvres, enjoyed mutual trade. Thousands of Israelis holidayed in Turkey.
But the die was cast.
Erdogan soon embarked on his project of being number one man in the Muslim world. He began cosying up to tyrants such as Ahmadinejad and Assad and making nice with Hugo Chavez.
His finest moment was a humanitarian award from Muammar Gadaffi.
He also sent envoys to Hamas in Gaza to tell them that Turkey was on their side and to enhance his reputation in the Arab world.
The European powers and the United States saw him, and, presumably, still do see him as the very embodiment of the Turkish nation which has a toe in Europe and the West, and a large land mass in the East.
Erdogan is a useful middleman, a secular Muslim, who could speak on equal terms with Israel and Iran. He was a key player, the perfect go-between.
Israel was not happy with some of the conclusions of the Palmer Report but feels, overall, vindicated by it.
As to the legalities or otherwise of the blockade, that would require a separate post on its own.
Suffice it to say that, lo and behold, as soon as Israel is in any way vindicated in its actions, up pops a new UN statement telling us it’s all wrong after all; the Blockade is illegal. And the perpetrator is none other than Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights (there doesn’t appear to be one for Israeli human rights), and also Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, who also happens to be the author of a recent article which included a crude anti-Semitic cartoon, later withdrawn.
Falk is really likely to be unbiased, I guess, given his dual roles on behalf of Palestinians and a long track record of anti-Israel rhetoric and writing.
But back to Erdogan.
What the Turkish Prime Minister did and continues to do, on a daily basis, having failed to get Israel to apologise, is truly amazing.
Even the Palmer Report did not require an apology of Israel. Should Turkey not also apologise to Israel for more or less sponsoring a terrorist organisation to confront and provoke its supposed friend? Turkish nationals planned and executed a lethal, suicidal attack on IDF soldiers, and he believes Israel should apologise. No-one was harmed on any of the other boats where there was no violent resistance.
If these two nations were supposed friends, surely they can sort out their differences, admit mistakes and work to avoid future incidents which would endanger lives, innocent and otherwise.
But no, Israel’s ally and friend has unleashed a torrent of sanctions against Israel and here is this tragic litany which is unprecedented in the relations between states supposed to be allies:
Downgrading diplomatic status of Israeli embassy and expelling the ambassador
Saying that Turkey will now patrol the Eastern Mediterranean to protect shipping from Israeli aggression
Threatening Israel’s gas drilling agreements with Cyprus
Pursuing the prosecution of supposedly named Israeli soldiers in the Mavi MArmara incident whose identities were revealed to him by the IHH (how they would know any names apart from the ones of the soldiers they stabbed, battered and shot and dragged below decks, I have no idea)
Humiliating Israel tourists at Istanbul airport by having them strip searched
Threatening to escort Gaza ‘aid’ convoys and confront the Israeli navy
Calling the Palmer report on the Mavi Marmara ‘null and void’ and worthless
Confronting a tourist cruise ship headed for Greece which is childish and provocative
Changing its jet fighter software to identify Israeli navy and air force as ‘hostile’
Claiming the Mavi Marmara incident was a casus belli
Saying he is prepared for war with Israel
Says that Israel must ‘pay’ for its ‘terrorism’
And the latest atrocity – requiring Israeli citizens have visas to enter Turkey
This is the behaviour of megalomaniac more reminiscent of the last century than this. It is the behaviour of a child having a tantrum, not a serious politician.
How can Turkey remain a member of NATO when it is clearly trying to provoke Israel into a reaction it can use as an excuse to ‘punish’ her.?
What would happen if Turkey attacked Israel on some pretext? What would the US do?
What will the Greeks’ and Cypriots’ reaction be to Turkey’s sabre-rattling? What about the Italians?
Turkey has the second largest fleet in NATO after the US. Israel is no match for this navy. In the air Israel may have an advantage but who even wants to contemplate such a ludicrous scenario.
If you ignore bullies sometimes they just go away, but often they will ramp up the aggro to assert themselves. Erdogan is asserting a new Turkish nationalism.
Such a situation was hardly imaginable in the Bush era. But the US and the Europeans have economic problems whilst Turkey is booming. There may be frantic activity behind the scenes; many statements coming out of Ankara are often ‘clarified’.
If Erdogan is playing a game of brinksmanship it is not a very wise course of action given the volatility of the region.
What’s also certain is that some of the countermeasures mooted on the Israeli side, if they are true, such as supporting the PKK, the Kurdish separatist party which is designated a terrorist organisation, would be even more damaging to Israel and morally reprehensible.
There is no way Israel can give any succour to a terrorist organisation. This would be terribly wrong. If this is just Foreign Minister Lieberman’s rantings then he needs to be controlled or sacked.
Israel should avoid provocation, use the opportunity to cement ties with Greece and even Armenia and maybe think about counter-prosecution of the Turkish government for sponsoring the breaking of a legal blockade. Is that not also a casus belli?
It may even be worth the risk for Israel to pre-empt Turkey and go to the International Court and seek a ruling which no-one could then gainsay.
Let’s hope the Turkish people have enough sense to get rid of Erdogan at the next election. They deserve better.
If Erdogan pushes too far he may end up being cut off from Europe like his Ottoman predecessors.
If he’s not careful Turkey may well end up cooking its own goose.
UPDATE: Apparently Israeli jets and ships are being identified as ‘neutral’ not ‘hostile’ and not as I stated above.
Also – an interesting analysis in the Daily beast by Owen Matthews gives a less dramatic view than me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You may recall the Mavi Marmara incident last year when Israeli soldiers and navy intercepted a flotilla of ships on what they called a ‘humanitarian’ mission to break the maritime blockade of Gaza.
There was an almighty row with Turkey and the UN and almost universal condemnation because Israel exercised its right to search ships intent on breaking its maritime blockade, redirect them to an Israeli port, inspect them and then ship the aid themsleves.
Nine jihadi ‘activists’ were killed when the Israelis boarded the lead vessel, a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara. The activists had laid a well organised ambush and were killed when they attacked the Israelis with lethal force.
The accusations were many, but one was that because Israel had intercepted in international waters they were ‘pirates’ and had no legal right to do so. This is just plain false; any country has a right to intercept ships where there is a genuine belief it may be smugglings arms to its enemy or breaking a legally declared blockade.
The legal niceties were of no concern to those who rushed to judge the Israelis who later admitted operational mistakes.
Those who criticised and pilloried Israel already judged that Israel had no rights to intercept the Mavi Marmara – period.
The fact that the Mavi Marmara was ostensibly a lead ship carrying humanitarian aid proved to be convincing evidence that Israel is a rogue state that attacks innocent humanitarians.
I have already dealt with the incident at length last year. However, I’ll repeat one interesting point that went all but unnoticed internationally and it was this: on board were dozens of battery-powered wheelchairs. Innocent enough? But no, Hamas were disappointed that these were the wrong type of wheelchair with the wrong type of battery. Why? Because the right type of battery could be used to lay explosive devices.
The above proved to me that even innocent items of aid can be a cover for nefarious ends.
Today, the IDF intercepted the Victoria, a Liberian-flagged container ship which had set sail from Latakia in Syria, sailed to Turkey and was then bound for Alexandria in Egypt.
Someone, or good intelligence, had tipped off the Israelis and they boarded without incident 200 miles off the coast of Israel, much further from Israeli waters than the Mavi Marmara.
On board they discovered a huge cache of arms from Iran. Who would have guessed, eh?
The ultimate destination of these arms was Gaza and Hamas.
This is not the first time Israel has intercepted illegal arms destined for a terrorist group.
So I ask you: where is all the outrage this time that Israel has boarded a vessel in International waters? If it was piracy with the Mavi Marmara, then it’s piracy with the Victoria, no?
But here’s the difference: the Mavi Marmara had huge publicity behind it, was bent on directly challenging the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and had people on board intent on confronting and killing Israelis.
The captain of Victoria did not object and stopped to allow inspection. Result: no violence, no inuries, no death and tonnes of illegal arms.
Iran is in clear breach of international law, but no-one will censor her in the UN.
Why is there such silence and indifference to the Israeli boarding? Answer: the culprits were caught in flagrante delicto there were no representatives aboard from numerous anti-Israel or anti-Zionist groups, no cameras, no TV, no opportunity to demonise Israel and no propaganda victory to be won.
A couple of weeks ago Iranian war ships penetrated the Mediterranean for the first time since the Islamic revolution. They passed through the Suez canal and ended up… yes, you guessed it, in Syria.
It does not take much more than simple arithmetic to come to the conclusion that one or both of these ships were bringing the very arms which were aboard the Victoria.
This time, Israeli intelligence was spot on, and maybe they had some help from the Turks, who knows, because the Israeli government were at pains to make it known that Turkey was not involved in any way.
This whole incident exposes why Israel has the right to intercept shipping, as our own Prime Minister prophetically (or was he tipped off) declared last week. Maybe he was aware that it was coming and so prepared the way to be able to say that the UK was, this time, in support of the action in a ‘humanitarian’ free zone.
It also shows very clearly that Israel had the exactly identical right to intercept the Mavi Marmara rather than to trust virulently hostile passengers and jihadis intent on confrontation.
Such is worldwide hypocrisy and cant when it comes to Israel’s right to defend itself.
I eagerly await the UN’s enquiry into the violent suppression of the popular demonstrations in Libya.
According to the latest reports there was what has been characterised as a ‘massacre’ by the BBC in Benghazi. At least 200 protesters have been killed.
But not just killed but executed by snipers with deliberately lethal shots to the head and heart.
As we know, the UN was very keen to demand a rapid enquiry into Israel’s interception of a so-called humanitarian flotilla intent on breaking Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nine ‘activists’ were killed, eight of whom were associated with the IHH, an Islamist organisation with close links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In this incident Israeli commandos boarded the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, where they were subject to a prepared attack by a mob wielding iron bars, knives, and, apparently, at least one firearm. In an act of self-defence the Israelis shot and killed 9 activists at close quarters. Several were reported to have been shot in the head.
The world was up in arms that such ‘unarmed’ humanitarians were ‘attacked’ by Israeli soldiers.
I have already written about this incident and a recent report by the Israeli Turkel commission exonerated the IDF. A Turkish report was also produced which came to a completely opposite conclusion that the deaths were deliberate; an absurdity quite happily accepted by the Muslim world.
Israel faced worldwide condemnation, and pressure was brought to ease the embargo of goods entering Gaza.
Let’s remind ourselves that even if you take the worst view of this incident, Israel killed 9 activists protesting against Israel’s policy in Gaza.
Yet, in Libya, we already have at least 300 casualties, killed for protesting about the policies of their own government, killed deliberately, not in a physical struggle, but at distance by snipers. Killed by their own government for having the audacity to want freedom and democracy.
How much worse is the action of the Libyans in Benghazi and elsewhere than the actions of Israel even interpreted at its worst?
By any system of logic and fairness or consistency the UN must require that Libya immediately investigate these killings. And while they are at it, maybe they can ask the Egyptians to investigate more than 300 deaths or the Bahrainis to investigate the live ammunition used against its citizens, killing several.
The test of a UN that is not biased and is not obsessed with demonising Israel, initiating resolutions and investigations into every state action, would be for there to be equal treatment of the egregious actions of Arab governments.
The UN Human Rights Council has condemned Libya, Bahrain and Yemen, but what actions will they actually take?
In the UK and elsewhere, will academics break of contact with their counterparts in Arab countries whose governments suppress their people with such ruthlessness?
Will Trades Unions vote to divest from these same countries and to cut off co-operation with their fellow unionists?
Those who tell us Israel is not treated differently from other countries and is not held to higher standards, now have their chance to prove it.
UPDATE The speed of events in Libya may well mean that there is nothing left of the Gadaffi regime before too long. (22.00 20 Feb 11)
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.
At last!! The Israeli government has seen sense and decided to show that it has nothing to fear from a UN enquiry which appears to be unbiased – for a change.
Israel Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, released the following today:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today (Monday), 2.8.10, informed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that Israel would participate in the panel that he is establishing in the wake of the 31.5.10 events regarding the flotilla.
The announcement to the UN Secy.-Gen. was delivered following consultations with the seven-member ministerial forum earlier this morning and in the wake of diplomatic contacts that have been held in recent weeks in order to ensure that this was indeed a panel with a balanced and fair written mandate.
The panel will receive reports on the Israeli investigation by the Independent Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31.5.10 chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said today, after speaking with the UN Secy.-Gen., that, “Israel has nothing to hide. The opposite is true. It is in the national interest of the State of Israel to ensure that the factual truth of the overall flotilla events comes to light throughout the world and this is exactly the principle that we are advancing.”
Having initially refused to co-operate, Israel set up its own internal enquiry which concentrated on exposing a group of Turkish activists with links to the IHH who led a flotilla intent on breaking the Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza.
This ‘humanitarian’ organisation has been shown to have links with terrorist groups, even Al Qaeda. 8 of 9 activists killed had links with dubious IHH activities and most had left evidence that they were determined to reach Gaza or become martyrs. Such an attitude itself reveals a hatred for Israel that is so great that they were prepared to die, and kill, for it.
Despite much documentary evidence taken by the Israelis and by many people on board the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of the flotilla, there has not yet been a clear and detailed account of how and under what circumstances the 9 men were killed. All we know from the Israeli account and video evidence is that the commandos who landed on the Mavi Marmara were met with lethal force and a mob of about 50 men attacked a much smaller number of commandos whose main ‘weapon’ was a paint gun.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a web page dedicated to the events of 21 May 2010 here.
The terms of the Israeli commission are detailed here.
The main objectives were as follows:
1) Consideration of the security circumstances for imposing a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and the conformity of the naval blockade with the rules of international law;
2) Conformity of the actions taken by Israel to enforce the naval blockade on 31 May 2010 to the principles of international law;
3) Consideration of the actions taken by those who organized – and participated in – the flotilla, and their identities.
The Commission will also consider the question of whether the inquiry and investigation mechanisms vis-à-vis complaints and claims regarding violations of the laws of armed conflict, as followed by Israel in general and as implemented with regard to the event in question, conform with the State of Israel’s obligations under the rules of international law.
Following the international outcry against Israel and its virtual pariah status, it’s about time Israel engaged at an international level to show that, indeed, it has nothing to hide.
Whether the UN panel will give Israel its first fair hearing at the UN for some considerable time remains to be seen.
Perhaps the UN might also want to consider Turkey’s role in aiding and abetting an organisation, the IHH, which may well be proscribed in the United States and which members of the Italian parliament are seeking to have proscribed in Europe.
Yes, it’s about time that Israel fought more pugnaciously to restore its reputation in the UN and find a platform to expose the hypocrisy of its enemies and critics.
Israel has already admitted operational errors. That doesn’t excuse those who would commit murder because they oppose an ideology. The would-be murderers were those killed who were intent on killing Jews/Zionists/Israelis – it was all the same to them.
The full text of ‘Judge’ Bathurst-Norman’s summing up to the jury in the now infamous court case has been obtained by Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Federation.
If you recall the court case in Brighton was brought by EDO against a group of protestors who had broken in to their plant and caused £187,000 worth of damage. The excuse for this criminal act was that they were exporting arms to Israel during Operation Cast Lead.
The plaintiffs pleaded guilty but were acquitted by the jury because, presumably, they bought in to the judge’s direction which blatantly biased the jury towards their conclusion and so justified a crime with the defence that it was due to Israel’s actions in Gaza that the crime was committed.
Hoffman’s tale of this summing-up and his demolition of the said judge can be found on CiF Watch here.
Please read this brilliant but disturbing analysis.
What does it say about the state of the English judicial system?
Whatever your views on Israel and Cast Lead, such political bias and egregious direction of a jury has no place in any democracy.
There are other questions arising about the choice of this particular judge and his track record which are disturbing.
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.
Ambassador Leshno Yaar put Israel’s case and told the true story of the Mavi Marmara at the UN Human Rights Council earlier this week.
He reminded the UNHCR of its obsession with Israel.
He describes the 40 ‘hard core activists’ from the IHH who had planned their attack in advance.
He describes the concern of the captain of the ship who said that the IHH were preparing for violence.
He describes how the IIH goal was to reach Gaza or to die as martyrs.
He describes how the IHH were not interested in humanitarian aid. Three of the ships had no aid watsoever.
He describes how Hamas blocked the aid which Israel wanted to send through.
He describes how there was very little food aid on any ship.
He describes how a Lebanese national aboard the flotilla interviewed on Iranian mouthpiece, Press TV, was asked if he was tortured. He replied, “sadly not”.
He describes the thousands of dollars and euros that the IHH were carrying for the Hamas regime.
He describes how when being hailed by the Israeli Navy over the radio, one of the activists replied “Shut up and go back to Auschwitz” and “Don’t forget 9/11”
He describes the shaheed death videos left behind by some activists.
He describes how the UNHCR voted with haste to form a ‘fact-finding body’ to cynically determine Israel’s guilt without even ‘the minimum respect of consulting with Israel’. The UNHCR would not even contemplate such a process for any other country.
He describes how half of the resolutions of the UNHCR have been against Israel.
He refers to the hate-speech of June 8th by a Syrian diplomat which was permitted without allowing a response or receiving sanction, or comment, words which would be considered ‘a criminal hate crime outside this hall’.
He describes the ‘obsessive one-sided’ nature of the UNHCR vis-a-vis Israel.
Yes, Leshno gave it to them good but it will make no difference.
If you are interested in what the Syrian delegate said on June 8th this link will tell you. And you will see the response of Hillel Neuer of UN Watch. The blood libels continue. The YouTube video is below if you can bear to watch.