Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands


When Netanyahu calls it a flotilla of hate, is he lying? Not only Netanyahu, the ministers, too, in addition to a few people in uniform: the army chief of staff and the commander of the navy. In any well-run country, the head of the navy would have resigned that same night.

This Israeli naval-officers letter is important. As commanding officers of attack boats, they know the laws governing behavior in international waters and realize how grave Israel’s violation of these basic international laws was (Hebrew).

“First and foremost, we protest the fact that responsibility for the tragic results was immediately thrust onto the organizers of the flotilla,” wrote the officers. “This demonstrates contempt for the responsibility that belongs principally to the hierarchy of commanders and those who approved the mission. This shows contempt for the values of professionalism, the purity of weapons and for human lives.”

IOA Editor (UPDATED): This Israeli naval-officers letter is important. As commanding officers of attack boats, they know the laws governing behavior in international waters and realize how grave Israel’s violation of these basic international laws was.

In addition to the Haaretz coverage of this story, the officers’ letter states: “Based on our experience as commanders of [attack] boats and commando units… we think that it was possible to act in different ways in order to stop the ship. The approach used in the field included a high level of friction which, in our opinion, was unnecessary – and this irrespective of the nature of the resistance encountered during the raid on the ship [Mavi Marmara]. The nature of the operation [that was carried out] is contrary to other methods which were appropriate to implement, based on the understanding that the object was a civilian vessel, sailing under Turkish jurisdiction, in international waters.”

And, crucially, they attribute responsibility for the attack to Israel’s military elite rather than to activists. This flies in the face of all of Israel’s propaganda of last week.

“Purity of Weapons” is an old, mythological Israeli term that attempts to distinguish between “just” killing (nearly always) and unjust killing (practically never) by IDF soldiers. For example, to date, no official Israeli source has termed Israel’s attack on Gaza as violating this mythological standard.

MORE: Read officers letter (Hebrew) HERE

The myth of the brave and utterly infallible Israeli soldier is shattered. Now we can add: they are common thieves. For I was not the only one to be robbed of my money, credit card, clothes, MP3 player, laptop; the same happened to many others on the same ship as me, which was attacked early one morning by masked Israeli soldiers, who were thus in fact nothing other than lying pirates.

[T]he simplest answer to [the] question of what Israel could do to maintain its security in place of a blockade is that it is precisely the blockade that causes the threats to Israeli security. Without the blockade, there would be no obstacle to negotiating a long-term ceasefire, which would mean the end to rocket fire and other threats to Israel’s legitimate security interests.

ALSO : Stephen R. Shalom: Palling Around with Terrorists – Obama and the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Hijacking boats in international waters and killing passengers is, of course, a serious crime… For decades, Israel has been hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel including secret prison/torture chambers, sometimes holding them as hostages for many years. Israel assumes that it can carry out such crimes with impunity because the US tolerates them and Europe generally follows the US lead.

IOA Editor: UPDATED to correct an omission from Noam Chomsky’s statement on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

[T]he Gaza Freedom Flotilla was a provocation… in the sense that civil rights protesters in the American south who sat at segregated lunch counters represented a provocation to segregationists, or in the sense that all nonviolent protests against the illegitimate acts of a government are by definition provocations. Under an illegal siege, the delivery of aid to civilians is a prohibited act; the intent of our humanitarian convoy was to violate this unjust prohibition.

IOA Editor: Iara Lee held a press conference at the UN on 10 June 2010, presenting her raw video footage from the Mavi Marmara and answering questions. Her article about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was published earlier.

UPDATE: UN screening of ‘one-sided’ Gaza flotilla film spurs Israeli complaint

From the beginning of his administration, Obama declared that he was concerned over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and that he wanted the blockade of Gaza loosened. But Israel ignored him and the United States did nothing. Fifty-four Representatives urged the United States to apply real pressure on Israel to lift the blockade, but to no avail. There was and remains a very simple solution if Obama genuinely wants to mitigate the effects of the blockade: namely, the United States could do what Rep. Brian Baird of Washington suggested: break the blockade. Just sail supplies in by sea. Israel certainly isn’t going to sink U.S. navy vessels.

Israeli forces arrested the chairwoman of the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla at Friday’s demonstration in Bil’in, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, supporters said. Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American from Michigan, is a human rights activist who was on board the aid flotilla that came under attack Monday, in a raid that left nine dead.

[T]he blockade has been a colossal moral, political and diplomatic failure. Not only has it wrought a humanitarian catastrophe on Gaza’s 1.5 million people: it has so strengthened Hamas that it alone could claim the high ground in the wake of the flotilla debacle. It was that moral weight that compelled Egypt to open Gaza’s Rafah crossing into the Sinai on 1 June.

Jerusalem police confiscated the Israeli identity cards of four Hamas legislators overnight on Thursday and gave them until July to leave the country.

IOA Editor: This Haaretz headline is, of course, misleading. The Palestinian leaders were given a month before they’d be forced out of East Jerusalem. In all likelihood, their presence in Jerusalem predates Israel by centuries.

The revelations in my book, “The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Alliance with Apartheid South Africa,” have angered Israelis across the political spectrum… President Shimon Peres has said “there exists no basis in reality for the claims” put forward in my book. Beilin… has decided to stand by his former boss… as he told The New York Times: “The president’s denial puts an end to the subject.” It does not.

Israel’s entrenchment is so deep-seated that it has announced it will certainly not lift the blockade on Gaza. Its blindness means that there is sure to be another round… There is nothing to investigate. This is the situation; everyone knows it. We just have to decide whether to go on like this, or take a deep breath and choose a different path.

Israel was tonight under pressure to allow an independent inquiry into its assault on the Gaza aid flotilla after autopsy results on the bodies of those killed, obtained by the Guardian, revealed they were peppered with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range.

Full video of Daniel Machover from press conference organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Also appearing was Sarah Colborne who was on the ship stormed by Israeli commandos.

An embargo on adequate food and medical aid can never be lawful, so those on board had the right to defend themselves. The attack by Israeli forces on the Turkish-registered vessel Mavi
Marmara in international waters was clearly unlawful.

“In recent days,” Yishai wrote, “Israel’s citizens have witnessed how an Israeli member of parliament, Hanin Zuabi, headed a group of terrorists who aimed to hurt Israel Defense Forces soldiers, under the protection of her parliamentary immunity.”

[P]rotected by a Western empire, you colonize a part of the world, ethnically cleanse as many of its indigenous people as you can, and confine the remainder to stew in a series of besieged reservations, which are in effect open prisons. And when the victims try to resist, you depict them as “savages” and “terrorists”; and present yourself, the colonizer, as acting in “self-defence”. Similarly, when humanitarian sympathizers of the colonized try to provide them with some help.

“We can’t sit by and watch Israel violate international law every day. We want the British government to take action, ensure there is no future attacks on humanitarian aid convoys, to ensure there is a search carried out for those that remain missing, to ensure that those people who have been detained illegally will be released and most importantly to end the siege of Gaza.”

Once again, following the last Israeli massacre of civilians in Gaza in 2008-2009, Israel has exposed its true face for the world to see: a brutal military regime of occupation and repression, driven by state power and fortified by a popular war mood. Since 1948, the Palestinians have suffered the brunt of Israel’s dispossessing violence. And now the citizens of the world are suffering as well, from Britain to Turkey and to Kuwait; from members of parliament to ordinary citizens, men and women of all ages, national origins and religious backgrounds. The conscience of the world continues to stir for Gaza, and Israel has hysterically and brutally crushed it: an evil deed for a good deed.

And things will continue to unravel for Israel because it only knows how to use force to try to get its way. Ironically, Israel’s overkill has made the use of force so costly for those who favor armed resistance that the stage has been left clear for those who believe it is more effective to use civil resistance against a vastly superior armed force. It should be noted that Palestinian civil resistance is not new although it has recently been “discovered” by the mainstream media.

RT (Rusian TV in English) interviews MK Haneen Zoabi.

Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament, MK Haneen Zoabi, was viciously attacked and physically threatened by her Israeli Knesset “colleagues” who attempted to shut her out. Quite a remarkable display of Israel’s democracy-for-Jews, and only for Jews. This extreme level of abuse is unprecedented, exposing Israel’s true face as it concerns Palestinian Arab citizens, including Knesset members. Among the name-calling, “traitor,” “terrorist,” and “Trojan Horse” (video and text).

MK Miri Regev (Likud) accused Zoabi of being “responsible for a double crime: Joining terrorists, and a moral crime against the state of Israel.” Regev then called at her in Arabic: “Go to Gaza, you traitor.”

Moshe Dayan, Israel’s most celebrated general, famously outlined the strategy that he believed would keep Israel’s enemies at bay: “Israel must be a like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” But the Israeli commando attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla… proves that this is now a diplomatic strategy too. Israel is feeling cornered on every front it considers important – and like Dayan’s “mad dog”, it is likely to strike out in unpredictable ways.

Rashid Khalidi covers Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and turns the focus to Israel’s Gaza siege, Israel-Palestine, and the US – Israel relations in an interview with WBEZ radio, Chicago (Audio).

Democracy Now! interviews former US Ambassador Edward Peck
who was on the Gaza aid flotilla that came under attack by Israeli forces. At least nine people were killed and dozens wounded. Peck says Israel’s explanation for the attack is “twisting the truth” and is “as full of holes as a window screen.”

Will the rule of law be applied to Israel this time? In principle, it is unlawful for a state to enforce a blockade against ships that are flying the flag of another state on the high seas. The only exceptions to this would be if the blockade were mandated by the UN security council acting under chapter VII of the UN charter.

Is NATO genuinely a mutual defence organisation, or is it just an instrument to carry out US foreign policy? With its unthinking defence of Israel and military occupation of Afghanistan, is US foreign policy really defending Europe, or is it making the World less safe by causing Islamic militancy?

Jonathan Cook: Haneen Zoubi said Israeli naval vessels had surrounded the flotilla’s flagship, the Mavi Marmara, and fired on it a few minutes before commandos abseiled from a helicopter directly above them… She added that within minutes of the raid beginning, three bodies had been brought to the main room on the upper deck in which she and most other passengers were confined. Two had gunshot wounds to the head, in what she suggested had been executions.

CNN interview with Gaza Freedom Flotilla leader Huwaida Arraf.

I was a passenger on the first effort to break the Gaza blockade. Our mission was to show that normal people cared.

“There are even journalists in Israel for whom it is possible to expect the subject of the Palestinians to be as important as sports, celebrities or film, and who are involved with this. And each time I see how Israeli society finds it difficult to accept this.”

A legal analysis of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by the London-based Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR).

US citizen Emily Henochowicz was shot directly in the face with a tear gas canister as she non-violently demonstrated against the Flotilla massacre.

UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk: the raid is “clearly a criminal act, being on the high seas.” Storming a peaceful boat is akin to a home invasion, with the aggravating circumstance that the invaded space in this case was packed with goods intended to alleviate human suffering.