Even the N.Y. Times, whose preference is usually to believe Israel’s accounts of events, has begun to acknowledge there are competing valid claims by survivors about what happened:
More than 600 activists arrested after Monday’s raid in international waters remained in custody in southern Israel, although an Israeli police spokesman said that about 45 people were being deported. Some of those activists offered descriptions of the raid that differed sharply with accounts provided by Israel, raising more questions about precisely what happened when Israeli commandos descended on the convoy’s lead ship early Monday morning.
It is most unfortunate that the Times’ European correspondent, Alan Cowell, couldn’t have actually presented any of that testimony. This is not very good journalism. CNN has done a better job:
Hanin Zoabi, a member of the Israeli parliament, was on board the Miva Marmara, the ship that was the scene of a confrontation between activists and Israeli soldiers. That clash left at least nine people dead.
The Israeli Navy fired on the ships five minutes before commandos descended from ropes that dangled from helicopters, Zoabi said during a press conference in Nazareth, Israel. She said passengers on board the ship were unarmed.
…Zoabi said she believes Israel has video footage of how the ten passengers were killed, and she called on Israeli authorities to release that footage.
…Huwaida Arraf, one of the Free Gaza Movement organizers, told CNN Israeli troops roughed her up when they responded aggressively to her ship, a smaller one in the flotilla that was near the Turkish vessel where the casualties occurred.
…She said “they started beating people. My head was smashed against the ground and they stepped on my head. They later cuffed me and put a bag over my head. They did that to everybody.”
In the video, she also notes that she was violently shoved into an Israeli police car and beaten in the head and passed out. Her personal possessions and money were also taken by authorities and their return was refused.
The BBC quotes this survivor:
German pro-Palestinian activist Norman Paech said he had only seen wooden sticks being brandished as troops abseiled on to the deck of the ship…
Activist Norman Paech: “There were no knives, no axes and no pistols”
“This was not an act of [Israeli] self-defence,” said Mr Paech, a politician, as he arrived back in Berlin wrapped in a blue blanket.
“Personally I saw two and a half wooden batons that were used… There was really nothing else. We never saw any knives.
Israeli headlines are beginning to absorb the depth of the disaster with “Flotilla Fiasco” and “Botched Raid” among them.
Turkey’s prime minister released this extremely stern statement which to me appears to be a warning shot across Israel’s bow which it should heed very carefully:
“No one should dare to challenge Turkey or test her patience for that the strength of Turkey’s animosity is as strong as the value of its friendship.”
Obama should pay close attention as well. It is unfortunately one thing when powerless Palestinians protest the Gaza siege or the Occupation. But when one of the foremost nations in the Muslim world with a powerful military presence becomes Israel’s implacable foe, that’s another matter entirely. Not only can Turkey make Israel’s life quite a bit more misrerable than it is, it can also wreak havoc with U.S. Middle East policy as well. Witness the joint Turkish-Brazilian intervention into the Iranian nuclear crisis.
I would urge Obama and Bibi to consider carefully what they are doing. If they play this wrong, they could be in for a whole heap of trouble they didn’t anticipate.
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- Turkish PM: Israeli Raid A ‘Bloody Massacre’ (huffingtonpost.com)