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Gaza Flotilla Massacre: Witness Testimonies

1 June 2010 3,276 views No Comment

By the Editor.

Media coverage of the Flotilla Massacre has been a disgrace.  In confiscating cameras and imprisoning the aid workers travelling on the ships, Israel has succeeded in enacting a media blackout after its killing of 10 unarmed civilians in international waters.

In unsurprising sycophancy, the Western press has shamefully reserved the majority of its page space and airtime to the Israeli government point of view.  This has consisted of propaganda and lies – some laughable, but some dangerously believable.  Comments and assertions have ranged from claims that the aid workers were carrying ‘clubs’ and other rudimentary weapons, to claims that the aid workers opened fire first with live ammunition, and even to claims that aid workers are affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Aside from peddling Israeli-prescribed disinformation, the press has crassly understated the events, and used euphemistic language to describe the attacks. Suggesting a conflict between two equal, armed parties, the UK Guardian referred to ‘clashes’, whereas CNN opted to mislead readers by using the term ‘skirmishes’. The press has consistently failed to frame the story within the proper context that it deserves: this was an act of war committed against a sovereign Turkish vessel carrying unarmed civilians, in international waters.

We must keep this context in mind; even if it transpires that the aid workers indeed did have ‘clubs’, and rudimentary weapons, they are well within their rights to defend themselves in this way against heavily armed soldiers attacking a civilian ship in international waters.

As Ali Abunimah said on ‘Democracy Now’, the Western press has ‘lionized’ the passengers of Flight 93 who tried to fend off their hijackers (to no avail). What makes this situation any different? Israel made an unprovoked attack on a civilian ship which was in international waters. It bears repeating, because it is an undisputed fact and it absolutely delegitimises any Israeli claims of self-defence. Casual viewers of the news are not privy to this fact, hence the apathy and lack of interest.

Before we proceed, as Jonathan Cook says, let’s keep the facts in mind:

Israeli soldiers invaded these ships in international waters, breaking international law, and, in killing civilians, committed a war crime. The counter-claim by Israeli commanders that their soldiers responded to an imminent “lynch” by civilians should be dismissed with the loud contempt it deserves.

The Israeli government approved the boarding of these aid ships by an elite unit of commandos. They were armed with automatic weapons to pacify the civilians onboard, but not with crowd dispersal equipment in case of resistance. Whatever the circumstances of the confrontation, Israel must be held responsible for sending in soldiers and recklessly endangering the lives of all the civilians onboard, including a baby and a Holocaust survivor.

Israel has no right to control Gaza’s sea as its own territorial waters and to stop aid convoys arriving that way. In doing so, it proves that it is still in belligerent occupation of the enclave and its 1.5 million inhabitants. And if it is occupying Gaza, then under international law Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Strip’s inhabitants. Given that the blockade has put Palestinians there on a starvation diet for the past four years, Israel should long ago have been in the dock for committing a crime against humanity.

~ Jonathan Cook – Israel’s Attack on Us All

Now consider the following testimonies from credible witnesses who were present on the flotilla at the time of the assault, and make your own minds up.

Haneen Zuabi, a member of the Israeli Knesset who was on the Mavi Marmara:

“I entered the captain’s room. He was asked to stop by the Israeli soldiers. He said, ‘We are a Turkish ship.’ We were 130 miles off. It was 11:30 pm. We saw four Israel vessels, they were at a distance because we were in international waters. At 4:15 am we saw the ships approaching.”

“They were dinghies and choppers. At 4:30 am the forces landed quickly. I did not hear any warning from the ships, because noise was coming from the ships and the choppers. Within 10 minutes there were already three bodies. The entire operation took about an hour.”

There was not a single passenger who raised a club. We put on our life vests. There were no clubs or anything of the sort. There were gunshots, I don’t know if they were live bullets or not. There were gunshots fired from the ships in our direction.

“A clear message was being sent to us, for us to know that our lives were in danger. We convened that we were not interested in a confrontation. What we saw was five bodies. There were only civilians and there were no weapons. There was a sense that I many not come out of it alive. Israel spoke of a provocation, but there was no provocation.”

Source: Ynetnews http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3897396,00.html

Mihalis Grigoropoulos, who was steering one of the ships in the flotilla:

“They (Israelis) came down from helicopters and threw ropes from inflatable boats, climbing aboard. There was teargas and live ammunition.”

“I was steering the ship, we saw them capture another ship in front of us, which was the Turkish passenger vessel with more than 500 people on board and heard shots fired.”

We did not resist at all, we couldn’t even if we had wanted to. What could we have done against the commandos who climbed aboard? The only thing some people tried was to delay them from getting to the bridge, forming a human shield. They were fired upon with plastic bullets and were stunned with electric devices.

“There was great mistreatment after our arrest. We were essentially hostages, like animals on the ground.”

“They wouldn’t let us use the bathroom, wouldn’t give us food or water and they took video of us despite international conventions banning this.”

Source: UK Guardian live flotilla blog http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/jun/01/israel-flotilla-raid-fallout-live

Norman Paech, German former Left Party PM who was on board the Mavi Marmari at the time of the attack:

“The Israeli government justifies the raid because they were attacked. This is absolutely not the case.”

“This was not an act of self-defence.”

Source: The Local http://www.thelocal.de/national/20100601-27561.html

Mr. Paech’s words were echoed by German MP Inge Höger, who said:

“We felt like we were in a war, like we were being kidnapped.”

“We wanted to bring aid to Gaza. Nobody had a weapon.”

Source: The Local http://www.thelocal.de/national/20100601-27561.html

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