Gaza Freedom Flotilla Eyewitness Accounts

Was the Obama Administration involved in the Planning of the Israeli Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla?
The Broader Military Agenda

June 6 2010

By Michel Chossudovsky

The Israeli Navy Commando had prior knowledge of who was on the Turkish ship including where passengers were residing in terms of cabin layout. According to Swedish author Henning Mankell, who was on board the Marmara , “the Israeli forces attacked sleeping civilians.”

These were targeted assassinations. Specific individuals were targeted. Journalists were targeted with a view to confiscating their audio and video recording equipment and tapes.

“We were witnesses to premeditated murders,” said historian Mattias Gardell who was on the Mavi Marmara.

“…Asked about why activists on the Turkish ship had attacked the Israeli soldiers, Gardell stressed “it is not as if Israel is a police officer whom no human being has the legitimate right to defend him or herself against”:

“If you are attacked by commando troops you of course must have the right to defend yourself … Many people on this ship thought they were going to kill everyone. They were very frightened … It’s strange if people think one should not defend oneself. Should you just sit there and say: ‘Kill me’?” he said.” (See Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Detailed Compiled Eyewitness Accounts Confirm Cold-Blooded Murder and Executions by Israeli Military, Global Research, June 1, 2010)

“They even shot those who surrendered. Many of our friends saw this. They told me that there were handcuffed people who were shot,” (quoted by Press TV)

The Israeli Commando had an explicit order to kill.

What was the role of the United States?

The raids on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, bear the mark of  previous Israeli operations directed against unarmed civilians. It is a well established modus operandi of Israeli military-intelligence operations, which is tacitly supported by the US administration.

The killing of civilians is intended to trigger a response by Palestinian resistance forces, which in turn justifies Israeli retaliation (on “humanitarian” grounds) as well as a process of military escalation.  The logic of this process was contained in Ariel Sharon`s “Operation Justified Vengeance” (also referred to as the “Dagan Plan”) initiated at the outset the Sharon government in 2001. This Operation was intent upon destroying the Palestinian Authority and transforming Gaza into an urban prison. (See Michel Chossudovsky, “Operation Justified Vengeance”: Israeli Strike on Freedom Flotilla to Gaza is Part of a Broader Military Agenda, Global Research, June 1, 2010).

The Israeli attack on the Flotilla bears the fingerprints of a military intelligence operation coordinated by the IDF and Mossad, which is now headed by Meir Dagan. It is worth recalling that as a young Coronel, Dagan worked closely with then defense minister Ariel Sharon in the raids on the Palestinian settlements of Sabra and Shatilla in Beirut in 1982.

There are indications that the US was consulted at the highest levels regarding the nature of this military operation. Moreover, in the wake of the attacks, both the US and the UK have unequivocally reaffirmed their support to Israel.

There are longstanding and ongoing military and intelligence relations between the US and Israel including close working ties between various agencies of government: Pentagon, National Intelligence Council, State Department, Homeland Security and their respective Israeli counterparts.

These various agencies of government are involved in routine liaison and consultations, usually directly as well as through the US Embassy in Israel, involving frequent shuttles of officials between Washington and Tel Aviv as well as exchange of personnel. Moreover, the US as well as Canada have public security cooperation agreements with Israel pertaining to the policing of international borders, including maritime borders. (See Israel-USA Homeland Security Cooperation, See also Michel Chossudovsky, The Canada-Israel “Public Security” Agreement, Global Research, 2 April 2008)

The Role of Rahm Emmanuel

Several high level US-Israel meetings were held in the months prior to the May 31st attacks.

Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s White House chief of Staff was in Tel Aviv a week prior to the attacks. Confirmed by press reports, he had meetings behind closed doors with Prime Minister Netanyahu (May 26) as well as a private visit with President Shimon Peres on May 27.

May 26 meeting between Rahm Emmanuel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Official statements do not indicate whether other officials including cabinet ministers or IDF and Mossad officials were present at the Rahm Emmanuel-Netanyahu meeting. The Israeli press confirmed that Rahm Emmanuel had a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose Ministry was responsible for overseeing the Commando attack on the Flotilla. (Rahm Emanuel visits Israel to celebrate son’s bar mitzvah – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News, 23 May 2010). The White House also confirmed that Rahm Emmanuel was to meet other high-ranking Israeli officials, without providing further details. (Rahm Emanuel in Israel for Son’s Bar Mitzvah, May Meet With Officials)

“Our Man in the White House”

While born in the US, Rahm Emmanuel also holds Israeli citizenship and has served in the Israeli military during the First Gulf War (1991).

Rahm is also known for his connections to the pro-Israeli lobby in the US.  The Israeli newspaper Maariv calls him “Our Man in the White House” (quoted in Irish Times, March 13, 2010). Rahm Emmanuel gave his support to Obama in the November 2008 presidential elections following Obama`s address to the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC.

At the time of Rahm Emmanuel’s confirmation as White House chief of staff, there were reports in the Middle East media of Rahm Emanuel’s connections to Israeli intelligence.

The exact nature of Rahm Emmanuel’s ties to the Israeli military and intelligence apparatus, however, is not the main issue. What we are dealing with is a broad process of bilateral coordination and decision-making between the two governments in the areas of foreign policy, intelligence and military planning, which has been ongoing for more than 50 years. In this regard, Israel, although exercising a certain degree of autonomy in military and strategic decisions, will not act unilaterally, without receiving the “green light” from Washington. Rahm Emmanuel`s meetings with the prime minister and Israeli officials are part of this ongoing process.

Rahm Emmanuel’s meetings in Tel Aviv on May 26 were a routine follow-up to visits to Washington by Prime Minister Netanyahu in March and by Minister of Defense Ehud Barak in late April. In these various bilateral US-Israel encounters at the White House, the state Department and the Pentagon, Rahm Emmanuel invariably plays a key role.

While the pro-Israeli lobby in the US influences party politics in America, Washington also influences the direction of Israeli politics. There have been reports to the effect that Rahm Emmanuel  would “lead a team of high octane Democratic party pro-Israel political operatives to run the campaign for the Defense Minister Ehud Barak” against Netanyahu in the next Israeli election. (Ira Glunts, Could Rahm Emanuel Help Barak Unseat Netanyahu? Palestine Chronicle, June 2, 2010)

The April 27 meeting between US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Defense Minister Barak pertained to “a range of important defense issues” directly or indirectly related to the status of the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation:

“As President Obama has affirmed, the United States commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable, and our defense relationship is stronger than ever, to the mutual benefit of both nations. The United States and our ally Israel share many of the same security challenges, from combating terrorism to confronting the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

For years, the United States and Israel have worked together to prepare our armed forces to meet these and other challenges, a recent major example being the Juniper Cobra joint exercise held last October. Our work together on missile-defense technology is ongoing, and the United States will continue to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.” (Press Conference with Secretary Gates and Israeli Defense Minister Barak, April 2010 – Council on Foreign Relations April 27, 2010)

These consultations pertained to ongoing military preparations regarding Iran. Both Israel and the US have recently announced that a pre-emptive attack against Iran has been contemplated.

Washington views Israel as being “‘integrated into America’s military architecture,’ especially in the missile defense sphere.” (quoted in  Emanuel to rabbis: US ‘screwed up’ Jerusalem Post, statement of Dennis Ross, who is in charge of the US administration’s Iran policy in the White House, May 16, 2010).

Targeting Iran

The attack on the Freedom Flotilla, might appear as a separate and distinct humanitiarian issue, unrelated to US-Israeli war plans. But from the standpoint of both Tel Aviv and Washington, it is part of the broader military agenda. It is intended to create conditions favoring an atmosphere of confrontation and escalation in the Middle East war theater;

“All the signs are that Israel has been stepping up its provocations to engineer a casus belli for a war against Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Tel Aviv sees as unfinished business its inconclusive wars: the first in Lebanon in 2006, and the second in Gaza in 2008-09.” (Jean Shaoul   Washington Comes to the Aid of Israel over Gaza Convoy Massacre, Global Research, June 4, 2010)

Following Israel’s illegal assault in international waters, Netanyahu stated emphatically “Israel will continue to exercise its right to self defence. We will not allow the establishment of an Iranian port in Gaza,” suggesting that the Gaza blockade was part of the pre-emptive war agenda directed against Iran, Syria and Lebanon. (Israeli forces board Gaza aid ship the Rachel Corrie – Telegraph, June 5, 2010, emphasis added) .

Moreover, the raid on the Flotilla coincided with NATO-Israel war games directed against Iran. According to the Sunday Times, “three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline.” (Israel Deploys Three Nuclear Cruise Missile-Armed Subs Along Iranian Coastline).

While Israeli naval deployments were underway in the Persian Gulf, Israel was also involved in war games in the Mediterranean. The war game codenamed “MINOAS 2010” was carried out at a Greek air base in Souda Bay, on the island of Crete. Earlier in February, The Israeli air force “practiced simulated strikes at Iran’s nuclear facilities using airspace of two Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, which are close territorially with the Islamic republic and cooperate with Israel on this issue.” Ria Novosti,War Games: Israel gets ready to Strike at Iran’s Nuclear Sites,, March 29, 2010)

Also, in the wake of the final resolution of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation directed against Israel’s nuclear weapons program, the White House has reaffirmed its endorsement of Israel’s nuclear weapons capabilities. Washington’s statement issued one day before the raid on the flotilla points to unbending US support to “Israel’s strategic and deterrence capabilities”, which also include the launching of a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Iran:

“a senior political source in Jerusalem said Sunday that Israel received guarantees from U.S. President Barack Obama that the U.S. would maintain and improve Israel’s strategic and deterrence capabilities.

According to the source, “Obama gave [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu unequivocal guarantees that include a substantial upgrade in Israel-U.S. relations.”

Obama promised that no decision taken during the recent 189-nation conference to review and strengthen the 40-year-old Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty “would be allowed to harm Israel’s vital interests,” the sources said.  Obama promised to bolster Israel’s strategic capabilities, Jerusalem officials say – Haaretz Daily Newspaper)

Robert Gates and Israel’s Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, Press Conference, April  27, 2010


The Turkey-Israel Relationship in Jeopardy?

The actions of Israel against the Freedom Flotilla have important ramifications. Israel’s criminal actions in international waters has contributed to weakening the US-NATO-Israel military alliance.

The bilateral Israel-Turkey alliance in military, intelligence, joint military production is potentially in jeopardy. Ankara has already announced that three planned military exercises with Israel have been cancelled. “The government announced it was considering reducing its relations with Israel to a minimum.”

It should be understood that Israel and Turkey are partners and major actors in the US-NATO planned aerial attacks on Iran, which have been in the pipeline since mid-2005. The rift between Turkey and Israel has a direct bearing on NATO as a military alliance. Turkey is one of the more powerful NATO member states with regard to its conventional forces. The rift with Israel breaks a consensus within the Atlantic Alliance. It also undermines ongoing US-NATO-Israel pre-emptive war plans directed against Iran, which until recently were endorsed by the Turkish military.

From the outset in 1992, the Israeli-Turkish military alliance was directed against Syria, as well as Iran and Iraq. (For details see See Michel Chossudovsky, “Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon, Global Research, 2006)

In 1997, Israel and Turkey launched “A Strategic Dialogue” involving a bi-annual process of high level military consultations by the respective deputy chiefs of staff. (Milliyet, Istanbul, in Turkish 14 July 2006).

During the Clinton Administration, a triangular military alliance between the US, Israel and Turkey had unfolded. This “triple alliance”, which in practice is dominated by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, integrates and coordinates military command decisions between the three countries pertaining to the broader Middle East. It is based on the close military ties respectively of Israel and Turkey with the US, coupled with a strong bilateral military relationship between Tel Aviv and Ankara.

Starting in 2005, Israel has become a de facto member of NATO. The triple alliance was coupled with a 2005 NATO-Israeli military cooperation agreement which included “many areas of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism and joint military exercises. These military cooperation ties with NATO are viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.” (“Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon).

The Issue of Territorial Waters

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is in large part motivated by the broader issue of control of  Gaza’s territorial waters, which contain significant reserves of natural gas. What is at stake is the confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral de facto declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas. If the blockade were to be broken, Israel’s de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves would be jeopardy. (See Michel Chossudovsky,War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields, Global Research, January 8, 2009. See also Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)

Source

Eyewitness Accounts
Israelis threw 4 injured into the sea ‘hoping they would drown, so the bullet holes couldn’t be discovered….this is standard Zionist practice…’ And they shot the man waving the white flag.

From Elizabeth Allen
June 6, 2010

Pro-Palestinian protesters simulate the funeral of an activist in a demonstration against Israel’s attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla in Barcelona.

Activist Idris Simsek, who was on board one of the six ships of the Freedom Flotilla during the Israeli attack, claims that four wounded activists were thrown into the sea.

The Israeli troops also put immense psychological pressure on the activists of the Freedom Flotilla, the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman quoted Simsek as saying in an article published on Saturday.

Simsek said they expected some harassment from the Israeli forces but did not expect an armed attack.

He went on to say that he witnessed that the person who waived the white flag to surrender was shot by the Israeli troops.

Erol Demir, another activist who was on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, said there is film footage of the chaos and the carnage on the ship and stated that the footage will show the real face of the Israeli military to the entire world.

“They even shot those who surrendered. Many of our friends saw this. They told me that there were handcuffed people who were shot,” he added.

Hakan Albayrak, a journalist from the Turkish daily Yeni Safak who was also on the ship, said, “It was an outright massacre what Israel did out there. They attacked us in international waters We had no weapons. I think we lost more people.”

The Israeli military attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea early on May 31, killing nine Turkish citizens on board the six ships and injuring about 50 other people.

The fate of three other Freedom Flotilla activists is still unknown.

Israel also arrested nearly 700 activists from 42 countries on board the ships of the Freedom Flotilla, which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza in order to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian assistance to the long-suffering people of the territory. Source

Flotilla attack – Sarah Colborne gives eyewitness account

June 3 2010

http://www.counterfire.org

Sarah Colborne was on the boat attacked by Israeli commandos.
Full account from today’s press conference organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Captured and detained by Israel, an American tells his story

After two days in an Israeli jail, 64-year-old Paul Larudee speaks out

Sixty-four-year-old Paul Larudee, an American citizen and longtime pro-Palestinian activist, was on board one of the ships carrying humanitarian relief to Gaza that was raided by the Israeli navy on Monday. He dove into the Mediterranean Sea, only to be captured and held in an Israeli prison for two days.

This was not Larudee’s first brush with Israeli authorities, but it was easily his most dramatic. He spoke with Salon about the raid and his captivity this afternoon from Greece, where he arrived after being released by Israel.

At around 4 a.m. on Monday, Larudee’s ship was boarded by as many as 500 Israeli soldiers. After the ship’s captain called an alert, Larudee immediately walked out onto the deck and found that Israeli soldiers had broken the windows of the wheelhouse (the area where the captain controls the ship) in an attempt to take command of the vessel. As Larudee and several others tried to defend the wheelhouse, Israeli soldiers tased him twice so that he would back away from the area. He said he offered no resistance and just let his body go limp.

“I have never struck anyone in more than 20 years,” he said. “I was beaten. There is black and blue all over my body. They inflicted pain on me on a frequent basis because I did not recognize their authority.”

Everyone on all of the ships were completely unarmed, he said. However, on the Turkish ship — where the civilian fatalities occurred — some passengers clashed with the soldiers and tried to beat them up as they descended on the ship. (Larudee was on a different vessel.) “But that is akin to what the passengers on the hijacked 9/11 did to hijackers who had taken the aircraft,” he said. “In other words, they resisted someone who was invading their ship.”

After some time, Larudee decided to jump off the ship and to try to swim away from the Israeli forces.

“I knew it would be a way to slow down what they were doing,” he said. “It caused the ship to stop for an hour or possibly longer and it kept another ship occupied for several hours actually.”

He hoped this would create a diversion that would allow another ship to make its way to Gaza with the humanitarian aid. “It was worth doing that, but I paid a price for it.”

When the Israeli forces picked him up, Larudee said, he was severely beaten and tied to a mast at the stern of their ship. His legs and hands were bound as he was subjected to the hot sun in wet soaking clothes for four hours. He said his body almost went into shock from the extreme hot and cold conditions.

The soldiers refused to release him unless he told them his name. He repeatedly refused, but said he would cooperate only if they released him from the mast. They finally agreed and took him below deck. “For the remainder of the trip to the port, we got along fine,” he said.

When on land, Larudee was taken to the processing area, but refused to cooperate with authorities, who wanted him to say that he entered the country illegally. “This happened at 18 miles at sea, which is well beyond their own territorial waters, or anyone’s territorial waters,” he said. “We were in international waters. We weren’t violating anyone’s sovereignty or breaking any rules that we knew of, even by their standards.”

More beating ensued. Larudee, who again let his body go limp, said he was carried by nylon restraints, which were placed on his arms and legs. They cut into his skin, causing more contusions and deep pain. He was carried into an ambulance and taken to a hospital, but wasn’t treated. He said he believes he was taken there because the Israeli soldiers didn’t want the media to see his black eye, pronated joints, bruised jaw and body contusions.

Then, he was transported to the hospital ward of a prison, and eventually into an isolated cell. He was forbidden to speak with other prisoners, denied an attorney, a phone call, and access to television, radio, paper, pencils — anything else that would connect him to the outside world. A diabetic, Larudee was eventually granted a request to be moved to a cell with windows and some air circulation.

He spent a total of two days in the prison, and on the second day, was granted a 10-minute meeting with a representative from the U.S. embassy. Before the meeting, he was given a long-sleeve shirt to wear, but refused to put it on.

On the third day, the captain of Larudee’s boat, a Greek national who was sharing the same prison cell, met with the representative from his embassy. The Greek embassy official helped arrange for Laurudee to leave Israel for Greece. After arriving at the airport for his flight, Larudee was told that Israeli authorities wouldn’t permit him to go directly to Athens. Instead, they insisted that he fly first to Istanbul, then sign a release. Larudee refused to cooperate and was once again subjected to a beating by Israeli soldiers.

“But this time they did it in front of 30 to 40 other prisoners, who had seen similar things,” he said. “They went nuts.”

An all-out brawl began and some prisoners were badly beaten, Larudee said.

Those who had arranged for Larudee’s transport to Greece eventually intervened and negotiated with airport officials. Larudee was finally allowed to leave Israel. He’s now in Greece, where he says he’s staying with friends who are taking care of him. He is scheduled to fly home to the states on June 11.

“A lot of Americans are looking at Israel through rose-colored glasses,” he said. “Israel is not a demon, but it is not being held accountable for its actions, and when you do that, it allows bad things, very bad things, to happen.” Source

The Flotilla was in International waters. Israel had absolutely no legal right to stop or board the ship. As noted in the link below.

Israel attacks Gaza Flotilla in International Waters

Sweden ports to block Israel ships, goods in response to Gaza flotilla takeover

Earlier, Swedish dockworkers will launch a week long blockade of Israeli ships and goods arriving in the Nordic nation to protest Monday’s attack on a Gaza-destined aid flotilla.

Swedish Port Workers Union spokesman Peter Annerback says workers will refuse to handle Israeli goods and ships during the June 15-24 blockade. The union has some 1,500 members and supports Ship to Gaza, which took part in the flotilla.
It says the reason for the blockade is “the unprecedented criminal attack on the peaceful ship convoy.”

It was unclear Saturday how much the blockade would affect trade between the two countries since the union still needs to identify cargos with Israeli origin.
“The sole of the shoe is dirty and holding it up that to a person or a place is an insult,” John Minto, protest leader of the Global Peace and Justice organization, told reporters.

Source

Israeli commando ‘to get valor medal’

June 6 2010
An Israeli commando who shot dead several activists in a recent attack on a Gaza-bound international aid convoy may receive a medal of valor, a report says.

The Times Online reported on Saturday that the nominated Israeli soldier single-handedly killed six campaigners on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara — one of the six ships of the Freedom Flotilla.

The convoy was carrying hundreds of activists and thousands of tons of supplies for the people of Gaza, who have been under siege for three years.

The flotilla came under attack on Monday by Israeli commandos, leaving at least nine activists dead and more than 40 others injured.

In an interview with Israeli media, the soldier — identified for security reasons only as Staff Sergeant S — said the shooting had started within minutes after he and his comrades were set upon by a “mob of mercenaries.”

Israeli forces claim that pro-Palestinian activists on board the ships started the violence, while all activists say that Israelis began shooting from their boats surrounding the ship and a helicopter hovering above.

Granting the award to the commando is expected to worsen the already shaky relations between Turkey and Israel as Ankara has called on Tel Aviv to make an apology over the deadly assault.

Source

Then Israel Hijacked the Rachel Corrie, yet another act of Piracy on the High Seas

Gaza-bound ship Rachel Corrie enters Israeli port

Army says peaceful takeover takes place after Free Gaza ship reportedly ignored IDF pleas to change course.

Shortly after 5 A.M. Israel time on Saturday morning, Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza movement that sent the 1,200-ton Rachel Corrie said the vessel was 35 miles from Gaza’s shores.  Source
If a ship is over 12 Nautical miles off shore it is illegal to for Israel to  stop, board or seize the ship, let alone kidnap the passengers, take them to jail and deport them. Explanation at link below.

As will the first Flotilla Israel has broken the International “Law of the Sea”.

Israel attacks Gaza Flotilla in International Waters

How Israel planned the Flotilla attack
Jewish anti-siege activists prep for July voyage

Bethlehem – Ma’an – In a harbor in the Mediterranean a small vessel is waiting for a special mission.

She will be sailing to Gaza during the second half of July. In order to avoid sabotage, the exact date and name of the port of departure will be announced only shortly before her launch.

“Our purpose is to call an end to the siege of Gaza, to this illegal collective punishment of the whole civilian population. Our boat is small, so our donations can only be symbolic: we are taking school bags, filled with donations from German school children, musical instruments and art materials“, says Kate Leiterer, one of the organizers.

“For the medical services we are taking essential medicines and small medical equipment, and for the fishermen we are taking nets and tackle. We are liaising with the medical, educational and mental health services in Gaza,” Leiterer said.

”In attacking the Freedom Flotilla, Israel has once again demonstrated to the world a heinous brutality. But I know that there are very many Israelis who compassionately and bravely campaign for a just peace. With broadcasting journalists from mainstream television programmes accompanying our boat, Israel will have a great chance to show the world that there is another way, a way of courage rather than fear, a way of hope rather than hate’,’ says Edith Lutz, an organizer and passenger on what is being called the “Jewish boat.”

”Jüdische Stimme,” or Jewish Voice for Peace, along with European Jews for a Just Peace in the Near East, and Jews for Justice For Palestinians (UK) are “sending a call to the leaders of the world: Help Israel find her way back to reason, to a sense of humanity and a life without fear.”

In a statement, the group said that “Jewish Voice expects the political leaders of Israel and the world to guarantee a safe passage for the small vessel to Gaza, thus helping to form a bridge towards peace.”  Source

Shocking Testimonials From The Mavi Marmara Survivors. And One Israeli Fembot

June 11, 2010

LAUREN BOOTH/GILAD.CO.UK—One of the most striking trends following the flotilla attack has been how quickly Israeli hasbara is being exposed by internet journalists. The doctored IOF audio clips, where amateurs with mock Arab accents hiss ‘Go back to Aushwitz’ to Israeli naval officers. Well they didn’t take long to pull apart did they? Then there are the (so-pathetic-they’re-almost-funny claims the flotilla was linked to Al Quaeda. I laughed out loud to read in an Israeli paper that humanitarian activist (and former US marine) Ken O’Keefe was going to Gaza to; ‘train a commando unit in Hamas.’ I know Ken fairly well. Quite frankly I’m not sure who should be more insulted by this stupidity him or Hamas? Either way flinging the words ‘Hamas’ ‘Jihadists’ and ‘Israel’s security’ around is no longer having the same shock and awe effect on journalists or the public at large.

The internet now shapes the world’s story, not the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, like a soccer star caught cheating on his wife. Instead of saying ‘ I messed up big time, forgive me’ Israeli government sources and other shysters are screaming; ‘it’s not fair to watch us all the time, that’s mean!’ and ‘this is our business, leave us alone!’ Bad luck for them that as it stands, more of the IDF’s minging dirty washing, is being aired in public than ever before; via facebook and twitter. The Zionists sobs of ‘no faiirrrr!’ are sounding ever more bizarre. But more about the Isra-bots later on.

Israeli Intelligence (some mistake surely?) have been busy since the massacre. Erasing the memory sticks and hard disks of what my premiliminary research estimates to be some 800 video cameras, around 1200 mobiles and 600 lap tops. All items, looted from the passengers of the Freedom Flotilla, whilst they kneeled, handcuffed and in stress positions, on the hot deck of the Mavi Marmara for up to 12 hours after the attack. Before the bots cry ‘why so much money on board, why so many cameraaas!’ Let me explain, the good individuals on board had been raising money for months in the local communities around the world to take useful gifts tot eh people, schools and children of the besieged Gaza Strip. Besides which -the cameras were the only ‘weapons’ those on board had with which to arm themselves in the event of an attack at sea.

Now, evidence is emerging, that having been forced (by Turkish hard line diplomacy) to release all of the kidnapped passengers sooner than it would have liked; Israel is (as usual) taking revenge on the Palestinian relatives of activists onboard. Those who seek to non violently oppose Zionist policies of Apartheid violence are having loved ones interrogated by the Shabak as you read this for merely sailing with the Freedom Flotilla. I am not at liberty to say much more for fear of even further reprisals on innocent people. But as you should by now be aware, the Israeli machine specialises in collective punishment. This week a spokesman in the US said live on air that ‘Children in Gaza were under siege because their parents voted Hamas.’ Too much to say on that, so I’ll leave it hanging for you to take in

Last night in London, as in so many cities this week, Freedom flotilla passengers addressed a packed open meeting. At the Conway Hall in Central London half a dozen British survivors, looked in turns spaced out and hardened by their experience, eleven days ago (is that all it is? How the world turns!).

Jamal El Shayyal, is the Al Jazeera reporter who kept broadcasting as gun shots rang out behind him on the upper decks of the Mavi Marmara. I honestly thought I had heard, read and seen the worst about the Israeli attack on the fleet’s passengers. I hadn’t. Believe me, nor have you. Those three minutes clips, miraculously broadcast live or smuggled out beneath tongues, reveal the merest inkling of the horrors these brave people witnessed. And suffered.

El Shayyal, told an utterly silent audience he ‘had been invited by IHH to film every inch of the ship.’ So he did. From the bowels of the hull to the uppermost decks he filmed.

‘I checked and filmed’ he said ‘there was not 1 weapon onboard. Not one gun. no lethal artillery. The most lethal thing on the ship was fruit and vegetables.’

When the Israeli commandos attack began Jamal was wearing his pyjamas under a life jacket as were so many of the allegedly ‘prepared terrorists on board.’ Helicopters caused a near hurricane on the decks, all satellite phones were jammed (deliberately to stop SOS calls to the rest of the world). And, so the IDF hoped, any factual reports of what was about to occur.

At this point, just after four thirty am, Jamal saw a Turkish passenger shot in the top of his head. He spoke slowly and clearly to make sure he was understood by us all in the hall.

‘No Soldier was on the ship at this time’.

Quickly another passenger removed a white t-shirt from a bag and used it as a white flat of surrender. When gun shots rang out, greater numbers fell. It was clear calls for mercy were to be ignored. That a shoot to kill policy was in place.

An Israeli member of the Knesset and Lubna (an activist who also speaks Hebrew) took turns making announcements over the tannoy in English and then Hebrew. Announcements made atleast 8 times;

‘We have critically injured people here, please can you come and get them. We are NOT armed. We SURRENDER!’

Soon the tannoy connection was cut off.

Sarah Colborne of the PSC and another passenger negotiated with soldiers for the evacuation of some atleast of the mounting injured. Many of the bleeding would not go with the Israeli’s. Fearing they would be less safe getting ‘treatment’ from the troops, than below decks being operated on without anaesthetic.

‘The Israelis were asked for a stretcher’ continued Jamal ‘for a man with severe internal bleeding to be moved. Use a sleeping bag we were told.’ The man was moved in agony on a blanket no doubt increasing his injuries. And his immense pain. Did he survive? We’ll never know.

As the shooting gave way to the enforced imprisonment of the passengers, or, let’s give it its right name – kidnapping, Jamal was pushed to the floor, cuffed and beaten. His posessions taken from him. It was morning on a bright, sunny, summer’s day by now. Hundreds of shocked men were taken on deck, hands bound behind their backs. Three, then four hours passed. Pleas were made to use the toilet. No water was given, they were kicked, spat at and punched by soldiers who passed by every few minutes. Eventually Jamal pursuaded one soldier to let him go to the toilet, ‘with my hands still bound behind my back.’ One man in his eighties trying to get back to his family in Gaza, was jeered by soldiers, in his discomfort. After many hours, he suffered the indignity of urinating on himself, in front of both friends and fiends.

At some point Jamal was taken back downstairs. The area had been thoroughly ransacked.

‘There was no respect for human rights or dignity. Holy books of all faiths had been thrown about, possessions strewn everywhere”.

He remembers one quietly spoken Muslim brother asking soldiers gently several times for his cuffs to be loosened, just slightly. The third time he asked one of them tightened them so much that ‘he gave a scream of agony that made us all feel sick to our stomachs.’

In the afternoon the ship was forced into Ashdod port. Pushed ashore by armed guards Jamal was greeted with the words; ‘Welcome to Israel. Are you enjoying your time here?’

The Al Jazeera journalist wanted us all to understand something very clearly. That the civilian passengers were not ‘detained’ nor ‘arrested.’ They were plainly and in every legal definition of the word ‘Kidnapped, abducted.’

In Beersheva prison, he was placed in a cell, with a leader from the Turkish human rights group, IHH. They had no food for 24 hours, just a few sips of water. They had no idea if the world knew where they were – or what had happened. In other parts of the prison, consular reps from Greece, France, Spain and Macedonia could be heard shouting at the Israeli captors demanding the release of their compatriots. Yelling that rights were not being respected, yelling for food, water, access to legal representation. From the British consul.

Nothing.

Finally when every other consul had visited the abducted civilians, a British rep turned up. Jamal described the obsequious nature of the visit in termas that make one cringe. Bowing and scraping to the Israelis, the British diplomat didn’t even push for the right to see the victims in a private area. A legal imperative for all detainees during such visits. He didn’t demand water, or food, or a release time for those he was supposedly representing. Under the gaze of Israeli soldiers he asked just two questions ; ‘what is your name and what is your home number in the UK.’ Then our citizens were left. Wondering about their fate and that of their comrades; hungry, afraid, shocked, alone.

When the Israeli’s knew the game was up, that the world had indeed seen clips of their murderous attack, the Turkish abductees were given the chance to leave quickly, in an hour.

Did they go? No. They refused point blank to leave ‘before every other nationality has left before us.’ We salute them.

Jamal, Osama, Alexandra, Sarah, Kevin, and four hundred other internationals were released ONLY because of Turkish support for them. Not because the international community stepped in. Not because of action by the UN or (God forbid), the UK government. Because of the Turkey government.

In all his time as a prisoner, some forty hours plus, Jamal, like all the other Brits, had no legal visit, no phone call home and no proper British representation.

Finally at Ben Gurion airport being deported from a place he never wanted to enter in the first place. Jamal was given a piece of paper with a photo of himself on it and Hebrew writing.

His interrogator smirked at him and led him towards the plane ‘Congratulations’ the man said. ‘This is your new passport.’

‘I want my old passport!’ Said Jamal.

‘Sue me!’ Came the reply.

There was more much more from the survivors, which was videotaped and I will post as soon as it comes online. But let’s get back to the Zio-bots now. For alongside Press TV cameras and PSC workers filming the testimonies, there was the compulsory, sulky faced Zionist, shooting footage of the event for some organization opposed to justice, and free speech. Curiously, as the survivors described their horrors in depth, this woman’s camera was aimed NOT at the stage. But at my Press TV colleagues.

I went outside for a cigarette and there she was again. Instantly recognisable as a tight lipped Proto Zionist. She asked if I was with Press TV and would I speak to her for “Israeli TV?” Clearly she was not from any broadcaster – as no valid news channel accepts shaky, amateur hand held footage of the sort she was producing. Curious about her real intentions, I said ‘with pleasure.’

‘So do you think Press TV has done enough to give the Israeli side of events concerning the flotilla?’

Did I pause? It felt like a must have, just to have the time to process that after an hour of harrowing testimony about a massacre, this woman, had heard and felt – nothing.

‘The BBC has given Mark Regev enough space for your cause don’t you think..” I replied

‘Yes but don’t you think Press TV ought to….’ and then it happened. The white rage. I heard children crying in Gaza, saw fishermen being shot along the coast, phosphorous plummeting onto schools and UNWRA food stores. I saw the massacre on the Freedom Fleet, the torture, the needless, avoidable death..

‘Go fuck yourself’ I heard myself saying. And to make sure I couldn’t be misquoted I added.

‘Just fuck off.’ Source

Added July 13 2019

Gaza Flotilla: Lawyers from 60 Countries to Sue Israel

US-COLOMBIA: Activists Target “World of Coca-Cola”

By Matthew Cardinale
November 24 2009

ATLANTA, Georgia,

Activists from the U.S. and Colombia are targeting the World of Coca-Cola museum, located near its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, accusing the company of “union busting”, paying its workers “poverty wages”, and engaging in environmentally destructive practices.

“We’re an unofficial coalition with the India Resource Center, focusing on Coca-Cola overusing waters in drought areas. We’re supporting Corporate Accountability International, that have been trying to stop the use of bottled water over tap water,” Lew Friedman, of Killer Coke, told IPS.

“We’re working on behalf of Sinaltrainal, the food workers in Colombia. They had eight union leaders murdered. We’ve been augmenting their legal suit,” Friedman said.

“There’s plenty of evidence that shows the plant managers were very cozy with the paramilitaries,” he added.

Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola was filed in 2001 by the United Steelworkers of America and the International Labor Rights Fund on behalf of the Colombian trade union Sinaltrainal, several of its members, and the estate of Isidro Gil, one of its officers who was murdered.

Coca-Cola bottlers “contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilize extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders”, the lawsuit states.

In addition, Killer Coke claims that many of the Colombian paramilitary troops were trained at the controversial formerly-named School of the Americas, now called the U.S. Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Economic Cooperation, in Fort Benning, Georgia.

In 2003, the U.S. District Court removed Coca-Cola as a defendant in the case because the murders took place in Colombia, not in the U.S. However, two Coca-Cola bottlers remained as defendants in the case. In 2006, the judge dismissed the remaining claims.

When IPS asked Coca-Cola about Killer Coke’s demonstration in Atlanta last week, the company replied in an email statement that it “was based on an uninformed and inaccurate portrayal of The Coca-Cola Company and independent Coca-Cola bottlers in Colombia and based on allegations that are over ten years old”.

“The unfounded allegations have been reviewed over the years by multiple courts in Colombia and most recently in the United States, as well as by the International Labor Organization, and outside law firms – all concluding that the Coca-Cola bottler employees in Colombia enjoy extensive, normal relations with multiple unions and are provided with safe working conditions there,” Coca-Cola said.

While much of Killer Coke’s focus seemed to be on the Colombian trade union issue, activists said other issues involved the alleged use of child labour in other countries and questions about the healthiness of Coca-Cola products in general.

“There are issues of health, the use of high fructose corn syrup,” Friedman said.

As part of their campaign, Killer Coke has been successful at getting over 50 U.S. colleges and universities to stop selling Coke, and at getting the Service Employee Industrial Union (SEIU) and teachers’ unions to stop carrying Coke in their offices.

Killer Coke decided to target Coca-Cola headquarters on its own turf, in Atlanta, in part by driving a mobile billboard around town that read, “Don’t Drink Killer Coke Zero: Zero Ethics, Zero Justice, Zero Health.” This is a pun on one of the company’s products, Coke Zero, which is a near-zero calorie beverage.

“The World of Coke is basically one large advertisement for Coca-Cola. It’s the centre of Coca-Cola, it’s a mile away from their headquarters, it’s basically their public image that’s there,” said Ian Hoffmann, a young activist from Minnesota.

“We’ve got people coming forward and saying it’s an anti-union company. Coca-Cola usually says ‘we’re an Atlanta-based company. What happens in Colombia is out of our control, and more importantly, not our responsibility’, even though they [the bottling plants] are bottling Coca-Cola products and helping the company with huge profits,” Hoffmann said.

“We want some accountability. From my end, I’d like them to acknowledge what’s going on there, explaining to us why after the union leader gets shot dead, that the next day no one signs a new contract with Sinaltrainal. How do they stand by that? How do you defend that?” Hoffmann said.

“If these are people that are working, bottling Coca-Cola products, how is it okay for this company to stand by and not take some kind of action?” Hoffmann said. “How could this be happening at Coca-Cola with management turning a blind eye?”

Hoffmann acknowledged it is difficult going up against a multinational corporation like Coca-Cola. “It’s usually difficult because of the brand name. They have forced their way into every American fridge. The money they spend to get their name out and marketing to children. It’s a Coke culture, you know, starting out with those ads with Santa Claus.”

At a protest last week, activists chanted slogans and played a recording of a contemporary folk song called, “Coke is the Drink of the Death Squads”.

They came from all over the U.S., including states like Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota, as well as Washington, DC. Groups like Witness for Peace and School of the Americas Watch were also represented.

Martha Giraldo, 31, of Colombia, charged Coca-Cola’s bottling plants with “using temp [temporary] workers on contracts three months or less long, and they don’t pay a just wage, exterminating labour leaders, violating our Constitutional right to be unionised. In Colombia, we’re in a human rights crisis.”

Giraldo and another speaker spoke to the mostly English-speaking audience through a translator.

“People are marginalised in large cities of our country. We’re all suffering a humanitarian crisis. It’s not true what [Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton says when she says in Colombia we’re safe and live in peace. It’s only for some, large landowners and the paramilitary; the rest are marginalised for denouncing it. We are being accused of being guerrilla supporters,” Giraldo said.

“In Colombia there are four million internally displaced people, who’ve been driven off their land because of terror campaigns of the paramilitary,” Giraldo said. “In addition to fumigating coca crops and food crops and water sources we use to drink, approximately 30,000 people disappeared in Colombia. We don’t know where they are. It’s been years since they disappeared.”

“We’re here in front of one of the symbols of capitalism. This company represents one of the perverse ways of accumulating capital. We’re here to demonstrate on behalf of our dead brothers,” said Gerardo Caja Marca in a speech at the rally.

“They systematically violate human rights in Colombia. All workers have the right and obligation to defend their rights. Simply exercising those rights has cost the lives of workers in Colombia,” Caja Marca said.

“Lastly we came here to demand justice. These are the men of war. These are the ones who put seven US military bases in Colombia. These are the ones who create paramilitaries. We accuse Coca-Cola of financing assassins. We want truth and reparations,” Caja Marca said.

Source

List of  union leaders at Coca-Cola’s Colombian bottling plants who have been murdered. Hundreds of other Coke workers have been tortured, kidnapped and/or illegally detained by violent paramilitaries, often working closely with plant managements.

Source of information here.

Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world to be a union activist. According to the Solidarity Center of the AFL-CIO, roughly 4,000 Colombian trade unionists have been murdered in the past 20 years, more than 2,000 of them since 1991. The ITUC reports that despite the current government’s strong emphasis on security and a fall in the murder of trade unionists over the last few years, 2008 saw a disturbing 25% rise in cases of anti-union violence due to increased paramilitary activity. A total of 49 trade unionists were assassinated in 2008 and 2009 has seen a similar labor homicide rate. Despite continued violence, the Bush Administration negotiated a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia that has yet to be ratified by Congress.

U.S. corporations such as Coca-Cola, Chiquita, Dole, Nestle and the Drummond mining company have been complicit in such egregious union rights violations.  The International Rights Advocates (comprised of ILRF’s former lawyers now part of Conrad and Scherer law firm) have brought a number of lawsuits against these companies. The lawsuits charge that companies’ practices of hiring right-wing paramilitary groups to kill and intimidate union leaders is a violation of the Alien Torts Claims Act, a law meant to hold U.S. corporations accountable for human rights violations abroad. View the cases here.

Click here to tell the Justice Department to investigate Dole’s links to union murders in Colombia!

Workers are also intimidated through the use of death threats, attacks, disappearances, black lists, arrests, dismissals for organizing and widespread contract labor arrangements which limit collective bargaining rights. Only 1.2% of workers in Colombia are covered by a collective bargaining agreement and the rate has been declining over the years as workers see the danger in organizing. Paramilitary groups such as the AUC (United Self Defense Forces of Colombia), which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, are responsible for the majority of the violence targeting trade unions. There is also a pervasive culture of impunity for crimes targeting unions. The ITUC estimates that over 99 percent of the cases were unpunished and/or not investigated and not a single person/organization to order a labor homicide has ever been convicted.

Many corporations such as Coca-Cola have also used more subtle methods to undermine unions by overwhelming forcing workers into contract labor schemes through employment agencies and labor “cooperatives”. According to a 2008 report of the International Labor Organization, at a Bogota Coca-Cola bottling plant “outsourcing involves 81 percent of the workers.” Such overuse of subcontracting has severely undermined workers’ rights to equal pay, social benefits and the right to organize. A new law passed in July 2008 on workers’ cooperatives has not resolved the situation, in the view of the ILO.

Drummond Coal company has also been notoriously unresponsive to workers concerns about health and safety and bargaining rights. 3 workers employed by partially owned Drummond contractors died in 2009. 4000 workers went on strike in 2009 to protest the company’s refusal to negotiate a CBA and the poor and precarious working conditions pervasive in Drummond owned mines.

According to the ITUC, labor law and policy still exclude more than two thirds of workers from social and worker protection measures, by denying basic workers’ rights to over 12 million people. The laws and practices of the Colombian State do not favor the creation of stable, permanent jobs, leaving nearly 70% of workers in a precarious employment situations. Source

Related Articles

RIGHTS-COLOMBIA: Less Torture, More Impunity

RIGHTS: Harsh Language for Colombia at UN Review

DEVELOPMENT-INDIA: Farmers Vs Coca-Cola in Water Wars

Related Sites

Corporate Accountability International
International Labor Rights Fund

There are also Boycotts called against Coca Cola, as they support Israel as well.

Seems they are not well liked.

Might I suggest a world wide boycott of of Coca Cola.

Take away their money,  take away their power until they bend to the will of people not profit.

White House Protesters Throw Shoes at Bush Effigy

White House Protesters Throw Shoes at Bush Effigy
December 17 2008

Anti-war protesters throw shoes at a fellow demonstrator wearing a prison uniform and mask of President George W. Bush outside the White House in Washington, on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. (AP Photo)

By  Tom Fitzgerald

President Bush may have though he’d see the last of shoes being thrown his way, but the anti-war group Code Pink showed up at the White House Wednesday to stage a protest inspired by the President’s much-discussed shoe ducking incident.

The protesters took turns throwing shoes at a large puppet that was made up to look like President Bush. A shoe memorial was also laid out on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to represent the Iraqi civilians who have been killed during the war.

The group’s founder, Meda Benjamin, says she views the Iraqi reporter who threw his footwear at the president as a role model, saying “We feel that the Iraq reporter is now a hero throughout the world because he has expressed the sentiment of millions of people who are so angry at George Bush’s policies”

Critics of Code Pink say the event was more publicity stunt than constructive discussion of the problems facing a post-Bush administration.

Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, says Code Pink may have to change its style once Barack Obama inherits both the White House and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying “There is a mainstream left which respectfully discusses what’s happened in Iraq and then there is Code Pink – no where near respectful – and their actions are out of the mainstream.”

The U.S. Secret Service stood by during the protests; however there were no conflicts with authorities and no arrests were made.

Source

Berkeley Code Pink activists support Iraq shoe-throwing reporter

December 17 2008

Code Pink members and supporters hold a “Farewell Kiss, Shoe-in” outside the Marine Recuitment…
Anti-war activists from the group Code Pink gathered at a Marine recruiting station in Berkeley this morning to show solidarity with an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush on Sunday.

Members of the group and others marched around the recruiting station holding shoes in the air to show support for Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who hurled two shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

In many Arab countries, showing the sole of one’s shoes, much less throwing shoes at another person, is considered extremely disrespectful.

Organizers said their demonstration was to show support for the Iraqi people who have been killed, tortured or maimed and U.S. soldiers who have died since the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.

The Code Pink protest didn’t effect operations at the Shattuck Avenue recruiting station, said Marine Corps spokesman Sgt. Matt DeBoard.

“Code Pink has been protesting at Shattuck Square for almost a year now,” he said. ”They don’t bother us and we don’t bother them.”

He repeated the Marine’s contention that their recruiting and military operations help defend Americans right to freedom of speech. “Our position is that we do what we do so that everyone can express their opinion.”

For more than a year, women from CodePink picketed weekly in front of the U.S. Marine recruiting center at 64 Shattuck Square in downtown Berkeley. They say the Marines are not welcome in liberal, anti-war Berkeley and that the office should shut its doors.

In January, the Berkeley City Council got involved when it officially stated that the Marines were “uninvited and unwelcome intruders” and granted CodePink a permit waiver and a free parking space in front of the Marine center for the weekly protests. The move angered people across the country, who flooded City Hall with about 25,000 letters and e-mails.

Source

Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London

Dec 17: Peace Activists Take Shoes to White House in Solidarity with Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Journalist

Please also sign Petitions at below link.

Join the Calls to release Iraqi Journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaydi