Everyone knows by now: At around 10:50 PM last night, when the flotilla was 75 nautical miles off-shore, several Israeli warships started to draw close to the ships of the Freedom Flotilla, asking them to identify themselves, and asking them where they were headed.
The Navy said that they were not welcome in Israeli waters, and told the captains that by proceeding, they would put themselves, their passengers, and their ships at risk. FGM chairwoman Huwaida Arraf rejected the call flatly. At around midnight, lights came into direct visual contact. Two warships were on either side of the flotilla, about a kilometer or more distant.
A little earlier that day, military sources confirmed that Israel was planning to use silent boats to creep close to the ships, and to board each one individually, using divers as well. They were advised to keep a close formation, keeping the smaller ships between the larger ones.
They also took a course that would bring them even farther from the Israeli coastline, even though they were already far from international waters when Israeli gunboats started approaching.
At around 5 AM this morning, the live-feed on the IHH ship showed helicopters floating above the desk of the Mavi Manara, and paratroopers rappelling onto the decks. The Israeli army spokesperson, Israeli army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibowitz claimed that the navy confiscated light weapons and handguns from the flotilla.
“We basically encountered a lynch,” she said. “We had to control this violence.” All evidence suggests that Leibowitz is lying. The boats and passengers were rigorously checked for guns by international monitors before leaving the port. Reportedly, the commandoes opened fire from their machine guns practically as soon as they hit the deck. FGM says that “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.” Some of those they shot were asleep.
Here’s what the video from IHH and the Israeli military [and who cares if it’s a spoof] seems to show: some of those on the boat may have picked up what they could and defended themselves. Of course they did. As EI points out with far more sobriety and calmness than I have, “Surely any right of self-defense would belong to the passengers on the ship.” Israeli military officers repeatedly claimed that the soldiers were highly trained, that they would simply try to tow the boats to shore in Ashdod.
Here’s my question: why were their machine-guns loaded with live ammunition? Why not rubber bullets? When you use live ammunition in a situation in which people will resist the commandeering of their ship, what will happen is very predictable. What will happen is that people will die, and when they die, you are at fault for those deaths, and the whole world knows this.
People are doing nothing illegal when they resist pirate ships and the Israeli navy are a bunch of pirates behind a white-and-blue flag. It may be worse. I have heard that most of the killed were killed after they flew the white flag, surrendering.
So why did Israel do such a dumb insipid pathetic thing? Because it can, because it is a country and a society drunk on power and violence. The fall-out will be tremendous as the country’s remaining quota of liberal Zionists, slowly going extinct, recognize, as Israel defends the siege for its own sake, as indeed military officers acknowledged before the massacre.
At least occasionally someone in the state apparatus is honest. The Israeli government is spinning and lying. The soldiers, attacking peaceful ships, were defending themselves or whatever. No one will take this seriously except those who wish to. More than pirates, the Israeli government is helmed by fools.
The head of the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Commission, Murat Mercan, said, “We are going to see in the following days whether Israel has done it as a display of decisiveness or to commit political suicide.” The Turkish government has vowed to send more ships escorted by the Turkish navy.
The Security Council is meeting. Not much will happen. Not from the Security Council. From Turkey? From the Arab street, sick of the inaction and complicity of its dictatorships? From Palestinian society? And from social layers far underneath the government, in the affluent West, where people are increasingly and utterly sick of Israeli crimes?
That’s where I am looking. Israel counted on being able to carry out atrocity and explain it away like usual. But that won’t fly this time. Let’s make sure that it won’t fly this time.
Technorati Tags: blockade, freedom flotilla, Gaza, Israel, Mavi Marmara, Palestine, siege, Zionism
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