Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Israel...Boarding...Humanitarian Flotilla...At A Loss For Words--Almost

Israeli forces approach one of six ships bound for Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 2010. Israeli marines stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza on Monday and 10 pro-Palestinian activists were killed, setting off a diplomatic crisis. (Uriel Sinai/Reuters)

Like others, I am so shocked at the events of May 31, 2010, on the "high seas", ie in international waters, by a state government against a humanitarian flotilla, that I am at a relative loss for words.

Qusay, of Qusay Today, has provided a video and highly appropriate lyrics as a preliminary statement, in his post Humanitarian Flotilla Bound for Gaza:

Diane Mason, a British American former intelligence officer, now a SAHM, whose excellent blog Lawrence of Cyberia is devoted entirely to the Israel-Palestine conflict, has provided a pictorial commentary full of truth and dry humour, originally entitled "Laugh all you want", and now entitled, "I Confess. Just Don't Shoot Me."

The top 2 photos are those of captured weapons off the humanitarian ship, from a blog by an IDF spokesman (as Diane comments "caveat lector"), and the 3rd of weapons from "a cursory search of my [Diane's] kitchen and basement".

As a preliminary commentary I would second theirs, and add that now is perhaps a good time to revisit the recent Doha Debate Chez Chiara on "Peace in the Middle East: Will Obama Do Any Better?", and share one's preliminary responses too. I say preliminary, because I intend to revisit this event and its pre-quellae and sequellae, once more words come to mind. In the meantime, please do share your thoughts here, and on the Doha Debate on "Peace in the Middle East: Will Obama Do Any Better?"

An outstanding gallery of 30 pictures with highly informative captions--of the raid itself, and the aftermath of  the riots, the killing of 2 Palestinians on the Gaza border, and protests around the world accompanies this Washington Post article: "UN calls for impartial probe of Israeli raid".

Other significant articles and pictures follow:

(Reuters) - Israel could pay a heavy price -- including damage to peace efforts with the Palestinians -- over the killing of 10 international activists on a Turkish ship trying to break a blockade of Gaza. From the Reuters article: Ship clash leaves Israel in diplomatic hot water

German lawmaker Annette Groth -- who was on board the aid convoy when it was raided by Israeli commandoes (AFP); and according to whom, in the accompanying article Germans on Gaza ship deny Israeli commandoes provoked (AFP), the Israeli commandoes were not provoked

Photo: AFP Palestinians carry their belongings as they head towards the newly-opened border crossing to Egypt in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, 01 Jun, 2010; from the Voice of America article, Egypt Opens Border With Gaza Strip to Allow Humanitarian Aid

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, visiting injured soldiers in a Tel Aviv hospital. Photograph: Getty Images; accompanying the Guardian article, "Israel should lead investigation into attack on Gaza flotilla, says US:Turkey's demands for international inquiry blocked at meeting of United Nations security council"

Netanyahu's visit to Canada will be the first by a sitting Israeli PM since 1994 [GALLO/GETTY];from an Al Jazeera article on May 29 as Netanyahu was about to visit Canada, "Israel's new 'best friend'?"

From Al Jazeera, accompanying the article,Turkey condemns flotilla 'massacre'

Turkish police stand guard in front of the residence of Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Gabby Levy during a pro-Palestinian protest in Ankaram (Reuters photo); Haaretz contains a number of interesting articles from the centre left Israeli position, including this one: A Special Place in Hell / The Second Gaza War: Israel lost at sea; We are no longer defending Israel. We are now defending the siege, which is itself becoming Israel's Vietnam.

HIGHLIGHTING OUTRAGE: Frontpages of European newspapers after Monday's Israeli raid on Gaza flotilla. Photo: AFP


Caveat lector indeed! As Shafiq of The Student View points out the pictures of the "weapons" are from 2006, as evidenced by the original date time stamps. His post, Shock Horror: IDF Lies, provides the evidence and the following pictures of one of the photos and the comments on the original flickr site.

Qusay has followed up with a post, Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Speech, with the video (below) in Turkish, subtitled in English, and the full English text, of PM Erdogan's speech to the Turkish Parliament--an outstanding speech considerably more trenchant than more diplomatic public discourse in English.

The BBC has some particularly striking photos of the return of the activists, living and dead. The article, Emotion high as Turkey buries its Gaza flotilla dead, is worth a read and has an excellent "how the raid unfolded" slide show explanation at the bottom.

Alzazeera (English) has an excellent Indepth/Focus series: Gaza Flotilla, including Gaza's Real Humanitarian Crisis.

Diane Mason has followed up with a post intended for updating as details become available, Putting Names to Faces, giving information on the 9 Turkish nationals killed by Israeli commandos in the raid, which includes this one:

Furkan Dogan, 19, student at Kayseri High School. Son of Dr. Ahmet Dogan, Assoc Prof at Erciyes University. A Turkish-American dual national, with two siblings.

The UN Security Council's proposal to investigate the incident was block by the US, so the UN Human Rights Council, after condemning the Israeli action, is proposing its own investigation, which the US, Italy, and the Netherlands voted against (but couldn't block), on the grounds that the UNHRC had prejudged Israel.

Other potentially relevant posts on this blog:

The Pro-Israel Lobby: Defending Israel or Stifling Debate Including of the Saudi Peace Initiative?
Calling On Obama: Get Tough On Israel
Nuclear Warheads: If Israel, why not Iran, Saudi, the GCC, or MENA?
Israel Apartheid Week 2010: 1-4 Weeks Focused on Palestine

Comments, thoughts, questions, impressions, predictions?
Feel free to comment here and/or on the Doha Debate on "Peace in the Middle East: Will Obama Do Any Better?"


Susanne said...

Thank you for this timely post with great sources for information!


I have never seeen such disdain for human life. This is where the morals get exposed. The US has yet to condemn the attack! European media is giving out the Israeli version of things. The Germans onboard and others will just be swept under the carpet. No politics involved here, it is just too inhuman to remain quiet about the whole thing.

oby said...

I can only hope that this is investigated thoroughly and that the USA choses to do what is right and stand on the side of legality and fairness and not protect the Israelis actions.

Israeli commandos...people prepared for the worst of any situation, didn't know how to handle themselves? Please! Maybe they panicked...who knows. But just once I would like to see the USA take a stand for the right thing and not side with Israel if it is found by the international community that they were wrong (which I can't imagine that they can be found otherwise).

Wendy said...

USA and Canada. International waters!!! Wake up Canada and the USA!! It was international waters!!
Thanks for this post, Chiara. I haven't had time to watch the video etc. yet but will do so. What a crime.

Anonymous said...

Most of the photos shown were taken in 2006. If you download the pictures from the IDF Flickr account, they all have a 'date taken' timestamp, which show that the photos being taken in 2006. The comments underneath the pictures also seem to verify this.

I will post my full reaction to the attack once I calm down and am level-headed.

Anonymous said...

I'm told with people more knowledgeable than I am, that the date issue could be quite innocent. If the date was never set correctly on the camera in the first place, then the timestamps would all be wrong.

This doesn't let the Israeli PR machine off however - they still tried portraying an electric grinder as a saw (the former being a not very effective weapon against a solder armed to the tooth). The rest of the pictures were of kitchen knives and sticks.

Chiara said...

Thanks to all for your comments! I am glad to provide and have a space to share feelings about this, even if they are still in the shock and awe stage.

Susanne--thank you! I have updated a bit. I was stunned though that by today this wasn't even front page news in North America it seems. Or...maybe too hot to print!

THE HOLY SINNER--yes it is both of politics and beyond politics. Disdain for human life captures the essence of the Gaza blockade itself and this raid!
Please send me an email to chezchiara2 AT yahoo DOT com
Yours is one of the ones I need to re-establish in my contact base. Thanks!

Oby--yes I am hoping that the UNHRC does a thorough and impactful investigation and that the US and other Western countries, as well as Arab ones take as strong a stand as Turkey has.

Wendy--true! Time to wake up and smell the ignomy! I find it hard to say enough enough negative about the current Canadian government but it seems the opposition is pandering too.

Shafiq--thank you for both your comments and the post you did. I'm thinking the IDF know how to set a date time stamp, and in any case most of the photos are of weapons that are innocuous compared to Israeli standard IDF issue. Reports from both sides say that the Israelis were armed with guns and the "resisters" with clubs and sticks. Apparently one is allowed self defense on the high seas when being boarded by soldiers rappelling down ropes onto the deck.

Thanks to all!

I hope more share their impressions, insights and knowledge here!

Chiara said...

Oby--thanks for the suggestion but all links lead back to the MTV.com site which is blocked for Canadians in deference to MTV.ca.

I may just have to visit relatives in the US, or at least an internet cafe across the border, or better still organize a trip to someplace great, like San Francisco, San Diego, San anyplace warmer than here at the moment! :)

I'm looking forward to your further comment when you have read the post!

Thanks again for your suggestion!

Wendy said...

News Middle East
Another aid ship on way to Gaza
Nine activists were killed when Israeli military raided an aid ship trying to break the Gaza siege [Reuters]

Malaysia's government has urged Israel not to take any action that could harm people aboard a Malaysian-funded Irish aid ship, now heading to Gaza.

The MV Rachel Corrie is carrying 11 activists, including Mairead Corrigan, a Nobel Peace laureate, and eight crew members, just days after another aid vessel was boarded by Israeli soldiers who killed nine activists.

Anifah Aman, Malaysia's foreign affairs minister, said in a statement issued late on Thursday that the Israeli authorities should ensure a safe passage for the vessel to Gaza to deliver the humanitarian cargo.

The Rachel Corrie is funded by Perdana Global Peace Organisation, a Malaysian non-governmental organisation headed by Mahathir Mohamad, the country's former prime minister.

The vessel hoped to arrive in Gaza on Saturday with a cargo of humanitarian aid.

Safe passage sought

Shamsul Akmar, one of the activists aboard the ship, told Al Jazeera that all the people on board are all peace activists.

"We do not know what to expect, but hope that we will be given safe passage to get the aid to Gaza," he said.

Despite fears of an Israeli attack, the peace activists are determined to try and break through the blockade.

"If the Israeli army attacks us and tries to board our ship, we will not attempt any resistance," Shamsul said.

"We will take our boat, as far as possible and if they do come on board forcefully, we will not resist."

The ship is named after an American woman who was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003, while trying to protest a house demolition.

Brian Cowen, the Irish prime minister, asked Israel to permit the Irish-owned aid ship to dock in Gaza.

Israeli offer

Israel has offered to escort the vessel and deliver the civilian aid for it and said Egypt was prepared to do the same.

But the activists said that they were concerned that not all cargo would be delivered.

The ship has medical equipment, school supplies and cement, a material Israel has banned from entering Gaza.

The Rachel Corrie is named for an American killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003

Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, said that Israel would not allow its Gaza blockade to be breached.

"No ship will reach Gaza. The Rachel Corrie will not reach Gaza," he told Israel Radio.

Mathias Chang, an activist from the Perdana Global Peace Organisation on board the ship, said that they were aware of the risk that the Israelis may intercept them, but were still determined to go ahead.

"We have told the whole world, and we have told the Israeli media and television, that we are peace activists," Chang said.

"If and when they intercept us, we will be waiting on the top deck of the ship, with nothing but the clothes on our backs."

Chiara said...

Wendy--thanks for sharing this. Stay tuned! :)


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