Turkish Autopsies Show Flotilla Victims Shot at Point-Blank Range, Six Remain Missing, Possibly Dead
The Guardian publises a chilling report that raises the distinct possibility that many of the nine (so far) dead aboard the Mavi Marmara may’ve been shot execution-style by the IDF commados who assaulted the boat:
…Autopsy results on the bodies of those killed, obtained by the Guardian, revealed they were peppered with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range.
Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice today.
The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.
…He 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 two feet in front 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 and six activists remained missing, suggesting the death toll may increase.
The new information about the manner and intensity of the killings undermines Israel’s insistence that its soldiers opened fire only in self defence and in response to attacks by the activists.
…Dr Haluk Ince, the chairman of the council of forensic medicine in Istanbul, said that in only one case was there a single bullet wound, to the forehead from a distant shot, while every other victim suffered multiple wounds…He added that all but one of the bullets retrieved from the bodies came from 9mm rounds. Of the other round, he said: “It was the first time we have seen this kind of material used in firearms. It was just a container including many types of pellets usually used in shotguns. It penetrated the head region in the temple and we found it intact in the brain.”
What the Guardian reporter was too careful to point out was the obvious conclusion that most of the dead were murdered execution style; or that they may’ve been wounded in an initial mêlée, but afterward were “finished off” by shots to the head.
After reading thousands of words of reporting and eyewitness accounts and watching videos released by both sides, I’m coming to the conclusion that what happened was that the Israeli commandos initially fired stun grenades and rubber bullets from helicopters in order to disperse the crowd on board before they landed. Either some passengers interpreted this as an all out assault on the ship or they were spoiling for a fight.
The initial group of commandos were overrun, beaten and some dragged below decks either to be used as hostages or for medical attention. I speculate that when the IDF command saw their comrades overrun on board and discovered they perhaps had been taken hostage, an automatic, instinctual blood-lust took over. They not only had to liberate their comrades at all costs, but they had to eliminate whatever threat they had faced.
So, I don’t necessarily believe the IDF went into this planning for a massacre (though senior IDF officers were quoted in the Israeli press as saying they were prepared to use lethal force if necessary). But when events spun out of control and did not follow the scenario they’d planned, soldiers began acting on impulse and in completely disorganized fashion, which is fatal to a complicated operation such as this.
In the end, it WAS a massacre. A massacre caused by missed cues and obliviousness on both sides as to how aggressive behavior might be viewed by the other side. Of course, the preponderance of blame is on the Israeli side both because they initiated the encounter and because they had the overwhelming advantage in lethal force.
Lest anyone misunderstand, I am not trying to defend or whitewash the Israeli attack by understanding or explaining how it might’ve gone wrong. I am coming closer and closer to believing that most of the nine (and perhaps as many as 15) were executed after they were subdued and wounded. If anything close to this is the truth, then war crimes have been committed, which Israel will have to answer for. In fact, on the very first night when I wrote my first post I named the Israeli navy commander and said he should be prepared to answer for such crimes along with Ehud Barak. I continue to believe this.
And I continue to say in no uncertain terms that our president (see comments below) is doing an immense disservice to human decency, morality and long-term U.S. interests in the Middle East by continuing to triangulate–expressing understanding of Israel’s security concerns and hoping to “ameliorate” conditions for the Gazans:
I think what’s important right now is that we break out of the current impasse, use this tragedy as an opportunity so that we figure out, how can we meet Israel’s security concerns, but at the same time start opening up opportunity for Palestinians…
In addition, Jewish groups like J Street which cheerlead this limp approach are also doing a disservice to truth and Israel’s long-term interests:
Now nearly 5 days after the Gaza Flotilla disaster, we still don’t yet know [!] the full scope of the damage to the peace process, to Israel’s international reputation, and to multilateral efforts to convince Iran to change course on its nuclear program.
Yet there is real hope that the Obama Administration will act to turn this tragedy into an opportunity – most importantly for truly bold action to resolve the conflict through a two-state solution. There is also real hope that the counterproductive closure of Gaza may be modified so that weapons are kept out but sufficient humanitarian aid is allowed in.
You can’t fudge this one. It’s bad, very bad. Saying it’s bad but not as bad as you might think or that we can tinker with things and just squeak by or that this poses an “opportunity,” as both Obama and J Street have done, is inexcusable considering that outright murder may’ve happened here.
We must demand more from our elected officials. And if liberal Jewish organizations that seek our support can’t adjust to the circumstances, they will be swept away by the tide of events and lose their political relevance. Are you listening Jeremy Ben-Ami?
We need J Street and all other Jewish organizations and Barack Obama to demand an international investigation (NOT an Israeli investigation). We need an immediate end to the Gaza siege. We need an accounting of all the dead from Israel. We need Israel to agree to pay reparations to the victims.
For a journalistic version of the Obama/J Street “too little-too late” approach see Ethan Bronner’s report in the NY Times. Sample blather:
In truth, the chaos and deaths on the ship, known as the Mavi Marmara…were not a result of lack of planning.
Al Jazeera reports that South African has recalled its ambassador.
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- You: Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range (guardian.co.uk)
25 thoughts on “Turkish Autopsies Show Flotilla Victims Shot at Point-Blank Range, Six Remain Missing, Possibly Dead – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I have to tell you, Richard, that your honesty, moral intuitions and perseverance give me hope in a time of despair. Thank you.
I imagine your scenario may well be correct. But I wonder if this were an American ship, the USS Liberty aside, if they would have behaved the same?
I don’t think so. I honestly think the activists needed to be Muslims and/or from the Middle East in order for the ‘fight the terrorist’ mode to swing into full gear. These soldiers seriously claim: “They wanted to take another three Shalits!”
You would have expected them to realize the utter lunacy of this idea (during an operation that the whole world is watching? hide them on a boat in the open sea?) and if their opponents had been Western activists, a glimmer of reason might still have penetrated their brains.
I think it was the sight of Israeli soldiers in the hands Muslims that triggered all kinds of stereotypes and made them go wild.
Elisabeth, as a Muslim I also believe that the Turks acted as Muslims and chose to defend the ship and the other passengers from the assault, and they died heroically. To expect a Muslim to sit passively while bullets (rubber or otherwise) are being shot at unarmed people, and while armed commandos are storming a ship where women and a baby are on board is just ludicrous. And for this honorable act, they are being labeled as terrorists, which I find utterly reprehensible.
I must, however, disagree with you about the outcome had they been “western activists.” Plenty of such activists have been assaulted and killed in demonstrations all over Palestine, notably in Bilin.
The IDF does not use 9mm bullets and Israeli soldiers were shot with these bullets too.
Doesn’t this raise other possibilities as to these reported Turkish autopsies?
And if the injuries were so horrific why haven’t we heard from the Red Cross who visited all detainees?
(And, excuse me, has anyone forgotten Gilad Shalit still detained without even a Red Cross inspection by Hamas in Gaza?)
Proof? This claim is ridiculous. 9mm bullets are ubiquitous in many armies of the world including the IDF.
Also, the ICRC does not comment in the middle of such highly charged political situations.
Third, Gilad Shalit has absolutely nothing to do with this tragedy unless you’re fool enough to believe that the illegal siege on Gaza is contingent upon his release.
I disagree with your scenario of how things went on two points:
“I am coming closer and closer to believing that most of the nine (and perhaps as many as 15) were executed after they were subdued and wounded”.
The number of wounds on a person in an autopsy says nothing about the time that passed between the shots. If I understood you correctly, you claim that the soldiers wounded some of the people on board and *later* came back to finish them, hence the execution. What i think actually happened is that they were initially killed by the soldiers who thought it was the only way out of a bad situation and were firing essentially in self-defense in front of angry armed mob.
“Of course, the preponderance of blame is on the Israeli side both because they initiated the encounter and because they had the overwhelming advantage in lethal force”
Had Israel initiated the encounter or perhaps the people on the ship did everything to provoke it? Israel stated in advance what it plans to do. It was hardly a surprise. What more, knowing they would be boarded, they’ve armed themselves in cynical attempt to paint this a “massacre”.
When a Mexican crosses the US border illegally and gets shot, does the US “initiate the encounter and posses overwhelming force”, in your own words?
Attempting to run a blockade and resisting order to stop, for a civilian ship, is as illegal as the above mentioned example.
No, it’s not. Because Gaza & its territorial waters are not the territory of the State of Israel, whereas Mexicans crossing our border are entering our sovereign territory. Israel has no right to stop anyone from traveling to Gaza. Period.
“Because Gaza & its territorial waters are not the territory of the State of Israel, whereas Mexicans crossing our border are entering our sovereign territory. Israel has no right to stop anyone from traveling to Gaza. Period.”
not according to the san remo conference
and why keep saying that you want a full investigation if you have already made up your mind?
israel is guilty…right?
no need for an investigation, either by israel or an international body.
is quiet convincing.
It should really be used by international law specialist, during the investigation.
Israel is guilty because “Z-z-z-z-z-z”
Mister Silverstein, do you sometimes bother reading what u write, or at least *think* before u type?
comments like ‘Z-z-z-z-z-z’ on a very valid remark about san remo conference make u look like u practicly vomit anti israeli crapshit, without doing the minimal checkings of what is true or false, and what is legal or not.
I’m invoking the 3 comment a day rule for you since you’re monopolizing the comment threads. Don’t publish more than three comments at this blog in the next 24 hrs or any 24 hr period thereafter.
I don’t take well to vulgarity. Maybe it goes over well where you hang out. But not here. Watch your language. You’re hangin’ on the a very thin thread. And once again, read the comment rules before you publish another comment here.
Were different guns involved?
If different guns were involved, then the Israel’s case and insistence on self-defense disappears.
Two or more soldiers shooting simultaneously at one person is not self-defense: It is cold-blooded murder.
so in a battle, if the fighting is not done one on one…that is murder?
care to cite the international law?
On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most boring comment every published here, this rates an 8.5.
You’re losing your sanity, Richard. 😛
I couldn’t get more immature than this if I tried. You might as well disable comments or ban anyone who does not agree with you if you don’t intend to respond in a mature manner.
Why should be bother being mature?
International law, to him, matters only when it can be used to blame israel in whatever.
Other than that – international law is boring and makes him “Z-z-z-z-z-z”.
Obviously you two weren’t paying attention in the past week. International law was discussed ad nauseam. You really should stop the petty crap and find something interesting to say, otherwise you’re just a couple of boring hasbarist trolls.
“I speculate that when the IDF command saw their comrades overrun on board and discovered they perhaps had been taken hostage, an automatic, instinctual blood-lust took over.”
I don’t think so. I speculate that it was an order from high above, i.e. from Ashkenazi or Barak, that once there were soldiers hostages on the boat, it could be regarded as a “terrorist boat”, and license to kill was given. The soldiers would not have shot this much if they were not sanctioned to do so by their commanders.
I agree. I doubt that trained soldiers would feel an enormous threat in such a situation (unarmed civilians on a humanitarian mission) and as such, it makes one wonder why they were even armed with live ammunition. It was not necessary to even board the ship in order to stop it; it could have been done by a few divers disabling the steering or the propeller. If the object of the mission was to merely prevent the ship from landing at Gaza, why even capture it at all?
What exactly do u base ur doubts and assumptions on?
Are you an ex navy-seal?
Or served in any other navy mayhaps?
“It could have been done by few divers..”
Why exactly do you believe it is possible and can be done?
Are you a specialist in boats construction and/or naval battles?
And how exactly do you know what soilders feel when they stand against a crowd of hunderds of people, who dont exactly symphatize them?
Have u ever took part in such event, that u allow to urself to “dobut that trained soulders would feel an enormous thread”?
You know something, UgandaFriend? The utter lack of sophistication in your commentary leads me to believe that you may not even be an adult, but an adolescent spoiling for a fight. Your tone is antagonistic and provocative, and your argument is totally devoid of any kind of logic or fact.
In other words, you are a waste of time and so I will not engage in responding to your silliness. I will, however, watch with amusement your obvious efforts to have yourself eventually banned from this website.
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