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Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea
Monday, 31 May 2010
The activists were unarmed civilians, delivering vitally needed humanitarian aid to 1.5 million Gazans, trapped under siege for three years this month. Without provocation, they were maliciously and willfully attacked in international waters by armed Israeli commandos with orders to open fire if the convoy failed to abort its mission.
Even America's major media can't duck a crime this grave - attacking and slaughtering up to 20 Gaza Freedom Flotilla activists and injuring dozens more.
New York Times writer Isabel Kershner headlined "At Least 10 Killed as Israel Intercepts Aid Flotilla" (headline now changed), saying:
Late word is it's postponed.
The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times carried similar reports, trying, but hardly able to downplay a major crime.
The UK-based Stop the War Coalition called it "Yet another act of Israeli barbarism" in announcing an "emergency demonstration" at 2:00PM near the prime minister's Downing Street residence, saying spread the word and come.
In Gaza, thousands protested, expressing anger, outrage and sympathy, carrying banners condemning willful crimes, and calling for Arab solidarity. Similar demonstrations turned out in Amman, Cairo, Damascus, Tehran, Ankara, Istanbul, Beirut and other regional cities.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed the Flotilla organizers for inciting the attack, while his deputy, Danny Alalon said they were connected to international terrorist organizations and were trying to smuggle in arms. Weapons were found on board, he claimed.
At a hastily called news conference, sparsely attended, he referred to "the armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organization," accusing peaceful activists of a "premeditated and outrageous provocation," saying "The organizers are well known for their ties with global Jihad, Al Qaeda and Hamas. (Their) intent was violent, their method was violent, and the results were unfortunately violent."
Shameless lies from a criminal caught red-handed, Haaretz's Gideon Levy saying:
In Washington, of course, they're echoed along with toned down pious indignation publicly, but privately, assurances of solid US-Israeli relations are affirmed.
On May 31, White House spokesman William Burton said:
Much the same from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (a reliable Israeli ally) stating:
They're very clear. Israeli forces planned and executed a premeditated attack against peaceful humanitarian activists, trying to deliver essential to life aid to Gazans under siege - to break Israel's attempt to suffocate and starve them.
The Wall Street Journal online headlined "More than 10 Dead After Israel Intercepts Gaza Aid Convoy," (they have since changed the headline) saying (like most US media reports) that "An Israeli military spokesman said later in the day that some activists 'appeared' to be armed with guns, and fired at the Israeli soldiers, though it wasn't clear who fired first."
The activists, in fact, were unarmed civilians, delivering vitally needed humanitarian aid to 1.5 million Gazans, trapped under siege for three years this month. Without provocation, they were maliciously and willfully attacked in international waters by armed Israeli commandos with orders to open fire if the convoy failed to abort its mission.
The best Journal writer Joshua Mitnick could say was "whether the military action was warranted or not (it) threatens to further sully Israel's international reputation, after a series of recent diplomatic setbacks."
No mention of the Gaza war, daily West Bank and East Jerusalem incursions, the three-year siege, a 43-year occupation, daily killings, targeted assassinations, homes bulldozed, mass arrests, torture, and Palestinian communities throughout the Territories and in Israel threatened by daily terror.
No mention by European nations either, the EU merely calling for a full inquiry, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (a staunch Israeli supporter) saying he was "deeply shocked by the 'tragic' consequences of Israel's military operation (against) a humanitarian initiative," but little else. The same hypocrisy echoed from most European capitals, much like already from Washington.
Turkey's Communist Party's press statement, in contrast, said:
Calling the attack "barbarous," it "demanded" immediate deportation of Israel's diplomatic mission, cancellation of Turkish-Israeli military and other agreements, and Israel held fully accountable for its crime against humanity - its specialty against civilians and nonviolent activists.
Al Jazeera reported that "Thousands of Turkish protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul soon after the news (shouting) 'Damn Israel' as police blocked them."
It also said Israeli radio confirmed at least 19 were killed and dozens injured, quoting IDF spokeswoman, Avital Leibovich, saying, "This happened in waters outside Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves," - the usual response from scoundrels caught red-handed.
Video footage on board the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara showed Israeli commandos opened fire during the assault, activists saying it began immediately after storming on board.
Al Zazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, on the ship, said "a white surrender flag was raised (and) there was no live fire coming from the passengers."
The Free Gaza Movement reported that "Under darkness of night, Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck." No action on board provoked it. It was premeditated, willful slaughter.
The Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement expressed sorrow in denouncing the attack, citing it as further "proof that despite claims to the contrary, Israel never 'disengaged' from the Gaza Strip but rather continues to control its borders - land, air and sea....hermetically (cutting off) 1.5 million human beings (from) access to the outside world" and vitally needed humanitarian aid.
Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, claimed "They initiated the violence," and the IDF insisted it responded when its forces "were attacked with knives, clubs, and even live fire." Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said soldiers were forced by violent acts to respond with live fire.
Viewing the video footage, Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reported that:
Other footage showed black-clad commandos descending from helicopters, then immediately opening fire on deck against peaceful activists.
Israeli forces seized the ship and a smaller one, took them to Israel's port of Ashdod, and censored all information on the assault.
The Flotilla, with 700 activists, left Cyprus at 3:00PM (1200 GMT) Sunday, on the last leg of their journey, heading for Gaza, hoping to arrive by daylight. Six hours after departure, three Israeli missile boats left Haifa to interdict it, according to reporters on board before being ordered to turn off their cell phones.
The convoy hoped to break the siege and deliver over 10,000 tons of vitally needed aid, including food, medicines, educational, construction, and other materials. Israel warned it would intercept and abort the mission, giving no details except to say ships would be seized, then taken to Ashdod.
A May 31 Gaza Freedom March.org press release called for a "global response to killings on the Freedom Flotilla," saying:
Stand in solidarity for their freedom in peace, and demand nothing less, including full accountability for Israeli officials responsible for high crimes of war and against humanity.
On board the Flottilla are over 700 activists from 40 countries, including 35 politicians and a Nobel Peace laureate, Mairead McGuire, who protesting with Bil'in village activists against Israel's Separation Wall, in April 2007, was shot and injured with a rubber bullet, then tear-gassed, overcome, and had to be taken by stretcher to an ambulance.
Again, she and 700 others risked their lives to deliver vitally needed aid. In solidarity, people of conscience everywhere must support them and demand full accountability for the latest Israeli crimes too grave to ignore.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on May 31, 2010.