Flotilla | why did Israel take credit cards, money, from passengers?

Posted: June 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

White house accepted the idea of an Israeli-led probe, but Jerusalem and Washington are still at disagreement over nature of the investigation

Almost two weeks since the IDF attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla, the government is yet to announce what form of civilian investigation it will conduct (the army has already started its own probe).

Reports in the Israeli media indicate that the reasons for the delay include disagreement with the White House over the investigating committee’s authorities. It seems that the US accepted the idea of an Israeli-led probe with international observers,and the problem is Jerusalem’s insistence that soldiers and low-level officers will not testify, and that the committee won’t have a legal authority to subpoena witnesses and material, and to issue conclusion regarding decision-makers. In other words, Israel wants the committee to deal with legal matters only. This way Netanyahu and Barak hope to contain political fallout from the raid both at home and abroad.

I believe the US should stay away from such an investigation – rather then lend it its own credibility and rescue the government from the trouble it brought upon itself – but it seems that the White House already decided to stand by Netanyahu, even if it means damaging relations with Turkey. The question for the US now is how to form an investigating panel that would look credible enough to European leadership.

UPDATE: PM Netanyahu confirmed reports that former Supreme Court justice Yaakov Tirkel will head the Israeli probe. Netanyahu didn’t announce the creation of the committee itself yet, probably due to disagreements with the US over the authorities of the comittee.

Haaretz’s editorial: “The government’s efforts to avoid a thorough and credible investigation of the flotilla affair seem more and more like a farce.”


Here is something an investigating panel should look into: It seems that Israel’s security forces confiscated all personal items from activists when they got off the ship. According to MK Hanin Zoabi, as well as other reports [Hebrew], credit cards, money and electronic gear were taken from the passengers, with almost none of them returned. I saw no official Israeli response on this issue, and there is at least one report of misuse of a confiscated credit card.

The flotilla’s passengers broke no low. Yet some of them were beaten, held in custody against their will, and had their valuables taken from them. Who should answer for this?

It should also be noted that Israel still holds almost all the photographed material from the Gaza flotilla – including tapes confiscated from journalists – editing it and releasing only what suits its own PR effort. Regardless of what we think happened on the Mavi Maramara or who is to blame for it, in the name of truth and freedom of press alone, the world need to make Israel hand back all confiscated videos and photographs.


Filmmaker Iara Lee have posted more then one hour of raw footage she was able to hide from the soldiers and smuggle out of Israel. You can watch the entire video on NYT’s The Lede blog. Here is a 15 minutes long edited version:

You don’t see much of the fight here, but you can get a feeling of the minutes after the soldiers took control of the upper deck. It seems likely that at least some of the casualties were shot later, during the soldiers’ attempts to find and rescue the two or three commandos held in the lower deck.

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. Soldiers are instructed to use whatever means necessary to prevent another soldier being taken hostage, as such an event always turn into a major strategic problem for Israel. I wonder what orders were the soldiers given once it was clear that at least a couple of the commandos are missing.

Towards the end of the posted video, you can here MK Hanin Zoabi calling the soldiers to hold their fire.

● Believe it or not: Netanyahu’s and Liberman’s approval ratings surged this week.

13 Comments on “Flotilla | why did Israel take credit cards, money, from passengers?”

  1. 1 Yishai Kohen said at 12:52 pm on June 12th, 2010:

    Of course the people on the flotilla broke the law.

    Hamas is a terrorist group. They were openly attempting to smuggle goods in to benefit Hamas.

    Of course Netanyahu’s and Liberman’s approval ratings surged this week. We Israelis do not like Hamas and their supporters, and we do approve of a heavy hand against the terrorists and their supporters.

    The left’s methods brought far too much bloodshed. The right’s stop that bloodshed.

  2. 2 Michael LeFavour said at 2:30 pm on June 12th, 2010:

    Here is a good article that adds some of the details you refuse to post, Noam. The details that the rest of Israel seems to have noted before rushing to a quick, breathless, and ignorant judgment over the incident. While you were scouring high and low for something to smear Israel with and wringing your hands in frustration over this golden opportunity to get rid of Netanyahu going to waste your countrymen were coming to terms with reality.


    So what if the terrorists were trying to keep the hostages alive after they subdued them? This does not detract even a little from the fact, (proven conclusively with video footage, luckily……this time) that they were trying to kill the boarding party before it was captured. From a propaganda tactic, taking them as hostages would have been the best move.

    If there was a rescue as you claim and this is where the killings happened, where is the credible corroboration? It seems more plausible that the captured Israelis were handed over after the fighting had stopped and the deaths were the result of a gun battle.

    Why won’t you explore Erdogan’s role in this affair? Everything in the article is cross checked. Here is another video by the Chief Officer of the terror boat, Gokkiran Gokhan. He confirms what the article says about the preparation for a fight in the above article and the fact that it was 40 or so terrorists that all but hijacked the ship to use it in a violent confrontation with Israel. They were not peaceful or concerned about the Arabs in Gaza. You should drop the pretense that they were in your own articles if you wish to preserve any shred of credibility.


  3. 3 Michael LeFavour said at 2:36 pm on June 12th, 2010:

    I forgot to answer your questions. Israel confiscated money intended to reach a terrorist organization. They have every right to keep it as well. They confiscated the credit cards to track terrorism financing. Erdogan’s involvement is out of the bag with the confiscation of lap tops.

    But if everything was confiscated, how are so many supposed videos and photos getting out? Has the navy confirmed that those are in fact Israeli forces in the photos? I have no reason to doubt they are, nor do I see anything that makes Israel look bad if they are, but has that even been confirmed?

  4. 4 Yishai Kohen said at 8:02 pm on June 12th, 2010:


    To strengthen your already strong argument: Doesn’t the US confiscate boats, cars, and other things used in attempted drug smuggling?

  5. 5 Michael LeFavour said at 8:42 pm on June 12th, 2010:


    Yes, they confiscate money for a wide range of offenses. Everything from drug trafficking to attempting to take too much money out of the country (there is a ten thousand dollar limit I think) for example. Assets are frozen pending investigations all the time.

    There is nothing sinister about defending your country by whatever means your enemy forces you to use. Noam just can’t understand this salient truth. None of which would be necessary if the Arabs calling themselves Palestinians would cease their bloody campaign of terror against the Jewish people.

  6. 6 Susan Speil said at 11:49 pm on June 12th, 2010:


    Did you actually write in your article that the boat’s participants did nothing illegal.
    Seems you ignore the facts:
    1. Trying to go into blockaded Gaza is illegal
    2. Attacking IDF for sending soldiers to reroute the boat is illegal
    3. Turkey letting weapons leave their shores is illegal
    4. Many of those terrorists, claiming to be humanitarians, had wads of money…terror payoffs-illegal
    5. I guess apart from the total illegality of trying to break the blockade, taking weapons into international waters including a chainsaw, attacking IDF, kidnapping soldiers, calling for jihad and singing about Khaibar and their wanting to be shihad’s…they were innocents of any wrongdoing.

    Ignoring the truth and repeating lies, does still not change the facts and the illegality.

  7. 7 noam said at 1:41 am on June 13th, 2010:


    1.The blockade of civilian goods into gaza was illegal, so challenging it was probably legal. anyway, the attack occurred on international water, so the passengers were actually abducted by the IDF.

    2. the IDF soldiers were on turkish territory, so it was the commandos who attacked the passengers, not the other way.

    3. where did you get that? the ship had no weapons on it.

    4. the reported theft story (see in the above post) was from a guy on a different ship – there was no fight on this ship – he is not suspect of any terrorist links, and he did not fight the soldiers. yet everything he had was taken from him.

  8. 8 AnonII said at 6:55 am on June 13th, 2010:

    The absolute rightness of what Israel did on the flotilla now one of the 13 principles of the idolatrous settler faith.
    I believe with perfect faith …
    No use arguing with a creed whether it be jihadist or settler.

  9. 9 Yishai Kohen said at 7:12 am on June 13th, 2010:


    1. The blockade was perfectly legal. A Harvard law professor explains why here:

    “Israel’s Actions: Entirely Lawful”, by Harvard Professor of Law, Alan Dershowitz


    And a University of Chicago law professor explains why here:

    “The Gaza Blockade And International Law: Israel’s Position Is Reasonable And Backed By Precedent” By Eric Posner


    2. The Turks were actively supporting terrorists, so they are fair game anywhere- because supporting terror is illegal.

    3. You must be thinking about some other flotilla, because:

    The “aid” shipment included night vision:


    The “aid” shipment included bulletproof vests:


    Flotilla: Because “peaceful” can mean many things to many different people:


    Here’s your “peaceful aid worker”:


    4. If you live in a sewer, you’re going to reek. Nobody forced him to be involved with illegal smugglers.

  10. 10 Yishai Kohen said at 7:14 am on June 13th, 2010:


    Note that I bring cold, hard, verifiable facts, and you bring empty rhetoric.

  11. 11 Michael LeFavour said at 11:55 am on June 13th, 2010:

    Noam, you have wasted much time criticizing Israel for wanting to have an international probe that establishes the legality (even as a first step) of the blockade, yet you then turn around and join the hate Israel first chorus screeching that it is illegal. What unbiased probe or court ruling do you base that assertion on? It is relevant since your failing argument falls apart at the seams if the source you base your conviction on is wrong.

    The moment a ship leaves harbor it becomes a legitimate target if it becomes clear that it intends to violate a legal blockade, which it did and there is no doubt of intent to do so. The decision to stop the illegal flotilla in international water was a decision to prevent violence and confrontation due to the proximity of Hamas vessels that had been practicing for escort duty long before the criminals arrived. This decision potentially reduced casualties to both innocent Israeli soldiers doing their jobs, to the terrorist supporters, and to the terrorists themselves that intended to sortie out and escort the ship in. Being angry the stunt was a failure will not change that simple truth.

    As Yishai points out they brought bullet proof vests, night vision devices, and grinding discs to dismantle the safety railing with. It is apparent that the terrorist plan from the beginning was to exploit Israeli restraint, sequester the real activists below where they became human shields, and use melee weapons to repel a boarding attempt, which would look great in photos and videos that can be later misinterpreted and falsely captioned for the Jew hating media.

    Anon, what sort of scales do you have that show a mass murderer and a “settler” being equal? Are any so called “settlers” blowing up planes, subways, and buildings to get their way? Have any “settlers” posted beheading videos on “settler” websites? Have any “settlers” hijacked any planes? Taken over international sporting events and massacred athletes in cold blood? Thrown any crippled Muslims into the sea? Have they danced around in the streets proudly waving Arab intestines around as if they just won the world cup? Have any of them crept into any Arab farm houses in the dead of night and shot any Muslim infants to death sleeping in their cribs? Or should we take on your feelings and say that there is no use arguing with a creed whether it be Nazi, jihadist, or leftist?

  12. 12 Niki said at 10:08 pm on June 13th, 2010:

    If the blockade in Gaza was a legal one according to the domestic and international laws (despite, Israel’s not being a party to the specific international treaties that regulate this); wouldn’t it have been wiser, from a foreign policy perspective to just let this flotilla approach the shores, and the pier, and assuming it was filled with terrorists, as there would have been proof of such on board the ship, as so many of you claim, with the night vision, and bullet proof vests (which by the way, does not indicate that these people are terrorists LOL, but rather indicates, that they were bringing “safety supplies” to fellow Gazans) and just arrest those people for violating the valid domestic and international laws that support the actual blockade? Wouldn’t it have been better to do something like that? I mean, really; that way, the terrorists would have been in custody, imprisoned, await trial for terrorist behaviour, etc; instead of just letting them disappear into thin air, and re-organize a new flotilla type expedition with more force the next time around. It just seems logical to me, that if this boat was filled with terrorists, that proper precautions and measures would have been taken so as to ensure that they were arrested and tried justly, instead of just invading a ship in international high seas, and start killing people. The IDF is supposed to be the leading army in the world; surely, they are so, because their intelligence organization has thorough and proper information before proceeding on missions. So, what went wrong here? Why did they act like little children in a playground fighting over the monkey bars? That goes for both the government and the naval forces. It just seems counter productive to me, is all. Shoot first, ask questions later. In Canada, we do things a bit different, I guess. Hopefully the injured naval officers are doing well and are back with their families, and as for the malnutritioned Palestinians, perhaps, it should be some food for thought for the Israeli to actually lend a helping hand with food and proper medication, if the blockade is to carry on, because, it is a crime of humanity to see such genuine suffering. Familiarity breeds contempt.

  13. 13 Niki said at 10:10 pm on June 13th, 2010:

    By the way Noam, I love the blog, and the insight that you provide!