Israel to Release All Gaza Flotilla Activists
In growing recognition of the public relations disaster it faces on the world stage for its massacre aboard the Turkish aid ship attempting the break the Gaza blockade, Israel’s prime minister announced that all 700 would be immediately released. It appears that continuing to detain them made Israel’s predicament even more untenable than it would otherwise be. I’m also guessing that this was done under some fierce pressure from the U.S. Bibi Netanyahu is not the politician who gives in of his own free will on these sorts of matters. Malleable is not his middle name.
But what really caught my eye is that passengers who allegedly assaulted the IDF with knives, clubs and guns would also be released. Frankly, this makes me doubt the IDF version of this story even more than I did before. Israel is going to allow Muslims who stabbed and seriously injured their own soldiers off scot free? It simply beggars belief. I’m not making any definitive judgements as to what happened and who assaulted whom and in what order. But I’m smelling something and it’s not very pleasant.
This still does not absolve Israel from its responsibilities to release the names of the dead and injured and their bodies to next of kin; along with any autopsy results.
Some extraordinary responses both good and bad from American Jewish leaders and intellectuals. Peter Beinart, fresh from his attack on the Israel lobby in the pages of the NY Review of Books, has penned another slashing piece denouncing Israel for its policy of siege in Gaza. It’s worth a look even though there are a few places in which Beinart’s liberal Zionism somewhat constrains his analysis.
On the down side is the response from J Street attempting to triangulate as usual as it did in denouncing the Goldstone report and urging the U.S. to veto it if brought before the UN Security Council:
There will undoubtedly be calls in the coming days for a UN investigation into today’s events. A credible, independent commission appointed by the Israeli government should provide the world with a full and complete report into the causes and circumstances surrounding the day’s events and establish responsibility for the violence and bloodshed.
I think J Street is coming to appear more and more a mouthpiece for Obama administration policy and less and less an independent organization. Who in their right mind believes that Israel can or will conduct in full and complete investigation of this matter? Did they do so after the UN demanded it in light of the Goldstone report? Of course not. What in Israel’s recent history would lead J Street or any serious person to believe this is possible?
Meanwhile the MV Rachel Corrie after setting sail from Ireland with a Nobel peace laureate aboard is currently bearing down on Crete and making its way to Gaza. Will Israel botch it again? Will Obama get off his ass and tell Israel that the siege is over? Stay tuned.
For some broad satiric relief, take a look at this Twitter spoof account for Israeli global PR, which features some real hilarity:
* @whitehouse Thanks guys, knew you’d have our backs http://bit.ly/9avVch
* [In a reference to the Dubai assassination] Now that we have copies of their passports, Israel will release all foreigners from the flotilla
* Sticks and stones may break our bones, so we brought guns
* You should be grateful that we let you get so far, it would have been no trouble to deal with things before the ships even departed #mossad
* We forgive you for provoking us
* We’re not saying that the Gaza shore is a closed military area, we’re just saying that, if you do come, we will shoot you
29 thoughts on “Israel to Release All Gaza Flotilla Activists – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Releasing the activists was a feeble gesture to the world on the part of the IOF to try to control the incredible amount of damage the country has done to itself.
The activists are beginning to speak about their experiences. I am sure we are going to be getting a clearer picture of what happened. Already there have been some astonishing statements made by some very credible people.
Speaking of humour,
“It’s time the Israeli government’s PR team made the most of its talents, and became available for hire. Then whenever a nutcase marched into a shopping mall in somewhere like Wisconsin and gunned down a selection of passers-by, they could be on hand to tell the world’s press “The gunman regrets the loss of life but did all he could to avoid violence.” Then various governments would issue statements saying “All we know is a man went berserk with an AK 47, and next to him there’s a pile of corpses, so until we know the facts we can’t pass judgement on what took place.””
The rest of it can be found at:
They could also insist that everyone they kill somehow managed to be armed, and of course it was “self defense..” and then explain how they managed to kill them with a paint ball gun. Next thing you know, the IOF will be armed with paint ball guns, cream pies, whoopee cushions, hand buzzers and rubber chickens.
The picture you have posted is pure incitement. Shame on you.
Stop your whining. You mean IDF soldiers didn’t rappel down ropes & shoot passengers on deck? If I were you the shame I’d be feeling is for the killing of at least 10 boat passengers. That’s what the rest of the world except for you is feeling. Pure shame.
You want to talk incitement? Here’s some real incitement. What do you say to incitement calling for the murder of a sitting MK & a woman at that?
It’s obvious from the videos that the men on the boat were prepared for violence from the get-go. These are no peace-loving men.
Who do you trust, eyewitnesses who were there and say differently or the lyin’ eyes of the video. Do you, for example know what preceded the images on the video? Did the IDF fire fr. helicopters as an Israeli Palestinian MK who was there says?
A picture is worth a thousand words.
A video is worth much more.
Videos are cut, spliced, edited. Live streams are not. I saw live stream video from Turkish television, watched soldiers board the boat and begin shooting. My eyes, and live streaming, do not lie.
On the other hand, IOF video is worthless.
Mary (or anybody else):
Are there any recorded clips from the live stream you saw? It sounds like pretty important footage.
I’ve only seen the BW images from the IDF and what has been run on news agencies.
Richard asked: ” Did the IDF fire fr. helicopters as an Israeli Palestinian MK who was there says?” Important question to answer.
You also point out that you saw Israelis fire as they boarded…which boat was this?
As you did see a live, unedited account, did you see any firing by Israel from the air?
When did MK Zoabi claim that Israeli helicopters fired ammo at the boat (I’m not talking about flares) I searched google news and couldn’t find it. Here are some quotes from the AP article I found
“Zoabi said she heard gunfire over the ship and saw blue flares. Other passengers also said the soldiers fired on the boat before boarding. Israel denies this. None of the passengers interviewed by AP have said lethal force was used by the Israelis before they boarded the ship.
“Gunfire” and “flares” are not one and the same thing Hence when she says she heard “gunfire” she heard real guns firing.
It doesn’t matter whether the firing from helicopters actually killed people (“lethal force”). What matters is that the IDF firing before they landed established their aggressive, hostile intent to which the passengers responded. That’s presuming the IDF did fire before it landed
David, I assume that the Turks have the video, as they were the ones providing the live streaming.
We were watching live video streaming from the Turkish ship. We literally saw Israeli soldiers climb onto the deck, point their weapons and shoot downward onto prone figures lying on the deck, which we understood were sleeping people. No paintball guns; we could see the flashes. The journalists on board began frantically broadcasting in several languages. My Turkish is horrible; I couldn’t understand what was being said, and the announcer was drowning out the English being spoken underneath. It was about 11PM here, which coincides with the time it took place, 4:00 or 4:30 AM there. Until a couple of hours prior, the Israelis were doing their best to jam everything. Twitter feeds stopped, and earlier, the passengers’ cell phone transmissions were blocked. By some miracle, the live stream was only interrupted periodically. I imagine the Israelis thought they had effectively jammed that signal, but they didn’t.
Cameras, cellphones and laptops were confiscated from the activists by the Israeli authorities. Will the images that were stored on them ever be released? And unedited? Somehow I doubt it.
The facebook page you linked to has nothing to do with me. But the picture I referred to was posted by you and is pure propaganda, deceiving and hateful and in no way reflects what actually happened which is pretty clear by now.
Clear to you perhaps. But most other people in the world don’t accept your version. I’m still waiting for you to tell me Israel didn’t land soldiers on the ship and kill 10 people, which is what the graphic featured on Facebook & this post displays.
Israel landed troops on the boat, all six boats, by the way. Israel apparently believed your propaganda more than its own propaganda and thought that the boat was full of peace activists who wouldn’t resist takeover, but they were wrong. And they stupidly landed on the boat one at a time when the men waiting for them were able to isolate them and beat them. One Israeli soldier has a fractured skull, another has stab wounds in the stomach. At one point, about twenty minutes according to AP and 40 minutes according to the IDF, the soldiers opened fire to get control of the situation. I believe nine (not ten) men were killed. Many more were injured. Several soldiers were injured as well. What do you think happened? Do you think the IDF landed soldiers on the boat and started killing people for no reason and then faked the videos? For what purpose? Just because they are evil? And then they beat and stabbed themselves for the added effect?
I see. So Israel has the boats under surveillance both visual and audio during the entire journey and can’t figure out that there may be those on board who mean it ill? And when was the last time the IDF went into a potentially hostile environment expecting peace and light from those on the receiving end?
It hardly matters what happened. The fact is that Israel killed 9 people & is now paying the price for it. I’m glad you’re in favor of an independent inquiry. I assume that means you’d be willing to have the UN Security Council or some other international body do the investigation? That will truly clear up what happened & who’s to blame.
You think it is clear by now?!
For one thing: What happened to the footage taken from the activists? Are we ever going to see that as well, or only the IDF version of events?
If you are so confident about what happened, surely you support an independent international enquiry into what happened?
DO YOU AMIR?
I’m not afraid of a truly independent inquiry into the events.
The latest news from Haaretz: “Senior political sources told Haaretz they see no justification for an external probe. They said the Israel Defense Forces needs to evaluate itself and at most someone from outside the chain of command should be included in the process.”
Clearly, that would not be enough to convince anyone.
From Cyprus: Our passengers are being released and we are finally hearing their eye witness reports of what happened to them. Huwaida Arraf was on board Free Gaza’s CHALLENGER 1 boat, and she tells us that heavily armed and masked commandoes stormed this small vessel firing tasers and stun guns (is that the same thing? — as someone sworn to non-violence I’m not savvy about weapons) Bags were placed over passengers’ heads (including Huwaida’s) and they were violently shoved and manhandled. There was no resistance from passengers, as confirmed by IDF sources. Israel claimed the only boat where the IDF used weapons was the Turkish boat, where they were used only in “self-Defense.” This belies reports coming from passengers, all of whom report brutality from their attackers despite there being no resistance. The captain on one of the Greek boats was shot and seriously wounded.
While Israel says all passengers have been released this is another lie. Several of our Free Gaza colleagues are refusing deportation and engaging in jailsolidarity with the Palestinian prisoners who are being held on various charges. One of our coordinators, Lubna Masarwa, who is a 1948 Palestinian Israeli living in Jerusalem was on the Turkish boat. As an Israeli she was entitled to an immediate court appearance which was held yesterday. Like at least three other Palestinians is behind held until some time next week when another hearing will be held.
Hello, Mary, I am so happy to know you’re safe. Thank you for your courage and participation in the flotilla, and for letting us know what happened.
(I will email you very soon, but will let you get some rest first)
The Israelis are saying they will release all activists and no one will be charged (how nice of them). They are NOT saying a word about the activists who are remaining as you mention. Thanks so much for the update.
Mary… I reply to you here, as your comment didn’t have a “reply” below it.
You said: “We were watching live video streaming from the Turkish ship. We literally saw Israeli soldiers climb onto the deck, point their weapons and shoot downward onto prone figures lying on the deck, which we understood were sleeping people. No paintball guns; we could see the flashes. ”
That’s a pretty strong image… it has not been shown anywhere… I would assume that something that clear would be shown to the news media etc. (Mary Hughes-Thompson above mentioned taser guns or the like… could this have been that?).
What has been shown is that there was a violent response to Israeli soldiers boarding a ship. Newer footage of the ship’s security cameras showing people with metal pipes, chains and other items. Additional footage shows them using a powerful water hose being poured down to Israeli soldiers on a boat, as well as a shock grenade being thrown at the soldiers. This is not the action of “peaceful activists” and they certainly were not “unarmed”
Yes, video can be edited and it is still unclear at what point in the “order of things” this footage was recorded. That’s why if what you saw can be backed by footage, more pieces to this puzzle would become clearer.
The facts remain that there were 10 people killed; many others injured. It is also clear that at least on one ship the attempts to board by the Israelis was met with violence.
Who started physically attacking who first and initiated a escalation in violence still is unclear. The fact that Israeli soldiers boarded the boat does not mean an act of physical violence in itself.
It seems to me that if Israel was intent on “shoot first ask questions later” there would have been a much worse outcome, and there would have been similar results on the other boats.
Mary H-T did report of a Greek Captain being shot and many people roughed up.
If that activity came after the response the soldiers had from the Turkish ship, they were no doubt going to react harsher until it was clear that there was no violent reception.
Lawdy, those poor Israeli commandos being sprayed with water. How nasty of those big Arab brutes. I saw the water hose and the spray was not powerful. It was the equivalent of a garden hose. Yes, there were stun grenades but I doubt stun grenades on the open sea can be aimed at anything with any precision. At most it made a loud bang. So yes, some of the boat’s passengers resisted. What did the Israelis expect? A picnic?
When armed Israeli commandos rappel aboard a foreign flagged vessel in international waters it most definitely is an act of physical aggression.
I do so much enjoy when hasbarists say as they did of Operation Cast Lead, if Israel really had wanted to kill A-rabs there would’ve been even more dead. That’s somehow so comforting.
Would you care to tell us why it was necessary to slap and beat up passengers after they were detained? Huweida Arrauf tells us she was actually knocked unconscious and dumped out of a car along the side of the road when she was “released” by the Israelis.
“It was the equivalent of a garden hose.”
Maybe in your house you use a garden hose like that, more like a firetruck hose. Let’s see how you’d react with that stream constantly hitting you.
“I doubt stun grenades on the open sea can be aimed at anything with any precision.”
Look at the video… it was accurately aimed at the men in the boat… not just thrown wildly at sea… the intent was to damage.
By the way… using a stun grenade is not considered “non-violent” or “unarmed”…. those soldiers were not on the boat yet… gee isn’t that sweet.
“So yes, some of the boat’s passengers resisted. What did the Israelis expect? A picnic?”
Finally someone admits they resisted… everybody’s been saying how “unarmed” and “non-violent” these passengers were.
YES, if there was no resistance, as in other cases of of boats being boarded, then there would be no need for aggressive tactics by the soldiers.
I agree… if the soldiers, unprovoked used unnecessary violence as reported (and let’s check these stories… I don’t take their words without a grain of salt either… oh excuse me…. Activists never lie, omit facts or distort reality… it goes against their grain), then there is a case for a recourse of legal action.
It’s not just Israel against, in your words “A-rabs”. Any military force that wants to use violence in an action would do so. IF there aim is to non-violently control a situation, that would be tried first, as I believe was the intention here.
There is admittedly conflicting reports… it is a “who started what first” situation.
Tell me… if the soldiers rappeling down onto the ship were so “trigger happy”, in the footage we see, why aren’t they firing away at those… oh so friendly, flowers-in-hand nice and non-violent folk? We see them land on deck and get immediately clubbed like seals in an Eskimo hunting scene.
If there were soldiers shooting as they came aboard (and we still haven’t seen that footage if it exists… Mary suggested that Turkish TV should have it… where is it… I and the world would be interested in seeing it), why wouldn’t this MO occur in more accounts?
You were quoted on the front page of my newspaper yesterday from an interview you gave at Larnaka. (So I knew you were all right.)
For those of you who accept the Israeli version of events, here’s my report from the media office in Larnaca:
Because the Cypriot authorities prevented me and a dozen others from boarding our boat CHALLENGER, I joined my two colleagues in the Free Gaza press office in Larnaca.
On Sunday, May 30th afternoon around 4PM Cyprus time, the flotilla of boats left the rendezvous point in international waters of the Mediterranean, and we closely monitored their progress via spot locator beacons coming from our boat and the live streaming from the Turkish boat. We were in constant communication with our colleagues on the boats, particularly David Schermerhorn on CHALLENGER and Lubna Masarwa on the MAVI MARMORA. We spoke with Lubna via Skype for long periods during the early morning hours of Monday, May 31st, and David contacted us frequently from his satellite phone. Both reported they were approached by IDF warships and helicopters, and were contacted with demands they stop and either turn around or proceed to Ashdod. Spokespeople on the boats, including Huwaida Arraf on CHALLENGER, responded that we would continue to Gaza with our cargo and passengers, that we were in international waters, were all unarmed civilians and posed no threat to Israel.
Since during our previous voyages we have always experienced these kinds of contact and threats from the IDF there was no reason to suspect they intended to use deadly force against our passengers on this occasion.
Lubna and David reported that the gunboats and helicopters had retreated slightly but continued — as they usually do — to hover around in view of the passengers. This is their standard procedure; they first approach in the darkest hours to threaten and intimidate, and then they wait for the beginning of daylight to attack us, which in the past has included ramming our boat or using masked frogmen to board our boat and use non-lethal force against our passengers and crew. This would routinely include roughly pushing and slapping them, while applying handcuffs and blindfolds. No resistance is ever used by passengers or crew.
I stayed up throughout the night to monitor the spot beacon signals coming from our boat CHALLENGER and the live streaming from the Turkish boat, and to wait for the onset of daylight. Suddenly we began to receive repeated distress signals from the spot beacon, and shortler thereafter we watched in horror and disbelief as vivid color images appeared on the video stream of masked and heavily armed troops firing weapons as they descended onto the deck of the MAVI MARMORA. Israel claims it used paint guns, but no paint was in evidence. Perhaps initially they used stun guns or tasers, though we doubt that too. Passengers were seen trying to get away from the line of fire, screaming in panic and fear. Immediately it became apparent that passengers had been shot as we saw bodies falling and bleeding everywhere, as others tried to render aid to them and move them out of the line of fire. We saw no signs of any resistance.
The three of us here in the media office watched in horror and disbelief as the one sided violence continued, until after several minutes the video abruptly stopped when Israel took possession and cut off the transmission.
We heard nothing more from our colleagues, which we knew meant that Israel had taken complete control of all boats and confiscated all means of communication.
Later we and the rest of the world began to see the mages supplied by the IDF which showed a completely different version of what happened. While showing that the IDF commandos did in fact board the MAVI MARMORA, they deleted the portion showing the violent attack by the troops, showing instead pictures of resistance by some passengers. Clearly there was resistance, as panicked and no dou bt angry passengers who had witnessed the wanton shooting of several dozen passengers apparently picked up whatever they could find with which to defend themselves against Israel’s clear intent to continue its murderous rampage. IDF is trying to claim that this resistance from passengers actually preceded the violence from the commandos. Anyone seeing the uncut footage streamed from the MARMORA could have no doubt as to who was reponsible for all of the violence, the injuries and the deaths. If Israel has nothing to hide, why is it not releasing the uncut video stream, with all time codes intact, so that people can judge for themselves exactly what did and did not happen?
For Israel to suggest that unarmed passengers attacked heavily armed commando troops who were then forced to defend themselves is beyond ludicrous. We all know full well that all wars fought by Israel, even those that are not wars but invasions by Israel such as the latest massacre in Gaza, are claimed by Israel to be acts of “self defense.” After the carnage in Gaza one could only be astonished they could seriously make such a claim, when the deaths of Palestinians were 100 to 1 of Israelis (and some of those Israelis were killed by friendly fire.) This latest outrageous brutality by IDF commandos using lethal force against unarmed civilians in international water who had no desire to confront Israeli troops is beyond comprehension. And for Israel to claim once again that it is an innocent victim would be laughable if the results were not so tragic.
I didn’t say I support an inquiry, merely that I’m not afraid of one. Israel has absolutely nothing to fear by exposing the truth. The problem is that the united Nations HRC is incapable of conducting a fair investigation. I just skimmed through their web page. They have no need for an investigation, as far as they are concerned Israel is already guilty.