Gaza Roundup 8: Bringing out the dead, the living, more facts, and more questions

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Caskets of some of the Mavi Marmara’s dead at a public ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey. Autopsies on these victims reveal some interesting things, according to this CNN report:

Autopsy results by forensics experts in Istanbul revealed that all nine of the men killed by Israeli commandoes aboard the humanitarian convoy that had planned to dock in Gaza died of gunshot wounds.

The autopsy results give clues about how the violence unfolded after Israeli commandoes stormed the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in the pre-dawn hours on Monday.

Five of the men died with bullet wounds to the head, said Dr. Haluk Ince, the director of Istanbul’s Medical Examination Institute, said Friday.

One casualty, a 19-year-old dual national Turkish-American citizen named Furkan Dogan, was found to have bullet wounds in his head and multiple bullets in his body, Ince said.

According to the U.S. State department, Dogan was born in Troy, New York and had been living in Turkey. American diplomats have been extending consular services to the deceased’s family.

In one case, Ince said, a gunshot victim had been shot at at extremely close range.

“From the analysis of the bullet distance on one of the bodies,” Dr. Ince said, “the gun was fired between 2 and 14 centimeters’ distance from the victim’s head.”

Shot point-blank? Execution-style? Color me not surprised. There are already suspicions that this raid was in fact a targeted strike, not self-defence. And the head of the Turkish charity that organized the flotilla gives voice to some of the reasons for that:

Bulent Yildirim, chairman of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), denied Israeli accounts of events on board the Mavi Maramara after Israeli commandos stormed the ship on Monday in an operation that resulted in at least nine people being killed.

“We were handed 9 dead bodies, but we have a longer list of missing people,” Yildirim said at Istanbul airport after returning from Israel, where he said he had been kept in custody and questioned for three days.

Meaning, the nine mentioned by CNN are probably not the only dead; they’re just the only ones whose bodies have been released thus far.

Yildirim has other interesting things to say, too:

Yildirim, who was on board the vessel, said some of the activists had grabbed guns off 10 soldiers in self-defence.

“Yes, we took their guns. It would be self defence even if we fired their guns,” Yildirim said, adding that people shouted to them not to use the weapons.

“We told our friends on board: “We will die, become martyrs, but never let us be shown… as the ones who used guns,” Yildirim said on Thursday.

“By this decision, our friends accepted death, and we threw all the guns we took from them into the sea.”

They threw away the weapons, rather than firing on the Israeli pirates? Things that make you go hmmm.

And that’s not the only interesting thing he said:

Yildirim said the Israeli commandos fired rubber bullets from close range before switching to live ammunition, after some activists on board had attacked them with chairs and bats.

“The Israelis published videos of the bats used on the ship, but they damaged their “strong Israeli army” image, as the world saw that a bunch of volunteers can neutralize them,” Yildirim said.

Describing the dead as martyrs, Yilirim said his charity would continue to organise aid convoys until Israel was forced to end the blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Yildirim said an Indonesian doctor was shot in the stomach as he helped a wounded Israeli soldier.

“As the clash was going on upstairs on the deck, we were taking care of Israelis downstairs, as we gave them water, we were informed that our friends died there,” Yildirim said.

“We told the Indonesian doctor to take the soldier back. He took his patient back, and as he was going back, they shot him 5 times in the stomach,” he said.

He also described how a photographer was shot in the forehead from a distance of a metre, though it was unclear whether he witnessed it personally.

Another activist was shot as he was surrendering, he said.

“I took off my shirt and waved it, as a white flag. We thought they would stop after seeing the white flag, but they continued killing people,” Yildirim said.

“A friend of ours saw two dead bodies in a toilet,” he added.

So, the volunteers on the ship basically fought back rag-tag? They defended themselves with what little was to hand? At least one doctor on the ship tried to help an injured Israeli before being shot? One victim was shot while surrendering?

And the Israeli army, which fired live ammo, paints THEM as the thugs?

Yildirim’s Israeli interrogators told him that the soldiers were given permission to use live ammunition only 35 minutes into the operation. The charity chief said some activists had already been wounded by casing from the shock blast and gas bombs used in the initial assault.

Of course, we know Yildirim’s interrogators lied. Live fire was flying from the Israeli ships hours before the white flags were raised and the boarding began. Once more, with feeling, here’s that raw video taken by Al-Jazeera before the Israelis jammed the network’s signal:

So we can see Yildirim wasn’t lying when he said that there were already wounded (and two dead) before the Israelis stormed the ship.

And if anyone thinks the IDF must have gotten their orders wrong, Max Blumenthal has bad news for you:

Statements by senior Israeli military commanders made in the Hebrew media days before the massacre revealed that the raid was planned over a week in advance by the Israeli military and was personally approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. The elite Israeli commando unit known as Unit 13 was tasked with carrying out the mission and its role was known by the Israeli public well before the raid took place. Details of the plan show that the use of deadly force was authorized and calculated. The massacre of activists should not have been unexpected.

On May 28, three days before the raid, top Israeli military officials revealed details of their strategy to Maariv, Israel’s most widely circulated paper. The caption of the Maariv article reflected the military command’s plan to use force: “On the way to violence; one of the boats is on its way.”

Read the entire article at the link. Blumenthal’s analysis is spot on; it will raise your hackles.

Other hackle-raising stuff, well worth your time:

British activist Ismael Patel reports that the Israelis were shooting his comrades at the rate of “one a minute”. He adds that shots were fired from the helicopter that brought the commandos (who rappelled down onto the ship), and that the co
mmandos had a shoot-to-kill policy already in place. Patel’s account also confirms that the Marmara was being fired upon long before the commandos came aboard, as well as that the activists had surrendered, but the shooting still went on.

Canadian activist Kevin Neish, who was also on board the Marmara, is back on home soil and telling his story. CBC showed snippets of their interview with him last night, but a longer and more penetrating one is that of Rabble.ca, who got there first. Part one is here, part two here.

At Hybrid States, Yaniv Reich notes that the Israeli authorities keep changing their story. Be sure to pop your Dramamine before reading or viewing anything they put out, as all the spinning and flippity-flopping will make you dizzy. Nausea and vomiting may result.

Arab-Israeli parliamentarian Yanin Zoabi (also spelled Yaneen Zoubi) has a harrowing account of the Mavi Marmara ordeal up at Rabble. She was assaulted after her safe return in the Knesset by rabid right-wing members (see video, which I’ve posted here, along with an English translation of what happened.)

Meanwhile, Margaret Atwood has had some sober second thoughts on Israeli apartheid, which she earlier dismissed as extremist browbeating or some such. Took her long enough. Well, welcome back to the land of the living, Peggy. Glad to see you again.

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1 Response to Gaza Roundup 8: Bringing out the dead, the living, more facts, and more questions

  1. Jim Hadstate says:

    Thank you for posting these and I’m sure that these aren’t finished, because they will become more and more disgusting as truth of events emerge from something outside of the Israeli propaganda machine.
    You were right about #4. That man, even with all the horror he had witnessed in his young life, had the most calm and rational condemnation of Israel. But more than that, the most rational and factually supported premises for the reasons for his condemnations. And it did bring tears to my eyes. As I watched and thought about my son, although he is a grown man, if he had been 9 years old and had been forced into those circumstances, I was past tearing up, I was on the verge of openly crying.

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