Israel has done it again. (See news articles and videos compiled by Alison Weir at “If Americans Knew.”) Creating outrage on a daily basis seems to be its speciality. It has now launched an attack on international peace activists carrying humanitarian aid to besieged Gaza — “the world’s largest concentration camp” still recovering from war crimes committed by Israel almost 18 months ago. Here are some of the bare facts: The Mavi Marmara is a Turkish vessel. It was part of a 6-ship unarmed flotilla, including a U.S.-flagged vessel, carrying 700 passengers from 40 different countries and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid on a mission of mercy to besieged Gaza.
The ship was attacked approximately 65 miles off the coast of Netanya and 80 miles from Gaza, well within international waters. This is regarded as an act of piracy in international law. It is a war crime. It is too early to put a final figure on the number of casualties. These keep changing by the hour, depending on which side is providing the figures. AP’s initial report, based on figures helpfully supplied by Israel, stated that only two peace activists had died. This figure has now been rejected. The latest reports indicate that 16 unarmed activists may have been killed and up to 60 injured. Israeli casualties, as expected, have been minimal and almost cosmetic: two gun-toting commandos killed and three lightly injured. The AP report skilfully managed to give the impression that the heavily armed Israeli attackers were in fact the victims. The AP version comes down to this (my paraphrase):
Armed to the teeth, the Israelis board a vessel in international waters with peaceful intent, only to meet with violent resistance from a bunch of potential terrorists consisting of members of parliament from Germany, Sweden, Ireland and Turkey. Among those on board: Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire of Ireland, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, US diplomats Amb. Edward Peck and Col Ann Wright, not to mention peace activists from forty countries — including a US Navy survivor of Israel’s infamous attack on the USS Liberty.
By some remarkable inversion of logic, all these highly respected humanitarian peace activists are portrayed as aggressors seeking a confrontation with peace-loving Israel, while their Israeli attackers are seen as defending themselves by opening fire on orange-vested civilians rash enough to resist their ‘tough love’ overtures. Israel naturally claims that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The Gazans are purportedly doing quite well under Israel’s benevolent supervision. All Israel wants is to stop arms getting through. And of course cement — for what is the point of rebuilding all those demolished houses if Israel, in its compassionate wisdom, intends to demolish them all over again? AP fails to mention that a recent Amnesty International report stated that Israel’s siege on Gaza had created a humanitarian crisis of horrendous proportions: that four out of five Gaza residents needed humanitarian assistance and that hundreds were waiting for medical treatment that is cruelly denied by Israel.
Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid,” said the 2010 report, released on Thursday. “The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans — a flagrant violation of international law.
The Israeli government fails to gather that the tide has changed. We see through them. We all know what the Jewish state stands for. We all know about the devastation in Gaza, we know about the siege, the destruction and the crimes against humanity…In case the Israelis fail to see it, they are dealing with an international flotilla that is sailing under Turkish and Greek flags, a fleet that carries 800 enthusiastic activists from all over the world. The Israelis are dealing with peace lovers who are determined to break through the siege and deliver medical aid, cement, paper and food. On the deck we have 35 European parliamentarians who must have decided to say NO to Zionist fund raisers. This flotilla is a clear signal to Israel that the game is over. Israel is now all but officially isolated. All that is left for Israel is to come to terms with its true nature: a shameless racist, murderous and terrorist state…. The Israeli government and the Israeli people better start to come to terms that the game is soon to be over. The Zionist project and the Israeli state is in a state of moral bankruptcy.”
The foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 will one day be seen, I believe, as one of history’s most tragic mistakes. We witness the bitter consequences now. We have witnessed them for the last sixty-two years. Is it too late to reverse this catastrophic error of history?