Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea

Even America’s major media can’t duck a crime this grave — attacking and slaughtering up to 20 Gaza Freedom Flotilla activists and injuring dozens more.

New York Times writer Isabel Kershner headlined “At Least 10 Killed as Israel Intercepts Aid Flotilla, saying:

The Israeli Navy raided a flotilla carrying thousands of tons of supplies for Gaza in international waters on Monday morning….The incident drew widespread international condemnation, with Israeli envoys summoned to explain their country’s actions in several European countries…. The killings also coincided with preparations for a planned visit to Washington on Tuesday (June 1) by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

 Late word is it’s postponed.

The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times carried similar reports, trying, but hardly able to downplay a major crime.

The UK-based Stop the War Coalition called it “Yet another act of Israeli barbarism” in announcing an “emergency demonstration” at 2:00 PM near the prime minister’s Downing Street residence, saying spread the word and come.

In Gaza, thousands protested, expressing anger, outrage and sympathy, carrying banners condemning willful crimes, and calling for Arab solidarity. Similar demonstrations turned out in Amman, Cairo, Damascus, Tehran, Ankara, Istanbul, Beirut and other regional cities.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed the Flotilla organizers for inciting the attack, while his deputy, Danny Alalon said they were connected to international terrorist organizations and were trying to smuggle in arms. Weapons were found on board, he claimed.

At a hastily called news conference, sparsely attended, he referred to “the armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organization,” accusing peaceful activists of a “premeditated and outrageous provocation,” saying “The organizers are well known for their ties with global Jihad, Al Qaeda and Hamas. (Their) intent was violent, their method was violent, and the results were unfortunately violent.”

Shameless lies from a criminal caught red-handed, Haaretz’s Gideon Levy saying:

The Israeli propaganda machine has reached new highs (distributing) false information. It embarrassed itself by entering a futile public relations battle….There is nothing to explain, certainly not to a world that will never buy (its) web of explanations, lies and tactics.

In Washington, of course, they’re echoed along with toned down pious indignation publicly, but privately, assurances of solid US-Israeli relations are affirmed. 

On May 31, White House spokesman William Burton said:

“The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy,” stopping short of condemning crimes too grave to ignore and demanding harsh measures in response to premeditated slaughter.

Much the same from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (a reliable Israeli ally) stating:

“It is vital that there is a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place. I believe Israel must urgently provide a full explanation,” stopping short of demanding it and full accountability.

Saying he “deplored in the strongest terms the killing of civilians,” Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, like his EU counterparts, said it was “indispensable that there be an inquest to ascertain the facts, which are still not clear.”

They’re very clear. Israeli forces planned and executed a premeditated attack against peaceful humanitarian activists, trying to deliver essential to life aid to Gazans under siege — to break Israel’s attempt to suffocate and starve them.

The Wall Street Journal online headlined “More than 10 Dead After Israel Intercepts Gaza Aid Convoy,” saying (like most US media reports) that “An Israeli military spokesman said later in the day that some activists ‘appeared’ to be armed with guns, and fired at the Israeli soldiers, though it wasn’t clear who fired first.”

The activists, in fact, were unarmed civilians, delivering vitally needed humanitarian aid to 1.5 million Gazans, trapped under siege for three years this month. Without provocation, they were maliciously and willfully attacked in international waters by armed Israeli commandos with orders to open fire if the convoy failed to abort its mission.

The best Journal writer Joshua Mitnick could say was “whether the military action was warranted or not (it) threatens to further sully Israel’s international reputation, after a series of recent diplomatic setbacks.”

No mention of the Gaza war, daily West Bank and East Jerusalem incursions, the three-year siege, a 43-year occupation, daily killings, targeted assassinations, homes bulldozed, mass arrests, torture, and Palestinian communities throughout the Territories and in Israel threatened by daily terror.

No mention by European nations either, the EU merely calling for a full inquiry, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (a staunch Israeli supporter) saying he was “deeply shocked by the ‘tragic’ consequences of Israel’s military operation (against) a humanitarian initiative,” but little else. The same hypocrisy echoed from most European capitals, much like already from Washington.

Turkey’s Communist Party’s press statement, in contrast, said: “The pirate commandos trained by Israel Naval Forces mounted an operation this morning to capture the flotilla carrying aid to Gaza and slaughtered unarmed civilians in the course of this outrageous operation.”

Calling the attack “barbarous,” it “demanded” immediate deportation of Israel’s diplomatic mission, cancellation of Turkish-Israeli military and other agreements, and Israel held fully accountable for its crime against humanity — its specialty against civilians and nonviolent activists.

Al Jazeera reported that “Thousands of Turkish protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul soon after the news (shouting) ‘Damn Israel’ as police blocked them.”

It also said Israeli radio confirmed at least 19 were killed and dozens injured, quoting IDF spokeswoman, Avital Leibovich, saying, “This happened in waters outside Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves,” — the usual response from scoundrels caught red-handed. 

Video footage on board the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara showed Israeli commandos opened fire during the assault, activists saying it began immediately after storming on board.

Al Zazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, on the ship, said “a white surrender flag was raised (and) there was no live fire coming from the passengers.”

The Free Gaza Movement reported that “Under darkness of night, Israeli commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck.” No action on board provoked it. It was premeditated, willful slaughter.

The Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement expressed sorrow in denouncing the attack, citing it as further “proof that despite claims to the contrary, Israel never ‘disengaged’ from the Gaza Strip but rather continues to control its borders – land, air and sea… hermetically (cutting off) 1.5 million human beings (from) access to the outside world” and vitally needed humanitarian aid.

Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, claimed “They initiated the violence,” and the IDF insisted it responded when its forces “were attacked with knives, clubs, and even live fire.” Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said soldiers were forced by violent acts to respond with live fire.

They lied.

Viewing the video footage, Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin reported that:

“All the images being shown from the activists on board those ships show clearly that they were civilians and peaceful in nature, with medical (and other humanitarian) supplies on board.”

Other footage showed black-clad commandos descending from helicopters, then immediately opening fire on deck against peaceful activists.

Israeli forces seized the ship and a smaller one, took them to Israel’s port of Ashdod, and censored all information on the assault.

The Flotilla, with 700 activists, left Cyprus at 3:00 PM (1200 GMT) Sunday, on the last leg of their journey, heading for Gaza, hoping to arrive by daylight. Six hours after departure, three Israeli missile boats left Haifa to interdict it, according to reporters on board before being ordered to turn off their cell phones.

The convoy hoped to break the siege and deliver over 10,000 tons of vitally needed aid, including food, medicines, educational, construction, and other materials. Israel warned it would intercept and abort the mission, giving no details except to say ships would be seized, then taken to Ashdod.

A May 31 Gaza Freedom press release called for a “global response to killings on the Freedom Flotilla,” saying:

We, Gaza based Palestinian Civil Society Organizations and international activists, call on the international community and civil society to pressure their governments and Israel to cease the abductions and killings….against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla….and begin a global response to hold Israel accountable for the murder of foreign civilians at sea and illegal piracy of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza.

We, from Gaza, call on you to demonstrate and support the courageous men and women on the Flotilla and join the many now murdered on a humanitarian aid mission. We insist on severance of diplomatic ties with Israel, trials for war crimes and the international protection of the civilians of Gaza. We call on you to join the growing international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign of a country proving again” to be an international outlaw. “Join a growing critical mass around the world with a commitment to the day when Palestinian are entitled to the same rights as (all) other people, when the siege is lifted, the occupation over and the 6 million Palestinian refugees are finally granted justice.”

Stand in solidarity for their freedom in peace, and demand nothing less, including full accountability for Israeli officials responsible for high crimes of war and against humanity.

On board the Flottilla are over 700 activists from 40 countries, including 35 politicians and a Nobel Peace laureate, Mairead McGuire, who, while protesting with Bil’in village activists against Israel’s Separation Wall, in April 2007, was shot and injured with a rubber bullet, then tear-gassed, overcome, and had to be taken by stretcher to an ambulance. 

Again, she and 700 others risked their lives to deliver vitally needed aid. In solidarity, people of conscience everywhere must support them and demand full accountability for the latest Israeli crimes too grave to ignore.

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.

20 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mary said on June 1st, 2010 at 8:51am #

    Is it not a 62 year old Occupation?

  2. hayate said on June 1st, 2010 at 11:46am #

    Egypt Opens Gaza Border Amid International Furore
    Rafah Crossing Will Be Open 9-5 Indefinitely

    by Jason Ditz, June 01, 2010

    Israel’s Sunday night attack on a civilian medical aid ship, which left 19 people dead and dozens wounded, has sparked international outrage and brought renewed attention to the blockade, as carried out both by Israel and Gaza’s other neighbor, Egypt….

  3. hayate said on June 1st, 2010 at 12:54pm #

    Additional ships on their way to Gaza.

    Peace activists persist in reaching Gaza as anger over Israeli attack continues

    Published 01 June, 2010, 20:16

    This RT report also contains links to interviews with Dr. Said Shehata, Israel Shamir & Tariq Ali.

  4. dan e said on June 1st, 2010 at 1:40pm #

    mary, before June 67 Gaza was occupied by Egypt, so Lendman is technically correct to say “43” in this instance. IMO it’s unfortunate since could tend to reinforce some people’s erroneous notions?

  5. hayate said on June 1st, 2010 at 1:46pm #

    According to a garbled google translation of this Greek news article, the Turks are moving several of their ships into the eastern Med. The author is an obvious ziofascist, though.

  6. mary said on June 1st, 2010 at 2:57pm #

    dan e I agree about the date for the occupation of Gaza itself but in the context of that paragraph which mixes up events in Gaza with references to those in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and then mentions the ‘Territories’, I thought the author should have used the Nakba date, 1948, or made the distinction clear.

    ‘No mention of the Gaza war, daily West Bank and East Jerusalem incursions, the three-year siege, a 43-year occupation, daily killings, targeted assassinations, homes bulldozed, mass arrests, torture, and Palestinian communities throughout the Territories and in Israel threatened by daily terror.’

    I saw Elia Suleiman’s new film The Time That Remains the other day. Highly recommended. It is not best described as a black comedy as I have seen in some reviews. It is actually rather sombre and tragic, factual as it portrays the Haganah occupying Nazareth in 1948 but does contains some humorous episodes.

  7. dan e said on June 1st, 2010 at 3:05pm #

    Mary, I agree, he should have made the distinction clear. That he didn’t leaves me in doubt about how clearly he sees the situation. ??

  8. Jonas Rand said on June 1st, 2010 at 4:07pm #

    The sometimes irresistible tendency to romanticize a struggle for liberation occasionally targets myself, as it does to many others. This all-too-common mistake may creep into this comment. If it does, remember that it is only my ignorance of the terror that Palestinians undergo every day that has caused this.

    Palestinian history is one laced with the chains of oppression, the ghosts of hatred, ignorance, and prejudice haunting, and the sentiments of despair, anger, willpower, and strength. The struggles fought by a people who have experienced oppression exemplified in broad daylight are far from romantic but are the exemplification of a nerve-wrecking trauma that is incomparable to much else. What happened here is an act of piracy that represents the Israeli government’s disregard for people’s lives and their lack of conscience when it comes to murder. More broadly, it demonstrates how illegitimate authority can abuse people and get away with it, and what is often the fatal and malicious intentions of such authority. It should open up a dialogue to resolve this conflict, allowing independent rule for all human beings across this Earth. Peace, respect, conscience and justice (environmental and social) should be rights for all, Israeli or Palestinian. There should be no compromise for the liberation 0f the Palestinian people and for popular (not representative) direct democracy. While many use these terms in vein, all people ought to have the right to conduct their own lives and have collective leading roles in the governance of communities and this world (decisions which affect us all). Oppressed peoples should be oppressed no longer. It saddens me that this should happen in this day and age, but it does not surprise me what governments and authorities can do against people. The media blackout in Israel (covered by Democracy Now! today) is the action of a party who is ashamed of its guilt and wants to deprive its population of all information not sanctioned by the military. Meanwhile, 1.5 mil. Gazans cannot get the food and proper medical supplies that Israelis get, simply because of their ethnicity and because being Palestinian is the target of some of the most vile, degrading, ignorant racism seen in today’s world.

  9. Jonas Rand said on June 1st, 2010 at 4:17pm #

    This is the footage being shown by the Israeli military.

    It is very grainy and seems like propaganda. The captions are possibly not truthful. Is it true that this is actual footage of humanitarian activists on the ship being violent toward soldiers, were there other circumstances, or is it a hoax? If the latter, where did it originally come from? I doubt it is true, what is the background? What is this footage really of, and does it depict the whole story?

  10. Deadbeat said on June 3rd, 2010 at 1:21am #

    Jonas Rand writes …

    . Is it true that this is actual footage of humanitarian activists on the ship being violent toward soldiers, were there other circumstances, or is it a hoax?


    To even pose rhetorical questions on the actions of the activists is a mendacious leading question fallacy designed to legitimize Israeli actions.

    The FACT is that Israel illegally invaded a FLAGGED humanitarian vessel in INTERNATIONAL WATERS. This means that the activist HAD EVERY RIGHT to DEFEND their vessel under international law. The actions of the activist should not and MUST NOT come into question. Your rhetoric here is more a reflection on your own desires to soft sell Israel’s illegal behavior.

  11. hayate said on June 3rd, 2010 at 1:30am #

    Mary posted this link exposing the israeli film of attacking aide workers as a fake:

    Written on June 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm by Sol Stance
    IDF Video Footage of Flotilla Attack is Fake!

    They’re faking video like they did in their attack on South Ossetia.

  12. Jonas Rand said on June 4th, 2010 at 4:22pm #


    The questions were not rhetorical. It is a natural inquisitiveness that was the impetus for my questions. I do not assume that everything is fake when it does not support my point of view, nor was I trying to “soft sell” Israel’s piracy. I am well aware of the Israeli propaganda apparatus online. I was genuinely asking whether this had been proven false or true, or if it was just being used by Israel to “show” how Free Gaza activists are “violent”. Hayate has given a link exposing it as fictitious and suspicious; thank you for that. If you read my other comment, you would know that I was not trying to defend Israel’s brutal attack on the flotilla.


  13. Jonas Rand said on June 4th, 2010 at 4:24pm #

    The only reason anyone has to target my comments on this site is because I think Chomsky, Klein, Goodman, etc. are more reliable than some neo Nazi talking about the “ZOG”. So please stop it.

  14. Deadbeat said on June 4th, 2010 at 4:41pm #

    Jonas Rand writes …

    Deadbeat, The questions were not rhetorical. … I was genuinely asking whether this had been proven false or true, or if it was just being used by Israel to “show” how Free Gaza activists are “violent”.

    The issue regarding your sincerity and the authenticity of the video are non sequiturs. What matters is that the convoy was in international waters and the attack by the Israelis on the convoy and passengers were illegal. This means that the passengers has every right to defend themselves by any and all means necessary.

  15. dan e said on June 4th, 2010 at 4:41pm #

    Jonas Rand,

    I was beginning to think you had a legitimate point, until you went into your rap insinuating that DB is “some Neo Nazi”. I’m not sure what “ZOG” stands for, but if it refers to the “Zionist Occupation Government” it’s a legitimate topic for discussion, an entity that should be targetted for condemnation and forced to end its occupation of the US Congress & Executive Branch.

    Some things you’ve posted have seemed to indicate a degree of intelligence, but if you think Chomsky, Klein & Goodman are more reliable than Deadbeat, Blankfort and Petras, I have a nice bridge I’ll sell you real cheap:)))

  16. Max Shields said on June 4th, 2010 at 5:13pm #

    Come on now dane, you thought Jonas had a legitimate point, until you read Deadbeat. The two of you are real pips. An echo of blah blah blah.

    Since when is deadbeat anything other than wel….a DEADBEAT!!!

  17. Deadbeat said on June 4th, 2010 at 5:19pm #

    Max Shields writes …
    Since when is deadbeat anything other than wel….a DEADBEAT!!!

    Deadbeat and many other citizens of the United States will be DEADBEATS so long as your ilk continues to apologize and make excuses for the racist ideology of Zionism

  18. Deadbeat said on June 4th, 2010 at 5:20pm #

    C’mon Max you can do better than that. Is that the best smear you have?

  19. Jonas Rand said on June 4th, 2010 at 5:36pm #

    Dan, I don’t even know who “Deadbeat” is, and had never heard of Blankfort before yesterday, but James Petras is quite authoritative and reliable. I never said that Deadbeat is a neo-Nazi – and I’ve never heard him even mention the concept of “ZOG”, so in my opinion he at least has a leg to stand on. You completely misinterpreted my comment – before going to this site, I had only heard the term “ZOG” used by neo-Nazis, and the people who use it are normally much less reliable than Naomi Klein and Howard Zinn. I can see Chomsky being criticized somewhat because of his stated commitment to Zionism and a two-state solution – however, I don’t see what is wrong with Zinn or Klein.

    “The Zionists” are not “occupying” Congress or the Executive Branch – Israel is under USA’s command, and if Obama said in public that Israel is a terrorist state that has committed piracy (in international waters), they would back down. This piracy could be stopped by the US simply taking a stand against Israel, and calling on the United Nations to form a tribunal. What about history? Israel has a history of terrorism: the King David Hotel bombing, led by terrorist Menachim Begin’s Irgun gang; the American ship USS Liberty, attacked by Israel; more recently the detention of Free Gaza activists, including Cynthia McKinney, in international waters; and now this.

  20. dan e said on June 4th, 2010 at 6:18pm #

    Jonas, you’re contradicting yourself when first you say you find Petras authoritative and reliable, and then you do a 180 and say the Zionists aren’t occupying Congress, & Isreal is under USA’s command. Maybe you should go to & read what James P has actually said about it? Have you read “The Power of Israel in the United States” or any of his other books about the topic?

    And you admit you never heard of Blankfort until yesterday. Where you been, man? You come on here like you know something about this problem, but you never heard of Jeff Blankfort? May I suggest to you, with all due respect, that it might be a good idea to do a little more homework before you start propounding?

    You say you don’t know who Deadbeat is, when you’ve been debating/disputing him in a whole string of posts on this thread? I’m sorry but to me that just doesn’t make sense. I’m sorry if I misunderstood your intent, but there haven’t been any Neo Nazis posting on this site for at least the last couple of years, and nobody has been using the term “ZOG” that I know of, so I wonder why you chose to erect such a strawman at that particular point in the dialog. But I’ll take your word for it. Jumping back to the chase:

    Quoting you from above: “…Isreal is under USA’s command, and if…”. IF.

    That’s one helluva big IF you got there Jonas ol’ buddy:)

    Permit me to recommend that you open the link Hayate so graciously went to so much trouble to find, the link to the Blankfort interview by the Indymedia reporter? In which Jeff lays out all the reasons why there is no hope that Obummer or any other US Pres. will ever call Izzylandia a “terrorist state” in public, or call on the UN to form a tribunal to pass judgment on any of Izzy’s crimes.

    “What about history”, indeed! The events you mention we are all familiar with, have been for years, but mentioning them in this context is nothing more than Non-Sequiturizing, sound & fury signifying zip. That you have learned about these events does nothing to support your assertions about Izzylandia being “under USA’s command”.

    BTW, let me take this oppty to denounce those damn oil companies for ordering the Israelys to trash the flotilla. Yes, Big Oil did it, ask Naomi Klein, Chomsky, Zunes, Antonia Juhacz, Mitchel Plitnick, they’ll tell you all about it:) It’s the Petroleum Lobby again, every time!

    them & that damn tooth fairy…