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As the Rachel Corrie Civil Suit Ends Testimony Today, Thoughts on How Israel Treats Foreign Nationals

9:41 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Rachel Corrie covered with her flag in a Palestinian morgue

I. The Israeli government and military would prefer that no foreign nationals critical of the policies of that government be given any sort of forum that either brings public attention to abuses, war crimes and human rights violations against Palestinians, or humanizes the Palestinians’ plight in ways that seek to give the latter more freedom over the administration of their own affairs.  Although most foreign nationals who want to help the Palestinians gain more freedom despise the thugs of Hamas and buffoons of Fatah, defenders of Israeli human rights abuses and war crimes unceasingly attempt to frame defenders of Palestinians as friends of Hamas.  The reality is that the IDF and Israeli government need Hamas desperately, to keep propped up as a vicious boogeyman.  They would rather have a few rockets rain down on their own people in Sderot, than have none at all.

The 2010 Gaza flotilla was brutally intercepted by Israeli naval forces.  After taking the Turkish vessel, MV Mavi Marmara, the Israelis summarily executed several Turks, and then crafted a disturbingly false narrative about how heavily armed these evil, swarthy (read non-white “other”) Turks were.  It fit the racist meme that abides so comfortably in the increasingly openly racist Israeli military and society at large.  And, sadly, that same meme works well with the kinds of Americans who thrive on Fox News myths about swarthy people out of control.

The MV Mavi Marmara was taken violently on purpose.  Had I been the commander of the naval operation, knowing for weeks that the MVMM would be among the mix of vessels, all I would have had to say would have been, “find me a way to peacefully stop the big Turkish cruise ship, or I will demote you,” and a solution would have been found within an hour.

Apparently, the Israeli military learned enough from 2010 that nobody was murdered this year.  This is good.  The 2011 flotilla organizers were, frankly, as unimaginative as possible, though.  Expecting the Greek government to not react to the combined pressures of the U.S. and Israeli governments during an almost catastrophic internal crisis was a major strategic error.

But both the 2010 and 2011 flotillas have had an impact upon the people of the Gaza Strip that has been positive.  The recent improvements in the amounts of needed goods entering Gaza is a direct result of continuing efforts by the movements sponsoring or being inspired by the flotilla movement.  Some Israeli commentators and government officials have acknowledged just that.  American citizen Furkan Doğan and his Turkish brothers did not give their lives in vain.

This weekend’s”Welcome to Palestine flytilla,” farcical on many levels, has not been covered well by the American media, but the Europeans, whose countries were the points of departure for the protesters, saw a healthy dose of coverage over the past three days.  And so did firedoglake.

Nothing troubles Israeli policy makers in terms of their continuing expansion into new lands in the West Bank, outright theft of land and resources, and seemingly blasé murder of one innocent Palestinian after another, than when a foreign national objecting to these illegal practices is hurt or killed.  Especially if that foreign national is white.  (As clarification, I consider Turks white, for what it is worth, but watching Israeli and some American press coverage of Turkish issues, it appears some do not.)

II. On Sunday, July 10th, the wrongful death civil suit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie against the Israeli Defense Forces, will see its last day of testimony:

Former Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade Commander, Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz – the final witness in the case – is scheduled to testify Sunday, July 10, in the Corrie civil trial against the State of Israel.

Colonel Zuaretz was the commanding officer of the Israeli military’s Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade in 2003, when American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed. Troops under his command were responsible for the actions resulting in her killing. Zuaretz is the highest ranking officer called as a government witness in the civil trial who had command responsibility in Gaza. He is possibly the highest such officer ever to face cross examination in a civil suit regarding the actions of the Israeli military against civilians in Gaza during the second intifada. His testimony is expected to shed light on the Israeli military’s failures as an occupying power to protect civilian life and property in the region.

The trial began in March 2010, and has taken longer than expected, partially because of a strike by court workers in late 2010.  A few of the revelations from the trial have been jarring.  Here are the most notable:

On March 14, 2010, IDF forensic examiner Yehuda Hiss admitted to not allowing U.S. embassy personnel observe him conducting Corrie’s autopsy.  His testimony revealed that the U.S. Embassy had lied to the Corrie family.  Hiss also testified, rather disturbingly:

Dr. Hiss also disclosed that he had kept samples from Rachel’s body for histological testing without informing her family. Dr. Hiss admitted that he did not inform the family about their right to bury the samples and that the samples were likely to have been buried with other body samples from the Institute, but he was uncertain. This was the first time that the family of Rachel Corrie received confirmation that the Israeli Forensic Institute had indeed kept samples of her body, despite prior attempts to receive this information. Dr. Hiss has been the subject of a prior lawsuit in Israel brought by families for whom he did not return body parts and samples.

On March 15, 2010, British citizen and nurse, Alice Coy, a witness to Corrie’s death, testified that despite published IDF reports that there were no home demolitions ongoing where Corrie was killed, that certainly was not the case.  She also testified that “When the Israeli Military interviewed her on April 1st about Rachel’s killing, the soldier who documented her testimony refused to record her statement that she believed the bulldozers were going to destroy civilian homes.”  Eventually, the home Corrie tried to protect on March 16, 2003 was destroyed by an IDF bulldozer.

Max Blumenthal covered Hiss’ background:

Who is Dr. Hiss? The chief pathologist of Israel for a decade and a half, Hiss was implicated by a 2001 investigation by the Israeli Health Ministry of stealing body parts ranging from legs to testicles to ovaries from bodies without permission from family members then selling them to research institutes. Bodies plundered by Hiss included those of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. He was finally removed from his post in 2004 when the body of a teenage boy killed in a traffic accident was discovered to have been thoroughly gnawed on by a rat in Hiss’s laboratory. In an interview with researcher Nancy Schepper-Hughes, Hiss admitted that he harvested organs if he was confident relatives would not discover that they were missing. He added that he often used glue to close eyelids to hide missing corneas.

Max also wrote about the testimony that week of a Col. “Yossi”:

In a small courtroom on the sixth floor of Haifa’s District Court, a colonel in the Israeli engineering corps who wrote a manual for the bulldozer units that razed the Rafah Refugee Camp in 2003 offered his opinion on the killing of the American activist Rachel Corrie.

There are no civilians during wartime,” Yossi declared under oath.

Yossi made his remarkable statement under withering cross examination by Hussein Abu Hussein, the lawyer for the family of Corrie

Col. Yossi’s statement of belief or of policy (he wrote a book on it, after all) is more troubling to me than that of Dr. Hiss.  Essentially, Israel considers itself to be at war with not just Hamas, but with any government, any movement and any individual who seeks to “delegitimize” its expansionist policies and racist implementation of it.  People like me, CTuttle and anyone else who is critical of these policies is a potential target for whatever might be deemed appropriate for us, should we get in the way.

On March 22 and 24, 2010, it was revealed in the trial that:

One commander of the unit involved in the incident interrupted the testimony of the operator of the bulldozer that killed Rachel, telling him that the head of the Southern Command of the Israeli military ordered him to stop talking, not to sign anything and not to cooperate with the investigation. When asked if he considered this an intervention into the interrogation, the investigator testified that he did.

and:

Though the camera posted on the border was taping 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the investigator testified that he did not see footage from the camera, nor did he ask to, stating that it was someone else’s responsibility.

When the trial resumed on September 5, 2010, a military police investigator, “Oded,” revealed that even though he had been assigned to investigate Corrie’s death, he was unqualified, and was not helped by the IDF, in any event:

Oded confirmed that a commander of the unit involved in Rachel’s killing interrupted the questioning of the bulldozer operator, telling him that Doron Almog, head of the Israeli military’s Southern Command, had ordered that the questioning cease. He also said that, in his experience, interference of this nature from military commanders was not uncommon.

When asked why he did not challenge the intervention, Oded said that as a junior investigator, it was not his place to do so. He was 20-years-old at the time, with only a high-school education and three-months of training in investigation.

Corrie’s case was the first civilian killing that Oded investigated from beginning to end.

Like El’ad [who testified in March], Oded stated that neither he nor any other investigator visited the site of the killing.

Oded’s testimony revealed that much of the conversation recorded by the bulldozer teams in the area of Corrie’s death had been in Arabic, and that he did not speak the language.  More Israeli racism and dual standard came out:

Oded testified that none of the investigators interviewed any of the Palestinian witnesses – including medical personnel who examined Rachel immediately following the incident. When asked why, he said he did not think they could provide any useful information.

When the trial resumed on October 10, the Corries argued that witnesses from the IDF should be visible in court, rather than kept behind a screen:

Lawyers for the family of Rachel Corrie filed an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday, challenging a decision to allow soldiers to testify behind a screen in the lawsuit filed against the State of Israel for the unlawful killing of the American peace activist in Rafah, Gaza.

State attorneys made the highly unusual request in court on Thursday, October 7 arguing that they were necessary to protect the soldiers’ safety and prevent their images from being circulated. Haifa District Court Judge Oded Gershon granted the request, ruling that all but two soldiers, who were both already known to the public, would be permitted to provide their testimony hidden from public view.

Corrie attorneys opposed the motion, arguing that allowing the soldiers to testify behind a screen infringes upon the fundamental right to an open, fair and transparent trial. They argued that the government request was based on an overbroad security certificate issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008, was not supported by concrete evidence to substantiate their concerns for the soldiers’ safety or security. The lawyers will also ask the Supreme Court to review Judge Gerhson’s decision not to allow the family to see the witnesses even if the public could not.

The Corries lost their motion, and the driver testified behind a screen on October 23:

In over four hours of often confused testimony, Y.P. seemed to struggle to read and understand his own affidavit signed in April. He could not remember basic facts, such as the date of Rachel’s killing or time of day it happened. He repeatedly contradicted his own statements on the stand and testimony given to military police investigators in 2003.

Highlights of testimony include the following:

  • Y.P stated that after he drove over Rachel and backed up, she was located between his bulldozer and the mound of earth that he had pushed, corroborating photographic evidence and testimony from international eyewitnesses given to the court in March. His testimony calls into question that of the commander inside this same bulldozer, whose written affidavit states that Rachel’s body was located in a different location, on the far side of the mound of earth created by the bulldozer. In court, Y.P. was asked if based on this contradiction he wanted to change his testimony. He firmly stated no.
  • In testimony to military police investigators only three days after the incident, Y.P. said the blind spot in front of the bulldozer was 3 meters. In contradicting court testimony, he claimed the blind spot was 30 meters – ten times the distance first stated.
  • Y.P. knew about regulations that the bulldozer was not to work within 10 meters of people. He was aware civilians were present, but said he was given orders to continue working. He said I’ m just a soldier. It was not my decision.
  • He claimed he did not see Rachel before the event. Nor did he recall seeing her specifically at all that day, despite the fact that she had protested the bulldozer’s activity for several hours and was the only female activist wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket.

The Corries were disappointed they could not see their daughter’s killer:

Following the driver’s testimony, Cindy Corrie stated, “It was very difficult not to hear or detect anything in this witness’s words or voice that suggested remorse. Sadly, what I heard from the other side of the screen was indifference.”

Israeli blogger and peace activist, Dimi Reider, who was there, noted at the time:

Cindy Corrie said yesterday she didn’t hear the driver express any remorse for what had happened. On reflection, I think this may not be as clear cut. While he certainly didn’t apologize, voice any regret or in any way reacted to the Corries’ presence in the same room with him, I was struck how he avoided using the first person when referring to Rachel’s death; asked to affirm his identity and role on the day, he said, “I was the driver of the bulldozer on the day she.. the girl.. was run over.” He maintained this alienation throughout the day; the closest he came to acknowledging his direct, personal role, was in the repeated phrase, “I understood I may have hit someone.” Perhaps this is just wishful thinking on my part, but I couldn’t avoid thinking this alienation signalled that like many a combatant, in some place within him, the driver understands exactly what he has done, and perhaps wishes that things have turned out otherwise; while distant, he certainly didn’t sound blasé.

After the Israeli court strike was over, and the courts caught back up, there were more sessions this spring.

On April 4, 2011, the trial resumed, with more confusing testimony by IDF personnel.  One witness, Captain S.R, corroborated the accuracy of International Solidarity Movement witnesses, that has long been challenged by right-wing American and Israeli bloggers:

The commander of the unit that killed Rachel Corrie told a Haifa court on Sunday that he was ordered to continue bulldozer work even though it presented danger to civilians, including foreign activists, who were present in the area and could not be dispersed.

Known to the court as Captain S.R., the Bedouin officer said that he actually requested to halt bulldozer operations on the day Rachel was killed, because he thought civilians might be hurt, but was ordered to continue.

On the day she was killed, Captain S.R. radioed to Israeli army command and said that something from the bulldozer fell on Rachel. However, in court, he admitted he did not see the exact moment of the incident and that this was only a fleeting hypothesis. He said he reached Rachel’s body less than one minute after the incident and it was immediately clear by marks in the ground that Rachel had been hit by the bulldozer.

Captain S.R.’s testimony about the location of Rachel’s body after she was hit corroborated that of international eyewitnesses and the bulldozer driver, all of whom said that after the bulldozer backed up, Rachel’s body was located between the bulldozer and the mound of earth that it had pushed. This calls into question the testimony of the bulldozer commander, and the position of the State, that Rachel’s body was in a different location: on the far side of the mound of earth created by the bulldozer. Captain S.R. confirmed that evidence photos taken by the protesters that day accurately reflect the scene of the incident after Ms. Corrie was hit.

  • He confirmed that a female soldier viewed the site through a remote camera that day, and instructions could be given to his unit based on what was seen.
  • The Captain’s review of an interview he gave to Israeli Channel 2 TV’s “Uvda” program confirmed the existence of IDF video footage that has not been submitted into evidence by the State or provided to the Corrie family’s attorneys through discovery. The interview, aired on April 5, 2003, included a segment of March 16th, 2003 Israeli military video of the operations. His testimony confirms additional IDF video exists, even though the lead Military Police investigator responsible for obtaining evidence in the case stated firmly that there is no additional video.
  • He confirmed that a written document does exist that outlines regulations, specific to civilians, for a “removal procedure” – a set of instructions outlining how to remove civilians in situations such as these. Attorneys for the State continued to claim the regulation does not exist – in direct contradiction to the sworn testimony of their own witness moments before.

The testimony continued with “S.L., who in 2003 was head of the Mechanized Engineering Equipment Department.”

In an affidavit submitted to the court, referring to regulations, S.L. said, “in no way is the directive applicable to the operational conditions in which the bulldozer operated in this case.” However, in court on Sunday, he contradicted that assertion and admitted that regulations requiring that D9 bulldozers not operate within 20 meters of people did, in fact, apply.

When asked if there were “lessons learned” in response to this incident, he said he was unaware of any changes made in training and affirmed that to date, cameras to improve visibility have not been added to the bulldozers. He said the Israeli army experimented with cameras but found they were not a good solution because they were too easily damaged and because neither the bulldozer operator nor his commander had ability to pay attention to the cameras under operational circumstances. However, he confirmed that unmanned “drone” bulldozers with cameras attached were used by the Israeli army during the Lebanon invasion of 2006.

On April 11, 2011, witnesses again testified behind a screen.

Deputy Battalion Commander Sh.R, a Major responsible for overseeing 450-500 soldiers in Gaza, said he was located about 1 ½ kilometers from the scene at the army’s Liaison Unit with Foreign Forces (Yaklaz), and that although the bulldozer work was under the direct ground supervision of Captain S.R., he was in a position to influence the work and was ultimately responsible for the decisions made that day. This was significant because in the preceding hearing, Captain S.R., a Bedouin officer who testified earlier in the week, told the court he requested to halt his work because of the presence of the protesters, and potential danger to them, but received orders to continue.

Major  Sh.R, in his testimony, presented a hard doctrinaire IDF line.  At the Rachel Corrie Foundation trial blog, the major’s assertion is challenged:

Sh.R. defined the “Philidelphi Route” not just as the narrow, Israeli controlled, military road running parallel to the Gaza/Egypt border, but rather as the entire width of land between the Egypt border and the first row of Palestinian houses inside Gazan territory. He also insisted that Palestinians in these houses were those digging tunnels, snipers attacking the military, or smuggling weapons, and that clearing and destroying homes was done only after it was “beyond a reasonable doubt” that homes were empty. His description, although emblematic of the Israeli military’s position regarding the area in 2003, completely ignores the fact, and credible documentation by U.N. humanitarian agencies and human rights groups, that the land was once filled with densely populated civilian homes, the first row of which receded rapidly as the Israeli military bulldozed row upon row of houses, widening the border’s buffer zone and claiming the newly razed Palestinian territory for its own. Comparative satellite photos from a 2004 Human Rights Watch publication titled Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip document this “wholesale destruction” of Palestinian homes along Gaza’s southern border.

In his continuing testimony, the major made an interesting assertion:

Sh.R. stated he knew unarmed protestors were in the area, but in his opinion, stopping the work was not an option. He said the protesters were not a threat to the force, but added that if every foreigner came to raise banners, terrorists would also come and he would lose his ability to control the region. He admitted that avoiding a precedent was a consideration in the decision to continue working. He stated that in his opinion, the protesters should have been barred from entering Gaza. [emphasis added]

Major Sh.R. said more than he may have intended.  Additionally, his further testimony, linked to the deaths of other foreign nationals during the same time period as Corrie, is quite troubling.  The Corrie Foundation article on this states:

Although, he described in testimony that regulations state you don’t shoot unless there is intent and means to hurt you, a written summary of events recorded in the daily operations log on March 16, 2003, stated, “those foreigners should be handled and their entrance into the Gaza Strip should be forbidden. Additionally, the work must continue in the area in question. The firing orders state that every adult person should be shot to kill.” Within seven weeks of Rachel’s killing, award winning journalist James Miller and activist Tom Hurndall, both British citizens, were shot and killed along the same two mile stretch of the Rafah, Gaza border.

One should realize that this corridor of densely packed civilian housing that the IDF was willing to kill so many people over, has since been abandoned by the IDF.

The local platoon commander that day, A.D, provided more information that should be troubling, in regard to Israeli military disregard of international law:

  • work, although he could not remember anything about the specific file that day.
  • The APC had a periscope from which they could see a longer distance from the vehicle.
  • Commander R.S. spoke frequently on the cell phone and, in order to use it, he had to remove his helmet. This contradicts earlier military testimonies that claimed helmets worn would never be removed and, thus, soldiers would not have heard the protesters shouting through the megaphone nearby.
  • He could not recall the specific safety instructions for the D9 bulldozer, but said the unit would continue working as carefully as possible. He believed work was allowed if protesters were within 15 meters of the vehicle, but not if they were within 5 meters.
  • He knew that the protesters were civilians and “Americans.”
  • He said there was a first aid kit within the APC, and he believed it was likely that the radio communications person in the vehicle was also a trained medic. However, he confirmed that the medical kit was not thrown to the protesters after Rachel was hit. Testimony made clear that no serious attempt was made by the military to provide medical assistance to Rachel at the scene prior to Palestinian medics evacuating her.

The soldiers offered no medical assistance. Corrie might have been saved, but was not.

This is consistent with the evidence provided by the video smuggled off of the MV Mavi Marmara by Iara Lee, which clearly showed both that the Israeli soldiers wounded and captured by resistors on that ship were immediately given medical assistance, and that the Israeli military refused any medical attention to the wounded Turks, as they went about assassinating at close range.

On May 22, former IDF spokesperson, Ruth Yaron took the stand.  From the Corrie Foundation trial blog:

Yaron’s testimony focused on the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), in a weak attempt by the State to justify the military’s killing of Rachel by delegitimizing the organization’s mission of resisting the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands using only non-violent, direct action, methods. Rachel was an unarmed civilian, non-violently protesting against home demolitions in Rafah, Gaza, when she was killed. Yaron provided no first-hand knowledge of events, and relied heavily on second or third hand sources and hearsay.

Additional information about Yaron’s testimony will be released in the future.

Sunday is supposed to be this long trial’s final day of testimony.  Scheduled is the former Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade Commander, Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz:

Colonel Zuaretz was the commanding officer of the Israeli military’s Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade in 2003, when American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed. Troops under his command were responsible for the actions resulting in her killing. Zuaretz is the highest ranking officer called as a government witness in the civil trial who had command responsibility in Gaza. He is possibly the highest such officer ever to face cross examination in a civil suit regarding the actions of the Israeli military against civilians in Gaza during the second intifada. His testimony is expected to shed light on the Israeli military’s failures as an occupying power to protect civilian life and property in the region.

It will be some time before a decision is reached, and whichever way it comes out, it is certainly likely to be appealed all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court.

III. As Israel becomes more racist, as land confiscation in the West Bank ramps up, as Netanyahu dares our government to object in the run-up to major fundraising for the 2012 election, and as participants of this summer’s protests to Israeli occupation and apartheid policies seek to find ways to be more effective in the future, it is important to realize that Palestinians don’t resent that so much more attention was brought to Rachel’s demise, or to the flotillas and fytilla than has been brought to the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, Lebanese and others, at the hands of the IDF.

It is also important to note that in 2003, when Corrie was killed, perhaps murdered, there was no Hamas boogey man running Gaza.  It was under control of the Palestinian Authority, and was being aggressively colonized by Israeli settlers, using the South African model, as they continue to do in the occupied West Bank.

This weekend the Israelis stopped hundreds of peaceful Americans and Europeans from merely getting off an airplane in Tel Aviv to go to the West Bank.  Almost 100 are in jail right now.  Some will be there for weeks.  Alice Walker, who was on the American boat hoping to go to Gaza, the MV Audacity of Hope, was in the West Bank last spring.  She wrote this:

I have been in Palestine for five days.  It has been amazing.  Deeply distressing and sad in many ways; but also filled with joy, with creativity, exuberance, and hope.  Who knew there was so much life left in Palestine?  That people are in love with literature and poetry?  That young people are on fire about the novels and short stories they’re reading in their classes?  As well as about the revolutions shaking the Arab world? That despite the hardships of  occupation there is a sense among Palestinians that the world is changing and is at last capable of hearing them.  And not just hearing them, but responding.  And not only to their tragic and hair raising reports of the lethal Israeli occupation; an occupation as pathological as any ever to afflict humankind.  No, the thought in the air around here resembles the brilliant red poppy one sees glowing between massive rocks, its roots somehow not crushed, that sings:  Oh yes, I am still here, still red, still blooming as me, in spite of everything!  And guess what?  I have no desire to resemble these rocks that sit on top of me.

This is the peace of non-violent revolt which entails a radical dedication to non-abandonment of the peaceful self.

Long live all of us, and especially the Palestinian people: Tenacious, like the red poppy. Waving bright hope in the smallest wind.   Blooming, joyful, retaining our humor and generosity to the stranger, but also our love of  green grass and Spring.

Each of Earth’s peoples teaches the rest of us  something:  You demonstrate steadfastness: how to hold on, through lies, murder, brutal repression, breathtaking theft, unbearable despair, until at last, singing our own outraged and wild poppy song, we come to join you.

Eight years ago this week, as I sought permission from Rachel Corrie’s family to write music honoring her, Cindy Corrie wrote to me:

Our lives are fairly complicated these days, as I am sure you can imagine….. Our loss is great but creative responses like yours to Rachel’s life and death lift my spirits so.

The Corries continue their complicated fight to lift the spirits of the oppressed Palestinian people. Let us hope the Corries and the Palestinians get some overdue justice, for their children, who deserve more than what we now give them.

Preparing to Live Blog the 2011 Gaza Flotilla

7:35 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

ISRAEL-FLOTILLA/PICTURES

I. Last year, on the night of May 29-30, as the Gaza bound flotilla headed by the Turkish cruise ship, MV Mavi Marmara, approached the coast of the eastern Mediterranean, firedoglake was able to provide the best real time coverage of the interception and boarding of the vessels.  I had started a live blog diary on the evening of the 29th, at MyFDL‘s predecessor, The Seminal.  Siun was able to take over, with a front-page diary.  Reading back through those diaries now sends a chill down my back:

Live Blogging the Gaza Flotilla’s Run to the Gaza Coast Or …

Israeli Warships Try To Block Wheelchairs and Schoolbooks for Gaza

In 2010 there wasn’t as much attention being drawn to the flotilla as there seems to be this year.  For sure, the mainstream media is avoiding it as best possible, but the depth and width of discussion of the issues surrounding the perceived need for the 2011 flotilla in alternative media is heartening.  There are many reasons for this.

A case in point is Glenn Greenwald’s interest in the flotilla today.  His essay, U.S., Israel escalate threats against flotilla, including U.S. citizens, concentrates partially on the subject matter of my Saturday MyDFL diary, Obama Administration Threatens to Jail 87-year-old Holocaust Survivor, Others – Updated X 2.  The U.S. State Department warnings to Americans on the Gaza flotilla on Wednesday and Friday last week were just the sort of idiocy Greenwald assails best:

The perception that Clinton endorsed possible Israeli violence against Americans is bolstered by the conduct of the U.S. Government in the wake of Israel’s attack on the prior Gaza flotilla, when Israel killed 9 people, including the unarmed 19-year-old American citizen (and Turkish citizen) Furkan Dogan.  While most governments instinctively condemn the killing of their own unarmed citizens by foreign armies — Turkey was furious at Israel for months and world leaders in virtual consensus harshly condemned the Israeli aggression — the Obama administration almost immediately took Israel’s side, culminating with Joe Biden’s disgusting rhetorical question, posed before the American teenager was even buried: “what’s the big deal here”?

Worse, the Clinton State Department is now explicitly threatening Americans who participate in the flotilla with criminal prosecution (h/t Jason Ditz):

The United States on Friday warned activists against plans to send a new aid flotilla to challenge Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying it would be irresponsible and dangerous. . . . “We underscore that delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration,” [State Department Spokesperson Victoria] Nuland said.

Greenwald also is incensed (as am I) that a former Bush speech writer, Joshua Treviño, appears to be cheerleading for the IDF to kill Americans in the flotilla.  Though some blog commentators and commenters see this as something new, a measure of last ditch desperation, it is not.  There have always been some Americans whose blind support for Israel pushes them over edges.  For instance, last year, in response to the 2010 flotilla debacle, Jennifer Rubin wrote at Commentary:

if you are not with Israel, you are against her. And if you do not oppose with every fiber of your being and every instrument at your disposal that which intends the Jewish state harm, you are enabling her destroyers.

Creepy, huh?  Rubin is often like that.  Perhaps this is part of why she got a job five months after that article at Commentary, at the Washington Post.  Where she continues to be, uh, creepy.

II. Part of the reason for heightened interest in the 2011 flotilla is that the eastern Mediterranean of 2011 is different from that of a year ago.  To the south of Israel and Gaza, Egypt is in the midst of throwing off decades of misrule by Gen. Mubarak.  To the direct north of Israel, Hezbollah is a more powerful force in Lebanese politics than they were in 2010.  And to the north of Lebanon, Syria is in upheaval that may lead to the demise of a regime even more onerous than that of Mubarak.  The same tools we saw used by 2010 flotilla  participants – blogs, facebook, twitter and cell phones (with their cameras) – were used extensively in the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrein and Syria.

On the surface it may seem that the events in Tunisia and Egypt are far more important than any issue the Gaza flotillas may actually be able to determine.  However, both Egyptian and Israeli efforts to ease aspects of the siege of the world’s biggest open air prison camp can be partially credited to the heightened knowledge of what is happening in Gaza by the coverage of last year’s, and of this year’s flotillas.

The coverage Monday morning by Democracy Now, of flotilla preparations at the port of Piraeus, just south of Athens, which is in almost as much turmoil as Cairo was in February, showed that the kind of activism against the borg which the flotillas represent, is resonating in many settings:

So, in a sense, in 2010, the flotilla movement seemed somewhat isolated, representative mostly of continuing attempts to break the siege of Gaza.  This year, it is part of a tremendous mix of grassroots activities aimed at challenging egregious governmental practices, in the eastern Mediterranean, and globally.

III. What I hope to do this year is get a diary going at MyFDL when the flotilla appears to be getting close to where the Israeli military forces will feel they have to respond.  Siun here at fdl will be ready, as last year, to take the ongoing story to the front page. Max Blumenthal may help us directly.  I’m hoping that Mondoweiss will be able to reflect what is happening more rapidly in 2011 than was the case there in 2010.  They have mods, but no mods on the web are as awesome or as rapidly flexible as those of firedoglake.  I may set up a diary at Daily Kos that directs people to fdl‘s coverage.

Wednesday, I’ll post a diary here that gives a comprehensive blog, twitter and facebook list for organizations and individuals who will be covering this historic encounter.

If you have ideas or suggestions that you think might help, please comment.

[image - captured Israeli commando being led down to the infirmary of the MV Mavi Marmara, for medical treatment, at the same time IDF forces were summarily executing Turkish and American captives on the top decks. Image attributed to Reuters, but taken by Kevin Neash of Victoria, BC]

How Many Fucking Foreign Armies Get to Recruit on U.S. Campuses? – One

12:23 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Does the British Army get to recruit on U.S. campuses? How about the Canadian Army? Or the Mexican Army? No, they don’t.

But the Israeli Army – the IDF – gets to.

Increasingly, their appearances are being protested. No doubt, the U.S. Congress will soon be told by a certain foreign country’s agents to pass a law forbidding protests against these recruiting missions, and they will probably pass the bill with large bipartisan support.

Meanwhile students are doing what they can.

In Michigan:

In Arizona:

http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DOybpkWlNhgU%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded

Update: I tried to embed the youtubes of these two campus events and protests, but they won’t load into the diary for some reason.  Also, the youtube of the event at Arizona has now been moved behind a registration wall there:

This content may contain material flagged by YouTube’s user community that may be inappropriate for some users.
To view this video or group, please verify you are 18 or older by signing in or signing up. If you would instead prefer to avoid potentially inappropriate content, consider activating YouTube’s Safety Mode.

This content may contain material flagged by YouTube’s user community that may be inappropriate for some users.
To view this video or group, please verify you are 18 or older by signing in or signing up. If you would instead prefer to avoid potentially inappropriate content, consider activating YouTube’s Safety Mode.

Rachel Corrie Civil Suit – D-9 Driver Won’t Be Able to be Seen in Testimony

11:16 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The concluding phase of the wrongful death lawsuit by the Corrie family, over the death Rachel Corrie in March 2003 began in Haifa Thursday, with the Government of Israel being granted their request to have some testimony in this phase shielded from view from the audience, and from the plaintiffs:

The Haifa District Court on Thursday granted a government request to allow soldiers to testify behind a screen in the lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza.

The order includes the driver of the bulldozer that killed Rachel, who is slated to testify later this month. However, Judge Oded Gershon ruled that both the commander of the unit and the second soldier in the bulldozer that hit Rachel would testify in plain view, because their faces were already publicly known.

In asking for the highly unusual protective measures, state attorneys argued that they were necessary to protect the soldiers’ safety and prevent their images from being circulated. They based the request on an overbroad security certificate issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008, but did not provide concrete evidence to substantiate their concerns for the soldiers’ safety or security.

Corrie attorneys opposed the motion, arguing that allowing the soldiers to testify behind a screen infringes upon the right to an open, fair and transparent trial. They asked to dismiss the request, filed just 48 hours before the first soldier’s testimony. Alternatively, the lawyers asked the court to allow the family to see the witnesses even if the public could not, but their request was denied. Lawyers for the Corrie family plan to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Israel.

The irony of this situation was not missed by Rachel Corrie’s father, Craig:

"While Rachel stood in front of a wall to protect the two families huddled behind it, the state is now making the soldiers hide behind a wall that denies us the opportunity to see them," said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother. "The State of Israel has been hiding for over seven years. Where is the justice?"

Where is the justice, indeed? I have to say, though, that I’m somewhat surprised the Israeli government hasn’t managed to quash this trial. I’m becoming more convinced every day that the Government of Israel has considered itself at war with the United States of America since July 14th, 1954, when Israeli agents firebombed the U.S. Information Agency libraries in Cairo and Alexandria.

I’m just finishing reading James Scott’s definitive book, The Attack on the Liberty. The number of U.S. officials who believed then and still believe the attack on that ship was intentional is overwhelming. Just one of many examples:

[Secretary of State Dean] Rusk channeled his hostility over the attack into a stinging three-page letter to the Ambassador [of Israel, Avraham Harman]. Aided by Katzenbach and Walt Rostow, Rusk left no doubt he didn’t believe Israel’s assertion that its forces had attacked in error.

Elsewhere (in his memoir), Rusk has been cited:

I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.

Every surviving member of the U.S.S. Liberty’s crew believes that the attack was deliberate, and meant to kill everyone on the ship.

In 1983, the Israeli Government had pre-knowledge of the impending attack on the U.S. Marine barracks near Beirut airport, but intentionally failed to pass it on:

On October 23, 1983 – at 6:20 a.m. – A truck packed with explosives slammed into US Marine barracks at Beirut Internation Airport – killing 241 Marines, mostly aseleep. A few minutes later, a similar explosion blew up a French military barracks – killing 56 French soldiers. Israeli Mossad acknowledged that it had prior information on these terrorist activities – but its chief Nahum Admony – decided not to warn Israel’s ally in details: “No. We are not going to protect the Americans. They’re a big country. Send only the regular information.”

Consistent with this sort of M.O. – that of a nation at war with the U.S. and its citizens – in the matter of this ongoing trial, is the way the IDF handled the surveillance of the area where Corrie was killed, at the time she was killed:

Also testifying on Thursday was the head of the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, Shalom Michaeli, who oversaw the investigation into Rachel’s killing. He told the court that he stood by his 2003 investigation and saw no reason that anyone should have been prosecuted.

Michaeli was also in charge of the investigation into the killing of Iman al Hams, a 13-year-old Gaza school girl who was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in Rafah as she lay injured on the ground in October 2004. A military police internal investigation subsequently found major failures in Michaeli’s investigation, saying it was conducted unprofessionally and with negligence. The solider who killed al Hams was court-martialed but subsequently acquitted – in part because of this flawed investigation.

Michaeli’s cross-examination revealed similar flaws in the Corrie investigation. These flaws support the family’s claim of government negligence, for allowing soldiers and their commanders to act recklessly using armored military bulldozers without due regard for the presence of civilians.

Michaeli said that he ordered only a partial transcript of radio transmissions because he did not think it important to transcribe the full audio.

He said he did not go to the site of Rachel’s killing because it was dangerous, the terrain had already been altered, and the vehicles removed by the Israeli military. He acknowledged that he could have gone to the scene in an armored vehicle, but chose not to.

Michaeli testified in his written affidavit that when he inspected the bulldozer he did not find any signs of blood or other evidence that the vehicle had injured anyone. However, in court testimony he said the bulldozer could have been washed “or even painted” before he inspected it.

Michaeli said he knew, prior to opening the investigation, there was a video camera recording the area around the clock. But he failed to obtain the tape until March 23, a week after the incident, because it had been previously taken by senior commanders.

When questioned about his failure to interrogate the camera operator, who panned away from the scene only minutes before Rachel was killed, he said he did not think it was relevant.

When asked whether he questioned the bulldozer crews about an Israeli military manual for low intensity conflict that states bulldozers should not be operated near people, Michaeli said the manuals were not relevant. He added that bulldozer operators could not be expected to follow such procedures in this zone. He went on to say that he believed the Israeli army was “at war” with everyone in the area, including the ISM peace activists.

Michaeli still heads the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, but has since been promoted from Sergeant Major to Warrant Officer.

“Today I was struck by the lead investigator’s failures – his failure to look for evidence, to secure evidence, to resolve conflicting evidence, and to turn evidence over to this court,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father. “This is not what we and the U.S. government were promised by the government of Israel when Rachel was killed and it is not what we will accept now.” [emphases added]

The IDF clearly states here, that it considered itself to be at war with U.S. citizen Rachel Corrie. I suppose that is how the IDF considered itself to be with U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan, when he was murdered in cold blood for merely attempting to document IDF atrocities:

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been "lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time" before being shot in his face.

The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is "tattooing around the wound in his face," indicating that the shot was "delivered at point blank range." The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that "the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back."

Based on both "forensic and firearm evidence," the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan’s killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 "can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions." [emphases added]

Quite troubling in this context, is the information – covered at The Seminal yesterday by CTuttle, of apparent attempts by Israeli agents, fueled by a new report by the Reut Institute, that will probably target blogs like firedoglake and diarists here such as CTuttle, Markfromireland and me as "existential threats":

The evolution of the Delegitimization Network. This network aims to turn Israel into a pariah state so it will ultimately cease to exist. It is based in a number of metropolitan cities (US!), within which a relatively small number of individuals and organizations mobilize the assault on Israel’s legitimacy. The Delegitimization Network’s success lies in its ability to harness the Western liberal and progressive elite. It does so by employing a variety of means aimed at blurring its true intentions; [...]

11. These groups are leading a systemic and systematic attack against Israel’s political and economic model, which has already had strategic consequences and may become existential if ignored or inadequately addressed.

40. It takes a network to fight a network – The delegitimization campaign against Israel is carried out by a network of NGOs based in a number of international metropolitan cities. Disrupting this network should become the main anti-delegitimization focus.

60. The Reut Institute contends that combined, these forces represent a political-diplomatic strategic threat that may become existential. Resistance Network leaders repeatedly and publicly declare their goal of causing Israel’s implosion inspired by precedents set by the Soviet Union, South Africa, and other countries. This logic is ripening into a strategy that is yielding tangible gains. [emphases added]

While not clearly targeting pro-Palestinian rights bloggers, this document, along with others that have leaked out of Israel over the past year, indicate that efforts to delegitimize the delegitimizers is increasingly being linked to the Israeli model of total war.

As the delightful IDF Col. Yossi declared last month, "There are no civilians in wartime!"

Rachel Corrie Civil Suit in Haifa – Israeli Colonel: “There Are No Civilians in War Zones”

10:49 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I. Anyone reading through the transcripts and findings or articles about the first phase of this suit and what is emerging now, who then continues to believe the U.S. government should allow the Israeli Defense Forces and Defense Ministry to be the ones conducting the investigation into the death of American citizen Furkan Dogan – which is exactly what your congress and senate have demanded your president actually do – is abdicating a serious responsibility we hold toward our injured or killed citizens to an unfair, inadequate process.

After all, in the case of Mr. Dogan, here’s the wan statement Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued, regarding his murder:

Protecting the welfare of American citizens is a fundamental responsibility of our government and one that we take very seriously. We are in constant contact with the Israeli Government, attempting to obtain more information about our citizens.

It has been over 100 days now, and what has this "constant contact" resulted in? Somebody please remind Secretary Clinton.

II. The first half of the second phase of the wrongful death civil suit brought by Craig and Cindy Corrie against the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli Defense Ministry, concluded Monday in Haifa. Testimony on both days of this portion of the trial, which was attended by "representatives from the US Embassy, Human Rights Watch and Adalah, a legal and human rights organization," clearly indicates that there was no "investigation" of Corrie’s March 16th, 2003 death near Rafah in the Gaza Strip worthy of being termed thorough or fair. Although there had been additional testimony (the State is presenting its rebuttal to the Corries’ March 2010 presentation) scheduled for September 21st, the trial will not resume until October, when it is set for the the 7th, 17th, 18th and 21st.

In the testimony of Sunday, September 5, it was unmistakable that the IDF had an enormously unqualified young, 20 year-old soldier conduct the most important parts of the early investigation:

Oded confirmed that a commander of the unit involved in Rachel’s killing interrupted the questioning of the bulldozer operator, telling him that Doron Almog, head of the Israeli military’s Southern Command, had ordered that the questioning cease. He also said that, in his experience, interference of this nature from military commanders was not uncommon.

When asked why he did not challenge the intervention, Oded said that as a junior investigator, it was not his place to do so. He was 20-years-old at the time, with only a high-school education and three-months of training in investigation.

Corrie’s case was the first civilian killing that Oded investigated from beginning to end.
Like El’ad, Oded stated that neither he nor any other investigator visited the site of the killing.

Oded said that he did not obtain the video-audio recording from the military surveillance camera which filmed 24/7 until March 23, a week after he began the investigation.

Oded said he did not request the video-audio recording with radio transmissions of the 2 bulldozer drivers and commanders from the hours leading up to the incident, transmissions which might have provided further context to the killing. Oded stated he did not believe they were relevant, even though Rachel and her friends from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) were protesting the bulldozer activity for several hours prior to her death.

When military police transcribed the radio transmissions, they failed to include an exchange in Arabic in which one soldier said, “Yem mawatu!” which in English means, “What, Did you kill him?!” and another soldier replied, “Allah Yerhamo,” “May God have mercy on him.” When asked about the discrepancy, Oded said that he did not understand Arabic and the investigation team did not think it was important. Oded testified that none of the investigators interviewed any of the Palestinian witnesses – including medical personnel who examined Rachel immediately following the incident. When asked why, he said he did not think they could provide any useful information.

There have been unanswered questions about the missing video surveillance tapes and audio of radio conversations between command control and the two people in the bulldozer that killed Corrie since the March phase. None have yet been answered in this current two-day episode. Have they been destroyed, or are they merely being deemed "classified"?

Monday’s proceeding featured what appears to have been an incredibly haughty IDF Colonel, who most reminds me of the Argentine Colonels of the late 70s and 80s, who justified the murder of tens of thousands of liberal and progressive men and women there, because their whole nation was "a war zone."

One of the witnesses, known to the court as Yossi, was a Colonel in the Engineering Corps. He was responsible for writing operating manuals for military bulldozers and other equipment. He also conducted a simulation of what the bulldozer driver would have been able to see. In his testimony:

He repeatedly insisted that there are no civilians in a war zone. His assertion disregards the reality in the Palestinian Occupied Territories as well as international humanitarian law, which was created to protect civilians in armed conflict situations.

Yossi contradicted his own March 2003 testimony, given to military investigators, that the armored personnel carrier (APC) at the incident was intended to protect both soldiers and civilians. Today, he said the APC was there only for the safety of the drivers.

In his affidavit, Yossi wrote that he conducted a reenactment of the incident. However, he testified today that he did not reenact the scene, but rather filmed a bulldozer of the same model with a bulldozer operator, and another soldier, to get a sense of what the operator at the incident might have seen. He also said he did not view the military’s surveillance video of the incident in creating his simulation.

Yossi claimed that the manual on operating instructions for mechanical engineering equipment in low intensity conflict did not apply to real conflict situations, but rather only in training and administrative activities.

Yossi stated that the bulldozer driver and commander have the exact same field of vision and that the commander sat at the same level as the driver, contradicting the government’s expert witness, who stated that the commander had a better field of vision because he sat higher.

Another witness for the state, Major Yoram Manchori, testified as an expert witness on the bulldozer’s field of vision. He was responsible for purchasing heavy engineering equipment and readying it for military use. In May 2010, he created an animated simulation of what the bulldozer driver and commander’s vision might have been.

Manchori insisted he used in the simulation a bulldozer identical to the one that killed Rachel. However, the bulldozer he used had multiple bars on its windows, whereas the bulldozer that struck Rachel had no bars. Upon being informed of this discrepancy, he claimed that the bars did not impact visibility.

He conducted his simulation on terrain that was very different than the terrain at the scene.

He determined the simulated location of the bulldozers based on eyewitness recollections given over 7 years after the incident. He did not cross-check them with eyewitness accounts from the time of the killing, nor did he view the military surveillance video of the incident.

Manchori testified that the price of a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer is currently $700,000 and the cost of arming it is an additional $200,000 – $250,000, figures not previously disclosed. In light of this, it is now known that the cost of mounting a camera, which is often cited as being prohibitively expensive, would be less than 10% of the price of the bulldozer itself.

Manchori testified that after Rachel’s death the Israeli military installed cameras on one bulldozer but due to the high cost, limited increase in field vision and other problems, the installation was discontinued.

Manchori testified that prior to Corrie’s killing, the Israeli military tested the D9R bulldozer field of vision and that he personally had sent three charts of the results to the military investigators in March 2003. In court today, the Corries’ lawyer requested to obtain a copy of this report, stating that he needed it in order to analyze the bulldozer visibility claims made in the military police investigation of Rachel’s killing. The State argued that the report was classified and should not be allowed into evidence, although the Israeli Supreme Court previously ruled that this report was relevant to the case. Judge Gershon upheld the State’s argument.

After Monday’s hearing, regarding the "no civilians in a war zone" statement, Cindy Corrie was quoted as saying, "This was startling to our family, and to others in the courtroom. Rafah is a densely populated town. In fact, Rachel was killed defending the home of two Palestinian families-a pharmacist, an accountant, their wives and small children. It was extremely troubling for their existence to be categorically denied.”

III. An interesting development in the coverage, or lack thereof, of this trial, is the reporting by a source of pro-Israeli information, IMRA, or Independent Media Review and Analysis. As was shown in the MV Mavi Marmara incident, the IDF and Defense Ministry are getting quicker at throwing their propaganda out there and seeing what sticks to the wall than had been the case until 2010. As Max Blumenthal was easily able to demonstrate in the aftermath of that tragedy, accuracy was not an issue with the IDF. Were it not for the incredible courage of Iara Lee and others aboard the MVMM, more of the IDF crap would have stuck to the wall.

In the IMRA coverage of the trial, they now spend a lot of time on the "research" done by American writer and journalist Joshua Hammer in 2003. At that time, working for Mother Jones magazine, he "hammered" what he had hoped would be the definitive nails into Rachel Corrie’s coffin:

Corrie herself has faded into obscurity, a subject of debate in Internet chat rooms and practically nowhere else.

That was September 2003. Phan Nguyen, writing then for Counterpunch, tore Hammer’s piece to shreds, in an article titled Mother Jones Smears Rachel Corrie – Specious Journalism in Defense of Killers.

In early 2004, I corresponded with Phan Nguyen about his article and Hammer’s. I attempted to get in touch with Hammer, but he didn’t respond. I wrote to some of those Nguyen observed Hammer had stolen material from, and they were surprised, though – being right-wing Christian Zionists – they were disappointed to have ended up in what one called "the leftist MoJo."

I wrote about the Hammer-Nguyen contretemps for an April 2004 lecture I delivered in Anchorage. In that lecture I left out my suspicion from researching Hammer’s sources that he had been fed a lot of his 2003 material from an Israeli governmental source or sources, most likely the Mossad or another intelligence-gathering group. Hence, his inability to handle the way he had ripped off American right-wing bloggers in the "leftist MoJo" article. I speculate now that he didn’t even know it was a rip-off, because he probably merely reprinted stuff given to him by his contacts as his own, without checking it.

The way IMRA is sanctifying Hammer’s long-ago blown material now only reinforces what I felt in 2004.

Proof of Murder Aboard the Mavi Marmara?

1:20 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I was going through the footage released Thursday at the UN by culturesofresistance.org, taking screen shots of important events and scenes, when I noticed a series of what sound like 9mm shots, minutes after the vessel had capitulated. The sun is about to come up.

They begin at 56:03 on the 1:02:13 long version posted at The Seminal Friday. The shots are very troubling. I cannot think of any reason for them having occurred at that time that fits the Israeli chronology, at least what little they have so far felt they had to release.

The screen shots I’ve gotten tell a powerfully different story than the ongoing narrative. I have more hope, having watched this entire video twice now, that the future flotillas can learn faster on how to deal with the IDF than can the IDF learn its job.

I’ll be posting the screen shots, once I’ve gotten them edited.

Meanwhile, look at the ten seconds following 56:03. Walk back through the 40 seconds preceding it, and you can see unmistakable signs of total capitulation and resignation.

What do you think those rounds being fired at that time meant?

Uzi Dayan, Former Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the IDF, Threatens to Kill NATO Member Prime Minister

12:16 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The aptly named Uzi Dayan, the former Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the IDF stated yesterday, in response to the possibility of the Turkish Prime Minister accompanying a June Gaza relief flotilla :

"If the Turkish prime minister joins such a flotilla, we should make clear beforehand this would be an act of war, and we would not try to take over the ship he was on, but would sink it.”

So, our "greatest ally in the Middle East," the country that within the past two weeks has placed dozens of nuclear-armed cruise missiles in waters of the Persian Gulf within a few miles of some of the most valuable vessels in the U.S. Navy, is prepared to declare war against one of NATO’s longest standing members.

Jason Ditz, writing about Dayan’s statement, observed:

The explicit threat of war against Turkey is something new, however. While Israel starts wars with a casualness rarely seen in other nations, an attack on Turkey, a key NATO member with an enormous military, would be something quite different from a monthlong attack on the Gaza Strip or blowing up metro Beirut with air strikes.

The Israelis are acting more provocatively by the day. Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal, who is now in Israel, may be uncovering more lies right now. Max, perhaps more than any other individual, is tearing apart the IDF’s blatantly untrue narrative of the seizing of the Memorial Day relief convoy. Max is also urging American colleges and communities to more seriously consider seeking BDS moves against the apartheid state.

And another source tells me that more detail will emerge soon that validates what many people suspect to be the video of the murder of Furkan Dogan:

The Gaza Flotilla Prepares to Form Up for a Confrontation

1:40 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Gaza Flotilla, bearing thousands of tons of supplies for the 1.5 million people besieged in the small coastal enclave between Israel and Egypt, will be forming up for a confrontation with the Israeli Navy at the end of this week. According to the fairly reliable Israeli online source, debka.com:

The Turkish government sent a secret message to Jerusalem Monday, May 24, threatening reprisals if the Israeli Navy prevents the "Freedom Flotilla" of nine boats from reaching the Gaza Strip on May 27 for the avowed objects of breaking Israel’s blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory and delivering humanitarian aid. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that the Turkish message was an ultimatum to Israel threatening retaliation against Israeli interests. It is backed by the unreported presence of one or more helicopters on one or more of the Turkish vessels for challenging Israeli Air Force support for the naval blockade.

The Debka File report goes on to indicate that Turkish Intelligence is involved with the Turkish aspects of participation in the multi-national flotilla of nine vessels, which range greatly in size:

This foundation is quietly sponsored by Turkish intelligence and all its operations, including the Gaza flotilla, the most ambitious yet for breaking the Israeli blockade on Gaza – drawn from the prime minister’s office in Ankara.

Israel has imposed a 20-nautical mile closure on the Gaza coast and vowed to prevent the Turkish-led flotilla from entering port.

Potentially, the most provocative aspect of the plans for dealing with the confrontation the IDF has announced it is planning for the flotilla may be this:

Our sources report Erdogan has approved a plan of action whereby when Israeli warships and naval commandoes board the vessels to prevent them reaching Gaza, the helicopter carrying the leading activists will take off, fly over their heads and land in Gaza. The assumption is that the Israeli Air Force will not dare to intercept the helicopter and bring it down while still offshore for fear of an international outcry against a purported humanitarian mission.

The IDF, in information it has let out on its plans, has indicated involvement in the operation of personnel trained to deal with large numbers of unwilling prisoners:

Jerusalem has not yet replied to the Turkish ultimatum. It is standing fast as yet – barring provocations or shooting from the convoy to gain media attention – by the decision to block the flotilla’s entry to a Gazan port. The vessels will be diverted to an Israeli port, if necessary by Israeli naval units boarding them, and the people aboard detained at a special camp thrown up to house them.

And:

The Navy is preparing an operational plan to stop the flotilla of nine ships – loaded with hundreds of international activists and thousands of tons of supplies – which are scheduled to try and break the sea blockade on Gaza by anchoring in the newly-expanded port later this week.

In addition, the IDF has established a joint taskforce together with the Israel Police, the Foreign Ministry and the Prisons Service to coordinate efforts to stop the flotilla and manage the potential media fallout.

There are many reporters among the hundreds of passengers in the flotilla, and they hope to be able to get information out to the world on the inevitable confrontation in real time:

Meanwhile, the ECESG said the flotilla will arrive by Friday, among those travelling are 36 journalists working for 21 news agencies, and the boats are equipped with wireless sat transmitters, so the journalists can capture the Israeli pirates terrorizing and attempted kidnapping of the crew, passengers.

Confirmation of heavy Turkish pressure on the Israeli government has also made it into the Israeli mainstream media:

Turkey urged Israel on Tuesday to lift its blockade of Gaza and allow a Turkish-led convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid to enter the Hamas-controlled enclave.

An international flotilla carrying some 10,000 tons of medical equipment, housing material and other supplies is expected to reach Israeli waters by Friday, according to a Turkey-based humanitarian aid group leading the effort.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference during a UN meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his government had been in touch with Israel about the aid convoy.

"Acting calmly is necessary rather than raising already heightened tensions," he said. "The blockade on Gaza should be lifted."

He added: "We don’t want new tensions … We believe Israel will use common sense towards this civilian initiative."

There have been indications that the IDF forces intend to conduct electronic warfare against the flotilla at the time of the confrontation, blacking out all communication between the vessels and the outside world, and that they will then seize all electronic devices on board the vessels, as Israeli police and intelligence units have similarly confiscated computers, video equipment and other items from Israeli and Palestinian peace activists in recent months.

The MV Rachel Corrie, carrying the biggest cargo load in the flotilla, has been reported to having had to pull into a Portuguese port for repairs, but more recently, it has been reported "off the coast of Spain." However, it does not appear that this ship has yet entered the Mediterranean Sea.

Since Sunday, the Israeli government has launched an intense campaign intended to project two ideas – that the residents of Gaza get everything one could possibly need, and that the flotilla is directly supporting the terrorist Hamas network. They’ve even set up a twitter site at the Foreign Ministry (run by Avigdor Lieberman) as part of the campaign.

The U.S. media is beginning to cover this story, with an article by the Associated Press, and an op-ed in The Hill, by Iara Lee, who will be on board one of the flotilla vessels.

Earlier today, it was announced that the former Archbishop of Jerusalem will be joining the flotilla:

Sources participating in the Freedom Flotilla aid convoy stated that father Hilarion Capucci, the former archbishop of Jerusalem, joined the convoy sailing for the besieged Gaza Strip.
The sources said that father Capucci arrived in the Turkish city of Antalya on Sunday to join hundreds of participants in the convoy.

For his part, deputy head of the international committee for breaking the siege Mohamed Sawalha said that the participation of father Capucci has a symbolic importance for he is one of the most prominent Palestinian national figures who stood in the face of the Israeli occupation.

This is shaping up to be one of the most fascinating confrontation stories in recent years. No doubt the press relations propaganda section of the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC is gearing up to spin the story as it is already being spun by the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Tel Aviv, should American media start covering this more closely.

Meanwhile, the best site I’ve found for quick updates is the Free Gaza Movement’s twitter page.