Flotilla | New Mavi Marmara pictures raise more questions regarding IDF attack

Posted: June 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, the US and us, war | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Turkish paper Hurriyet published pictures of captive IDF soldiers inside the Mavi Marmara (see them here) during the Israeli raid on the ship. IDF spokesperson already declared that “this is clear proof of Israel’s repeated claims, that the boat was carrying mercenaries, whose sole purpose was to kill the soldiers.”

But to me these pictures raise even more questions. It seems that the people on the Mavi Marmara actually kept the soldiers alive – rather than “lynch” them, as Israel claims. This might also explain why the battle against unarmed civilians took so long: Could it be that the nine casualties weren’t just the result of an attempt to protect the life of the soldiers at the moment they were attacked, but rather the outcome of a violent rescue operation?

Since the Gilad Shalit kidnapping, there is a standing order in Israel not to let any IDF soldier to be captured alive, even if it means risking his own life – let alone the life of the people around him.

Another thought: could it be that the bullet injuries few IDF soldiers suffered occurred during this rescue attempt?  Maybe it was IDF shots that caused them?

Here is another picture, posted on the IHH flickr page, showing passengers treating a wounded IDF soldier. I don’t know if this pic is real or not, but if it is, it might back the claim that the passengers were trying to defend themselves rather kill the soldiers:

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As long as the IDF doesn’t release it’s version of the events and all confiscated material, we have no way of knowing what happened on the Mavi Maramra. But as passengers’ testimonies are released and more material is coming out, the army’s version seems to have more and more holes in it.

UPDATE: Alon Ben David, channel 10 military correspondent, gave last night an unofficial account of events from army sources: attack on the ship started on 4:30 AM, with 15 soldiers going down the ropes to the upper deck. The first three were captured in the lower deck. After one minute the soldiers opened fire and took control of the upper deck.

At 4:35 another team arrives by helicopter. At 4:50 the army starts taking over the ship. At 5:00 the army announces it has control over the ship’s bridge. The soldiers in the lower deck escape from their captives: two jump to the water, and the third reach the front of the ship and awaits there for the other commandos to rescue him. According to a report from Al-Jessira (quoted here in Ynet), the third soldier didn’t escape; IDF commandos broke into the room he was held in and shot the passengers surrounding him.

There is no official IDF version of the events yet.

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Israel has rejected United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s idea for an international commission of inquiry into the raid. According to this offer, the inquiry committee would have been led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer (an expert on maritime law), with an Israeli representative and a Turkish one serving under him.

Yet Prime Minister Netanyahu informed the government today (Sunday) that he would not agree to such an investigation. Netanyahu also said that the world is beginning to open up to the Israeli view of last week’s events.

The Israeli dilemma is simple: reject an international committee, and you risk having another Goldstone report, based entirely on the evidences of the flotilla’s passengers. Accept the committee, and you risk ending up with a report which will condemn Israel and enjoy world wide credibility. There is also a problem with the IDF, which opposes to having soldiers testify in front of any sort of civilian committee, Israeli or international. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who finally agreed to some sort of investigation in order to ease up the pressure on Israel, still firmly object to having soldiers testify before it.

Israeli leaders also have their own political concerns, which further complicate things: a civilian Israeli committee might force them to resign, while an international inquiry won’t have personal implication on them.

The solution Israel is hoping for is an Israeli-led investigation, with an international observer, preferably an American, sitting on it (but staying out of the room when security issues are discussed). Zeev Segal, Haaretz’s legal expert, wrote in favor of such a solution this morning.

I explained here why the international community should not accept an Israeli-led investigation.

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The talk of the day in Israel was the decision by Boston Rock group The Pixies to cancel their gig in Tel Aviv planned for this Wednesday. The Pixies are very popular with my generation of Israelis (I had tickets), and this was supposed to be their first show in Tel Aviv. But the real issue is that Israelis are extremely troubled by the idea of an international boycott. Producer Shuki Weiss, who booked the show, called the pressure on bands not to perform in Israel “cultural terrorism“.

Most pundits and talking heads I heard today said that it was a PR failure, rather than a policy one, which led to pressure on Israel these days (here is an example from Israel’s most popular columnist). Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman decided, like many Israelis, to put the blame on the left and the Israeli Arabs.

More and more it seems that Israelis simply don’t understand why the world is mad at them. As Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz today, the one place IDF propaganda actually worked very well is Israel, where both the media and the public now views the attack on the flotilla as an heroic success story.

British Author Iain Banks also decided to join the boycott on Israel. He explains why in a letter to the Guardian:

Writers and artists refusing to visit Israel, and the cutting off of as many other cultural and educational links with Israel as possible, might help Israelis understand how morally isolated they really are. It would be a form of collective punishment (albeit a mild one), and so in a way an act of hypocrisy for those of us who have criticised Israel for its treatment of the Palestinian people in general and those in Gaza in particular, but appeals to reason, international law, UN resolutions and simple human decency mean – it is now obvious – nothing to Israel, and for those of us not prepared to turn to violence, what else can we do? For the little it’s worth, I’ve told my agent to turn down any further book translation deals with Israeli publishers. I would urge all writers, artists and others in the creative arts, as well as those academics engaging in joint educational projects with Israeli institutions, to consider doing everything they can to convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation, preferably by simply having nothing more to do with this outlaw state.

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News and Suggested reading:

NY Times: Washington Asks: What to Do About Israel?

Our own Freedom Fries: A right-wing group has asked Elite, Israel’s largest coffee manufacture, to change the name of its popular  Turkish Coffee [link in Hebrew].


9 Comments on “Flotilla | New Mavi Marmara pictures raise more questions regarding IDF attack”

  1. 1 John Gilberts said at 9:38 am on June 6th, 2010:

    Kudos to author Iain Banks and all who honor the cultural boycott of Israel. Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and film-maker Atom Egoyan unfortunately chose to violate the boycott and accept the very large Dan David prize from the ‘outlaw state’. Perhaps similar tactics of boycott as ethical pressure should be applied to such as these…?

  2. 2 John said at 1:33 pm on June 6th, 2010:

    Photos demonstrate that the passengers could have beaten the soldiers to death…if they had wanted. The soldiers were helpless, while passengers had typical ship-board metal tools.

    IDF representative appears blind, or irrational, or confident that no one will actually look at the photos and think. Probably confident that we will not look or think hard.

    Amazing.

    Also suggests that the “mercenaries” were about as dangerous as a typical “football hooligan” group. European police forces handle them all the time.

    Who decided to send the commandos to attack the ship with only side-arms? No shields, and no weapon between harsh words and lethal force????

  3. 3 Annie said at 3:08 pm on June 6th, 2010:

    @John “Also suggests that the “mercenaries” were about as dangerous as a typical “football hooligan” group. European police forces handle them all the time. ”

    I live in Europe, where as you noted hooligans are quite common — and believe me, cops get killed.

  4. 4 anonymous said at 2:39 am on June 7th, 2010:

    I read through all the “eyewitness” testimonies that you linked to and nothing concrete was provided there. It’s obvious that none of the speakers knows what happened and only saw a small detail.

    The one notable issue is that we have heard the personal testimonies of a number of Israeli soldiers, but the militants who fought with the soldiers have mostly disappeared. I guess nobody was really using the clubs to beat the soldiers, the video showing it clearly is a hoax.

  5. 5 NameClaudia said at 8:38 am on June 7th, 2010:

    Do you have thoughts on this article: http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=177737 claiming that there were knives in the original photos that had been photoshopped out? Is this true do you think?

  6. 6 noam said at 11:12 am on June 7th, 2010:

    Claudia: I think they were cropped, not photoshopped (which makes it less of a conspiracy). But anyway, I linked to the originals.

  7. 7 PGemosa said at 7:15 pm on June 7th, 2010:

    It is important to realize that when their 3 comrades were taken away, the other commandos had no way of knowing what was happening to them — if they were being killed, tortured, or whatever. Remember the events in Ramallah in 2000 when 2 IDF reservists were lynched, and the photo of the young Palestinian man “proudly waving his blood-stained hands to the crowd below” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_Ramallah_lynching). How can you blame the commandos for assuming the worst. Once the activists decided to engage, the die was cast.

  8. 8 Eyal Morag said at 2:36 pm on June 8th, 2010:

    It is hard to people to except that on the top deck can be some IHH fanatics and below some real peace activists.

    While we ran around the flotilla spaceship Earth is sinking.

  9. 9 Huw Spanner said at 6:30 am on June 9th, 2010:

    I know that our idea of what combat looks like is largely created by Hollywood and is often far from reality, but… I have been struck, in all the photos and videos I have seen, by how unconvincing this story of elite IDF commandos being disarmed and beaten without mercy by “mercenaries” is. The Israeli soldier in this photo (who looks almost comically small, and is apparently crying in another widely circulated photo) does not look as if he has been badly beaten – did the “extremists” have special clubs that leave no marks?

    In the photo that Reuters notoriously cropped (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/06/08/reuters-fake-photos-ihh-gaza-blockade-commandos/), some Americans have said that the man is holding a “Rambo knife”, but to me it looks like some kind of small kitchen knife. There doesn’t appear to be any blood on it, and the way it is being held does not suggest to me any kind of aggressive intent – in fact, that is the way I might hold a knife if I saw it on the floor and picked it up. It’s also odd, if IHH had something to hide, that they themselves released that photo to the media uncropped.

    One final thought: having confiscated the mobile phones and cameras of the people on board the Mavi Marmara, it’s hard to believe the IDF couldn’t find any photos that show more clearly their soldiers being brutalised if that is actually what happened.

    It has been instructive to read the details of where the dead activists were actually hit by Israeli bullets – one shot plumb between the eyes, two or more shot in the back. I hope we will also learn where the wounded Israelis were hit, and where the dozens of wounded activists were hit. That might give us some more clues about what went on.