– U.S. Marine Ken O’Keefe said that two activists were already dead when he helped to disarm the first commandos that boarded the Mavi Marmara. –
Update: See also Midnight on the Mavi Marmara.
By Richard Lightbown
An international flotilla comprising the cruise ship Mavi Marmara, a cargo ship and four smaller craft sailing to Gaza with humanitarian aid was attacked in international waters by a large Israeli naval force on 31 May 2010. Nine passengers were killed and many injured by live fire. The legality of the raid is considered according the San Remo Manual and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The report concludes that the International Committee of the Red Cross declaration of a ‘dire situation’ in the Gaza Strip renders the raid unlawful.
A small number of passengers on the Mavi Marmara planned active and lawful resistance, contrary to the philosophy of the Free Gaza movement and the ship’s captain. The first assault, beginning around 4 am with firing from zodiac inflatable craft was repelled. A second assault by helicopter began with live fire causing lethal casualties. Commandos rappelling onto the deck were then attacked and injured; three were detained but well treated.
Firing continued after the ship surrendered. Some of the injured were helicoptered to Israeli hospitals, but many activists reported ill-treatment, abuse and humiliation. The other vessels were seized with brutal and disproportionate force against a non-violent response.
All cameras, recording equipment, phones, computers and personal possessions were seized. Most possessions and all cash were not returned. Seized credit cards have been fraudulently used. The ships were taken to Ashdod where many detainees were beaten, while consular access was obstructed or denied. All detainees were then deported.
On 5 June the cargo ship Rachel Corrie was seized in international waters without violence and taken to Ashdod where all on board were quickly deported.
Cargo has been transferred to Gaza, aided by the UN, but some aid and personal belongings have gone to landfill.
Israel defied a UN Security Council call for an international inquiry and appointed its own committee of inquiry which has been condemned for lacking transparency and credibility. The UN Human Rights Council will conduct a fact finding mission. Many activists have started legal action.
The report reasons that the raid was premeditated state terrorism.
We have had governments, we have had the United Nations, we have even had President Obama call for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the allowance of the delivery of humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials to […] the Palestinians of Gaza and yet not a single government has taken action. And so it is up to us as civil society, as the real international community […] to take action and to expose Israel’s policies to the world and to also try to break the blockade on our own.
Adam Shapiro, Board Member of the Free Gaza Movement[i]
This is a clear case of self defence. Israel cannot allow the free flow of weapons, rockets and missiles to the terrorist base of Hamas in Gaza. It’s already fired thousands of rockets on Israeli cities [and] it seeks to smuggle in thousands more. And this is why Israel must inspect goods that come into Gaza. It’s also a clear cut [case] of self defence because as our soldiers were inspecting these ships they were attacked, they were almost lynched. They were attacked with clubs, with knives, perhaps with live gunfire, and they had to defend themselves [because] they were going to be killed. Israel would not allow its soldiers to be lynched; neither would any other self-respecting country.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu[ii]
Read the rest of this report, The Israeli raid of the Freedom flotilla 31 May 2010.