Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Peace Activists

They're the ones with the iron bars and knives. Facing... paintball guns.

I think that any other armed force would have started shooting a long time before, and not stopped as soon.
While intercepting the Mavi Marmara ship, 7 soldiers were injured and 9 flotilla participants were killed. Upon boarding the ship the soldiers were attacked by the masses with knives, clubs, and live fire, and were forced to return fire. The other ships cooperated with security forces.
Two soldiers were injured from the gunfire and an additional soldier suffered wounds after being stabbed by a knife. In total, seven Naval soldiers were injured. Four of these soldiers are currently categorized as in moderate condition, one is lightly injured, and two have been released from the hospital. Nine of the flotilla participants who were on board the Mavi Marmara ship were killed.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, the naval soldiers who were equipped with paintball guns in order to avoid using live fire, were forced to change their original plans, using first their riot dispersal means, followed by live fire.
Such ridiculous claims would never be believed... unless they had the video. They do. Freeze Frame at 52 seconds.

It's a great way of marking indelibly those committing violence, for later prosecution. It's also scary, because they look a bit like real weapons. It also means that should casualties have their weapons stolen, little harm will be done - which is why the IDF marines who were shot only had pistol wounds, not wounds from high-calibre weapons.


And here's what they were facing. Axes. Firebombs. Gasmasks. Grenades. Knives. This was a propaganda battle, and both sides were well prepared for that.


More that doesn't fit the MSM lede

The official IDF line though is consistent with the video feed:
One of the Naval Special Forces soldiers, who participated in the interception of the Mavi Marama ship and sustained a broken arm while under attack by the ship’s passengers, described the events. “Each soldier who descended was taken by three or four men and they simply exploded, beating him up. They lynched us. They had metal clubs, knives, slingshots, glass bottles…At one point there was also live fire.

“I was among the last to descend, and I saw that the group was dispersed, everyone in his own corner surrounded by 3 or 4 men, I saw a soldier on the floor with two men beating him. I peeled them off of him and they came at me and began beating me with the clubs. That’s how I broke my arm. At that moment I had no weapon in my hands, like everyone else who descended on the cables empty-handed. My paintball gun was behind me.

“They came and attacked me, I brought them down to the floor, I took a few steps back, I took out my paintball gun, they came at me, and I shot at their legs. One of the clubs destroyed my paint gun and I moved on to my pistol which was the only thing to hold against them. At this point my arm no longer functioned.”

“From the opening of the corridor, they were shooting at us the entire time with live fire”

The naval soldier described how the soldiers were shot at from the entrance to the ship’s corridor: “I saw two from my group lying flat on the ground. From the opening of the corridor they were shooting at them the entire time with live fire, bullets. We identified a gun barrel, and one of us shot at the guy holding it. Afterwards we entered and he wasn’t there. About 30 men, they simply came for war. We came to straighten things out, to speak to those who went downstairs, but each of us who descended was simply attacked.”

“There were some from my group that were thrown to the lower floor, and the passengers took their equipment. They jumped to the water as a last resort. We were told that if they didn’t listen, we should shoot at their legs with the paintball gun. 'The pistol is only for if you really feel your life is in danger, which shouldn’t happen. It would be extremely abnormal.' But in the end, that is what happened.”

“We came with the intention of stopping the ship and taking it to Ashdod, and we did not come with the weapons we usually have, we came for something entirely different.”


ideological-cuddle said...

Thanks for posting this. I was feeling particularly cynical and unbelieving watching the Israeli representative on the 7:30 Report last night -- the consistent use of words like "militants" and "rioters" to describe what the news had been calling "peace activists" seemed a little too Orwellian -- but the footage does seem pretty clear.

Zoe said...

So you think the *murder* of at least 10 people is an appropriate response to being hit with bars and chairs?

These ships were in international waters. Israel's actions were piracy, and preventing the ships from being boarded is entirely justified, and legal.

Furthermore, the Israeli blockade of Gaza is also illegal. Israel had no right to attempt to stop the ships.

Your attempts to justify the actions of the criminal, apartheid state of Israel disgust me.

Zoe said...

I suspect you'll take offence at the description of Israel as an apartheid state, so let me pre-empt your response.

I am not a mouthpiece for Islamic fascism. I am not uncritical of the Palestinians, and I most certainly do not support organisations such as Hamas or Hezbollah.

But these are not the only sources of opposition. There are plenty of reasoned, well-argued criticisms of Israel, some of which from Jewish people themselves.

For example, I strongly suggest you read "The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish/Arab Divide" by Susan Nathan, an Israeli Jew.

I would also suggest "The Question of Palestine" by Edward Said, or some of Noam Chomsky's works. However, I suspect you won't read these since you seem to have a rather blinkered approach to anything from the "left".

But, I challenge you to at least read the book by the Israeli woman.

Zoe said...

Going back to the illegal boarding of the ships for a moment, you might be interested to hear what other *conservative* bloggers are saying.

From Andrew Sullivan:

"A simple point. The violence by the activists is pretty abhorrent. These are not followers of Gandhi or MLK Jr. But the violence is not fatal to anyone and it is in response to a dawn commando raid by armed soldiers. They are engaging in self-defense. More to the point: they are civilians confronting one of the best militaries in the world. They killed no soldiers; their weapons were improvised; the death toll in the fight is now deemed to be up to 19 - all civilians.

It staggers me to read defenses of what the Israelis have done. They attacked a civilian flotilla in international waters breaking no law. When they met fierce if asymmetric resistance, they opened fire. And we are now being asked to regard the Israelis as the victims.


This is like a mini-Gaza all over again. The Israelis don't seem to grasp that Western militaries don't get to murder large numbers of civilians because they don't like them, or because they could, on a far tinier scale, hurt Israelis. And you sure don't have a right to kill them because they resist having their ship commandeered, in international waters. The Israelis seem to be making decisions as if they can get away with anything. It's time the US reminded them in ways they cannot mistake that they cannot."


Francis Turner said...

Strategically I think the Israelis did the right thing. The whole thing was clearly a publicity stunt by Hamas and its supporters (aided and abetted by a bunch of 'useful idiots') but had the ships docked Israel would not found it very hard to stop subsequent ships that would almost certainly have contained missiles and other weaponry.

Tactically I think they screwed up. Screw up #1 was to do this in international waters. They should have let the flotilla get into territorial waters. Screw up #2 was boarding the ships. I'd think that they could have simply disabled the engine/propellor and then towed the ships to Ashdod.

But then again on the gripping hand the tactical problem was always going to be that they were fighting a PR stunt and pretty much anything they did would be spun against them. They clearly knew that and hence sent boarders across who were - initially - armed with non-lethal weapons. In retrospect the 'peace activists' were clearly expecting this and fought back but then hindsight is always perfsct.

Lloyd Flack said...

Hmmm! We appear to have two Zoes here. The one who is commenting on this thread rather than posting it should make it a bit more clear which one is which.

Zoe Brain said...

(The Other) Zoe - have you actually been to Israel?

I have.

You know the guy in charge of the Israeli police station at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, charged with stopping the various Christian sects from attacking each other was a Circassian Muslim?

And that the road signs are trilingual - Hebrew, Arabic, English (sometimes just the first two)?

The Israelis are as incompetent at running an Apartheid state as they are at massacring civilians by using paintball guns.

Anonymous said...

Israel has carte blanc to do as it pleases.
Every Jew and half the Christians believe that they are gods chosen people. Also any disagreement with them is met with the charge of anti semitism.
With the USA deadly afraid of going against Israel due entirely to religious fears they pretty much own the world.
It is sickening the way things are going on. I do not care that people use terorism. The USA, and Israel both were secured as nations on the back of terorism.

As to this curent situation, Israel was WRONG. They should have at least waited until the boat entered Israel/Palitinian waters.

I can't believe we have allowed religion and belief devolve us.

Not too pleased.

Anonymous said...

I just remind people here that it was a aid convoy with medical, food and other useful goods to a country with over 70% people in poverty. No other country in the world attacks with such malice against people delivering aid. Israel are acting like they want to starve and kill everyone inside till they surrender.

Zoe said...

Zoe (Brain) - you didn't answer any of my questions.

The blockade of Gaza is illegal and the boarding of the ships was illegal. What the activists did on the ships is irrelevant, and in any case, perfectly legal. They were entitled to defend their ships from being boarded (in international waters).

I won't even bother to refute your laughable attempts to claim that Israel is not an apartheid state. Instead, I'll point you to some concrete examples of institutionalised racism:


There are plenty of Israeli Jews (yes, the ones who actually live in Israel, not just pop over for a visit) who acknowledge and condemn the atrocious treatment of Israeli Arabs (never mind the Arabs in the occupied territories who are treated far, far worse). For example, from the above link:

'Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert criticised in 2008 what he called "deliberate and insufferable" discrimination against Arabs at the hands of the Israeli establishment'


'Israeli High Court Justice (Ret.) Theodor Or chaired the Or Commission, which noted that discrimination against the country's Arab citizens had been documented in a large number of professional surveys and studies, had been confirmed in court judgments and government resolutions, and had also found expression in reports by the state comptroller and in other official documents'

Like I said, I challenge you to read the book by Susan Nathan - an Israeli Jew who lives among Israeli Arabs and who has documented the conditions in which they are forced to live and how they are treated.

Zoe said...

Oh, and I just can't let your last comment stand unchallenged:

"The Israelis are as incompetent at running an Apartheid state as they are at massacring civilians by using paintball guns."

That's right: they didn't use paintball guns, they used high-calibre assault rifles. At least nine civilians are now dead.

But then this is the same military that is prepared to use white phosphorus munitions in a densely populated urban area, in breach of international law. So what do another nine civilians matter?

Zoe Brain said...

Zoe - they boarded for inspection with paintball guns. They were attacked with knives and firearms. They responded (eventually) with pistols - that's all they were equipped with.

None of the goods carried on the vessels are in short supply in Gaza, in fact a million tons of them have been carried in since Jan last year.

"During the first quarter of 2010 alone, almost 100,000 tons of supplies have been provided, including: 48,000 tons of food products; approximately 550 of milk powder and baby food; 2,700 tons of rice; 40,000 tons of wheat; 185 tons of aggregates; 2,000 tons of clothing and footwear; 20 tons of iron; 25 tons of cement; and more than 1,000 tons of medicine and medical equipment.

In a typical week, 15,000 tons of supplies enter Gaza including truckloads of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fish, vegetables, milk powder, baby food, wheat and other essential goods."

That's 50kg per person per week.

As regards legality - see San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994
47. The following classes of enemy vessels are exempt from attack:
(c) vessels granted safe conduct by agreement between the belligerent parties including:
(ii) vessels engaged in humanitarian missions, including vessels carrying supplies indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, and vessels engaged in relief actions and rescue operations;

But also see
48. Vessels listed in paragraph 47 are exempt from attack only if they:

(a) are innocently employed in their normal role;
(b) submit to identification and inspection when required; and
(c) do not intentionally hamper the movement of combatants and obey orders to stop or move out of the way when required.

They certainly didn't submit to inspection.

As they were flying Turkish flags, the following applies:
67. Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they:

(a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture;

The claims that this act was illegal are only be people who don't know the law, or are lying to support a partisan cause.

Anonymous said...

Both sides produce too many children than they have resources to support. Let them kill each other, it will make the world a better place.


Imogen said...

Well, this is the last time I'm posting here. Your defense of this massacre of civilians defending themselves is nauseating.

I have been to Israel. I have relatives living in Israel (in Ashdod, no less). I have forgotten more than you'll ever know about the climate inside Israel. I AM A JEW.

I don't believe anything the IDF says. I have never heard them tell the truth about anything ever.

Gaza is the world's biggest concentration camp. Someone who defends the murder of people trying to help is not someone I wish to associate with in any way.

Good bye.

Cynthia Lee said...

I am surprised to see you have taken this side of the debate Zoe.

Zimbel said...

@Zoe Brain-

My familiarity with most naval law is negligible, but I'll note that the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994 appears, to a novice, to be a manual on International Law applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea.

Is this inaccurate, or would this action be covered under some armed conflict that Israel is undertaking that I'm unaware of? Or is the seizure of a ship considered its own "armed conflict"?

Zoe Brain said...

Imogen - I can't defend all the actions of the Israeli Govt, past or future. They have been more sinned against than sinning though.
And yes, I consider at least one former PM to be a (former)terrorist. I lost a relative in the King David Hotel.
Perhaps my views are coloured by the fact that I've worked with the IDF, and have been a "legitimate military target" when Hezbollah tried to kill me.

Zimbel - a state of war exists between Israel and Hamas. The fact that they still fire rockets designed purely to kill Israeli civilians may have something to do with that.

Zoe Brain said...

Cynthia - look at the videos again. Had the shoe been on the other foot, I would have been supporting the other side.

Cynthia Lee said...

I see a bunch of comandos taking a ship. I have seen paintball guns, they sell them in the local store,. They look like real guns. If you get shot with one it will hurt. Not only that the soldiers had hand guns and they resorted to there use.
If I am in international watters and comandos raid my ship I am fighting like a demon until the captain surenders or I am killed.
Yes they ussed wepons against soldiers. Soldiers are not a sacred crew of infalable people that must always be bowed to. And from what I have seen over the 20 odd years I have been paying attention Israel is a criminal state. I do not blame Hammas for there actions in the wars. I do not believe in innocent bystanders. No such thing as colateral damage. Every person killed on either side is one less potential breeder for the next generation. The Palestinians are lieraly looking to its women to breed as many children as they can because they believe that they can only win with outnumbering the enemy in the far future.
That tells me that the Palestinian people are desperate. Israel has kept these people on deadmans ground for genrations. Eventually something is going to snap and a military genious will arise in Palestine who can capitolise on the situation. Israel is practicaly gauerentying it, they are breeding the enemy into a more efficiant enemy.

If it were any other country than Israel the world would condem them.

Zimbel said...

@Zoe Brain - I'm not certain I agree with your legal analysis (I'm pretty certain I'd need to do more research to agree or disagree with you), but at least I understand the argument now. Thank you.

I think I agree with the official U.S.A. position. Israel needs an open, transparent investigation into this incident. If they did this legally and correctly, that's the best path to damage control. The original tapes would be a good place to start for evidence.

Zoe Brain said...

Cynthia - read the Hamas Charter. They don't just demand Israel, and the death of all Jews worldwide, they demand Sicily, Spain, half of France, the Balkans, parts of germany, all of India, parts of China... as a start.

Today, Israel and Tomorrow the World.

The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Muslim generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Muslim generations till Judgement Day?

This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Muslims have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Muslims consecrated these lands to Muslim generations till the Day of Judgement.

As former Jordanian Minister Sheik Ali Al-Faqir put it -
Sheikh Ali Al-Faqir: "We must declare that Palestine, from the River to the Sea, is an Islamic land, and that Spain – Andalusia – is also the land of Islam. Islamic lands that were occupied by the enemies will once again become Islamic. Furthermore, we will reach beyond these countries, which are lost at one point. We proclaim that we will conquer Rome, like Constantinople was conquered once, and as it will be conquered again."

Interviewer: "Allah willing."

Sheik Ali Al-Faqir: "We will rule the world, as has been said by the Prophet Muhammad

We've seen this before, have we not? A "Master Race" destined to rule the world?

Valerie said...

Seems like the flotilla reacted in a perfectly acceptable fashion to an act of piracy on the high seas, all things considered. Only difference between their actions and the actions of American victims of Somali pirates is not having the foresight to purchase a water canon.

Also, one can generally gauge the effective results of the level of force used by the number of persons injured and killed. Erasing harm is easy, creating harm where none occurred, only the rhetorical threat of it, is the province of radical feminists discussing transsexuality, not the IDF discussing relief ships in international waters defending themselves.

Zoe Brain said...

Israel has attempted to deliver humanitarian aid from an international flotilla to Gaza, but Hamas -- which controls the territory -- has refused to accept the cargo, the Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday.

Palestinian sources confirmed that trucks that arrived from Israel at the Rafah terminal at the Israel-Gaza border were barred from delivering the aid.

Valerie - they boarded to inspect, as is required by international law. They were attacked with knives, axes, and later, gunfire. Then they started shooting back.

Or maybe you think this video shows "Piracy" too?

Or this one?

The rules appear to be different for Israel alright - just not in the way you think.

Zoe Brain said...

The Official Palestinian Line is now that the Peace Activists weren't using metal bars to attack the boarding party. They were waving white flags instead.

But reports from on board the ship say the Israeli soldiers began firing first and that activists were waving white flags.

So don't believe your lying eyes. Pay no attention to the videos, like this one. Because if there was anything worthwhile on them, they'd be on TV, wouldn't they?

The only antidote to the lies is to show the actual footage. But even then, many won't change their views.

This is just exuberance.

Don't believe these photos either. For if that were true, I'm sure you would have been told.

Of course some believe that all the videos - including the live feeds and that from Al Jazzera - are all Zionist Fakes, and that hundrds of people were massacred, and their body parts taken to be transplanted in Jews. That too is now the official line.

Zoe said...

Zoe (Brain) - don't bother quoting treaties to support Israel's illegal boarding of the ships. This argument was discussed and refuted by Professor Diana Buttu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Buttu) on Lateline the other night (See: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2010/s2915577.htm). As a lawyer with expertise in this area, she knows a lot more about international law than you do. The boarding was illegal.

Your use of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs propaganda to support the illegal blockade is also particularly odious. I note with interest that in the same press release, the MFA also state: "There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza".

Why then has the blockade been condemned by the UN, countries such as the UK, and aid groups such as Amnesty International and Oxfam? Why then did the UN Special Rapporteur describe it as a crime against humanity in 2008? Why did the UN human rights chief describe it as a violation of the rules of war in 2009? Why did South African Judge Richard Goldstone (leading a UN fact finding mission in 2010) say: "Israeli acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed". His report recommended the matter to be referred to the International Criminal Court if the situation did not improve in the following six months.

Despite the propaganda, Israel has blockaded medical supplies and food, along with many other essential goods. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007%E2%80%932010_blockade_of_the_Gaza_Strip

Finally, I remain astounded that you think the murder of at least 9 people is an appropriate response by the soldiers. Let's see - Israeli deaths: 0. Civilians: 9. This is unbelievably disproportionate.

If Israel wanted to peacefully stop the boats (which would still have been illegal, but let's ignore that for a second), they could have fouled the propellers and towed the boats to shore. Instead they chose a course of action that they knew was likely to result in violence, and ultimately led to the deaths of 9 people.

Zoe Brain said...

According to Ms Buttu (former PLO legal spokesperson), Israel occupies Gaza, so there can be no blockade.

I'm sure this is news to Hamas, and that Operation Cast Lead must have been a mirage.

Note that a state of war does exist between Hamas and Israel. The blockade is also being enforced by Egypt - but because they're not Jews, the rules are different for them.

Anonymous said...

the IDF declared that there is a blockade imposed, the Marmara answered that it will continue to its destination - Gaza, the IDF announced clearly that it will board the ship. so far the IDF has fulfilled every aspect of international law required even in international waters because the Marmara made clear its intentions.
furthermore the passengers on the Marmara could have chosen to fulfill their "peaceful mission" by peacefully getting massacred, like the other five ships… oh wait that didn't happen.

Zoe said...

Zoe (Brain) - Diana Buttu's previous role as a negotiator for the PLO during the second Intifada is irrelevant. I assume you bring this up to try and discredit her. She is certainly passionate about the Palestinian people, but is no mouthpiece for radical Islam. George Bush described her as "a lovely lady who is a very well-educated person, went back to Palestine to try to serve what she hopes will be a country. I was impressed". George Bush could hardly be described as pro-Hamas. Seems like a pretty good character reference to me.

Contrary to what you believe, Israel does still occupy Gaza. Although it withdrew its soldiers in 2005, Israel continues to control Gaza's territorial waters, airspace and most importantly the free movement of its people. Israel controls Gaza's borders, and the movement of people and goods by air and sea. The UN continues to regard Gaza as an occupied territory.

As to Egypt's participation in the blockade (at Israel's request), I condemn that too.

Lloyd Flack said...


Zimbel said...

It seems that the topic has drifted from this incident over to Isreal's Gaza policy.

My opinion is that their policy on the Gaza strip is counter-productive. It does not contribute to peacebuilding; for that matter, the blockade in and of itself has negatively impacted development, which is often considered a significant aspect of peacebuilding. It has also had severe negative impacts on employment (which is a key indicator on if a peace will hold), most of its infrastructure - such as its railway line, many hospitals, electrical lines, water supply, and physical structures - are in bad shape. Their health is poor - both mortality and mental health.

See, for example, WHO's latest release on the Gaza strip (from June 1st, 2010):

The inability for medical staff to leave Gaza for training impacts greatly on the level of health care available for Gazans...All hospitals have been waiting for over 6 months to get spare parts to repair their main sterilizers...There are often shortages essential medicines, with 15%–20% of such drugs commonly out of stock.

or their report from last year:
12. Before the crisis 80% of the water supplied in the Gaza Strip did not meet WHO standards for
15. Humanitarian supplies are returning to about the same level as before the military operation;
otherwise the blockade is almost total, making repairs and recovery virtually impossible.
16. ...More than half the households are experiencing food insecurity, spending
about two thirds of their income on food (the prices of which are rising rapidly). UNRWA’s food
programme provides only about 60% of the daily calorie needs of the one million refugees.

Or, if you prefer the ICRC, here's their report (dated by about a year):
Over the last two years, the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have been caught up in an unending cycle of deprivation and despair as a result of the conflict, and particularly as a direct consequence of the closure of the crossing points.

...The ICRC has repeatedly pointed out that Israel’s right to address its legitimate security concerns must be balanced against the right of the population in Gaza to lead a normal and dignified life. Under international humanitarian law, Israel has the obligation to ensure that the population's basic needs in terms of food, shelter, water and medical supplies are met.

The ICRC once again appeals for a lifting of restrictions on the movement of people and goods as the first and most urgent measure to end Gaza's isolation and to allow its people to rebuild their lives.

Isreal needs a better strategy to handle its issues with violent entities in the Gaza strip. As it is, I think they're building a generation of enemies.

Zimbel said...

The Human Rights Council's report is out

It is one-sided; they had little or no access to Israeli evidence.

Even taking that into account, it doesn't look good. The most surprising thing to me were some of the things that allegedly occurred after they were in Israel.