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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2010 arrow June 21, 2010: Israel's Investigation and Intelligence Flaws from the Mavi Marmara to Bilin

June 21, 2010: Israel's Investigation and Intelligence Flaws from the Mavi Marmara to Bilin
June 21, 2010: Israel's Investigation and Intelligence Flaws from the Mavi Marmara to Bilin  


June 22, 2010: Email from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire


Choose Peace – End the Siege of Gaza and Occupation of Palestine

By Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

 

On Saturday 5th June, 2010, 35 heavily armed Israeli Navy Seals commandeered our boat, MV Rachel Corrie, one of the Freedom Flotilla, in International waters (30 miles off the coast of Gaza).  As they did so, we 19 humanitarian activists and crew, sat on the deck. 

 

We were quietly anxious, aware of the solitary figure in the wheelhouse with his hands held high against the window, in full view of the three Israeli warships, 4 approaching zodiacs and 2 commando carriers, whose guns were pointing in his direction. 

 

I personally wondered if the courageous Derek Graham would live to tell the tale, conscious of what happened on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, earlier in the week.

 

On Monday 3lst May, 2010, we heard via satellite phone that the Israeli Commandoes had boarded in International waters, from helicopter and zodiacs, the Turkish Ship, MV Mavi Marmara, killing and injuring many people. 

 

It was later confirmed that 8 Turkish people, l Turkish/USA, unarmed civilians had been shot (2 in the head and several in the back).  

 

All 6 boats on the Freedom Flotilla had been commandeered by Israeli Navy and taken to Israel and during this attack by Israel over 40 people were injured. 

 

These killings of unarmed civilians was devasting news to us all and something we never expected to happen. 

 

All those participating in the Freedom Flotilla participated because they were moved by the suffering of the people of Gaza. 

 

They were not Terrorists, they were human beings, who cared for other human beings in their suffering. 

 

Gaza, cut off by land crossing, sea (its port had been closed for over 40 years since Israeli occupation and had the Free Gaza Rachel Corrie Cargo boat been able to enter Gaza, it would have been the first Cargo boat ever to do so).

 

Gaza has rightly been been described as the largest open air prison in the world.  With Israel holding all the keys for its one and a half million people living under a policy of collective punishment by Israeli.  Under siege for over 3 years now, with a shortage of medicine, basic materials to rebuild their homes, after the 22 day bombardment by Israeli in Dec/Jan.2009 has left Gaza and its people, a place of suffering and isolation. 

 

The flotilla was not only to bring humanitarian aid, books for children, toys, writing material, but to help break the siege of Gaza, which is slowly strangling its people.

 

The violations of international law committed by Israel are well documented by the UN, and many independent human rights bodies. 

 

All of these violations of International laws and norms are committed under the guise of ‘national security’ and A policy of isolating Gaza to weaken Hamas.    

 

It is a policy that is clearly not working.  As we have learned in N.Ireland, violence never works, so why not try talking to Hamas, as the British Government had to talk to rep. of IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries, in order to move to peace. 

   

The brutal and illegal attack of aid ships in International waters on May 3lst and the subsequent boarding of the MV Rachel Corrie, also in international Waters, is a symptom of the culture of impunity under which Israel operates. 

 

The Israeli Government was quick to blame the activists on board the MV Mavi Marmara, claiming that they attacked first and were members of terrorist groups.

 

They also claimed that the HLL the Turkish Humanitarian Group who organized the Mavi Marmara had terrorist links.  The HLL is not a banned organization in Turkey and has no links to terrorist organizations.  It was disappointing to see how many International governments and media outlets immediately accepted Israel’s version of events without further investigation. 

 

Sure, there have been calls for a ‘prompt, Impartial, credible and transparent’ investigation into the events of May 3lst by the United Nations Security Council.  

 

Yet the United States and others seem to think that Israel can conduct such an investigation on its own. 

 

In the words of my colleague, Nobel Jody Williams, this is like “the fox accounting for the number of chickens left in the henhouse” such a response cannot stand, and nothing less than An Independent investigation will be acceptable to the international community.

 

This attack on the Freedom Flotilla is a tipping point.  It is time for the International Community to finally stop allowing Israel to act with blatant disregard for Human Life, Human rights and International Law. 

 

The partial lifting of the siege shows what International pressure can achieve, but it is not enough and only a full lifting of the siege can bring re freedom to the people of Gaza.

 

It is time for Israel to choose peace.  It is time for world leaders and the international Community to join together and call on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza completely, End the occupation of Palestine and allow the Palestinian people their right to Self-determination.

 

To help bring closer that day we can all do something.  Not everyone can go with The Freegaza boat people, but supporting the BDS campaign, calling for an end to EU special trading status with Israel insisting that USA end its economic/military assistance to Israel until it upholds it International commitments. Palestine is a key to peace in the Middle East so by us all refusing to be ‘silent’ in the face of Israel’s continued apartheid policies we can all bring closer an end to all violence in the Middle East.

 

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

www.peacepeople.com

19th June 2010  






Israel’s investigation of the Memorial Day massacre aboard the Mavi Marmara concluded that Israeli commando reactions were “appropriate” and that the soldiers “lacked sufficient intelligence.”

 

Surviving eyewitnesses who had been aboard the Turkish-flagged ship have reported that under the cover of darkness, Israel began its assault upon the civilians with percussion grenades, tear gas and a hail of bullets. Read those reports here:

http://www.freegaza.org/

 

 

On June 20, 2010, Haaretz reported “The Israel Navy's internal probe into its deadly commando raid of a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip has found serious defects in the planning and intelligence aspects of the operation, Israel Radio reported on Sunday [and] concluded that the commando unit that embarked on the May 31 raid was inadequately prepared and lacked sufficient intelligence when approaching the activists.

 

“The investigation concluded that the raid on the ship should have only been conducted after hosing the attackers down with water hoses and smoke grenade. The navy admitted that they were prepared for ‘resistance like we encounter in Bil'in.’”

 

One of the commanders involved in the attack said that "I still awake at three A.M. every morning and ask myself: Damn it, how did we not know more?"[1]

 


On 25 May 2010, The Guardian quoted Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman: "The boats will not be allowed to enter Gaza territorial waters. This is a territory in a self-declared state of war with Israel. There can be no uncontrolled transportation in or out of Gaza." [2]

 

Lynda Brayer, a graduate of the Hebrew University Faculty of Law, is an Israeli human rights lawyer who specializes in the laws of war and international law and she wrote:


“Since no state of war existed at the time, the attack on these vessels constitutes an act of war against those governments under whose flags the vessels were sailing. The attack falls within the purview of the ius ad bellum, those laws which govern the resort to armed conflict.  Israel’s action does not fall into the category of the ius in bello or the laws which govern the actual conduct of war.Because this attack was carried out in international waters, the status of the relationship between Hamas, or any other Palestinian body, and the state of Israel is of no relevance whatsoever. Likewise, neither the blockade of Gaza nor Israel’s claims and legal interpretations regarding it has any bearing on its acts of aggression in international waters.”[3]

 

 

“Israel claims that its blockade is directed simply at the Hamas government in Gaza, and is limited to so-called 'security' items. Yet When U.S. Senator John Kerry visited Gaza last year, he was shocked to discover that the Israeli blockade included staple food items such as lentils, macaroni and tomato paste. Furthermore, Gisha, the Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, has documented numerous official Israeli government statements that the blockade is intended to put 'pressure' on Gaza's population, and collective punishment of civilians is an illegal act under international law.” [4]

 

 

 

Back to Bil’in

 

Due to a mainstream media blackout on the five-year struggle in Bil’in, most of the world is unaware of the thousands of nonviolent Palestinians and growing legions of Israeli and International activists who have been waging a nonviolent campaign of resistance to the construction of the route of Israel's Wall in the Occupied Territories and in seeking an end to the occupation of Palestine.

 

Farmers, mothers, children and activists have been braving teargas, beatings, bullets, arrest, and even death to rise up against the route of The Wall/Fence and most well equipped army in the world, with nothing more than their own bodies and the innate persistent determination within all people for justice and freedom.

 

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that The Wall is a violation of International Law because it cuts through the West Bank appropriating Palestinian land and destroying Palestinian villages and economy in order to establish more illegal settlements.

 

The Wall/Fence in Bil'in and the Israeli army prohibit the indigenous people to tend and harvest their olive groves. Over 2,003 dunums of prime agricultural land have been confiscated by The Electric Fence. The Israelis have built apartments for Jewish only settlers, which the indigenous people are forbidden to even enter.

 

In Bil’in, the Green Line is five miles from The Wall/Fence and the Popular Committee in Bil’in has been fighting the Israeli government and forces with legal actions and nonviolent demonstrations.

 

The Israeli government attempts to justify their land theft by returning to the Ottoman Law that states if the landowner doesn't tend his land it can be confiscated by the State. The Israeli army and the Wall/Fence have prevented the indigenous people from accessing their legally owned land, thus depriving them of food, income and human rights.

 

After the indigenous people of Bil’in brought their case to the Israeli Municipal Court and the High Court; both courts agreed the building of the settlement dwellings was indeed illegal and ordered the construction to cease in January 2006. Construction continued and the settlers have moved in.

 

The High Court accepted these 'facts on the ground' but the indigenous people and all who believe in equal human rights and international law will never give up seeking justice and resisting the route of the wall/fence. In many West Bank villages, the indigenous people are being joined by growing numbers of locals, Israelis and internationals and many have been injured, arrested and yet return for more-except those who have been imprisoned, incapacitated or killed by Israeli forces.

The indigenous people of Bil'in brought their case against the settlement to the Municipal Court and that Court agreed the building of the settlement dwellings was illegal and ordered construction to cease. But, building continued and the day I was there, a half dozen USA made Caterpillar tractors were moving earth for the anticipated paved road that only Jewish colonists- most of them from the USA-will be allowed to travel upon.

 

My first visit to Bil’in was in January 2006. I met many locals and a few internationals and Israelis who had created their own facts on the ground with an outpost where they held the ground 24/7. They slept for weeks at a time inside the 10x10 brick house on sleeping bags on a dirt floor, a few hundred yards from where a settlement of 700 upscale apartments was being erected for Jewish only settlers upon legally owned Palestinian property.

 

Bil'in Outpost, January 2006:

 

 

More recent activists can be viewed on You Tube:

 

 

Bilin Reenacts Avatar Film 12-02-2010 

http://s.ytimg.com/yt/img/pixel-vfl73.gif

 

I was inspired to go to Bil'in, after attending a power point lecture in Gainesville, Florida given by a Palestinian and Jonathan Pollak, an Israeli member of Anarchists Against the Wall/AAtW.


Pollak was also a keynote speaker at the 5th International conference in Bil’in, but in November 2006, Pollak informed this reporter:

 

"I was six years old at my first demonstration and active on my own at thirteen. I am 23 now. When they started to build the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank I would go a few times a week and watch them deceive the world. The Israeli government successfully marketed the Apartheid Wall as a security barrier. But it is all about segregation, separation and ethnic cleansing.

 

"Civilian uprising and non-violent activism is not like the Gandhi movie. It’s not carrying posters and saying we don’t like your wall, go away. We stand in front of Caterpillar’s knowing we will be shot and arrested. I was shot five times in the last two years by rubber bullets, which are 1/2-inch steel bullets covered with plastic. I have been shot in the head and the more experience I have the scarier it is. One learns to recognize the ritual of it all: when the IOF will begin using the Billy clubs, when the tear gas will come, when the bullets will come.

 

“We are not a dialogue group, we are an Israeli organization and we are not colonial liberators. All the strategy is done by Palestinians, we are with them seeking justice and giving support. There is no price to high to pay for freedom, equality and universal rights. Without justice there can be no peace.

 

"Negotiations alone will not secure freedom for the Palestinian people. During the negotiations of the so-called Oslo Peace Process from 1993-2000, Israel simply imposed its will on the Palestinians, using its overwhelming military and economic power, and US support. During seven years of supposed peace, Palestinians saw 200,000 new Israeli settlers arrive in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the same number of settlers that had arrived there in the previous 26 years.

 

"However, the recent grassroots struggle against Israel's Wall has demonstrated that it may be possible to counter Israel's overwhelming power, and its exploitation of negotiations, through nonviolent resistance. The Wall, is just one blatant Israeli attempt to impose its will, and has become a focus for civilian resistance.

 

"Although Israel marketed the Wall as a security barrier, logic suggests such a barrier would be as short and straight as possible. Instead, it snakes deep inside the West Bank, resulting in a route that is twice as long as the Green Line, the internationally recognized border. Israel chose the Wall's path in order to dispossess Palestinians of the maximum land and water, to preserve as many Israeli settlements as possible, and to unilaterally determine a border.

 

"In order to build the Wall Israel is uprooting tens of thousands of ancient olive trees that for many Palestinians are also the last resource to provide food for their children.

 

"The Palestinian aspiration for an independent state is also threatened by the Wall, as it isolates villages from their mother cities and divides the West Bank into disconnected cantons [Bantustans/ghettos]. The Israeli human rights organization B`Tselem conservatively estimates that 500,000 Palestinians are negatively impacted by the Wall.

 

"Faced with a history of suffering, Palestinians have no alternative but to struggle. The only question is how? Killing diminishes our humanity, and Israel's occupation, which has killed thousands of Palestinians, shouldn't be our teacher. It is time for both sides to refuse killing.

 

"Though Palestinians have employed nonviolence since 1929, they have seen little evidence that it will help them to achieve freedom. In 2003-2004, the West Bank village of Budrus decided to set an example for how nonviolence can defeat the Wall.

 

"All the people of Budrus mobilized, and were joined by Israeli and international activists. In 55 nonviolent marches, Israeli soldiers injured more than 300 people, arrested 33 and killed one, as the villagers, with their bodies alone, attempted to stop the destruction of their land. Faced with Budrus` determined protests, the Israeli government eventually moved the Wall to the Green Line. The village saved 300 acres of its land and 3000 olive trees. Children, women and old people were among the heroes of Budrus` nonviolent struggle.

 

"Throughout the West Bank, nine protesters were killed in marches against the Wall, thousands were injured and hundreds arrested. Hundreds of civilian protests throughout the West Bank are the reason the world learned of the injustice of the Wall. As a direct result, the International Court of Justice at the Hague ruled in 2004 that Israel's construction of the Wall violated international law.

 

"The village of Budrus and the International Court of Justice ruling represent victories for nonviolent resistance. Another success of the joint struggle was the connection forged between Palestinians and the Israelis who joined them in their resistance. This connection, stronger than anything that ideas could create, was unwittingly forged by the Israeli army, through their beatings, the joint arrests and the bullets. Joining Palestinians in nonviolent struggle has allowed some Israelis to voice very clearly that the struggle against occupation and for freedom is not a Palestinian struggle alone, but is their struggle as well.

 

"We believe that, as with Apartheid South Africa, Americans have a vital role to play in ending Israeli occupation - by speaking out, coming to Palestine as witnesses, or standing with Palestinians in nonviolent resistance.

 

"We are confident that Israeli occupation will one day be defeated, as were other US government supported repressive regimes - Apartheid South Africa, Pinochet`s Chile and racial segregation in the United States. There is no price too great to pay for freedom, and nothing will deter us from achieving this goal."

 

 

On one of my four trips to Bil'in, after chanting a while in front of the soldiers, Jonathan was the first down the steep rocky hill and over a metal railing to grab the roll of razor sharp barbed wire that is in front of the wall/fence in order to shake it. He was immediately joined by a few dozen locals and other AAtW, who were swiftly greeted by the first of dozens of sound bombs-thick orange plastic grenades that hit the ground with a deafening blast.

 

I was half way down the hill when a teenager next to me threw a rock at a soldier and I know that action alone can get one killed or arrested, so I headed back up the hill before the tear gas and rubber bullets assaulted the crowd at the barbwire. By the time I made it up the hill the first of hundreds of rubber bullets were being shot into the crowd. Only two internationals were hit and other than a few Palestinian adolescents and young boys throwing rocks all remained nonviolent. I was told that because of the large International presence no live ammo was fired; although the week before a Frenchman took a bullet in the arm while standing next to a group of children. He was back at the Friday ritual with a cast and sling on.

 

Another who was wounded in Bilin and also arrested and jailed for being aboard the Freedom Flotilla boat the MV Rachel Corrie, is Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Maried Corrigan-Maguire.

 

On June 6, 2008, Israeli Forces assaulted Maried Corrigan-Maguire with tear gas during the Friday afternoon ritual she attended after speaking at Bil'in's third annual international conference supporting nonviolent protests against the wall and military occupation of the West Bank agricultural village.

 

At the conclusion of the second annual Bil'in conference, on April 21st, 2007, Mairead Maguire, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli Forces an hour after a press conference where she stated:

 

"Thanks to the media here for telling the truth…Bring this truth to whatever country you come from. Non-violence will solve the problems here in Israel and Palestine. Often, the world sees only violence. But Palestinians are a good people, working towards non-violence. This Wall must fall! It is an insult to the human family and to the world– that we are building Apartheid Walls in the 21st Century! More than forty years of Occupation and Land Appropriation."

 

Máiread didn’t make it to Bil’in this year as planned due to the volcanic ash that closed down the Tel Aviv Airport, so instead she wrote:

 

“Your Palestinian Popular Nonviolent Resistance movement is so important because You are asserting to the Israeli Government and the World that Palestinians, like all human beings, are entitled to dignity and freedom, freedom of Movement, Freedom of expression, and access to work, health care and education. Your Peoples’ movement is touching the hearts of many people around the world, who are increasingly coming to recognize the truth, that the Palestinian people have been deprived from all of these things for decades by dispossession and Israeli military occupation.

 

“Increasing numbers of world citizens are beginning to support and work for your call for the immediate ending of Israeli occupation, full implementation of humanitarian and International Law, and the Right of the Palestinian People to self-determination. They are also supporting your call for the immediate removal of military checkpoints in the West Bank, ending of settlements, house demolitions, as well as the separation wall, and for the lifting of the unacceptable and inhuman siege of the Gaza strip. Your call to support the BDS campaign to end occupation and Apartheid (as it did in South Africa) is gaining momentum with Citizens, international Bodies, and Governments and they are increasingly beginning to ‘break the silence’ and call upon Israel to implement justice and peace for the Palestinians.

 

“I thank you for your great spirit of nonviolent love in action, and encourage you to keep Hope alive and keep on building Palestinian Unity – united the Palestinian people will succeed. Believe passionately in peace and justice and it will come out of the seeds of nonviolence and sacrifice you, and your families, are making on behalf of us all, the Human Family. Salaam, Shalom, Peace, Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate. 21 April 2010. www.peacepeople.com

 

 

Previously Mairead also stated:

 

"Hope for the future depends on each of us taking nonviolence into our hearts and minds and developing new and imaginative structures which are nonviolent and life-giving for all. Some people will argue that this is too idealistic. I believe it is very realistic. I am convinced that humanity is fast evolving to this higher consciousness. For those who say it cannot be done, let us remember that humanity learned to abolish slavery. Our task now is no less than the abolition of violence and war.

 

"While Governments can make a difference, in the final analysis it is the individual – that is each one of us – that will bring the dream of a nonviolent world to reality. We, the people must think and act non-violently. We must not get stuck in the past as to do so will destroy the imagination and creativity.

 

"To change our world we need a spiritual and a political evolution. The political steps are often very obvious: uphold Human rights, and International Laws, demand our Governments meet their obligations under these Laws, support and reform United Nations, etc., However, all the legislation, resolutions, and fine talk will be of no use, if we do not as men and women evolve and become transformed, so that we, the human family, achieve a more enlightened and humane way of living together, and solving conflicts.

 

“We can rejoice and celebrate today because we are living in a miraculous time. Everything is changing and everything is possible.”





“They're building a wall. And at such a cost. Land, money and safety. And all the lives lost. A wall made of brick but bricks can be broken, when the people of Zion have finally awoken! And said no more walls, no more refugees. No more keeping people upon their knees. And before apartheid was ended they were building a wall."

 


Vanunu's Message to Hillary Clinton re: The


 

 

1. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-navy-probe-of-gaza-flotilla-raid-finds-planning-and-intel-flaws-1.297216

2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/25/gaza-flotilla-aid-attempt

3. http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1747&Itemid=234

4. http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/56-news/1174-israels-disinformation-campaign-against-the-gaza-freedom-flotilla



   
 
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