The Irish Flotilla ship, Saorise, was sabotaged about a week ago while it sat in a Turkish port. This was after the Turkish government directed the aid group, IHH, to remove the Mavi Marmara from the Flotilla. While a Turkish diplomat claimed no sabotage had occurred to the Irish boat, the activists who sailed it published a detailed refutation of these claims and others by Israel.
First they note that their ship, whose propeller shaft was damaged so severely it cannot be repaired–thereby knocking the Saorise out of the Flotilla–and the Juliano suffered virtually identical damage (compare these side by side images) though docked in different countries and 300 miles apart. This indicates a highly organized and coordinated attack that involved multiple personnel working under different conditions, but with the same purpose and the same techniques of sabotage.
The ship’s engineeer, a seaman with decades of experience had this to say:
“There was a gouge taken out of the propeller shaft and it was bent. This shaft was three-inches in diameter, it doesn’t bend easily … Where the actual damage to the propeller was, wasn’t actually the deepest point of the vessel. The propeller was much deeper, probably another half-metre deeper again. [The damage] couldn’t have happened without hitting the propeller … If we had hit something [which the Turkish report inferred] we’d have known about it, but we didn’t hit anything. Just to be sure that we hadn’t hit anything in the oil jetty, and to be sure that there wasn’t anything unusual there, we sent people to snorkel the area. There was nothing … I’ve been twenty years at sea. I’ve seen all types of underwater damage and I’ve never seen anything like this. It had to have been caused by something that I have never come across. It’s not natural wear-and-tear, it wasn’t accidental damage, it had to be man-made damage; there is no way around it. We can’t find any explanation other than sabotage.”
The Irish report also notes the imminent release of the UN’s Palmer report about which there have been unsourced claims that the draft was highly favorable to Israel and unfavorable to Turkey. Though I have disputed the credibility of these reports because they were not sourced, it remains possible that if there is any truth to them, that Turkey might, in order to “cleanse” the document of any negative conclusions about its behavior last year concerning the Mavi Marmara, roll over and play dead regarding this year’s Flotilla. That would explain why the government would release a bogus statement refuting a claim of sabotage and why it would remove the Mavi Marmara from the Flotilla.
I should add that I’ve always found the claims that the Palmer Report would vindicate Israel’s siege of Gaza to be implausible, at least in the way they were reported by Haaretz. The idea that the report would absolve Israel of blame and lay all or even most of the blame on Turkey also seemed far-fetched to me. So I don’t know if the speculations of the Irish activists regarding this Report are spot-on or not. Time will tell.
The Irish statement also notes that bilateral Turkish-Israeli trade was up 10% in 2009-2010 and up 40% in the first quarter of 2011. As I’ve noted in the case of Ukraine’s collusion with Israel in the rendition of Dirar Abu Sisi, that Israeli promises of trade concessions and lobbying in Washington on behalf of Ukrainian interests, sealed the deal. So it’s not surprising that Israel would use improved trade relations with the Turks as well. It’s entirely within Israel’s general modus operandi.
Even more convincingly, the Saorise statement notes that two ships were also mysteriously sabotaged in last years’ Flotilla. The Independent noted that an IDF official all but confirmed in a statement to a Knesset committee that the damage had been purposeful:
“A senior IDF officer hinted to the Knesset’s [Israeli Parliament] Foreign Affairs Committee that some of the vessels…had been tampered with to halt them far from the Gaza or Israeli coast.”
In recent days, I’d noted that Sayetet 13, the self-same navy commandos who massacred nine Turks on the M. Marmara last year also serve as underwater demolition specialists easily capable of inflicting the type of damage we’re talking about.
The Guardian notes a link with a long-ago act of terror with striking similarities, and likely perpetrated through an IDF operation of the sort Sayetet 13 would specialize in, or else characteristic of a Mossad operation (or both, since the Sayetet often collaborates with the intelligence agency):
“Flotilla 13 is reported to have sabotaged an attempt by the PLO to highlight the issue of Palestinian refugees by sailing a ship to an Israeli port, forcing Israel either to sink it or board it or let it land the refugees. The night before the vessel, al-Awda (“The Return”) was due to sail, it was blown up and sunk in Limassol harbour, Cyprus.”
The Canadian boat, Tahrir, which was confined to port in Crete, made a run for it and got to within four miles of international waters when it too was turned back by the Greek navy. When authorities demanded to know who the captain was, all the passengers claimed in unison that they each were. This was to avoid the fate of the Audacity of Hope, in which its captain was arrested by the Greeks in order to ‘decapitate’ any efforts to sail the ship out of Greek waters. The Canadians feared that all passengers would be arrested for their defiance of the Greek authorities. According to their Twitter feed at least three passengers face charges.