Gaza flotilla | Things the IDF doesn’t want us to know

Posted: June 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments »

The videos released by IDF from the Mavi Marmara are controlling the news cycle in Israel for the past 48 hours. Their effect has been tremendous: They silenced all questions on the operation, and had the public rally behind the government and the army, as the Maariv poll shows. They made Israelis go out to the streets, demonstrating in front of the Turkish Embassy and having smaller rallies around the country.

But Incredible as it may seem, it’s been almost three days since the army raided the ship, and we know nothing on the attack itself, except for the fact that some of the men on the Mavi Marmara stormed the soldiers as they descended from the helicopter to the upper deck. We also have reason to believe that this attack was planned in advance, but that there were no firearms involved.

In other words, we only know what Israel wanted us to know.

At this point it is extremely important to say what we don’t know: We don’t know the names and nationality of the killed passengers (UPDATE: Turkey released some details). we don’t know for sure how many people were injured. We don’t know where they were killed, when, and how they died. we don’t know if and when people were given medical treatment. There were security cameras on deck, but Israel doesn’t show us what they filmed, except for the material which serves its purposes. The night vision clips released by the army end just before the shooting begins.

We don’t know what happened before the civilians attacked the commandos. There were passengers claiming soldiers opened fire before they even boarded the ship, but we don’t know if that’s true.

Most important, we don’t know anything about the battle itself – if it was a battle. It seems that it was a long one, since we have short recording, in which you can hear Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi calling for help and begging the soldiers in Hebrew and English to stop shooting (It’s the second clip on this page). At this time there were already passengers hurt, and one can assume that the attack on the soldiers ended. But the shooting went on.

Some of this information could have been available had the IDF not confiscated all material from the Mavi Marmara. What’s even worse is that the army is now editing the films and releasing it in a way which suits its own narrative. This film, shot from the upper deck, seems to have been taken by a camera crew or a passenger on board the ship. The film embedded below, showing the passengers getting ready for the Israeli attack was taken from the ship’s security camera.

Here is a good post regarding the IDF clips on the New York Times lede blog. Robert Mackey notes in it that the images the army released lack context. My only remark is that they were deliberately taken out of context.

The way Israel is withholding information is very troubling. If the army has nothing to hide, why not release the material? Naturally, Israel is also refusing to address the bigger questions, such as why the flotilla was attacked in international waters, and if so, whether the passengers actually had the right to resist the soldiers’ attempt to board their vessel.

The worse effect of this PR war is on the Israeli public, which now views the entire flotilla as a terrorist enterprise. One can see the effect of this nationalistic mood in the way the members of Knesset almost physically attacked MK Zoabi today (video here). In fact, the government’s campaign was so successful, many protested the release of the detained passengers, claiming “the terrorists” should be “brought to justice”.

All this leads to the conclusion that only an internationally led investigation might shed some light on the events on the Mavi Marmara. Even so, the chances the IDF will give full access to the materials and soldiers are slim at best.


25 Comments on “Gaza flotilla | Things the IDF doesn’t want us to know”

  1. 1 rick said at 12:51 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    looks like the “battle” (we dont know yet) tooked about one hour, till the idf controlled the ship. matthias jochheim, a medical doctor, who was on the ship, said in an interview:

    Matthias Jochheim:
    I was in the second level. I have heard exploding grenades. There was immediate panic at this moment of excitement.

    Did you at this moment that the ship is stormed Israeli soldiers?

    No. I’ve only realized when paramedics brought wounded into the living room that served as makeshift hospital.

    Among them were Israeli soldiers?

    Yes, three.

    When was that?

    I’m not sure. But I guess they were there for about an hour.

    Did these soldiers wounds that could axes or knives come from?

    No. One could, however, move very difficult. And all three were obviously in shock. (…)

    source (ger): http://www.taz.de/1/archiv/print-archiv/printressorts/digi-artikel/?ressort=a2&dig=2010%2F06%2F02%2Fa0052&cHash=5150d3c602

  2. 2 Michael LeFavour said at 1:08 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    Noam, you sound more and more disheartened with each piece of evidence exonerating Israel. The anguish is showing in your writing over the fact that Israel acted well and that your criminal friends are at fault for the entire fiasco. Why is that?

  3. 3 Michael LeFavour said at 1:12 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    And to answer the bigger question for you…according to international law, once a ship’s intent to run a blockade is made clear it is a legitimate target from the moment it leaves port.

  4. 4 noam said at 1:15 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    Michael: My claim was that Israel is withholding most of the information regarding the incident. I don’t see what your speculations on my mood has to do with this, so I really don’t know how to answer you.

  5. 5 Meziyet Kalkavan said at 1:39 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    1.You can never judge no one according to their intentions.

    2.Gaza does not belong to Israel, you do not have any right to put any blockage on their way in the first place.

    3.Incident occurs in international waters, and in international waters, a country would have right to interfere only if the ship carries slaves or its doing piracy. Even in that situation, you are not allowed to fire if they dont in the first place.

  6. 6 arturo said at 2:11 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    what? no wind, no body is moving fighting the waves, the water in the bottles is as still as the foor studio this was shot in.

  7. 7 NotInMyName said at 2:18 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    this is all so incredibly sad.
    Israelis should be ashamed of themselves, by treating Gazans no different than the Germans treated the Jews in the Ghettos of Warsaw.
    If anyone should have learned from history – it’s the Jews – yet how many stand in silence behind the Zionist terrorists, simply because they use their religion and terrible past to justify these atrocious acts.
    The world is in shock about this incident. The grotesque remarks and spin by the Israeli propaganda machine are a slap in the face of all of us.
    Who do they think they are? Pirates of the Mediterranean? The flotilla was in international waters – end of story. They knew there were no weapons on board, they have enough spies around to figure that out. This is about power and crushing Palestinians. They won’t stop until they killed the last one or scared them enough to move away.
    They never counted on YouTube, Facebook, Camera Phones….
    Israeli Terrorists – your day in court is near. Be prepared.

  8. 8 rick said at 2:24 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    michael, you´re right its with the law to stop or rerout a ship which wants to break a nautic blockade (lets not talk about if the blockade is legal & that the flotilla carried humanitarian goods).

    but after taking the first step of escalation (calling the flotilla by radio to change route) israel jumped to a much higher scale by boarding it far in international waters, which was not suitable at all. other steps, like escorting, envoke or forcing the ship off the course were not made.

    for me barak sent his boys to slaughter with his west-bank-style performance in the middle of the night.

    it was known there were no weapons on board (the turkish customs checked the flotilla) and it was known the idf would not be welcome.

    it was brutal, violant and exorbitant to kick the captian from deck & beat his team up. but honestly, what do you expect if you enter a ship without forewarning at four in the morning?

    this commando performance might get some approval from the israeli mainstream but it only helped hamas & turned the gaza siege into an international spotlight. nobody cared that the landline was closed for goods yesterday by hamas. nobody cares hamas is taking (taxing) benefits from the smuggling.

    the world saw a bloody israel out of control firing on civilians on board of a ship under the flag of a friendly nation and last ally in the region (i´m talking about turkey, maybe you disagree on this point but it doesn´t matter anymore). mazel tov! smart acting looks different.

  9. 9 rick said at 2:28 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    NotInMyName, i agree with many things you write but (as noam wrote before) its not helpful to compare gaza with the warsaw ghetto. this was a little bit different…

  10. 10 Name NBCornelius said at 2:38 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    I strongly suspect that the Israelis planned this whole event and the killing of activists was purely for effect. You offer good evidence to suggest the videos were false, so next question is why? Why did they attack in international waters? Could it have been that to achieve their objective, they had to time the attack accordingly? Remember they could not have been in total (maybe partial) control of the flotilla.

    Netanyahu was visiting PM Harper in Canada, did he need a well timed excuse to get out of his meeting with Obama. The Israeli’s are master strategists both in foreign relations and militarily. Benjamin Netanyahu, after his rebuff in Washington by Obama, may not have wanted to meet again with Obama just yet or at all. So an international incident that ‘forced’ the Israeli Prime Minister back to his country may have been the plan all along.

    Obama had been pushing the Israelis hard since before VP Bieden was embarrassed while in Israel recently .

    Israel would not commit such a high seas faux pas without good reason. Just an attack with no benefit would be completely foolish. But if avoiding the US, their biggest donor, was the reason, well that could point to some serious international intrigue and a potential standoff in the near future.

    Of course the fear now is, how far would Israel be willing to go to maintain their status quo with the US, Canada and any other supportive nations?

  11. 11 Michael LeFavour said at 6:48 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    “Michael: My claim was that Israel is withholding most of the information regarding the incident. I don’t see what your speculations on my mood has to do with this, so I really don’t know how to answer you.’

    Yes, yes, of course. There must be more because they are holding back the damning evidence. If only they would release that evidence then everybody will come to Noam’s conclusion that Israel must be lynched as thoroughly as the first jack booted, storm trooping, state sponsored pirate, to step foot on the peaceful and benevolent, humanitarian, love boat was. Keep fishing for a story suitable to delegitimize Israel with, Noam. If you can’t find one I am sure someone clever the likes of Amira Hass or Gideon Levy can fill in the blanks where needed.

  12. 12 Michael LeFavour said at 7:02 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    Rick,

    What makes it unsuitable to board the ship far from shore where Hamas boats, which had been recently training for an escort/ confrontation, could have interfered? Lets hear from someone that wants to forget about law and just go with anti Jewish frenzy and a few tidbits and speculation on how things went. You know for fact that other methods weren’t tried? Do you think that the Naval force commander called the terror flotilla criminals one time on the radio and said OK, lets waste em, they said no? Come on. Give it a break. The criminals were wrong, they provoked the violence, and Israel acted honorably and with great restraint. Sorry, I can’t disregard the law, because knowing Israel is acting within a justified and legal framework is how I feel comfortable coming here to poke fun at your sort.

    And get your facts straight. Without warning? They had constant radio communication asking them to not violate the legal blockade put in place to keep innocent Jews safe for two days. They came looking for a fight, they couldn’t wait for one, and they elevated it to deadly force. Israel responded. I welcome the spotlight. It shows the terrorist flotilla for what it is. Hamas playing games with the so called aid is further proof it was not needed and the whole thing was a farce and publicity stunt. What the world saw, and what the common man understands is that the terrorists aboard those ships were out of control lynching Jews. Period. Spin it all you want, but the bottom line is you are clearly supporting evil against good. I suggest you step back from your hate and try to figure out why.

  13. 13 Israeli said at 7:42 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    Well, let’s open the cards. Flotilla’s intention was to break coastal siege which purpose is to slow down Hammas acquiring arms / missiles that it likes to launch at Israeli cities. Without it, Gaza would have turned into Iran’s long missiles base long time ago. Yes Gaza people suffer, thanks to it’s Terrori
    As you well know, it’s not the first flotilla that was sent. All others were boarded using same method and no one got heart. However, this flotilla was special – there were 100 or so ‘activists’ that were hired to start a fight with the soldiers.
    So they’ve done, a second first soldier hit the ground.
    Our soldiers were expecting peace activists, but got terrorist with knives and steal clubs.
    Luckily, the soldiers are professionals, and can defend themselves.
    The results of this incident are obvious.
    Don’t be confused, the organizers got more than they expected. They have no tears for the victims – they’ve used human shields before.
    Few answers that you were longling for:
    1. We’ve shipped all participants of the flotilla – live, injured and dead back to Turkey. Wanna check on the – go head.
    2. You don’t need films released by IDF. Half of the materials were shot on the ship by flotilla participants, and international media. You can see soldiers stabbed in several occasions.
    3. We have enough trouble dealing with the results of this provocation.
    Wanna see Israeli seals take out their knives and fighting back? Expect your dead – this is how you use a knife.
    4. Why international waters?
    Would you rather be near Gaza shore, with 150 fishermen boats floating around, some of them with Hammas terrorists that wouldn’t think twice and blow up the boat with all it’s passengers. Human shields are welcome at Gaza.
    B.T.W Hammas is declared as enemy entity, and by international law it’s allowed to intercept any ship heading towards that entity and inspect it’s cargo anywhere, including international waters.
    Remember Karine A with 50 tons of weapons that were shipped from Iran to Gaza? Where do you think that ship was intercepted?

  14. 14 Israeli said at 8:03 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    Well, let’s open the cards. Flotilla’s intention was to break coastal siege which purpose is to slow down Hammas acquiring arms / missiles that it likes to launch at Israeli cities. Without it, Gaza would have turned into Iran’s long missiles base long time ago.
    Yes Gaza people suffer, thanks to it’s Terrorist Organization leadership.
    As you well know, it’s not the first flotilla that was sent. All others were boarded using same method and no one got heart. However, this flotilla was special – there were 100 or so ‘activists’ that were hired to start a fight, heart and if possible kidnap Israeli soldier and negotiate.
    So they’ve done, a second first soldier hit the ground.
    Our soldiers were expecting peace activists, but got terrorist with knives and steal clubs.
    Luckily, the soldiers are professionals, and can defend themselves.
    The results of this incident are obvious.
    Don’t be confused, the organizers are very pleased – they got more than they expected. They have no tears for the victims – they’ve used human shields before.

    Now, few answers that you were longling for:
    1. Israel deported all participants of the flotilla – live, injured and dead back to Turkey. Wanna check on them – go head.
    Before you get excited about the fact that even thous suspected in resisting we released, remember that Israel has hunted down terrorist from 1972 Munich massacre. It took few years, but we’re not in a hurry.
    2. You don’t need films released by IDF. Half of the materials were shot on the ship by flotilla participants, and international media. You can clearly see in them soldiers stabbed in several occasions. These pictures were screened on CNN, Sky and other networks short time after the operation began.
    3. Why not all information is revealed? We have enough trouble dealing with the results of this provocation.
    Wanna see Israeli seals take out their knives and fighting back? Expect your dead – this is how you use a knife. Now use your imagination… Yes, don’t need fire arms.
    4. Why international waters?
    Would you rather be near Gaza shore, with 150 fishermen boats floating around, some with Hammas terrorists that wouldn’t think twice and blow up the boat with all it’s passengers. Human shields are welcome at Gaza.
    Make no mistake, Hammas is declared as enemy entity, and by international law it’s allowed to intercept any ship heading towards that entity and inspect it’s cargo anywhere, including international waters.
    Remember Karine A with 50 tons of weapons that were shipped from Iran to Gaza? Where do you think that ship was intercepted?

    Any questions?

  15. 15 Peter H said at 8:05 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    “And to answer the bigger question for you…according to international law, once a ship’s intent to run a blockade is made clear it is a legitimate target from the moment it leaves port.”

    Not if the blockade is illegal in the first place.

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2915343.htm

  16. 16 Robin said at 9:09 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    While its suspicious of course that Israel wont release the full unedited footage, even the two clips they cherrypicked call into question major parts of their explanation.

    Such as: (a) Soldiers did not fire on the ship before boarding and being attacked. Well, the clip in which passengers prepare rods and projectiles shows them ducking several times, as if in response to incoming fire. And (b) that the soldiers were surprised to meet violence once they boarded the ship. The video shows passengers throwing objects at soldiers and spraying them with hoses as they approach in a raft. Wouldn’t they have known at that point that they would face fighting, and shouldn’t they have prepared to confront a mob with nonlethal means?

  17. 17 anon said at 11:15 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    By delaying the footage the Israeli’s let the “activists” sink deeper and deeper into their pathological lies.

    Then they released the footage to show what obvious pathological liars the “activists” were.

    Win: Israel.

  18. 18 David said at 12:45 am on June 3rd, 2010:

    Your contentions are unfounded and/or paranoid:

    1) The Israeli government doesn’t stage demonstrations, nor does it need to. As the poll you yourself cited, most Israelis back the operation and furthermore there have been anti-Israel demonstrations inside Israel. You make an allegation about “staged” protests without presenitng an iota of evidence to back such a claim up.

    2) On othe other hand, you seem to be demanding ever vaster amounts of video and other evidence to back up Israeli claims. Yet there is plenty of evidence already. So, faced with these uncomfortable facts you: a) claim without any evidence that it is forged, b) that there is other evidence being held back, even though at this point if would be hard to show how more picture would essentially change the story.

    3) The acitvists have had plenty of opportunity to present their version of events, although from what I have seen and heard it is as such variance with the visual evidence that I will (giving them the benefit of the doubt) assume that they didn’t witness what happened, although personally I think they are lieing.

    This leads to the big question that you and others committed to a certain political line, like the witness-activists on the flotilla, must take: namely that your cause is just, and therefore those who act in its name must be in the right all the time and under all circumstances. Conversly, your opponents must be wrong. If the evidence turns this topsy turvy, you simply deny the evidence, imagine conspiracies and/or demand more evidence.

    Israel certainly erred in this operation, but you aren’t weighing the evidence, rarther you are demanding it back up what you already believe, namely that the troops initialed violence against innocent protestors. Sorry, the facts always go the way you want. A pity they won’t influence your judgment.

  19. 19 Michael LeFavour said at 2:20 am on June 3rd, 2010:

    Peter H.,

    The criminals on the terrorist flotilla do not decide what is legal and illegal. Nor do the ideological hacks in the ISM or Peace Now. The time to determine whether the blockade was proportionate or not was some point in the past three years in a legitimate court of law with the authority to hear challenges of this nature. None with relevance or authority over Israel have. Try to understand through your irrational hatred of Jews and Israel that it is the actions of the Arabs that brought the blockade and keep it in place. Israel has no desire to impose on them beyond seeing to it that Jewish children get to stay alive a bit longer. Stop the terror and it all goes away. Thanks for covering for terrorists with your support btw. Yeah, thanks for nothing.

    Robin,

    There was an Israeli vessel right alongside of the terror ship when they were ducking and they did prepare for a mob, that is why they brought air rifles and stun grenades. The surprise was that the mob executed a prepared ambush with deadly force.

  20. 20 noam said at 2:26 am on June 3rd, 2010:

    here is a good point on legality of the attack, which is questionable at best- one might even argue that the passengers had the right to attack soldiers:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/02/israel-aid-convoy-law

  21. 21 Peter H said at 3:52 am on June 3rd, 2010:

    Michael,

    Thanks for your “reasoned” response. Glad to know that I am a Jew-hater and terrorism supporter.

  22. 22 Michael LeFavour said at 6:56 pm on June 3rd, 2010:

    “one might even argue that the passengers had the right to attack soldiers”

    Go ahead , Noam, argue for that. What will you base it on? The uninformed opinion of a known liar and activist hack like Daniel Machover? The Supreme Court of Israel is no match for the big guns you can bring to the fight.

    But thanks for linking to that ignorant propaganda piece at the Guardian, it reminded me that it will be fun to rip the Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights’ Q and A on the Gaza conflict apart some time. When you are not being honest or neutral it is easy to destroy lame attempts to sound like you know something.

  23. 23 Michael LeFavour said at 7:02 pm on June 3rd, 2010:

    Peter H,

    Thanks for your reasoned stance that Israelis are criminals no matter how clear the evidence to the contrary. Glad to know you care more about preserving your ego than the truth.

  24. 24 Shira M said at 10:15 pm on June 5th, 2010:

    There is one undisputable fact. On May 14, 1948 Israel declared Independence. On May 15, 1948 it was attacked by all of its neighbouring Arab States and to this day the attacks persist. Israel has not had one day of Peace. Where is the Justice?

  25. 25 atarah@israel said at 1:04 am on June 6th, 2010:

    i am very sorry for my country to be involved in this provocation, now this speculations around another ship is even more disgasting..