By Dr. Elias Akleh
As expected by many, the serial terrorist Israeli army attacked on May 31st 2010, the “Freedom Flotilla” ships with gas bombs and live fire, murdering at least 19 humanitarian international activists, 16 of them Turks including one MP, and injuring 29 others. The Israeli navy, then, kidnapped the 700 humanitarian activists and their ships to Israel.
Since the declaration by the humanitarian activists that they intend to challenge the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza in order to deliver humanitarian aid to starved and sick Palestinian civilians, the Israeli officials and military had threatened to intercept the Freedom Flotilla, and send the activists back. When activists insisted on going through with their journey Israelis declared that such journey is considered a provocation to Israeli laws and a threat to its security. Later on, the Israelis announced that the organizers of the flotilla are pro-Hamas and pro-Al Qaeda terrorists attempting to smuggle weapons to Gaza, and that every passenger on the flotilla is a potential terrorist. I wonder if this includes the Israeli citizens who joined the flotilla volunteers.
The Israeli attack against the Freedom Flotilla was pre-meditated and pr- planned by the Israeli military headed by its defense minister, Ehud Barak, and approved by its prime minister, Netanyahu. Five large tents were erected at the Israeli port of Ashdod to hold humanitarian activists hostage. Three Israeli military ships loaded with 300 specially trained Israeli commandos accompanied by military helicopters and associated attack speed boats, headed to intercept unarmed humanitarian ships. This was the biggest Israeli naval battle since its illegal establishment in 1948.
Once again Israel had lived up to its infamous terrorist reputation. Israel’s 62 years old history is full of terrorism, genocide, wars, violations of all human rights, breaking of all national laws, and war crimes that would fill large volumes. Israel’s latest terror attack on the Freedom Flotilla is an international compounded crime. To start with, the Israeli navy attacked the ships in the international water. They attacked unarmed civilians. They attacked a humanitarian mission to aid people in need, similar to any humanitarian missions to a devastated area like Haiti for example, which gives the mission a special protection status by international law. The Israelis killed unarmed humanitarian activists. They kidnapped all the activists and took them hostages. They took the ships and put their hands on all the goods they carry similar to what they had done in the past with previous “Break the Siege” ships.
To cover their crime and war crimes against Gaza and the illegal siege the Israeli have just committed international crimes against representatives from 40 different countries including members of parliaments. Besides the crimes of murdering different internationals the Israelis have committed an act of piracy in the international waters.
The Israelis, as usual, portrayed themselves as the perpetual victims claiming that they had to kill the activists in an act of self-defense. They want us to believe that the humanitarian activists had come from 40 different countries with a conspiratorial plan to attack the Israeli well-armed navy, and that these activists had illegally boarded the Israeli battle ships using military helicopters and shooting live fire and gas grenades. The poor Israeli soldiers could do nothing but defend themselves. This reminds of me of Golda Meir’s statement: “We could never forgive the Palestinians for making us shoot their children.”
Israel’s justification for boarding the Freedom Flotilla because they don’t know what these vessels carry is a childish justification. There are hundreds of vessels in the Mediterranean, whose contents are not known to the Israelis. Does that mean that they have the right to board all of them?
The Israeli occupation of Palestine and the Israeli genocidal war crimes against Palestinians, especially the illegal and lethal siege of Gaza, are being increasingly recognized and opposed by many nations. The unremitting “Break the Siege” campaigns had exposed Israel’s genocidal plan against Palestinians, and are gaining more international support.
Israel’s criminal attack against the Freedom Flotilla is meant to terrorize other possible future humanitarian internationals out of organizing or participating in more humanitarian “Break the Siege” campaigns. Their special emphasis on the Turkish vessel came as a revenge for Turkey’s courageous opposition of Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians, and Turkey’s successful mediation in the Iranian nuclear crisis.
Israel’s siege of Gaza and its attack on Freedom Flotilla are clear indications that Gaza is still under the Israeli occupation. Israeli so-called withdrawal from Gaza, September 2005, is just a redeployment of Israeli forces rather than a withdrawal as Israelis like us to believe. Israel still controls every aspect of life in Gaza. Israel wants us to believe that its siege of Gaza is a response to capturing their soldier, Shalit, who was, in fact, participating in the siege at the time of his capture. Palestinians have the right to defend their lives from the terror of such soldiers. On the other hand, Israel does not want us to remember the 10 thousand Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, who were kidnapped and snatched from their families by the Israeli terrorist army after midnight.
The Freedom Flotilla is the 9th attempt of “Breaking the Siege” campaign to deliver humanitarian aid to besieged Gaza, a humanitarian duty the UN had poorly and almost not delivered. Five of these trips were successful, while the rest had suffered from Israeli piracy and kidnapping. The volunteers came from 40 different countries including European countries and from the US. They include some members of parliaments of these countries. These volunteers, unlike some of their bought pro-Zionist governments, represent the humanitarian cumulative compassion of many nations, and their courageous will to help their human needy brothers and sisters. They are not terrorists, as Israel claims, rather they represent civilized humanity.
The Israeli piracy and criminal attack against the ships have ignited a spontaneous global intifada, whose anger has echoed through the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the US. Thousands of protesters against Israeli terror walked through the capitals of major countries towards Israeli consulates. Governments of many countries, especially those with citizens among the flotilla volunteers, summoned the Israeli ambassadors to protest the attack.
Turkey-Israeli relationship is destined to suffer a great deal by this Israeli piracy. Turks have surrounded the Israeli consulates in Istanbul and Ankara, and the house of the Israeli ambassador and vowed not to leave until the Turkish vessels and Turkish volunteers are released. Turkey has summoned the Israeli ambassador to protest the attack and has called back its own ambassador from Israel. Turkey had also cancelled three joined military exercises with Israel. The Prime Minister, Erdogan, had called Israel’s attack “state terror”.
An urgent meeting of the Security Council was called by Arab governments, yet the US, as usual, came to Israel’s rescue and had sabotaged the issuance of any resolution against Israel. The US called of “impartial investigation” of the matter. Such an investigation is a waste of time. It is as clear as the sun that Israeli forces had forcefully and illegally boarded the flotilla ships. Israelis are the aggressors not the victims. They were armed to the teeth attacking unarmed humanitarian activists.
American rescue of Israeli terror is not surprising, since the American administration is a full partner in imposing siege on Gaza. “The Gaza Bombshell” report by Vanity Fair explains how the American administration had conspired to topple the democratically elected Hamas government in Gaza. The administration is also paying the Egyptian Mubarak’s government to join into the siege against Gaza, and to build the steel wall and watch towers on the Egyptian border with Gaza.
Most of the American congress members are more loyal to Israel than to their own country. They spend the tax money of their citizens to subsidize Israeli illegal colonies and roads on usurped Palestinian land to provide almost-free homes to Israeli extremists while American tax payers are losing their homes. They vote to spend billions of dollars to provide free education to Israeli students, and full free medical coverage to every Israeli Jewish citizen, while American schools are facing budget cuts and crowded class rooms, and American citizens cannot afford to pay for any medical coverage of their own. They give Israel billions of dollars worth in financial aid and military technology. Such support to terrorist Israel is the major cause for increasing anti-American sentiments around the globe.
Israel’s attack against the Freedom Flotilla is grave piracy, and an act of terrorism that is violating all international laws. It demonstrates to us that Israelis consider themselves above the law, and that their own laws are supreme laws that no one should even challenge.
Those countries claiming to be partners in fighting global terror should also join in fighting Israeli terror. Those countries, which are fighting Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, should also fight Israeli piracy in the Mediterranean.
- Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer of Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala. Currently he lives in the US. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.