Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea

by Stephen Lendman / June 1st, 2010

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, saying:

The Israeli Navy raided a flotilla carrying thousands of
tons of supplies for Gaza in international waters on Monday morning….The
incident drew widespread international condemnation, with Israeli
envoys summoned to explain their country’s actions in several European
countries…. The killings also coincided with preparations for a planned
visit to Washington on Tuesday (June 1) by Prime Minister Benjamin

 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
2:00 PM 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:

The Israeli propaganda machine has reached new highs
(distributing) false information. It embarrassed itself by entering a
futile public relations battle….There is nothing to explain, certainly
not to a world that will never buy (its) web of explanations, lies and

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:

“The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries
sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances
surrounding this tragedy,” stopping short of condemning crimes too grave
to ignore and demanding harsh measures in response to premeditated

Much the same from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (a reliable
Israeli ally) stating:

“It is vital that there is a full investigation to determine exactly
how this bloodshed took place. I believe Israel must urgently provide a
full explanation,” stopping short of demanding it and full

Saying he “deplored in the strongest terms the killing of civilians,”
Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, like his EU counterparts,
said it was “indispensable that there be an inquest to ascertain the
facts, which are still not clear.”

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,” 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: “The
pirate commandos trained by Israel Naval Forces mounted an operation
this morning to capture the flotilla carrying aid to Gaza and
slaughtered unarmed civilians in the course of this outrageous

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

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

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

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

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

They lied.

Viewing the video footage, Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin reported

“All the images being shown from the activists on board those ships
show clearly that they were civilians and peaceful in nature, with
medical (and other humanitarian) supplies on board.”

Other footage showed black-clad commandos descending from
helicopters, then immediately opening fire on deck against peaceful

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 3:00 PM (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 press release called for a “global
response to killings on the Freedom Flotilla,” saying:

We, Gaza based Palestinian Civil Society Organizations
and international activists, call on the international community and
civil society to pressure their governments and Israel to cease the
abductions and killings….against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla….and begin a
global response to hold Israel accountable for the murder of foreign
civilians at sea and illegal piracy of civilian vessels carrying
humanitarian aid for Gaza.

We, from Gaza, call on you to demonstrate and support the courageous
men and women on the Flotilla and join the many now murdered on a
humanitarian aid mission. We insist on severance of diplomatic ties with
Israel, trials for war crimes and the international protection of the
civilians of Gaza. We call on you to join the growing international
boycott, divestment and sanction campaign of a country proving again” to
be an international outlaw. “Join a growing critical mass around the
world with a commitment to the day when Palestinian are entitled to the
same rights as (all) other people, when the siege is lifted, the
occupation over and the 6 million Palestinian refugees are finally
granted justice.”

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, while 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.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at:
Also visit his blog site
and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for
cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are
archived for easy listening. Read other
articles by Stephen

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