The Israelis are master propagandists. They know the value of muddying the waters when whatever is floating beneath the surface is not to their advantage for the world to see, be it assassinations or invasions. The paradigm is always to frame the issue on their terms, and to set their storyline in the media, not to mention the U.S. Congress, of whom a more clueless body of individuals can hardly be found on the planet. Not only does the Israeli state embrace the propaganda tenets Hitler so bluntly laid out in Mein Kampf decades ago (all Fascists and warmongers do), which include the exhortation to lie repeatedly and frequently as well as to tell the biggest lies possible, but they also go a step further and actively work to crush any contradictory facts, testimonies and storylines.
Thus when Gaza was first struck by planes without warning, then invaded and horrifically brutalized over the Christmas of 2008 on up to Obama's inauguration, not only was their onslaught draped in the most Manichean terms of the noble IDF taking it to a subhuman enclave of troll-like terrorists with extreme prejudice, but every imaginable effort was made to repress the media and communications, to completely control the images and words coming out of Gaza, in a word, to suppress the truth.
Actually, we can go all the way back to 1967 and the attack on the USS Liberty to see these tactics at work, if not earlier. What has been revealed to have been a deliberate surprise attack on a US Naval vessel because the American government has the actual radio transcriptions of the lead Israel pilot repeatedly telling ground control that this is an American ship and being ordered to attack it anyway, has always been framed as a terrible mistake by the Israeli government (and our own government). At the same time, what was the very first thing that Israeli planes went after in their first wave of attacks? The answer: all the ship's communications equipment, rendering the ship completely cut off from the outside world and, in particular, the U.S. fleet. Sound familiar? It was only through the heroism of several sailors, who flaunted deadly strafing fire to jury-rig a temporary radio antenna, that a primitive SOS was sent out, saving the day ultimately.
Is it any surprise then that what happened to the Freedom Flotilla in the wee hours of Sunday, May 31st falls into this same pattern of a) a cloaked (at night) attack, b) immediately cut off communications and then c) propagandize mightily? It is the standard modus operandi.
I am now seeing witnesses who are being released state that the Israelis, who were in swift-style boats and helicopters, had already begun firing upon the lead ship with at the very least, stun grenades, even before they boarded the Mavi Marmara. Witnesses have also repeatedly said that people were fired upon as soon as the Israelis did come on board, so at this point, how can one not consider any subsequent actions taken by passengers or crew to be anything other than self-defense? Even though this was a flotilla dedicated to peace and justice, does anyone expect hundreds of people who have only been together for several days to suddenly transform themselves into disciplined disciples of Gandhi, silently taking their beatings and deaths with transcendent detachment, or as if they were Vietnamese monks resigned to self-immolation.
Lost in the shuffle here is the fact that the Israelis attacked in the dead of night in international waters in the most provocative manner conceivable, with heavily armed, masked commandos expertly trained to kill, carrying automatic rifles (oh, and with some kind of black humor, paint ball guns attached), stun grenades, tasers, gas and God knows what else. Read these freshly emerging accounts from Aljazeera by eye-witnesses just released by the Israelis:
Mohamed Vall, Al Jazeera reporter
The Israeli assault took those of us on the ship by complete surprise.
During that hour an half in the early morning everybody on board the ship thought that no-one would survive the Israeli attack because we saw about 30 war vessels surrounding this ship and helicopters attacking with very luminous bombs, the sound of them makes you think you are dead
That was a fear of war, complete war, on a ship that was full of men, women and even children.
The first soldiers on the ship were not killed, they were not shot at, they were captured by the defenders of the ship.
Moments later another bigger helicopter landed more troops and this time they fired immediately at people and killed as many as they could so that they could reach the cabin and take control of the ship.
I saw blood spilt on the ship and everyone knew that there was no weapons. we all knew the Israelis would intercept us and try to stop us, but we didn't think that they would open fire at the first moment.
I have been shown the picture of a Yemeni man, and this is ridiculous, who was on the ship and most people know that every Yemeni in the world has a Yemeni style knife, that is a cultural thing and does not have anything to do with violence.
I understand now that in Israel they are trying to make a big deal about that, saying that the boat was full of violent people and just because of that one man.
Othman Battiri, Al Jazeera crew member
At 4:15, tens of Navy boats carrying tens of soldiers tried to board the ships. They were met by resistance. Peaceful resistance. Helicopters came and tried to download soldiers. They could not.
At that moment, they started firing live ammunition.
First, they fired sound and gas bombs and rubber bullets. Some people were injured from the rubber bullets. Then, live bullets were used. I saw several men being wounded. We tried to help some of the wounded. I saw four people who were killed.
I saw two people die before my eyes. One of them had a bullet in the chest. The other was bleeding but I did not know where he was shot.
We went down to see the other dead people. One had a bullet in his head as if he was hit by a sniper. Live bullets were every where.
They did not respect that all those on the ships were civilians. There were no weapons.
There was not firing by the activists on the soldiers. As media we stand witnesses on that.
They four dead people that I saw were all Turkish. Two were old men. The other two were younger. One of the young people was a coordinator in the media room. His name is Juwdat.
We heard that more people were killed. I only saw four. Most of the fighting took place on the upper level around the room of ship captain, where the activist tried to prevent the soldiers from trying to control the captain's room. This is where live ammunition were used.
The attack started at 4:15 and ended around 5:30 when we heard that the ship was controlled by the Israeli's.
Around 7:00 they asked us to leave our rooms and they started tying our hands.
Hazem Farouq, Egyptian MP from the Muslim Brotherhood
Helicopters were flying above us. Four military ships and 10 Navy boats surrounded us. They rained us with sound and gas bombs as if we were in real war.
Four people died before my eyes and in my hands. We could not find any first aid material. What happened required a field hospital to treat the injured. I did not have the necessary material to treat their bleeding wounds.
When we tried to carry the injured, the Israeli soldiers refused to allow men to carry the wounded. They pointed their guns with laser light toward their heads. They asked women to carry the wounded. Some women could not.
The wounded were very hurt because they were not carried in the proper way through the stairs and narrow doors. (source)
Whether it was the tactical thing to do, everyone on board Mavi Marmara had the legal right to defend themselves by any law you can think of. This was not a SWAT Team busting into your house with a warrant even. The Israelis had no warrant, only their self-declared fantasy that the ship was a danger to Israel, which they can only rationalize with slander and hyperbole.
Witness after witness throughout the flotilla is also reporting, including former ambassador Edward Peck on Democracy Now today, Wednesday (source) that the Israelis were extremely brutal, beating passengers, striking them with rifle butts, smashing cameras and on and on. The fact that they jammed all communications and stole all cameras, cell-phones, laptops, anything that can convey what happened, says it all, that they didn't want any knowledge of their dirty deeds to get out, the same thing they pulled when they attacked Gaza, and when they attacked the USS Liberty in 1967.
As for telling the biggest lie possible, then of course we have seen the travesty of Israeli propagandists slandering and demonizing these hundreds of brave and selfless individuals of the Freedom Flotilla on a desperately needed humanitarian mission, inferring that they have links to evil al Qaeda, and that the passengers acted like a vicious lynch mob. Once again the Israelis have played the victim while demonizing and murdering THEIR victims.
No, the Israelis came in like storm troopers and carried on like storm troopers, and this is so typical of their behavior for decades now that you would think everyone could see through this latest canard of "Poor Bambi commandos being lynched by Al Qaeda terrorists" smokescreen, but obviously not, although more and more people ARE catching on, an encouraging sign.