Turkey’s investigation of the Mavi Marmara massacre contains troubling findings that two victims were killed before any IDF soldiers boarded the ship, in fire from helicopters, that the youngest victim, a Turkish-American, was killed execution style after being wounded in the leg, and that a photographer was killed with a laser-guided weapon while taking photographs:
The report said Israeli soldiers fired live bullets from helicopters, killing two of the activists, even before they had rappelled on board. Five of the victims were killed from close range, it added.
Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old Turkish-American, was lying wounded after being shot in the leg when he was kicked by two soldiers, who then shot him from close range “execution-style,” according to the summary.
Another activist, Cevdet Kiliclar, was killed with laser-guided weapons while taking photographs, the report said.
…The report said none of the people on board had firearms and that Israeli soldiers continued to fire even after activists waved white flags.
The Dogan murder in particular echoes the known IDF “kill shot” technique (also known in Hebrew as “confirming the kill”) by which anyone wounded in specific types of operations is killed execution style by a shot to the head. The murder of Ziad Jilani followed this method. A 13 year-old Gaza schoolgirl carrying a school bag was shot 17 times while 100 yards from an IDF watch tower. Captain R too fired three point blank kill shots into the unarmed girl to confirm the kill, placed his weapon on automatic and emptied the magazine into her. He did so despite the fact that troops under his command repeatedly identified her as a child and never identified her as posing any threat. Here is a transcript of conversations among the officer and his observation tower:
From the watchtower “It’s a little girl. She’s running defensively eastward.” “Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?” “A girl about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death.” “I think that one of the positions took her out.” “I and another soldier … are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill … Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her … I also confirmed the kill. Over.”
“This is commander. Anything that’s mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it’s a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over
The IDF cleared him of all but minor charges in the incident. The following year he was promoted to major and received compensation for his legal fees.
In Bethlehem in 2008, an IDF hit squad first wounded and then executed four wanted Palestinians. Here is how an eye-witness described the murders, which may give you an impression of what it was like that night on the Mavi Marmara:
I stood in front of the shop…and saw a red Daihatsu parked behind my car. I saw a man walking three meters from the car. Then I heard someone call out, “’Imad!”…I saw the man called ‘Imad turn toward the voice and then I heard the sound of a gunshot. The bullet hit ‘Imad in the leg and he fell to the ground.
Immediately after that, I saw six soldiers, in uniform, with helmets and masks, approach the Daihatsu and open massive gunfire at it. I saw the blue ricochet of the bullets. They fired into the car for a long time. The man who had called out to ‘Imad stood next to the minibus and didn’t fire. He was wearing civilian clothes – a blue shirt and jeans – and looked as though he was in his forties. He had a potbelly and was tall, dark-skinned and bald…
I heard ‘Imad cry out. He was lying in the middle of the street. Then I saw the soldiers who had fired at the Daihatsu turn toward him and shoot him in the head. His brain scattered all over the ground, which was a horrible sight.
Then I saw the man in civilian clothes holding a weapon. He went over to the Daihatsu and shot the heads of the three men who were inside. They didn’t move. He shot them from behind, in the head. I didn’t know who they were or why they had been executed.
After that, the man in civilian clothes fired one shot into the head of ‘Imad, whose brain was already scattered on the ground. Then he went back to the minibus, got in with the soldiers, and they drove off.
I went over to the Daihatsu and looked inside. I was shocked when I saw my uncle, ‘Issa Marzuq Zawahreh, who was 36 years old, sitting in the back seat of the car. His head was shattered and resting on the shoulder of his friend, Muhammad Shehadeh, who was next to him…Their heads, which had bullet holes in the back, were leaning forward. It was a terrifying sight, as was the sight of Ahmad al-Balbul, who was sitting next to the driver’s seat. Part of his body was scattered on the seat. The three were killed while sitting in the car. The firing was massive and lasted about two minutes.
In a separate report on France24, a Turkish diplomat specifically refutes an Israeli claim that those on board the Mavi Marmara fired weapons at the IDF boarding party:
Rende also dismissed the claim Friday, saying that “the passengers in no way used any firearms against the Israeli forces.”
He said passengers had seized three weapons from Israeli soldiers in the melee on board, but threw them into the sea.
The UN has been waiting for both countries’ reports before issuing its own. It doesn’t seem possible for the UN to issue a finding that won’t be deeply controversial unless the actual one makes virtually no substantive judgments. It will be interesting to see whether the UN inquiry has the courage of its convictions or takes the easy way out.