tagged w/ Flotilla Gaza
The failure of the United States to stand up to Israel's terrorism is going to isolate us along with Israel from the rest of the world. The USA and Israel are two peas in a pod.The failure of the United States to stand up to Israel's terrorism is going to... more
By Jonathan Ferziger - Aug 9, 2010 6:37 PM CT
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said during an hour of public testimony that he tried in vain to persuade Turkey to stop the ship from confronting Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza and avoid the prospect of violent conflict. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an inquiry panel that he tried to dissuade Turkey from allowing a flotilla to challenge Israel’s Gaza blockade and that Israeli commandos acted in self-defense when they opened fire after boarding one of the ships.
“Apparently, the Turkish government didn’t see that a possible incident between Turkish activists and Israel was against their interests,” Netanyahu said yesterday at a public hearing before the government-appointed commission in Jerusalem. He later testified for two hours behind closed doors.
Netanyahu was the lead witness as the five-member panel, which also includes two international observers, began its review of the May 31 raid. The commando operation left nine pro- Palestinian Turkish activists dead and provoked widespread international condemnation, leading Israel to loosen its restrictions on supplies entering Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak testifies before the commission today and Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israel military chief of staff, is scheduled to appear tomorrow. Netanyahu described Barak in his testimony as the “single address” responsible for the mission while he was away at the time on a visit to Canada. The prime minister later issued a clarification to emphasize that he was still in charge of the government while traveling.
“As prime minister, the overall responsibility is always my own, whether I’m in the country or abroad and so it was in this case,” Netanyahu said in the statement.
Netanyahu said during an hour of public testimony that he tried in vain to persuade Turkey to stop the ship from confronting Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza and avoid the prospect of violent conflict.
Once Israel’s strongest ally in the region, Turkey has frozen diplomatic and security ties with Israel since the raid. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the shootings “barbaric.”
The commission, which is led by former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, will examine the interplay of military and political decision making before the raid and its legality. Israel agreed last week to cooperate with a United Nations investigation into the incident, reversing its previous refusal to work with an international investigation.
The UN panel, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, will hold its first meeting today in New York. UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday there are no constraints on its ability to interview Israeli soldiers.
“The panel may decide what steps they need to take,” Ban told reporters at a press conference in New York.
Won’t Allow Questioning
Netanyahu spokesman Nir Hefez responded by saying Israel wouldn’t cooperate with the UN probe if it tries to question soldiers who took part in the raid. “Israel will not cooperate with, or take part in any panel that seeks to interrogate Israeli soldiers,” he said a text message.
Netanyahu’s Cabinet approved establishment of the Turkel commission June 14 with the proviso that soldiers would not be called to testify. It said, though, that the panel could request information from any government official.
An Israeli military inquiry concluded July 12 that faulty planning and intelligence failures contributed to the violence. The panel, headed by reserve Major-General Giora Eiland, said commandos from the elite “Shayetet 13” unit dropped from helicopters onto the aid ships before dawn, expecting little resistance from passengers.
Passengers aboard five of the ships reacted with non- violent resistance. On the sixth, the Mavi Marmara, Israeli forces were beaten, stabbed and shot after hitting the deck, according to Netanyahu. Pro-Palestinian Turkish activists aboard the ship said the Israelis instigated the violence.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade of Gaza after the Islamic Hamas movement ousted forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah group and seized full control of the territory in 2007. Hamas, which won Palestinian parliamentary elections the previous year, is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and Israel.
Palestinians, backed by the UN and human-rights groups, said restrictions on food imports and construction materials created a humanitarian crisis. Israel says it restricts imports of building materials to Gaza because they can be used to build rockets, bunkers or bombs. Officials said they were also concerned about weapons being hidden in food packaging.
The Israeli government said June 20 it would loosen the blockade for shipments by road so that all food will be let in and only weapons and items with a possible military use are kept out.
Netanyahu told the commission that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He said while the raid wasn’t the main cause of Israel lifting its restrictions on the Palestinian enclave, “obviously the flotilla incident and the international discourse in its wake expedited the decision.”By Jonathan Ferziger - Aug 9, 2010 6:37 PM CT
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s... more
srael has demanded that the Vatican advise a group of Catholic nuns against boarding an all-female crewed aid ship bound for Gaza, reports say.
Israel has also informed the U.N. and the Security Council that it intends to exercise its right in preventing the Lebanese ships from reaching Gaza, Naharnet reports citing Haaretz.
More at linksrael has demanded that the Vatican advise a group of Catholic nuns against boarding... more
Below is an exchange between a Libertarian Friend and my Liberal self. thinkingblue
Friend, I have an idea that we are close in our ideas on this one, too. What do you think? Friend
TEN Facts about Israel’s Massacre against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
Hi Friend, If you say it's sad and hopeless, then we can agree. Why? Because human beings lack empathy (especially in large groups). People just can't get it through their thick skulls that we are all the same. They continuously form groups of like-minded (especially in hate) so they can stick together while disparaging (and trying to destroy) those who are different from themselves. (Whether the difference be in thought or appearance.)
When one group is so demoralized (as were the Jews in Nazi Germany) and they are determined not to ever allow this to happen again... For some strange reason, in their grand efforts to not be victims, they become the bullies who brutalized them in the first place. (Remember the Stanford Prison Experiment.)
The flotilla attack was despicable but deep inside myself I can somewhat understand Israel's overkill tactics (although I believe it illogical). They fear attacks from the lands bordering their own to such a degree that almost everything is conceived as some sort of threat. Their fears keep them in bondage and force them to become ruthless. It's like a vicious cycle... the more they act upon their fears the more fear they generate. That's the hopeless part.
Maybe someday in the far, far future, human beings will evolve into a more peace-like creature but don't hold your breath, I believe we humans will suffer a great deal, mostly at our own hands and we may even push our species to extinction. (If global warming doesn't beat us to it.)
Do I sound pessimistic? When it comes to human existence, you bet I am.
PS: A Liberal friend of mine just brought the below article and video to my attention. It recapitulates to me, that for the most part we humans have a long way to go to become peace like.
Irish-American Ken O'Keefe Recounts His Experience On The Mavi Marmara And In Israeli Detention
I have for many years understood that we, people of conscience, are the true holders of power in this world. Frustratingly however we have largely relinquished that power and failed to reach our full potential. Our potential to create a better world, a just world. Nonetheless I have conspired with others of like mind to reveal and exercise our true power. In 2002 I initiated the TJP Human Shield Action to Iraq because I knew that the invasion of Iraq had been planned well in advance, that it was part of a 'Global Spectrum Dominance' agenda as laid out by the Project For A New American Century.
I knew that protests had no chance of stopping the invasion, and that largely these protests were just a way of making us feel better about the coming mass murder; by being able to say I protested against it. With that understanding I argued that the only viable way to stop the invasion was to conduct a mass migration to Iraq. A migration in which people from around the world, especially western citizens, would position themselves at sites in Iraq that are supposed to be protected by international law, but which are routinely bombed when it is only Iraqi, Palestinian, generally non-white, western lives who will be killed. I felt 10,000 such people could stop the invasion, or at the very least, expose the invasion for what it was from the start, an act of international aggression, a war crime and a crime against humanity.
When our two double-decker buses travelled from London to Baghdad through Turkey, it was ever clear that the people of Turkey also could sense the power of this act, and they were the biggest participants in it. In the end we did not get the numbers required to stop the war, with at least one million Iraqi's dead as a result, but I remain convinced that it was within our power to prevent the invasion. A massive opportunity lost as far as I am concerned.
In 2007 I joined the Free Gaza Movement with its plan to challenge the blockade of Gaza by travelling to Gaza by sea. From the moment I heard of the plan I knew it could succeed and ultimately I served as a captain on the first attempt. The Israeli government said throughout our preparation that we were no better than pirates and they would treat us as such. They made clear we would not reach Gaza. And still I knew we could succeed. And we did. Two boats with 46 passengers from various countries managed to sail into Gaza on August 23, 2010; this was the first time this had been done in 41 years. The truth is the blockade of Gaza is far more than three years old, and yet we, a small group of conscientious people defied the Israeli machine and celebrated with tens of thousands of Gazans when we arrived that day. We proved that it could be done. We proved that an intelligent plan, with skilled manipulation of the media, could render the full might of the Israeli Navy useless. And I knew then that this was only the tip of the iceberg.
So participating in the Freedom Flotilla is like a family reunion to me. It is my long lost family whose conscience is their guide, who have shed the fear, who act with humanity. But I was especially proud to join IHH and the Turkish elements of the flotilla. I deeply admire the strength and character of the Turkish people, despite your history having stains of injustice, like every nation, you are today from citizen to Prime Minister among the leaders in the cause of humanity and justice.
MORE HERE http://www.sott.net/articles/show/210062-Irish-American-Ken-O-Keefe-Recounts-His-Experience-On-The-Mavi-Marmara-And-In-Israeli-DetentionBelow is an exchange between a Libertarian Friend and my Liberal self. thinkingblue... more
For the second time in a few years Reuters may be firing pro-Islamist journalists who do not know how to be objective.For the second time in a few years Reuters may be firing pro-Islamist journalists who... more
New information is trickling in now that Iran has entered the fray by offering to provide protection to ships trying to enter Gaza. Some are suggesting that the entire Gaza flotilla fiasco was organized with the goal of improving Turkey's standing in the Muslim world, and improving Turkish-Iranian relations.
http://talkingskull.com/article/iran-throws-down-gauntlet-offers-to-escort-ships-to-gazaNew information is trickling in now that Iran has entered the fray by offering to... more
Views from someone who was there.
The bestselling Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell today accused Israel of murder, piracy and kidnapping after describing how the aid ship he was travelling on was seized by Israeli forces this week.
Mankell, whose detective novels featuring the commissar Kurt Wallander have sold almost 30m copies worldwide, was aboard the Swedish ship Sofia, one of six ships in the flotilla carrying aid to Gaza. The 25-strong crew, including Mankell, were all arrested and held in custody.
Henning Mankell speaks to Kate Connolly Link to this audio
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian in Berlin, Mankell, 62, described the "horrifying moment" when he realised the Israelis had chosen to attack the ships "deep in international waters".
"Our idea had been a non-violent, non-fighting back method. But we soon realised the Israelis had chosen the real, real ugly solution to attack in international water … It was only when I got on my flight home that I realised that people had died in the attack, when the stewardess told me on the plane," he said.
He called on the international community to step up its pressure on Israel to end its blockade of Gaza and said he would like to see an investigation into whether Israel could be prosecuted for its alleged attack on the ships, believing it had set out to deliberately kill protesters. Nine Turkish citizens, one of whom had a US passport, were killed in the attack.
"I think the Israeli military went out to commit murder," Mankell said. "If they had wanted to stop us they could have attacked our rudder and propeller, instead they preferred to send masked commando soldiers to attack us. This was Israel's choice to do this.
"And it was the most stupid thing they could have done, because look around, Israel has never been so criticised in the world as of today, and if you ask me, this blockade will be over within the next six months."
Mankell described being woken in the early hours of Monday morning with the news that Israeli troops were attacking the main protest ship, the Mavi Marmara, and an hour later abseiled from helicopters on to the deck of the Sofia, which was around a kilometre behind.
"We saw these black rubber boats coming with masked commando soldiers … they climbed aboard. They were very aggressive … there was an older man in the crew, he was perhaps a little slow and they shot him in the arm with an electric gun which is very, very painful … they shot another man with rubber bullets."
The soldiers checked the boat and one soon returned saying they had found weapons, Mankell said.
"I have 24 witnesses to this, he showed me my razor, a one-time use razor, and a box cutter he'd found in the kitchen," Mankell said. He said all his possessions were taken. "They stole my camera, my telephone … even my socks."
Asked if he had been naive to take part, Mankell said: "If you're saying was I a 'useful idiot', no, I don't believe I was.
"We knew from the beginning that probably we would not get our stuff into Gaza but we could anyhow win … We could get the focus on the situation. Which we did, so of course we won." He added: "Some people have asked me how did we know that the items we were due to deliver would not just have been seized by Hamas. Of course, I can't guarantee that, but when the house is burning you have to get the water." The Sofia, he said, was carrying supplies of concrete and prefabricated buildings.
Mankell said he would take part in the campaign again. He said: "Of course – in a year's time there is a plan to return. And then there could be hundreds of boats. And what will the Israelis do then? Release a nuclear bomb to stop us?"
Mankell, who has been politically active from a young age and was once a merchant seaman, said he had been struck by the lack of other writers and intellectuals on the voyage and called on others to become involved.
One moment of relief in the ordeal, he said, had been when his interrogator recognised the author, who is one of the best-selling crime writers in Hebrew.
"He said: 'You're charged with entering Israel illegally.' I said: 'That's absurd, you brought me here.' Then he said he knew who I was and that he'd read all my books and liked them. I told him: 'Next time you're in Europe call me and we'll talk about all of this.' I gave him my number – well we'll see. I do believe dialogue is the best way."
Mankell, who is married to Eva Bergman, a theatre director and daughter of the late film director Ingmar Bergman, said his motivation for getting involved had been his need to take action.
"The Gaza Strip has been transformed into the biggest open prison in the world and it was obvious we had to do something. We thought maybe we should try to break that whole blockade and the only way to do it is with a convoy of ships. When I first heard about it I thought it's a good idea, I'd like to be on board. I believe so strongly in solidarity as an instrument to change the world, and I believe in dialogue, but it's the action that proves the word."
Mankell is on a tour to promote his final Wallander novel - Stranger in the Shadows, in the German edition; The Troubled Man in the UK edition - which the disgruntled police commissar, who is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's, sets out to solve a Cold War era crime. He said he would watch the progress of the Irish campaign ship, the Rachel Corrie, which is heading to Gaza. "We can be sure they won't attack it by sending soldiers on board, and killing people, because that would be suicidal for Israel." he said. "Maybe this time they'll attack the rudder and the propeller, we'll see."Views from someone who was there.
Interesting information on the blockade. Article claims that the blockade is not affecting Hamas but is instead causing misery for Gaza civilians. I personally had not heard of the Gaza-Egypt tunnels before.
Here's looking at peace for all peoples someday.
The aid flotilla attacked by Israeli troops today was trying to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel in June 2007.
Israel said the blockade was intended to hold Hamas – which it views as a terrorist group – "responsible and accountable" for rocket attacks on Israeli territory. It is also intended to constrain Hamas's ability to rule in Gaza, and to put pressure on it to release Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive for four years.
The blockade, preventing all exports from Gaza and confining imports to a limited supply of humanitarian goods, has failed to bring down Hamas but has heaped misery on Gaza's 1.5 million residents.
The UN humanitarian co-ordinator said last week that the formal economy in Gaza has "collapsed" and 60% of households were short of food. According to UN statistics, around 70% of Gazans live on less than $1 a day, 75% rely on food aid and 60% have no daily access to water.
Luxury foods are banned and a UN report last year said that on average it took 85 days to get shelter kits into Gaza, 68 days to deliver health and paediatric hygiene kits, and 39 days for household items such as bedding and kitchen utensils. It said that school textbooks and stationery had been delayed.
The effect of the blockade was felt even more acutely in the aftermath of the invasion of the strip by Israeli forces in the winter of 2008-9, as materials needed for reconstruction were delayed or banned from entering Gaza. A UN factfinding mission described the blockade as "collective punishment".
In the absence of imports, goods have been smuggled in through tunnels built under the Gaza-Egypt border. The World Bank estimates that 80% of Gaza's imports arrive by tunnel. The goods, which are taxed by Hamas, attract inflated prices that are out of the reach of most ordinary residents.
The Free Gaza Movement, an international human rights organisation, first sailed from Cyprus in August 2008 in an attempt to highlight the plight of the citizens of Gaza suffering under the blockade. The first sailing made it to Gaza, but subsequent boats carrying supplies during the Gaza conflict were intercepted and in June last year Israeli forces boarded a boat taking aid to the strip and detained campaigners, who were later deported.Interesting information on the blockade. Article claims that the blockade is not... more
The convoy of ships allegedly trying to bring aid to the Gaza Strip was organized by a group belonging to an officially designated terrorist organization.
The Turkish organizers of the Gaza Strip-bound flotilla that was boarded this morning by Israeli commandos knew well in advance that their vessels would never reach Israeli waters. That's because the organizers belong to a nonprofit that was banned by the Israeli government in July 2008 for its ties to terrorism finance.
The Turkish IHH (Islan Haklary Ve Hurriyetleri Vakfi in Turkish) was founded in 1992, and reportedly popped up on the CIA's radar in 1996 for its radical Islamist leanings. Like many other Islamist charities, the IHH has a record of providing relief to areas where disaster has struck in the Muslim world.
However, the organization is not a force for good. The Turkish nonprofit belongs to a Saudi-based umbrella organization known to finance terrorism called the Union of Good (Ittilaf al-Kheir in Arabic). Notably, the Union is chaired by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who is known best for his religious ruling that encourages suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. According to one report, Qardawi personally transferred millions of dollars to the Union in an effort to provide financial support to Hamas.
In 2008, the Israelis banned IHH, along with 35 other Islamist charities worldwide, for its ties to the Union of Good. This was a follow-on designation; Israelis first blocked the Union of Good from operating in the West Bank and Gaza in 2002.
Interestingly, the Union of Good may not only be tied to Hamas. Included in the Israeli list of 36 designees was the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). In 2006, both the U.S. government and the United Nations designated the IIRO branch offices in Indonesia and the Philippines for financing al Qaeda. French magistrate Jean-Louis Brougiere also testified that IHH had an "important role" in Ahmed Ressam's failed "millennium plot" to bomb the Los Angeles airport in late 1999.
The U.S. government, it should be noted, also views the Union of Good as a terrorist organization. On November 12, 2008, a press release from the U.S. Treasury announced the umbrella group's leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT), stating that the group was "created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization."
"Terrorist groups such as Hamas continue to exploit charities to radicalize vulnerable communities and cultivate support for their violent activities," said Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey.
According to Treasury, Hamas's leadership actually created the Union of Good in 2000—just after the launch of the armed campaign against Israel—as a means to transfer funds to Hamas. At the time of designation in 2008, the Treasury believed that the Union of Good was transferring "tens of millions of dollars a year" to Hamas-controlled entities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
As the Treasury release explained, "The Union of Good acts as a broker for Hamas by facilitating financial transfers between a web of charitable organizations—including several organizations previously designated… for providing support to Hamas—and Hamas-controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. The primary purpose of this activity is to strengthen Hamas' political and military position in the West Bank and Gaza."
It gets worse. The Treasury, drawing from declassified documents, stated unequivocally that the Union of Good "compensated Hamas terrorists by providing payments to the families of suicide bombers. One of [the charities], the Al-Salah Society, previously identified as a key support node for Hamas, was designated in August 2007... The Society employed a number of members of the Hamas military wing and supported Hamas-affiliated combatants during the first Intifada."
Then there's the leadership. Apart from the aforementioned Qardawi, Union of Good's top officials include Hamas members, as well as Yemeni national Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, who was designated by the U.S. Treasury as a terrorist in 2004 for providing support to al Qaeda.
Thus, the convoy of ships allegedly trying to bring aid to the Gaza Strip could never be characterized as a "peace flotilla." With ties to Hamas and other dangerous groups, the IHH can only be described as a dangerous organization. Its members only underscored this fact when they attacked Israeli naval personnel with iron bars and knives, ultimately leading to the regrettable deaths this morning on the Mediterranean Sea.
Jonathan Schanzer is a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.The convoy of ships allegedly trying to bring aid to the Gaza Strip was organized by a... more
Turkey has announced that they will send more ships to aid Gaza, and that this time they'll be accompanied by the Turkish Navy. This is a provocative and dangerous move, and one that is sure to raise tensions in the region.
The implications of Turkey's threat are unknown at this time. Avi Trengo, a columnist at an Israeli news site, implies (before Turkey's announcement) that in a showdown between the two countries, Israel is likely to cave first.
http://talkingskull.com/article/turkish-navy-to-escort-more-ships-to-gazaTurkey has announced that they will send more ships to aid Gaza, and that this time... more
Israel Forces Fired On Sleeping Civillians Under Cover Of Darkness
Heavily armed soldiers “began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck”
May 31st, 2010
While the Israeli government is praising it’s soldiers as heroes and saying they were acting in self defense by firing on unarmed civilians flying a white flag in international waters, one group involved with the Freedom Flotilla has a quite different story.
A spokeswoman for Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Avital Leibovich, claims that Israeli officers gave several warnings before boarding the the Turkish boat, the Mavi Marmara.
Full Story...Gaza Flotilla Attack VIDEOS: Israel IDF Forces Fired On Sleeping Civillians In The Darkness…Watch VIDEO…http://ctpatriot1970.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/gaza-flotilla-attack-videos-israel-idf-forces-fired-on-sleeping-civillians-in-the-darkness-31-dead/
Somehow, according to Leibovich, when the soldiers did board the boat, they were then attacked by unarmed activists and relieved of their guns – a claim that is not backed up by video footage of the ambush.Israel Forces Fired On Sleeping Civillians Under Cover Of Darkness
Heavily armed... more