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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/31/10

The Flotilla Massacre - Israeli Commandos Fired Unprovoked Into Sleeping Civilians: Eyewitnesses

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What really happened? Well, the Israeli story, at face value, is difficult to take seriously. The activists on board the Flotilla werenotpeace activists, they are 'terrorists' and 'terrorist sympathisers' who supposedly in PM Netanyahu's words 'mobbed, beat, stabbed and maybe even shot at' Israeli soldiers who were, of course, just popping in for a nice cup of tea... or bowl of homous... or whatever.

Yes, of course, lunatic hate-infested anti-Semiticterroristslike bestselling novelist Henning Mankell, Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, three German MPs including professor of public law Norman Paech, and 80-year old US film producer David Schermerhorn. No doubt, just waiting for the opportune moment to unleash their raging pent-up fanaticism by ruthlessly opening fire on a bunch of utterly hapless, unwitting, ... erm... highly-trained, er .... armed with tear gas and rifles, ....... er... Israeli commandos.

In the process of this valiant self-defence by our hapless rag-tag bunch of Israeli war-heroes who were only looking to have a tea-break on a nice cruise, it seems that, well, not a single Israeli soldier was actually killed. But up to 19 of the terrorists on board the Flotilla weresuccessfully liquidated, and another 80 were taught a damn good lesson: don't try to break theillegal blockage and siege of Gaza- described by John Ging, head of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, as 'amedieval measurewhich threatens to destroy the mentality, mindsets and outlook of hundreds of thousands of innocents in a process designed to unravel the fabric of civilised society'; described by UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Richard Falk as almostgenocidalform of total war.

This is afamiliar story- namely, the usual lack of parity between the overwhelming and indiscriminate application of force by the Israeli military against unarmed and untrained civilians, a story that has characterized the Middle East conflict since 1948 when,as most Israeli historians agree, Zionist settler-colonists pursued a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing to expunge the land of non-Jewish peoples.

Here are two first-hand accounts I received in my inbox yesterday from senior activists on board the boat, Huwaida Arraf and Ewa Jasciewica, describing their experiences:

At 11:00 pm Cyprus time and in international waters off the coast of Israel, the boats were contacted by the Israeli navy. "Who are you and where are you going?" Our reply was that we were part of a flotilla and we were going to Gaza to deliver humanitarian supplies.

On the radar, the boats could see three Israeli war ships shadowing us, and 15 minutes later, a silent aircraft hovered over the flotilla. One of our Hebrew speakers had found Israel's strategy and posted it to us. It stated, "You will be boarded by highly trained, very efficient and very SILENT commandos. They will use silent inflatable boats to get to our boats and both try to board our boats directly from the inflatables and by dropping divers into the water to climb onto the boats," so people were preparing for them to come up and over the sides of the ships.

Our SPOT locator has sent out several HELP messages at

Lubna Marsawa, Free Gaza's organizer on the Turkish passenger boat said in outrage, "Very few times in history has a flotilla delivering humanitarian goods been welcomed by military war ships."

This is a call to the world from the people on the boats. "We are a civilian people doing what our governments have refused to do, challenge Israel's right to collectively punish 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza by blockading their right to their own sea. This flotilla is bringing construction and educational supplies the people of Gaza and are being metby Israeli warships.

Then, the following shocking account at 6:30 yesterday morning, from Greta Berlin - an account which not only explains why whatever the crew of peace activists did, they were doing it in self-defence, amidst an unfolding massacre:

Under darkness of night, Israeli commandoes dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck. They fired directly into the crowd of civilians asleep... Streaming video shows the Israeli soldiers shooting at civilians, and our last SPOT beacon said, "HELP, we are being contacted by the Israelis."

We know nothing about the other five boats. Israel says they are taking over the boats.

The coalition of Free Gaza Movement (FG), European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG), Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), the Perdana Global Peace Organisation , Ship to Gaza Greece, Ship to Gaza Sweden, and the International Committee to Lift the Siege on Gaza appeal to the international community to demand that Israel stop their brutal attack on civilians delivering vitally needed aid to the imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza and permit the ships to continue on their way.

The attack has happened in international waters, 75 miles off the coast of Israel, in direct violation of international law.

Many of those activists being shot at while they slept, didn't wake up. Many of those that did wake up, woke up bleeding and wounded. Many tried to defend themselves in whatever way they could, obviously terrorising their commando-attacks even more, unleashing further bloodshed.

Under Netanyahu, the IDF has become increasingly unhinged. Utterly incapable of grasping that its war crimes and crimes against humanity can no longer simply be dressed up as a fight against terrorists, when terror itself is a primary instrument of statecraft. Completely incapable of self-reflection or self-critique. Pathetically incapable of putting to rest the 'final solution' of the knee-jerk trigger-finger.

It is a sign of things to come.
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Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the 'System Shift' column for VICE's Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work.

Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New (more...)

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