Kak Attack on the Mavi Marmara // Raw Footage
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International pressure has been mounting on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza since the deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Palestinian territory.
The UN has said 80 per cent of people there depend on food hand-outs.
But Israeli officials insist that there is no humanitarian crisis in the enclave.
UN aid workers inside Gaza, however, see a different reality.
Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza, where it has been reported that about 14 per cent of children suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition.
Save the Children says 800,000 children are included among the population of 1.5 million in Gaza, a number supported by UNICEF. The CIA in fact records the median age of the entire population at just 17.5 years. 44% of the population it says is under 14.
Humanitarian agencies are being kept busy throughout Gaza in the wake of the blockade imposed by Israel in June 2007, which is now approaching its fourth year. The ghetto-type conditions in Gaza have been exacerbated by the three-week-long war that took place in late 2008 and early 2009, which according to UNICEF killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, of which 350 were children. Thirteen Israelis also died during the hostilities, including 3 civilians.
"Thousands of families are still living amid rubble and crumbling infrastructure due to the blockade that bars everything but limited supplies of essential humanitarian goods. Only 41 truckloads of construction materials (0.05 per cent of pre-blockade flows) have been permitted entry since the Gaza War," says UNICEF.
"Throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories almost 12,000 children under five years old still die from preventable causes each year, as do more than 1,800 children under 12 months old," UNICEF said in a statement on its Web site. "Two thirds of households are not connected to a sewage network, meaning water is discharged into the environment partially or totally untreated. The education system has suffered with learning outcomes plummeting for the past two years."
The United Nations has been critical of the blockade saying it violates articles 33 (prohibition on collective punishment) and 55 (duty to provide food and health care to the occupied population) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights
in the Palestinian territories, says Gaza has been brought to the brink of collapse.
Education of Gazan kids was severely disrupted by the Gaza War. UNICEF says some 280 schools were damaged or destroyed, along with critical water and sanitation infrastructure and almost half of all health facilities.
A United Nations Development Program report published last month says three-quarters of the damage inflicted on Gaza during the war remains unrepaired and unreconstructed. The report says 82.50% of the education facilities damaged or destroyed during the conflict are yet to be repaired or reconstructed.
While Israel is usually singled-out as the country that has imposed the blockade on Gaza, Egypt also shares some responsibility. "Egypt shares responsibility for the collective punishment of Gaza's civilian population due to its own closure of Gaza's southern border," a Human Rights Watch report published last month says. "Except in limited circumstances, Egypt refuses to allow the passage of goods or people through the border crossing it controls at Rafah."
Human Rights Watch is one of a number of local and international humanitarian organizations at work in Gaza. Save the Children, an independent humanitarian aid organisation which is heavily involved, is also working in Israel, as are other organizations.
Save the Children, founded nearly ninety years ago, is more focused than others on children and is credited with assisting millions of children in need in more than 120 countries. The organization says it abhors terrorism of all kinds, including attacks on Israeli families. "Our work to assist children in Gaza in no way means we support terrorism," a statement on its Web site says.
"We believe we have an obligation to assist children in great need regardless of race, religion or politics. In the Middle East, where we have worked since 1953, we have sought to assist children throughout the region including children in Israel, where we still work," the Save the Children statement said.
By HAITHAM SABBAH
Most of Gaza's factories have closed and its water is polluted as a result of Israel's siege policy, according to a new report being released today by the Israeli Human Rights group – B'tselem.
The siege policy has "led to economic collapse in Gaza," B'tselem noted in a 44-page report (PDF) that looked at Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem during the period from January 2009 to the end of April 2010.
Following is a summery of this report:
- The prohibition on bringing in raw materials and exports into Gaza, which has been in place since Hamas's takeover of the Strip in June 2007, forced 95 percent of the factories and workshops in the area to close.
- Before 2007, 4,000 types of goods were let into Gaza, compared with less than 150 that come in now. Among the restricted items are building materials such as iron and cement, which are needed to rebuild the 3,500 homes destroyed during last Israeli assault on Gaza – Operation Cast Lead.
- The quantity of goods that comes through the crossings is less than one-quarter of what entered prior to the siege.
- Before 2007, 70 trucks laden with export goods such as furniture, clothing and produce left Gaza daily for Israel. Now, only the export of strawberries and flowers to Europe is allowed in "certain instances". Goods are coming into Gaza through a system of tunnels set up under the border with Egypt, although the system is not enough to revive Gaza's economy.
- Electricity is a problem in Gaza. 98% of the residents suffer from blackouts ranging from eight to ten hours a day, while the remaining 2% do not receive any electricity at all.
- The power outages due to lack of fuel and spare parts have prevented the proper operation of wells and desalination plants.
- At the end of 2009, studies showed that 93% percent of the Gaza Strip's water was polluted, with high quantities of chloride and nitrates.
- "The water supply is defective and thousands of residents are not even connected to the water grid. Waste treatment has also been affected. Every day, some 100,000 cubic meters of untreated or partially untreated waste-water flow into the sea."
- A lack of pesticides and spare parts for irrigation systems makes it hard for farmers. Those with land near the border with Israel can no longer farm because access is forbidden or restricted, and those who violate these orders risk being shot.
- Fisherman cannot go out farther than three nautical miles, which limits the Strip's fish supply.
- The number of Palestinian fatalities at the hands of the IOF dropped from 456 in 2008 to 83 from January 21, 2009, through the end of April 2010. These numbers do not include Palestinian deaths that occurred during Operation Cast Lead.
- The report noted that Israel demolitions had continued in Area C of the West Bank, where from January 2009 to the end of April 2010, the occupation forces had destroyed 44 residential structures. The demolitions left 317 Palestinians homeless.
- In 2009, the Jerusalem Municipality demolished 48 buildings in east Jerusalem. The demolitions left 247 Palestinians homeless.
- The report notes that the IOF had not stop building settlements and no outposts been removed.
- According to the report, very few IOF or police investigations into allegations of wrongdoing against Palestinians had actually lead to convictions. From the start of the second intifada in September 2000 to the end of April 2010, B'tselem reported 255 cases of violence to the military advocate-general's office. Only 11 indictments were filed, and one of those was canceled.
- During that same period, B'tselem turned to the Justice Ministry's Police Investigation Department concerning 180 cases of violence, but only 12 indictments were filed.
- Since September 2000, B'tselem has submitted 220 complaints to the Israel Police, demanding investigations of cases where Israelis harmed Palestinians or damaged their property. Only nine of these complaints resulted in indictments.
B'tselem executive director Jessica Montell said that the report was being released to mark "the 43rd anniversary" of the end of the Six Day War, which marked "the beginning" of Israel's occupation.
"The ongoing occupation both violates" Palestinian rights and "poses clear dangers for Israel's democracy," Montell said. "For this reason we as Israelis must demand accountability for actions taken in our name in the occupied territories and work to change in policies that infringe human rights."6srael to give medal of valor to killer of six Turkish activists
LONDON, (PIC)-- The British Times newspaper said Israel intends to give a medal of valor to its soldier who killed six civilians of the nine victims who were shot dead during the Israeli navy’s deadly attack on the Turkish Mavi Marmara cruise ship.
The newspaper expects that honoring the soldiers for killing Turks would augment the tension between Turkey and Israel.
It quoted Mustafa Akyol, a noted Turkish writer as saying that awarding the soldier is an insult and provocative act against Turkey.
The soldier, whose name was not revealed for security reasons, admitted that he killed six of the nine passengers who were aboard the Turkish aid ship, alleging that the Turkish passengers were the ones who started to attack the commandos and described them as terrorists.
We Demand Our Property
FREE GAZA MOVEMENT—(London, 17 June 2010) Passengers from the flotilla from several countries (listed below) are urging their governments to demand that Israel release the property illegally seized from the passengers in international waters on 31 May, in particular the many cameras, camcorders, mobile phones etc. that contain evidence of at least the beginning of the shooting of civilians by Israeli soldiers.
(This demand is for property only and is independent of the many legal briefs already being worked on due to the murder and wounding of the passengers.)
That evidence will be vital to any search for the truth concerning the events on all six boats and must be secured urgently if Israeli military personnel are ever to be held to account for the deaths of at least nine civilians and the gunshot wounds of at least 40 others who were aboard the Mavi Marmara ship.
Israel’s 31 May 2010 attack on the civilians on the Freedom Flotilla had terrible consequences, resulting in the death of (at least) nine civilians and the wounding of over 40. It was unprovoked, unwarranted, and illegal.
As recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations (UN) and every government in the world, Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza. When Israeli military forces took control of the six ships in international waters on 31 May 2010, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 then applied to the civilians on board.
The early testimonies of those participating in the flotilla and the video evidence that activists managed to prevent being seized by the Israeli military, provides prima facie evidence of the commission of grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention (i.e. war crimes) by Israeli military personnel involved in the attack on the flotilla and in the detention of its passengers. That evidence suggests that the following crimes were – and/or continue to be – committed:
- willful killing
- inhuman treatment
- willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health
- unlawful deportation or transfer
- unlawful confinement
- taking of hostages
- extensive appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly
- theft by use of credit cards of some of the passengers by Israeli military personnel
Therefore, on behalf of the main organizers of the six-vessel Freedom Flotilla carrying approximately 700 human rights activists, journalists, members of parliament and other civilians and crew to Gaza, we calls on all governments to comply with their duties under article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and take the following action due to Israel’s theft of the property of those participating in the flotilla. We call on all governments to join us in urgently demanding that Israel:
- immediately relinquishes control of all the property seized on 31 May 2010 during its illegal boarding of our ships.
- releases the property that constitutes evidence and send all those items of property seized on the six boats on 31 May 2010, to the UN by June 30, 2010, including all cameras, mobile phones, laptops and recording devices which recorded the events aboard the six ships.
- releases the remainder of the property (including clothes, credit cards and hard currency) to its rightful owners.
- accounts for every stolen credit card or mobile or satellite telephone usage, which, if true, appears to have turned acts of illegal appropriation of property into straightforward pillage.
We also call on all governments to urgently demand from Israel that:
- It will preserve all evidence in its possession in its original form (i.e. computer disks, hard-drives, SIM cards, memory cards, as well as any other physical evidence which could be considered relevant to any investigations) for handing over to the independent, impartial investigation ordered by the Security Council and/or UN Fact Finding Mission ordered by the Human Rights Council and in anticipation of the opening of criminal investigations.
- It confirms that none of the film and photographic evidence seized on 31 May 2010 has in fact been destroyed and that it will not do so and to account for every single destroyed or disappeared item.
These crimes have focused international attention on the illegal blockade of Gaza, leading to a welcome international review of the policies of governments across the world towards the closure.
There is no natural disaster in Gaza. Therefore, Gaza does not need long-term humanitarian aid, but instead needs to be allowed to rebuild its economy and trade normally with the rest of the world. It cannot do this while the closure and naval blockade continue.
Kate Maynard, Hickman and Rose, UK + 442077025331, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rochelle Harris, UK – +44(0)7785 116672, email@example.com
Rifat Audeh, Jordan +962 797 397742, firstname.lastname@example.org
Huwaida Arraf, Palestine +972-598-336-215, email@example.com
Audrey Bomse, France +33 638 972 443, firstname.lastname@example.org
The detailed statement sent to several governments today can be accessed on the front page of our website for the next week and in survivor testimonies as well:
The countries where the full statement is being sent to governments are:
Turkey, United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands, Jordan, Ireland, USA, France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Holland
By Rev. Ted Pike
14 June 10
As nearly 700 “Free Gaza” flotilla survivors return to 20 nations, they bear witness to the same message—all five vessels, bringing aid to Gaza, were attacked by Israel. Preliminary shooting, including live rounds, came from Israeli attack boats and helicopters. All passengers were poorly, if not roughly, treated or assaulted. Are these the ravings of terrorist sympathizers, worthy of attack – as Israel and its PR rep, the ADL – as well as most evangelicals, contend?
The flotilla carried professionals, public officials and parliamentarians – including a member of Israel’s Knesset. Those contradicting Israel's story include a Brazilian filmmaker, a retired German parliamentarian and professor, two German parliamentarians, an acclaimed Swedish academic, an Irish Ulsterman with American citizenship, an Irish medical doctor, a retired Jewish-American math teacher, an American structural engineer, a best-selling Swedish novelist and an Israeli-born Swedish artist. The subsequent flotilla of ships included former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Denis Halliday and Irish Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead McGuire. (Click here for testimonies.)
Incredibly, Christian/conservatives reject testimony from these credible witnesses and accuse them of crafting an elaborate and bizarre falsehood.
Such false testimony would not be successful for long. Their stories would quickly unravel as more honest members of the flotilla confirmed Israel’s account. Today, two weeks after the attack, the nearly 700 members of the flotilla speak with one voice. The British Guardian tells us, “The details of the wounds came as yet more survivors return to the UK and gave their account of the attacks.”
…Ismael Patel, the 47-year-old chairman of the Friends of aal Aqsa…claimed that as soon as the Israeli Defense Force helicopter appeared above the Mavi Marmara, ‘it started using…live ammunition,’ without any warning being issued. After the first victim fell the white flag was raised, he said, ‘But Israeli forces continued firing.’ Patel: ‘I think the Israeli soldiers were shooting to kill because most of the people who died were shot in the top part of their bodies.’ He called it, ‘the cold-blooded murder and killing of our colleagues. These deaths were avoidable…’ ("Gaza flotilla attack autopsies Reveal Intensity of Israel's Military Force," June 4)
Patel calculated that during the bloodiest part of the assault, Israeli commandos shot one person every minute. One man was fatally shot in the back of the head just 2 feet in front of him and another was shot once between the eyes. He added that as well as the fatally wounded, 48 others were suffering from gunshot wounds… ("Gaza Flotilla Activists Were Shot in Head at Close Range," June 4 th)
Alex Harrison, on the smaller Challenger I, said the Israelis attacked using "rubber bullets, sound bombs, and tasers against them…. We stood and tried to obstruct the armed, masked men and made no other defense and still they used violence." Harrison saw the Mavi Marmara stormed and said the "Israelis started firing before the troops landed on the boat… You must remember that these are unarmed civilians on their own boat in the middle of the Mediterranean. People picked up what they could to defend themselves against armed, masked commandos who were shooting." ("Gaza flotilla attack autopsies Reveal Intensity of Israel's Military Force," June 4)
Turkish Autopsies Reveal Israel's Violence
Citing the coroner’s report of the Turkish government, the Guardian suggests that Israeli commandos were hardly intent on non-violence. It relates that Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old American-Turkish activist, was shot 5 times from a close range: in the right side of his nose, the back of his head, his back, and twice in his left leg. The oldest victim was 60-year old Ibrahim Bilgen, a Turkish politician, engineer and activist, who was married with 6 children. He was shot once in the right temple, once in the right side of his chest, once in his back and once in his hip. Cetin Topeuoglu, a 54-year-old former taekwondo champion who worked as a coach for the Turkish national team, was shot three times – once in the back of his head, once in his hip, and once in his belly.
Here is a summary of the other seven:
Alquyz: 4 gunshot wounds - back of head, side of face, back, leg.
Yaldiz: 4 gunshot wounds – chest, left leg, right leg twice.
Bengi: 6 gunshot wounds – chest, belly, right arm, right leg, left hand twice.
Topeuoglu: 3 gunshot wounds – back of head, left side, right belly.
Yildirim: 2 gunshot wounds – right shoulder, left back.
Kiliclar: 1 gunshot wound, middle of forehead.
Songur: 1 gunshot wound – front of neck.
Injuries to these nine Turks tell a different story than Israel’s. It was an orgy of excessive gunfire—yes, a massacre. Do you really think nine dead and 47 injured from gunshot wounds constituted a proportionate response to a group wielding rods, batons, kitchen knives and a sack of marbles?
If Israel had really intended non-violence, it could have snarled the ships’ propellers and rudders with no loss of life. Negotiations could have occurred in daylight to allow the orderly, nonviolent transfer of command. Instead, Israel chose to take over the ships in darkness in the most terrifying manner. It was a terrorist attack.
If Israel is so intent on sharing the whole truth, and has no need of a “biased” international investigation, why did it sabotage the flotilla passengers’ communication with the outside world before, during, and for days after the raid? Why did Israel seize their cameras, computers, and notebooks? Why does Israel insist that in its investigation IDF forces involved in the raid will not be questioned? Clearly, Israel wants no contrary voices as it propagandizes the world – including 70 million gullible evangelicals and their media who are eager (in fact, theologically duty-bound) to believe Israel.
Tea Party Leaders Believe Israel
For the past six months, e-alerts from the National Prayer Network have been educating over 500 Tea Party chapters in America. Yet after my article "Is Israel Exempt from International Law?" a torrent of protest came back. Readers shouted the same thing: “Pro-terrorist flotilla members are involved in an elaborate scam to make Israel look bad. Only Israel can be trusted!”
Most evangelicals will probably remain uninterested in more evidence from survivors in the weeks ahead. They are content to believe anything Israel says. This choice will doubtless show itself even more adaptive as Israel, which scripture portrays as Babylon the Great ascends to its prophesied rulership of the nations. (See, "'Babylon the Great' is Israel") Scripture predicts that Israel will be able to deceive the whole earth because the nations have capitulated to its lies. By prostituting their God-given birthright to speak only the whole truth, Israel-first evangelicals have also drunk the wine of Israel's spiritual whoredom. As a result, regarding matters Jewish, they have gone theologically and politically insane. It is clear that evangelicals’ support for Israel is so boundless and unquestioning that even as Israel ascends to world dominion they will be compelled to bless and promote the Great Harlot.
Christ foretold that someday believers will be drawn up to the synagogues of Satan in Jerusalem to be tried and convicted (Luke 21:12)—probably by ADL as "anti-Semitic" hate criminals. Evangelical response since the flotilla attack leads us to predict many will bless and believe in apostate Israel right to the bitter end— to the very moment when Israeli firing squads, like Israel’s commandos on the Marmara, put bullets between their eyes.
Call the United Nations at 1-212-963-5012 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-212-963-5012 end_of_the_skype_highlighting and demand a full, unbiased international investigation of Israel's raid of the "Free Gaza" flotilla. (More contact information on freegaza.org)
Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.
TALK SHOW HOSTS: Interview Rev. Ted Pike on this subject. Call (503) 631-3808 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (503) 631-3808 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
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By MEL FRYKBERG
RAMALLAH, Jun 18, 2010 (IPS) - "I stopped counting after I had received 50 death threats. I told my secretary not to tell me about them any more," Arab-Israeli Knesset (parliament) member, Haneen Zoabi told IPS.
"As a result of the death threats I’ve been given personal body guards both within the Knesset and outside," adds Zoabi.
Zoabi, a member of the Arab-Israeli political party Balad, was on board the ‘Mavi Marmara’, part of the Free Gaza (FG) flotilla, when it was attacked by Israeli commandos in international waters as it tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza several weeks ago.
Following her arrest, interrogation and subsequent release Zoabi returned to a very hostile Knesset where she was subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse, including that of a racist and sexist nature. Some of the comments were so degrading and insulting that they were wiped from the Knesset record.
Another Knesset Member (MK) was prevented from assaulting Zoabi following the physical intervention of other MKs.
Zoabi has been labelled a "terrorist" and a "traitor" and the Knesset House majority has called for her parliamentary privileges to be withdrawn. The Israeli interior ministry has also called for her citizenship to be revoked.
"I intend to take the matter to court, if necessary, to fight to keep my parliamentary privileges and citizenship,’’ Zoabi told IPS.
Zoabi says that she and her fellow Arab-Israeli MKs have become the subjects of a witch hunt by a majority in the Knesset, but she has no regrets about joining the FG flotilla and would not hesitate to repeat her action.
"It’s hard working in such a hostile environment where every move I make and every word I utter is subject to intense scrutiny,’’ she says.
Zoabi recalls the horrifying ordeal the activists endured after the Israeli naval seals had boarded the ‘Mavi Marmara’ when nine activists were shot dead and dozens wounded.
Survivors have accused the commandos of deliberately shooting some of the activists in cold blood. Turkish autopsies revealed that several of the dead had multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
Zoabi did not witness any of the shootings or beatings of the activists but she questions the circumstances surrounding the deaths.
"The Israeli soldiers had taken command of the ‘Mavi Marmara’ within 20 minutes of boarding. Yet it was an hour-and-a-half before they told all the passengers that the situation was under control and ordered us all to go downstairs. I wonder what happened in that hour," says Zoabi.
"I was treated fairly carefully because they knew I was a member of the Knesset. They also kept me away from other passengers who were beaten and abused as they didn’t want me to be able to bear testimony to this,’’ Zoabi said. "They also deliberately withheld medical treatment from the seriously injured passengers during the first few hours.’’
"I went and held up a notice written in Hebrew to the window where the commandos were standing, calling for medical help. I also called out to them in English and told them there were critically injured passengers who needed urgent medical attention, but they ignored me. Two seriously injured passengers, who were bleeding, died after 40 mins,'' Zoabi told IPS.
"Minutes after the attack began, the wounded and the dead were being brought inside from the deck,’’ Lubna Marsawa, another activist, told Electronic Intifada (EI), the not-for-profit, independent online publication which covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Palestinian perspective.
‘’We were then held for several hours with four bodies and dozens of wounded, some in critical condition. Blood was pouring from the bodies of the victims. We wanted to help them, but we had no medical equipment. There was nothing we could do," Marsawa told EI.
Zoabi also accuses the Israeli authorities of trumping up charges against the passengers. "When they interrogated me in Ashdod port they accused me of attacking the soldiers, of threatening their lives and being in possession of knives. I just laughed in their faces, it was so ludicrous."
Zoabi was released quickly due to her parliamentary immunity and the Israeli police have not tried to charge her with attempted assault against the navy commandos.
She doubts whether the self-appointed Israeli investigation into the flotilla fiasco will be either credible or legitimate.
"They will not question any of the commandos involved or allow the survivors to testify. Furthermore, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has already reached a conclusion before the investigation even gets under way.
"He said the inquiry would prove that the commandos acted in self-defence and that Israel’s raid was in accordance with international law. What kind of legitimate inquiry is that?"
The feisty Knesset member now believes that the relationship between Israel’s Palestinian-Arab minority and the Israeli-Jewish majority has reached a point of crisis and that the two communities are on a collision course.
"The situation started deteriorating following the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada or uprising in 2000 when 13 Israeli-Arabs were shot dead by Israeli security forces during a protest against land expropriation," says Zoabi.
As Israel’s increasingly right-wing Knesset tries to pass more draconian legislation, much of it with racist overtones, against dissenters and what it labels "traitors", Israeli-Arabs are being placed in an untenable situation.
"They are forcing the Palestinian minority to choose between loyalty to Zionist values or being labelled "terrorists and traitors".
‘’This either or situation is not only undemocratic but will also backfire on Israel. Israeli-Arabs can’t be expected to follow the Zionist narrative or disassociate from their Palestinian roots," says Zoabi.