Violence was used on all the Flotilla ships + afterwards too

In the aftermath of the Israeli raid on Freedom Flotilla that began before dawn on Monday, we were informed that the only one of the six ships on which there had been violence was the large Turkish-owned passenger ship Mavi Marmara (carrying at least 600 persons, including one baby, and almost the entire accompanying press corps).

The Israeli military apparatus controlled the whole process from the moment of the raid at sea until Tuesday afternoon, when the first small group of released Flotilla participants arrived home and began talking. More were released on Wednesday.

Once the Israeli government mobilized and ordered all detainees returned, it became clear how fast the country can move, when they really want to — in fact, they can turn on a dime.

By this morning, almost all of the 700 or so detainees have left Israel.

Until then, we were told there was violence on only one ship, the Mavi Marmara. “The remaining five ships docked at Ashdod as requested and have followed IDF instructions”, the Jerusalem Post reported late on Monday, here.

Now, from reports trickling out, we know that there was violence on all the ships, and during the entire processing process afterwards. Passengers (some, often targetted randomly) were beaten indiscriminately. What were initially called “electric prods”, now being referred to as “tasers”, were used abundantly — even on journalists trying to finish up their last reports on board the Mavi Marmara.

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia — whose photographer, Kate Geraghty, was “tasered” when Israeli commandos boarded the Challenger on Monday morning — has done a sidebar on the tasers, published today and entitled Victims get more than a stunning, in which the paper’s Health Editor writes: “TASER victims are incapacitated by pulses of electricity that trigger muscle spasms and such overwhelming pain they invariably fall over. And while the manufacturer, Taser International, portrays the gun-like devices as a gentler form of law enforcement – designed to block ”co-ordinated actions” while protecting vital organs – they have been associated with heart irregularities, miscarriage and eye damage.   Taser’s barbed electrodes, which shoot from the device at 55 metres per second and deliver up to 50,000 volts of electricity, have penetrated people’s brains, lungs and throats, and have been associated with sudden deaths. They do not have to make contact with the skin as the electrical jolt can penetrate thick clothing…

The article from the Sydney Morning Herald continues: “Most research into Tasers’ health consequences has been sponsored by its maker, leading doctors to complain there is little understanding of how they work or whether victims are suffering medical or psychological conditions or at risk of injury from suddenly falling. Because of the nature of the device, it would be ethically impossible to set up a legitimate medical trial to determine its precise effects, said Megan Robb, a Townsville emergency doctor, in a study she published last year to inform colleagues about Taser injuries they might encounter as police deployment increased. ”The Taser is not likely to be used on normal healthy resting adults where much of the [corporate] research has been performed’,’ Dr Robb wrote in the journal Emergency Medicine Australasia. People shot multiple times and those with low body weight were most at risk, said Dr Robb, because the barb was more likely to strike close to their heart … A key advantage, the Taser company says, is that unlike conventional stun-guns their product’s effects cannot be overridden by willpower, and it works regardless of the person’s size or mental condition. It concedes the device is ”not risk-free, but … when used properly, TASER technology is among the most effective use-of-force interventions available to law enforcement’.” This sidebar on TASER’s is posted here.

Here is a list of the six ships that the Israeli Navy intercepted at sea on Monday 31 May, according to the Free Gaza movement on 1 June here:
1. Mavi Marmara passenger ship – Flagged in Turkey
2. Gazza 1 cargo ship – Flagged in Turkey
3. Gazza 2 cargo ship – Flagged in Turkey
4. Sofia cargo ship – Flagged in Greece
5. Spendoni passenger – Flagged in Greece
6. Challenger 1 – Flagged in U.S.A.

The journalists on board these boats were also detained, and then apparently deported.

Reporters Without Borders said that “According to the latest information available to the press freedom organisation, at least 60 journalists were aboard. ‘We point out that the journalists were there to do their job, which was to cover what happened’, Reporters Without Borders said. ‘They should not be confused with the activists … We call on the Israeli authorities to free all the detained journalists and return their equipment, which was seized by the military’ … Reporters Without Borders has also learned that the Al Jazeera crew that was aboard the flotilla, including correspondent Abbas Nasser and cameraman Isaam Zaatar, was expelled yesterday. Reporters Without Borders is aware of 16 journalists being held at Be’er Scheva detention centre. They are Svetoslav Ivanov and Valentin Vassilev of Bulgaria’s BTV, Muna Shester of the Kuwait News Agency, Talat Hussain of Aaj TV, Paul McGeough and Kate Geraghty of the Sydney Morning Herald, Mario Damolin of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, David Segarra of teleSUR, Ayse Sarioglu of Taraf, Murat Palavar and Hakan Albayrak of Yeni Safak, Sümeyye Ertekin, Ümit Sönmez and Ersin Esen of TVNET and Ashwad Ismail and Samsul Kamal Abdul Latip of Astro Awani”.  This was posted here.

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel has just published a protest in which it “strongly condemns the use of photos and video material shot by foreign journalists, now being put out by the IDF spokesman’s office as ‘captured material’. The material and/or equipment that was confiscated from journalists covering the events on the ships, should be returned to the owners and their media organisations. The use of this material without permission from the relevant media organisations is a clear violation of journalistic ethics and unacceptable. In view of this we urge members to treat the material with appropriate caution. We call upon the authorities to immediately clarify the source of the material”.

In a report yesterday after some 126 Jordanians and other Arab and Muslim participants in the Freedom Flotilla were sent over the Allenby Bridge to Jordan, Haaretz reported that they spoke about bad conditions as well: “The activists arriving in Jordan said they had been treated poorly by Israel before being deported.  ‘The Israelis roughed up and humiliated all of us – women, men and children’, said Kuwaiti lawmaker Walid al-Tabtabai, who was on board one of the ships with other activists from Muslim countries … Algerian Izzeddine Zahrour said Israeli authorities deprived the activists of food, water, sleep and use of toilet facilities. ‘It was an ugly kidnapping and subsequently bad treatment in Israeli jail’, he said. ‘They handcuffed us, pushed us around and humiliated us’. Mauritanian Mohammed Gholam said Israel wanted the detained activists to sign documents saying that we entered Israel illegally. ‘We refused to sign anything and told our captors that we didn’t wish to go to Israel, but to Gaza and that their commandos kidnapped us from international waters’, he added … The [Israeli] Interior Ministry said 682 activists were ordered deported, and that 45 left on Tuesday, while others were jailed as they challenged the orders, or in hospital being treated for injuries. Israel gave the following breakdown of countries and the numbers of those activists ordered expelled, excluding the nine killed and the seriously wounded in Monday’s raid:
Australia 3; Azerbaijan 2; Italy 6; Indonesia 12; Ireland 9; Algeria 28; United States 11; Bulgaria 2; Bosnia 1; Bahrain 4; Belgium 5; Germany 11; South Africa 1; Holland 2; United Kingdom 31; Greece 38; Jordan 30; Kuwait 15; Lebanon 3; Mauritania 3; Malaysia 11; Egypt 3; Macedonia 3; Morocco 7; Norway 3; New Zealand 1; Syria 3; Serbia 1; Oman 1; Pakistan 3; Czech Republic 4; France 9; Kosovo 1; Canada 1; Sweden 11; Turkey 380; Yemen 4”. This was reported in Haaretz,  here.

A little earlier, The Guardian reported that “Six Greek activists who returned to Athens accused Israeli commandos of using electric shocks during the raid.  Dimitris Gielalis, who had been aboard the Sfendoni, told reporters: ‘Suddenly from everywhere we saw inflatables coming at us, and within seconds fully equipped commandos came up on the boat. They came up and used plastic bullets, we had beatings, we had electric shocks, any method we can think of, they used’.  Michalis Grigoropoulos, who was at the wheel of the Free Mediterranean, said: ‘We were in international waters. The Israelis acted like pirates, completely out of the normal way that they conduct nautical exercises, and seized our ship. They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads; they descended from helicopters and fired tear gas and bullets. There was absolutely nothing we could do … Those who tried to resist forming a human ring on the bridge were given electric shocks’.  Grigoropoulos, who insisted the ship was full of humanitarian aid bound for Gaza ‘and nothing more’, said that, once detained, the human rights activists were not allowed to contact a lawyer or the Greek embassy in Tel Aviv.  ‘They didn’t let us go to the toilet, eat or drink water and throughout they videoed us. They confiscated everything, mobile phones, laptops, cameras and personal effects. They only allowed us to keep our papers’ … Arriving at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport with her one-year-old baby, Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin said Israeli troops opened fire before boarding the Turkish-flagged ferry Mavi Marmara, which was the scene of the worst clashes and all the fatalities. Israeli officials have said that the use of armed force began when its boarding party was attacked.  ‘It was extremely bad and very tough clashes took place. The Mavi Marmara is filled with blood’, said Cetin, whose husband is the Mavi Marmara’s chief engineer.  She told reporters that she and her child hid in the bathroom of their cabin during the confrontation. ‘The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn’t stop these warnings turned into an attack’, she said. ‘There were sound and smoke bombs and later they used gas bombs. Following the bombings they started to come on board from helicopters’.  Cetin is among a handful of Turkish activists to be released; more than 300 remain in Israeli custody  … ‘I am one of the first passengers to be sent home, just because I have baby. When we arrived at the Israeli port of Ashdod we were met by the Israeli interior and foreign ministry officials and police; there were no soldiers. They asked me only a few questions. But they took everything – cameras, laptops, cellphones, personal belongings including our clothes’, she said”.  This was reported here.

The funerals for those Turkish participants who were killed on board the Freedom Flotilla will take place today in Istanbul.

UPDATE:  “Turkish forensic experts have confirmed that the nine activists killed during the Israeli raid on the Gaza aid flotilla were shot with guns. Eight were Turks and one a US national of Turkish origin, the Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday as funerals got under way in Istanbul”.  This is posted <a href=””>here </a>.

Israeli journalist and blogger Noam Sheizaf noted yesterday on his blog, The Promised Land, that “Incredible as it may seem, it’s been almost three days since the army raided the ship, and we know nothing on the attack itself, except for the fact that some of the men on the Mavi Marmara stormed the soldiers as they descended from the helicopter to the upper deck. We also have reason to believe that this attack was planned in advance, but that there were no firearms involved. In other words, we only know what Israel wanted us to know. At this point it is extremely important to say what we don’t know: We don’t know the names and nationality of the killed passengers. we don’t know for sure how many people were injured. We don’t know where they were killed, when, and how they died. we don’t know if and when people were given medical treatment. There were security cameras on deck, but Israel doesn’t show us what they filmed, except for the material which serves its purposes. The night vision clips released by the army end just before the shooting begins. We don’t know what happened before the civilians attacked the commandos. There were passengers claiming soldiers opened fire before they even boarded the ship, but we don’t know if that’s true. Most important, we don’t know anything about the battle itself – if it was a battle. It seems that it was a long one, since we have short recording, in which you can hear Israeli MK Hanin Zuabi calling for help and begging the soldiers in Hebrew and English to stop shooting (It’s the second clip on this page). At this time there were already passengers hurt, and one can assume that the attack on the soldiers ended. But the shooting went on. Some of this information could have been available had the IDF not confiscated all material from the Mavi Marmara. What’s even worse is that the army is now editing the films and releasing it in a way which suits its own narrative … The way Israel is withholding information is very troubling. If the army has nothing to hide, why not release the material? Naturally, Israel is also refusing to address the bigger questions, such as why the flotilla was attacked in international waters, and if so, whether the passengers actually had the right to resist the soldiers’ attempt to board their vessel. ‘The worse effect of this PR war is on the Israeli public, which now views the entire flotilla as a terrorist enterprise. One can see the effect of this nationalistic mood in the way the members of Knesset almost physically attacked MK Zuabi today (video here). In fact, the government’s campaign was so successful, many protested the release of the detained passengers, claiming the terrorists should be ‘brought to justice’.”   This was posted here.

The uproar in the Israeli Knesset yesterday when Haneen Zuabi went to the podium to speak after her experience on board the Flotilla’s Mavi Marmara is extraordinary, even by Israeli standards.   One other lady MK tried to physically assault Haneen Zoabi.

It was later reported that Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai petitioned Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to help him revoke the Israeli citizenship of Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zuabi, who took part in efforts to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza on a flotilla of aid ships earlier this week. ‘In recent days’, Yishai wrote to Weinstein on Thursday, Israel’s citizens have witnessed how an Israeli member of parliament, Hanin Zuabi, headed a group of terrorists who aimed to hurt Israel Defense Forces soldiers, under the protection of her parliamentary immunity … MK Zuabi used her immunity as a cloak to protect her from the law, although she was undoubtedly aware of the activists’ preparations for the attack against IDF troops’, Yishai wrote. ‘This is a premeditated act of treason, and there is documented proof of this’ … Since this is an issue having to do with the security of the state, and especially since we’re likely due for more such flotillas, I ask that you study the laws that would allow stripping the immunity from any member of Knesset that would try, under the protection of immunity, to aid and cooperate with terrorists that have made IDF soldiers and citizens of Israel their targets’.” This was reported here .

An interesting YNet report said that “Knesset members on Wednesday slammed MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad), who took part in the flotilla to Gaza raided by the IDF on Monday. Fears of violence against her by other MKs have led the Knesset to grant her personal security guards … MK Nachman Shai’s (Kadima) attack on Zoabi was a bit more refrained. ‘I respect democracy, but an MK cannot participate in such a journey, which is against the law and deifies the country that is mine just as much as it is yours. I respect your opinions, but it was wrong of you to stand on that ship’s deck. It’s unacceptable’, he added”.  The YNet report, which contains video links to this extraordinary display, is posted here.

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