Thursday, June 03, 2010
Report from Arab member of Israeli parliament who was on board flotilla ship Mavi Marmara
by Larry Geller
Read the complete article at the link below:
An Arab member of the Israeli parliament who was on board the international flotilla that was attacked on Monday as it tried to take humanitarian aid to Gaza accused Israel yesterday of intending to kill peace activists as a way to deter future convoys.
Haneen Zoubi said Israeli naval vessels had surrounded the flotilla’s flagship, the Mavi Marmara, and fired on it a few minutes before commandos abseiled from a helicopter directly above them.
Terrified passengers had been forced off the deck when water was sprayed at them. She said she was not aware of any provocation or resistance by the passengers, who were all unarmed.
She added that within minutes of the raid beginning, three bodies had been brought to the main room on the upper deck in which she and most other passengers were confined. Two had gunshot wounds to the head, in what she suggested had been executions.
Two other passengers slowly bled to death in the room after Israeli soldiers ignored messages in Hebrew she had held up at the window calling for medical help to save them. She said she saw seven other passengers seriously wounded.
“Israel had days to plan this military operation,” she told a press conference in Nazareth. “They wanted many deaths to terrorise us and to send a message that no future aid convoys should try to break the siege of Gaza.” [Centre for Research on Globalization, Terror on Aid Ship: "Plan Was to Kill Activists and Deter Future Convoys", 6/2/2010]
I flat out do not understand why the U.S. isn't boiling mad (diplomatically speaking) about the death of a 19 year old U.S. citizen and the kidnapping of other U.S. citizens including a citizen of Hawai'i.
What is on display is how tight a grip the Israel lobby has on our government. Still, as the survivors make their reports, this action will be harder to set aside, I hope.
A bunch of presumably well-meaning peace activists let themselves become part of a project that at its heart had a crew of murderous Islamic terrorists. Lightly armed Israeli troops enforcing a blockade were set upon with knives, metal pipes and possibly guns, and they defended themselves.
Israel is criminal for boarding and inspecting ships in international waters? Are you aware that countless other nations do the same thing? Gaza amounts to an Iranian military base right on Israel's border. The people running Gaza, Hamas, are dedicated to the extermination of the Jewish state. And they back up their words with thousands of high-explosive rockets that have been falling on Israel for years.
What would you do under the same circumstances? Yeah, right: Give peace a chance. Several years ago, Israel pulled out from Gaza all its troops and all its settlers. It let the Gazans elect their own government. They chose Hamas. Tell me again what murderous bastards the Israelis are.
Lucked into a pretty good laymans' explanation of intl. law regarding naval blockades:
For disclosure here is the author's CV:
tldr: Israel was within its rights as a blockading belligerent to act in intl. waters, and they are further obligated under intl. law to arrest any and all ships attempting to enter the cordon for the purposes of landing at a blockaded port. However lack of a neutral party observer and questions surrounding the use of deadly force in the context of the threat posed to the soldiers' lives leaves the door open for micro, but probably not macro, violations of intl. law.
Ketchup, I am no expert of course, but this seems to hinge on whether the blockade is legal. However, it is considered illegal collective punishment.
To quote wikipedia re: article 33 of the Geneva Convention
"Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions collective punishments are a war crime. By collective punishment, the drafters of the Geneva Conventions had in mind the reprisal killings of World Wars I and World War II. In the First World War, Germans executed Belgian villagers in mass retribution for resistance activity. In World War II, Nazis carried out a form of collective punishment to suppress resistance. Entire villages or towns or districts were held responsible for any resistance activity that took place there."
OK so ostensibly article 33 is meant to prohibit the killing of civilians in retaliation for the acts of others... Hmmmm sounds suspiciously like firing rockets at random israeli civilians for acts that they weren't personally responsible (i.e. the occupation and settlement of palestinian land, being jewish, etc.). So where's all the outrage and claims of "collective punishment" w/ regards to the Palestinians?! And IS the blockade actually illegal collective punishment?
I can cite non-israel related events that bear striking similarity to the Gaza Blockade, that were neither called "collective punishment" nor a war crime (for the most part NEVER tested in court, so we'll never know if it actually WAS collective punishment as the definition for that seems to swing around a bit...).
I also know from my cursory research into the subject that you could ALSO cite prior incidents that resemble the Gaza Blockade that did receive attention, but it's a good deal less than those that don't.
Where does that leave us? "He said, she said" of course! You say it's "illegal" (not proved in court yet so don't call it that) collective punishment since the blockade deprives Palestinians of a wide range of goods not necessarily related to arms production. I say a belligerent nation has no right to expect things to be "easy" when they engage in a lop-sided war against an opponent who is superior in arms and numbers, and furthermore the blockade allows humanitarian and food aid in, and therefore does not deprive the Palestinians of the essentials.
The Gazans could stop all this if they stop firing rockets and disavow Hamas genocide policies, they could have something amounting to peace, but it doesn't seem they actually want that now does it?
(BTW I'll submit, as my cited example of blockades that seem to meet your criteria of "collective punishment", the Armenian Blockade, which was perpetrated by none other than the Turks?! To date there has been no conviction in a intl. criminal court regarding the Armenian Blockade, which has forced privation on Armenians as it is even more restrictive than the Gaza Blockade, and TBH it doesn't look like a conviction is coming any time soon, if ever)
Lambast Israel all you want for engaging in tactics that exacerbate the threat posed by the Palestinians and Arab world in general. To be sure, they deserve it. But resorting to the tactic of playing mix and match intl. law so you can stoke your umbrage a little more is avoiding the real problem. Both sides are guilty (and we don't need a court for this one) of failing to commit meaningfully to peace, the israelis for continuing the settlements, the gazans from refusing to stop firing missiles and harboring an official policy of hate and genocide. Israel should be the better yid and tear the settlements down, but politically this is impossible (if you know anything about the Knesset) unless the rockets stop and there is an end to the Intifada. Instead they're determined to be just as childish (if not more so) than the Gazans, who in the face of privation and a siege (open-air concentration camp, yay semantics) still cling to the hate and stupidity that landed them in this terrible situation.
I am not qualified to debate the legality of the blockade. I was going in part by the fact that it defies the UN resolution, so right there it is in violation of international law. I would like to thank you for your detailed reply, even if I can't effectively debate it. It would be "He said, she said" as you suggest.
As to the Hamas rockets, they are aimed at the civilian population and so are undoubtedly war crimes. However, the argument of disproportionality has been raised. The rockets have killed only 13 people if memory serves, so far, in total. Israel has killed over 1400 people in "Cast Lead" alone. And something like 1/3 of those were children. Add in the avoidable deaths because Israel will not allow medicines or medical supplies through the blockade and the death toll must be way higher.
As to hate, if you were treated this way, would you "love" Israel?
Anyway, this will be sorted out. Again, Ketchup, thank you for your fine comments.