Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Gaza Flotilla Massacre:
Whitewash Absolves Israel
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 25,
Last May 31, Israeli commandos attacked and murdered nine or
more activists, injuring dozens in international waters on board the Mavi
Marmara mother ship, one of five bringing humanitarian aid to besieged
Gazans. An earlier article explained, accessed through the following link:
The UK-based Stop the War Coalition called the attack "Yet another act
of Israeli barbarism." Global protests erupted. Haaretz columnist Gideon
Levy cited Israel's "propaganda machine....reach(ing) new highs (in
distributing) false information....embarrass(ing) itself by entering a
futile public relations battle," filled with malicious fiction and deceit.
What happened was clear. IDF commandos planned and executed a
premeditated attack against unarmed, nonviolent humanitarian activists,
trying to break Israel's illegal blockade to deliver essential aid.
Cold-blooded murder resulted. The entire world knows it except Israeli
government and military officials, as well as its self-appointed Turkel
Commission, established to whitewash, not reveal, facts.
articles discussed it, accessed through the following links:
Commission members included:
-- two voting members: former
Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel (its head) and Amos Horev, a
retired major general; and
-- two non-voting observers: (1) close
Israeli ally David Trimble, a Northern Ireland unionist allied with death
squads during "The Troubles;" and (2) retired Canadian general Ken Warkin,
involved in the coverup of the Canadian Airborne Regiment Battle Group's
early 1990s Somalia atrocities.
Like similar Israeli and Washington
commissions, it was established for coverup and denial. As a result, it
unanimously endorsed bald-faced lies, distortions, omissions, false
conclusions, and exoneration of cold-blooded murder, as ordered by top
Israeli government and military officials who'll get off as usual scot-free.
The outcome was preordained as was Israel's Cast Lead whitewash.
August 9, it began hearings. On January 23, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid
headlined, "Israel's Gaza flotilla probe: IDF soldiers acted in
In the first part of its report, the Turkel
Commission absolved Israeli commandos of criminality. It "also determined
that Israel's (illegal siege) does not break international law....(and)
there were clear indications that the flotilla intended to break the naval
blockade....By clearly resisting capture, the Mavi Marmara had become a
military objective," despite on board activists offering no resistance.
Saying so was a lie.
Moreover, the Commission "determined that
Israel had been in compliance with (its unilaterally imposed) conditions for
such a blockade," a clear oxymoron. It also suggested Israel "examine the
medical needs of the people of Gaza in order to find ways to improve the
current situation....focus(ing) its sanctions on Hamas while avoiding harm
against the civilian population."
Omitted was admitting the siege's
illegality or that Hamas is Palestine's legitimate government, obligated to
serve, protect and defend its people. Sanctioning it for doing its job is
criminal and inhumane.
In several months, the report's part two will
be out, discussing Israel's procedures for investigating its international
law violations, as well as the government's decision-making process ordering
Last September 22, the UN Human Rights Council's (HRC)
fact-finding mission held Israel entirely culpable, calling its assault
brutal and disproportionate. An earlier article discussed it, accessed
through the following link:
Based on eye witness testimonies, forensic evidence, video footage, and
other photographic material, it:
"concluded that a series of
violations of international law, including international humanitarian and
human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the
interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in
Israel prior to deportation....The preponderance of evidence from impeccable
sources is far too overwhelming to come to a contrary opinion."
Israel's justification on "security grounds" was called entirely baseless.
Moreover, prosecuting Israeli criminals is warranted and essential under
Fourth Geneva's Article 147, covering:
-- willful killing;
-- torture or inhuman treatment; and
-- willfully causing great
suffering or serious injury to body or health.
-- Desmond de Silva, a UK lawyer and former chief
prosecutor for the Sierre Leone Special Court investigation into widespread
-- Karl Hudson-Phillips, a former International
Criminal Court (ICC) judge and former Trinidad and Tobago attorney general
and parliament member; and
-- Malaysia's Mary Shanthi Dairiam,
active in gender equality issues, including on the UN Development Program's
gender equity task force.
In emergency session ahead of its
investigation, the HRC criticized Israel's "outrageous attack on aid ships
attempting to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip," calling it "piracy, (an)
act of aggression, (a) brutal massacre, (an) act of terrorism, (a) war
crime, (a) crime against humanity - unprovoked, unwarranted, atrocious,
(and) brutal." It described activists onboard as "peaceful, innocent, noble,
unarmed, (and) defenseless, setting a hopeful tone for a Goldstone
Commission-like investigation and conclusions."
Following its own
investigation, Turkey's report (like the HRC mission) held Israel entirely
culpable, accurately concluding what actually happened, not Israel's web of
lies and coverup, its speciality.
A Final Comment
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected Israel's findings, saying they
have "no value or credibility." Turkey's Foreign Ministry said it was
"appalled and dismayed."
As expected, New York Times writer Isabel
Kershner's article leaned heavily toward Israel, headlining, "Israeli Panel
Rules Flotilla Raid Legal," saying:
"Israeli officials expressed
hopes that the (panel's) conclusions....would vindicate Israel and win it at
least some foreign support, quoting Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev saying
"the findings....are clear: Israel acted in justifiable self defense. Our
soldiers acted to protect themselves and to protect their country."
Video footage, said Kershner, "showed Israeli naval commandoes being set
upon as they rappelled from helicopters onto the ship's deck. Some soldiers
had their equipment seized, and the commission found that two were shot
during the melee, but it said it was unable to determine whether (Turkish)
activists brought their own firearms on board."
False on all counts.
What, in fact, happened was opposite of what Kershner reported. No one on
board had arms. Israeli commandos killed activists before coming aboard,
then with photos of ones targeted, they shot them at point blank range.
Viva Palestina's Kevin Ovenden, on board the Mavi Marmara, responded saying:
"The claim by Israel's Turkel Commission that Israeli forces acted
legally when they killed nine people (and) left another brain dead, will be
laughed out of court by all but the Israeli government and its most
"This whitewash commission was set up by the
Netanyahu government, the same people who commissioned the assault on the
aid ship....Israel has refused (to cooperate with an) independent
international inquiry and instead was brazen enough to establish this farce.
No Turkish official, lawyer or representative was allowed to take part,"
even though its citizens were killed....However hard the Israeli Government
attempts to rewrite history, they can't rewrite the truth."
committed premeditated slaughter in international waters, murdering unarmed
activists in cold blood, trying to deliver humanitarian aid.
only with Israel's blockade, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
said "No Commission of inquiry can authorize collective punishment of a
civilian population by restricting its movement and access, as did Israel."
"We disagree with the Commission's conclusion that the restrictions
were justified for military or 'strategic' reasons." It's unjustifiable to
claim preventing "the transfer into Gaza of industrial margarine, paper, and
coriander (among other non-military staples) contributed to a legitimate
Gisha rightfully calls Israel's closure policy
"illegal" under international law. It was established illegitimately to
weaken Hamas, as well as punish and strangle Gaza's economy, not protect
security as claimed. Murdering unarmed, nonviolent humanitarian activists
trying to deliver essential aid compounds Israel's culpability. Ongoing
without letup or accountability, Turkel's whitewash commission absolved it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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