All Out to Defend Palestine
Peoples’ Right to Self-Defense
Around the world the peoples have stood firm in defense of -Palestine and the right of Palestinians to defend themselves against occupation and genocide. This right of peoples’ self-defense has been established through great struggles, including the battle to defeat fascism in World War II. One result of these battles of humanity for progress has been to codify in law that colonialism, aggression and genocide are crimes, outlawed by the peoples. The UN and international law enshrine the right of the peoples to resist occupation and to defend their existence, their very right to be.
In examining the U.S. response to the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and more generally the siege of Gaza, it is significant that the U.S. is openly acting to destroy this progress. It is attempting to use its military superiority — might — to enforce the imperialist right to self-defense while eliminating the peoples right to self-defense. Indeed, the U.S. puts forward that it has an “absolute right” to act to defend its “national interests,” anywhere in the world. It upholds the same for Israel.
Vice President Biden, in an interview with Charlie Rose June 2, said, “I think Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest.” He added, “You can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not — but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know — they’re at war with Hamas — has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in. ..They’ve said, ‘Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship — if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza.’ So what’s the big deal here? It’s legitimate for Israel to say, ‘I don’t know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping 3,000 rockets on my people.’”
Others in Congress echo the same “absolute right” of Israel to act against the peoples. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Israel “rightfully invoked its right to self defense.” He added, “Hamas could end the blockade at any time by recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence, and releasing [captured Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit.” Republican whip Eric Cantor said the blockade exists “to deny Hamas the weaponry and raw materials it needs to continue its rocket attacks in Israel, killing innocent people,”
In this manner the representatives of imperialism are attempting to impose the “absolute right” of the U.S. and Israel to act against the peoples and to blame the peoples themselves for the violence and killing imposed on them. If the peoples simply submit to U.S.-Israel demands to uphold the siege, “what’s the big deal?” If the Palestinians submit to genocide and U.S.-Israeli dictate as to who can and cannot be elected in Palestine, as Hamas was, then all will be well. The Palestinians must deny their right to be, including their right to return — which is the actual content of “recognizing Israel’s right to exist.” They, and the international community, must accept the massacre of innocent people in Gaza, the ongoing genocide of the siege and the killings of humanitarian workers on the high seas. The U.S. officials all speak to Israel’s right to self-defense while remaining silent or even opposing the right of the Palestinians to defend themselves. They also act counter to international and U.S. law, by fully funding and arming Israel so she can commit these crimes.
In part in recognition of the achievements of the people to bar aggression, U.S. law forbids export of weapons for offensive purposes. Israel repeatedly commits acts of aggression against the Palestinians, and now against an international flotilla of aid ships. Yet the U.S. is preparing yet more funding, in addition to the $3 billion already allocated for this year alone. Biden emphasized, “No administration in history has been as up-front and supportive of Israel’s security as this administration. We’ve done everything from provide missile defense. We’ve made sure they’ve maintained their qualitative edge. There’s a new program they call Iron Dome that we’re helping fund for them to be able to protect themselves.” What emerges is that the content of imperialist self-defense is the absolute right to use military force to commit any crime against the peoples and to do so with impunity.
Biden further indicated this content by saying the U.S. is backing an Israeli-led investigation of Israel’s crimes. This is contrary to the broad demand of the peoples for an impartial international investigation. Turkey, in particular, condemned the raid as state terrorism and wants it treated as such. Biden said, “We passed a resolution in the U.N. saying we need a transparent and open investigation of what happened.” He added, “An investigation run by the Israelis, but we’re open to international participation, just like the investigation run on the sunken sub in — off the coast of Korea. That was run by south Korea, but the international community joined in that investigation.” It is known that the U.S. and south Korea have not revealed all the information concerning this incident while also fabricating evidence, have not permitted the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, who is blamed, to see the evidence, and other powers such as China and Russia have serious doubts about the validity of the evidence. Not a few are referring to the investigation as no different than Colin Powell’s presentation at the UN claiming weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Still others consider it a repeat of the Tonkin Gulf incident, where the U.S. fabricated an attack by the Vietnamese in order to justify war against them.
The broad and continuing actions in defense of Palestine are bringing to the fore that the peoples are rejecting imperialist self-defense, in Palestine, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and everywhere U.S. war and aggression is found. What is emerging is a definition of the right of self-defense in contradiction with imperialist self-defense. This modern definition of the people’s right to self-defense has emerged to challenge and negate the imperialist right to self-defense.
For Americans, any conciliation with the imperialist right to self-defense leads to disaster, to negating the peoples right to self-defense and to subservience to the very imperialists that are the source of the conflicts and denial of rights. Strengthening the peoples’ organized resistance and demonstrating the content of the peoples right to self-defense in deeds is the way forward.
The United States and the U.S./European colonial project called Israel both claim the right of self-defense. Their claim of self-defense extends throughout the world. This global claim has its material economic basis in the imperialist system of states.
Leaders of the Israeli colonial project justify attacking and boarding the six ships of the Break the Siege of Gaza Flotilla, as the right of self-defense. They justify killing and injuring many participants in the Flotilla, as acts of self-defense of their troops who stormed the ships in international waters and encountered resistance.
As with everything in life, the right to self-defense has contradictory aspects. Those contending qualities emerge within definite conditions of time and space. Conditions within time and space give this dialectic, the right of self-defense, its historical materiality. The U.S. usually refers to its right to self-defense, as “national security.”
Modern conditions, time and space have provided a definition of the right of self-defense in contradiction with imperialist self-defense. This modern definition of the people’s right to self-defense has emerged to challenge and negate the imperialist right to self-defense.
The economic base of the global right to imperialist self-defense is found in the following conditions, time and space:
• the necessity of the capitalist system at its highest stage to export the unequal social relation capital and ensure that peoples and nations everywhere do not block or restrict this exported capital;
• the necessity to defend the exported capital from the inevitable resistance of the people it exploits and from the competition of other capital;
• the necessity of imperialism to capture sources of raw material and markets throughout the world;
• the necessity to seize and annex regions of strategic importance such as the Suez Canal, Persian Gulf, Korean Peninsula, Caribbean Sea, etc.
This necessity of imperialism and its right to defend itself collides with the right of the peoples of the world to defend themselves against exploitation by the unequal social relation capital, the theft of their raw materials, the domination and annexation of their markets, regions and politics and the negation of their right to be.
Through many heroic struggles, resistance to imperialist self-defense has given shape and definition to the right of people’s self-defense. Of particular note were the triumph of the Russian people and their allies in overthrowing imperialism in 1917, and the victory of the world’s peoples over fascism during the Second World War. Those and other victories of the twentieth century codified the modern definition of the right of people’s self-defense as the right to resist the oppression of the unequal social relation capital, the right of self-determination of nations and their independence from imperialism, and the right of the sovereign people to govern their political and economic affairs and determine their future. In the 21st century the focus of the right to self-defense is the people’s right to be.
The many historic victories of the people since the early twentieth century prove in practice that to flourish and develop, the right of people’s self-defense must negate the right of imperialist self-defense. A social consciousness has emerged of a fundamental law of modern conditions: the right of people’s self-defense negates the right of imperialist self-defense and vice versa; the one right cannot exist without the negation of the other. For new human-centered arrangements based on the people’s right to be, the right to self-defense must target and negate imperialist self-defense.
The Tactical Right of Imperialist Self-Defense
Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., in defending the killings on the Mediterranean Sea said that the tactical right of the Israeli troops to defend themselves from the tactical right of the people’s self-defense arises from the strategic right of imperialist self-defense or as the United States calls it, “national security.” Oren said, as reported in the U.S. media, “Under international law, when there’s a case of a military blockade against a hostile entity — and we are talking about a hostile entity — this is Hamas in Gaza, a country under Article 51 of the United Nations charter, the right to self-defense, has a right to defend itself.”
Neglecting to complete the living dialectic, Mr. Oren fails to describe the other aspect of the contradiction on the right of self-defense: Palestinians have a strategic right to defend themselves within the occupied territories and Gaza and to return to their homeland, and the people have a tactical right to defend themselves from imperialist attacks.
The tactics of imperialist self-defense are often hotly debated by those who support strategic imperialist self-defense. The mouthpiece for U.S. imperialism, the New York Times, in a June 1 editorial called the raid and killings on the high seas “a grievous, self-inflicted wound.” An excerpt from the editorial reads, “There can be no excuse for the way that Israel completely mishandled the incident. A commando raid on the lead, Turkish-flagged ship left nine activists dead and has opened Israel to a torrent of criticism.
“This is a grievous, self-inflicted wound. It has damaged Israel’s ties with Turkey, once its closest ally in the Muslim world; given the Hamas-led government in Gaza a huge propaganda boost; and complicated peace talks with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
“It also has made it much tougher for the Obama administration to persuade the United Nations Security Council to put new sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program — which Israeli officials insist is their top priority.”
The New York Times is concerned that this particular action of the Israeli colonial project’s tactical right to imperialist self-defense will damage not only the colony’s strategic right to imperialist self-defense but also the national security or strategic right of imperialist self-defense of the U.S. itself.
Palestinians’ Right to People’s Self-Defense
The right of the Israeli colonial project to imperialist self-defense represents the negation of the Palestinians’ right to people’s self-defense. Israel is a U.S./European colonial entity that usurped power through terror and force, seized a large portion of the land of Palestine and declared it a type of racist state for members of a particular religion, killed or expelled a majority of the Palestinian inhabitants during the Nakba (catastrophe), replaced them with mostly WWII European refugees, and through continuous war and repression has enlarged its area of occupation and settlements.
The Israeli colonial project in exercising its right to imperialist self-defense negates the right of the Palestinian people’s self-defense and their right to be, which includes importantly the right of return. Palestinians’ right to people’s self-defense is expressed in their heroic resistance to their negation and in their fight to return to their homeland and establish a modern Palestinian state that encompasses the entire historic Palestine under new arrangements which guarantee a people’s right to be.
The Necessity of Modern Definitions
A similar situation exists for all those peoples throughout the world who are resisting imperialism, especially U.S. imperialism. To bring in new human-centered arrangements, the right of the people’s self-defense must negate the right of imperialist self-defense. Conciliation with the right of imperialist self-defense blocks the right of the people’s self-defense from bringing into being new human-centered arrangements based on independence, self-determination and sovereignty, and the ending of oppression and exploitation.
Acceptance of the strategic right of imperialist self-defense invariably leads to conciliation with imperialism and its negation of the strategic right of people’s self-defense. Americans have an important responsibility to reject any conciliation with U.S. imperialism and imperialist self-defense, serving aggression against Palestine and Pakistan, and repression against immigrants and protesters. Americans should give their full support to the Palestinian people, the Iraqis, Afghanistanis, the Iranians and Koreans — all those facing U.S. aggression and fighting to assert their right to people’s self-defense and to negate the right of imperialist self-defense.
Americans should consciously participate in organized acts to negate the right of imperialist self-defense and through those acts bring into the center of political and economic affairs a modern definition of the right of people’s self-defense. Through conscious participation in organized acts to defend the right of people’s self-defense within the political and economic affairs of the country and internationally, Americans will strengthen their understanding that similar contradictions between the old and new exist within all political and economic affairs. This is especially true for the most significant dialectic, the contradiction between imperialist democracy and people’s democracy. The broad impunity and military response of the U.S. at this time has fully revealed the character of U.S.-style democracy as imperialist democracy serving to block the path to progress, in the U.S. and worldwide. Stepping up the efforts to bring forward politics of empowerment in the course of the fight for rights and the people’s self-defense contributes to the fight for people’s democracy.
All the contradictions of the conditions, time and space of today require modern definitions and their resolution through the conscious participation of the people in acts of finding out and mass political struggle.
(TML Daily. cpcml.ca)
An Egyptian security official declared the blockade on Gaza a failure and announced its borders indefinitely open, the Associated Press reported on Monday, June 7. This decision follows Egypt’s opening of the Rafah crossing with Gaza shortly after the criminal Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31, with current accounts reporting 20 people killed and 50 wounded.
Voice of Revolution salutes this success achieved as a result of the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people and the international opposition to the criminal blockade of Gaza and all the US-Israeli crimes against humanity that continue against the Palestinian people. The U.S. has refused to condemn the massacre, claiming it is “awaiting more information,” while at the same time blocking UN efforts to conduct an international investigation. It is the U.S. that has long pressured Egypt to keep the border closed, and which protects Israel from efforts by the peoples of Palestine and those worldwide to end the siege of Gaza. The siege of Gaza is a crime of collective punishment and genocide, organized and maintained by the U.S. and Israel.
Even though the U.S. imposes increasing aggression and impunity worldwide and unleashes Israel to do the same, the peoples are stepping up their resistance. The massacre of May 31 has raised international condemnation to such a level that Egypt was forced to open the Rafah crossing. Even the U.S. was forced to discuss ways to partially lift the blockade and was unable to stop Egypt’s move. We demand that President Obama not resort to pressuring Egypt to close the border again but instead support Egypt in keeping the Rafah crossing open and facilitate delivery of aid to Gaza.
The opening of the Rafah crossing essentially acknowledges the failure of the siege of Gaza and success of the resistance. In 2007, Israel implemented a brutal siege against Gaza, which has led to a dire humanitarian situation. Humanitarian groups in Gaza point to increased food insecurity, lack of medical supplies and services, the destruction of the fishing and farming industry as a result of the siege.
The Palestinian resistance led by Hamas on January 23, 2008, demolished two-thirds of a 6-mile long border wall between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Following the demolition, a flood of 30,000 Palestinians crossed the border at Rafah into Egypt followed by some 350,000 more by the end of the day. The resistance stood firm against Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, a brutal aggression killing more than 1400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and targeting vital civilian infrastructure, like water and electricity, as well as schools and hospitals. Despite the continued siege, it is the Palestinian resistance that is emerging victorious against the U.S.-Israeli Gaza siege and occupation of Palestine.
Voice of Revolution also applauds the commitment made June 7 by Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said that his government was prepared to supply the Gaza Strip with “everything it needs.”
“Palestine and Gaza are a giant prison and this situation cannot continue,” Erdogan told reporters during a joint news conference with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Istanbul. “We can no longer remain silent and we will not be silent anymore regarding anything having to do with Gaza,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by Israeli daily Ha’aretz.
President Assad said he would “stand by every decision” Turkey made to lift the siege. Assad said Syria would “support every decision and every step that Turkey requests in order to break the blockade, including support of an international inquiry,” referring to Israel’s rejection of an international probe into the flotilla attack, as proposed by the UN. “We are not just people who talk and issue declarations of condemnation. We are in favor of action, and we declare that we will [take action],” Assad said.
( Ma’an News)
American Jews for a Just Peace (AJJP) has agreed to serve as the U.S. coordinator for the Jewish Boat to Gaza, its organizers have announced. The boat, sponsored by a coalition of international Jewish organizations dedicated to peace with justice in Israel/Palestine, is scheduled to sail from an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean this July. It will head toward Gaza in an effort to break the siege imposed by Israel in 2006. The passengers will include Jews from Germany, Britain and the United States, including at least one survivor of the Nazi Holocaust.
In a statement released today, AJJP said that it is joining with Jüdische Stimme (Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Near East) and the British group Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) in sponsoring the boat as a call to the leaders of the world, to “help Israel find her way to reason, to a sense of humanity and a life without fear.” An April 2, 2010 report by Amnesty International noted, "Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip leaves more than 1.4 million Palestinians cut off from necessary and life-saving supplies, exacerbating a situation of extreme and desperate poverty."
This trip will be the latest in a series of civilian efforts to break the blockade. On May 31, the Freedom Flotilla of six ships carrying passengers from many countries was intercepted in international waters by the Israeli Defense Forces. At least nine civilians were killed aboard the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara. Israel has rejected calls for a neutral investigation of the incident by the international community.
The Jewish Boat’s captain, Glyn Secker, is a British Jew who has been active in the movement for freedom and justice in Palestine for many years. Secker confirmed that the boat will carry school bags and books, donated by German schoolchildren, musical instruments, and art materials, as well as essential medicines and small medical equipment. Absolutely no weapons will be on board, and all participants will be trained in the principles of nonviolence. Organizers are requesting that the Israeli government and the Obama Administration guarantee safe passage for the boat, its passengers and cargo.
Further information and an opportunity to support the Jewish Boat to Gaza are available on the website of American Jews for a Just Peace, www.ajjp.org/jewishboat.
Contact: Susan J. Landu 215-438-5593 or Howard M. Lenow 508-314-3180 www.ajjp.org/jewishboat
In Lebanon the Free Palestine Movement and the Coalition of Free Journalists, held a press conference June 5 and declared that they will be sending a ship to Gaza. The Heroes of Freedom Fleet will be sailing this week from Beirut carrying educational materials for Gaza children and other aid supplies.
The Naharnet online news agency reported that Yasser Qoshok, head of the Free Palestine Movement called on “all those who consider themselves ‘free’ to participate in this convoy” dubbed “Naji al-Ali Fleet to break the siege on the children and the people of Gaza.”
Qoshok added that the ship will also carry journalists who will be focusing on the situation in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis there. A total of 50 journalists and 25 European activists, including EU Members of Parliament, will be sailing from Beirut later next week.
Elsewhere, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza announced on June 2 that they received funding for three more ships to be part of a new Gaza-bound flotilla dubbed “Freedom 2.” Dr. Arafat Madi, the head of the group, based in Brussels, said that they are planning a new Gaza flotilla comprised of many more ships and Palestinian solidarity activists than the first one.
“Following the massacre by the Israeli army forces in international waters, the world’s calls for another flotilla are even more pressing,” said Dr. Madi. The new flotilla is expected to set sail in the coming weeks. The head of the group did not discount the possibility of Turkey’s semi-official participation in funding or organizing the trip.
In related news, the German branch of the European Jews for a Just Peace now plans to send an aid ship by the end of July.
“We want to break the Gaza occupation and end the occupation of the West Bank as well... we as Jews want to bring the Palestinians something other than bombs,” said Kate Katzenstein-Leiterer, a member of the executive committee of the group. The ship will be carrying school supplies, musical instruments, children’s clothing and other items for children that Israel has forbidden, such as sweets and chocolates, Spiegel Online reported.
About 16 people will be onboard the vessel. However, a lot of activists from around the world are sending requests to join the group, including some volunteers from Israel, Katzenstein-Leiterer said. After Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31, interest in the project has increased and donations have been flooding to the group, Katzenstein-Leiterer said.
Iran’s Red Crescent has also announced it will send two aid ships to Gaza in an effort to break the blockade. The plan was approved by Iran’s foreign ministry, and will see one boat filled with food and medicine and the other carrying volunteer relief workers to the coastal strip, Abdolrouf Adibzadeh, the Red Crescent’s director for international affairs said. “Volunteers who want to go to Gaza and help the oppressed people of occupied Palestine can refer to the Red Crescent website and register,” Adibzadeh said.
Previous attempts by the Iranian Red Crescent to reach Gaza have been stopped by the Israeli navy. However, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards has expressed its readiness to escort aid flotillas to Gaza.
“If the respected leader of the revolution (supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) gives an order in this regard, the Revolutionary Guards’ naval forces will take a practical step using their capability and equipment to escort flotillas to Gaza,” Khamenei’s aide in the Guards’ naval wing, Ali Shirazi, told the Mehr news.
(Al Manar, Ynet, International Middle East Media Center, Al Jazeera)
Autopsy Shows Nine Flotilla Activists
Autopsy results for nine Turkish men killed by Israeli commandos showed they were peppered with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range. The nine people killed on the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice June 4. Six activists still remain missing and are thought to be dead, but Israel continues to withhold information concerning the dead and wounded.
The autopsy results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.
Fulkan Dogan, a 19-year-old Turkish American and the youngest killed, was born in Troy, New York. He was shot five times from about 15 inches away — in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. He has duel U.S. and Turkish citizenship. Unlike the Turkish government which has repeatedly expressed its outrage at the killings of civilians and demanded action against a crime of Israeli state terrorism, the U.S. State Department has said only that “We will look into the circumstances of the death of an American citizen, as we would do anywhere in the world at all times.” This, after seeing his body riddled with bullets.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reported that U.S. authorities in Turkey had met with Dogan’s father to express condolences and to offer U.S. consular services. She added that two other American citizens had been injured in the raid and in a subsequent protest and the U.S. was seeking information about all three from Israel. She claimed, “Protecting the welfare of American citizens is a fundamental responsibility of our government and o ne that we take very seriously.” She added, “We are in constant contact with the Israeli government attempting to obtain more information about our citizens.”
In this manner Clinton is attempting to divert from the fact that Israeli commandos boarded humanitarian ships, killed and injured civilians, including Americans, the autopsy results confirm this, yet “more information” is needed before any outrage or condemnation can be expressed. The Israelis also boarded an American-flagged Ship, the Challenger 1, seized her passengers and forced her to Israel. This is usually considered an act of war. Yet the U.S. has made no comment.
The attack on all the ships is a crime against the peace, specifically directed against ships carrying humanitarian aid. The kidnapping of everyone to Israel and theft of their belongings, including cameras and cell phones documenting the raid, are also serious crimes. Americans and the world alike await any statements of outrage and condemnation from the U.S. But so far, U.S. silence is deafening.
The autopsy findings further confirm eyewitness statements from survivors. Ismail Patel, the chairman of British based group Friends of al-Aqsa, who returned to Britain June 4, told how he witnessed some of the fatal shootings and said that Israel had operated a “shoot to kill policy.”
He calculated that during the bloodiest part of the assault, Israeli commandos shot one person every minute. One man was fatally shot in the back of the head just two feet in front him and another was shot once between the eyes. He added that as well as the fatally wounded, 48 others were suffering from gunshot wounds and six activists remained missing, suggesting the death toll may increase.
Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, who was traveling in the flotilla and witnessed the Israeli raid, confirmed that some passengers took apart some of the ship’s railings to defend themselves as they saw the Israeli soldiers approaching.
He said that he witnessed some of the killings, and confirmed that at least “one person was shot through the top of the head from [the helicopter] above.”
“After the shooting and the first deaths, people put up white flags and signs in English and Hebrew,” he said.
“An Israeli activist [on the ship] asked the soldiers to take away the injured, but they did not and the injured died on the ship.”
American Eye Witness Reports
Retired Colonel Ann Wright, a former U.S. diplomat on-board the Challenger 1, said, “I was on the [U.S.-flagged] Challenger 1. And let me just give a great compliment to all of the Free Gaza Movement. It’s a tremendous, tremendous thing that they have done in creating this movement of boats that had six large vessels that went toward Gaza. It is thrilling to see all of those boats steaming to Gaza, those civilians trying to challenge the governments of the world that say there must be a siege to strangle the 1.5 million people in Gaza, and yet the citizens of the world are challenging that with everything they’ve got.
“I saw the attack on the Mavi Marmara… Our boat was also boarded. People were thrown on the deck. Windows were blown out. Flash bangs were used. One of our journalists was hit with something of an electric shock. One of the women was hit in the face, in the nose, with one of the liquid-filled balls. They were very excessively rough, excessively forceful, on trying to slow down, stop — actually, we were already stopped. They weren’t stopping us at all. We were already dead in the water, and yet all of this force used on us.
Responding to a statement by Vice President Joe Biden that Israel had a right to stop the ships because it “has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in,” Colonel Wright responded, “The ships were open to inspection beforehand. These groups are humanitarian groups that are bringing in goods that are needed for the people of Gaza. They’ve had plenty of inspections on them.
“If you talk about violence, it’s not 3,000 rockets Hamas is putting on Gaza; it’s a twenty-two-day attack that the Israelis did that killed 1,400 people, wounded 5,000, left 50,000 homeless. And here we are a year and four months later, and the Israelis will not let any sort of reconstruction materials in. […]
“And going outside a boundary, going into international waters, I mean, what they are, are pirates. They are pirates. They kidnap people, and they’re stealing stuff. They’ve probably stolen over a million dollars’ worth of cameras, computers, cell phones. I mean, I’m in Istanbul. We just got here early this morning. Some luggage is here. There’s not a thing in it. Everything has been taken. The Israeli military said, “Oh, yes, we have to count this. You know, we have to take it.” Well, what they’ve done, they’ve stolen it.
Former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, on a third ship in the flotilla, responded to an Israeli spokesman justifying the seizing of the ships and attacks on civilians by saying,
“As far as I’m concerned, [everything he said] is what you find in a meadow somewhere where they keep large animals. You know, here, one of the things I find that is the twist in this thing was that these peaceful, heavily armed commandos who were in international waters to capture a ship full of men and women, who were not bothering Israel, and who took what steps they could to try to prevent these pirates from doing it, are accused of attacking them. They were defending the ship. The Israelis were attacking it, and the passengers didn’t want them to do it. And to see somebody using a deckchair against a heavily armed and armored Israeli soldier, I mean, my god, that’s a dangerous weapon. It’s called twisting the story. If you come to attack me and I defend myself, you know, that’s considered legal in law.Speaking to the Israeli claim that those on-board were terrorists and not humanitarians, he responded, “You know I did not expect that the government of Israel would refer to us as flower children. Of course we’re also savage, murdering, you know, anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian — aw come on, get off it. But of course he [the Israeli spokesperson] has to say this. This is Israel’s position. But it’s as full of holes as a window screen. You know, if you look at the people who were there and the stuff that we were bringing, and he quotes international law. The international law, he says, you can do this if it’s provoking a danger, but Gaza does not belong to Israel. It is illegally occupied by international law, so you can’t really stop ships from going there. Well, you can, and they did, but if people try to resist what you’re trying to do, you cannot accuse them of attacking your heavily armed soldiers. And they were heavily armed. On our little boat, a couple of them had paint guns attached to their submachine guns, along with stun grenades and the pepper spray and the handcuffs and the pistols. So this is sort of a twisting reality, which of course I understand why they’re trying to do it. I’ve been a diplomat. But it’s laughable.” (Based on interviews with Democracy Now.)
“Israel has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in. They’ve said, ‘Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship — if you divert slightly north [to Israel] you can unload it and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza.’ So what’s the big deal here”? — Vice President Joe Biden
Israel on Wednesday admitted it continues to blockade Gaza by land and by sea despite an agreement with the United Nations. The UN is to distribute the aid seized by Israel in the raid and seizure of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Israel agreed to turn the aid shipment of 10,000 tons over to the UN and to open the border for delivery of the aid.
According to UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry, the Israeli government agreed to release all of the cargo to the United Nations in Gaza with the understanding that the UN would determine its appropriate humanitarian use. The international organization made plans to distribute food, medicine, clothing, and other goods in Gaza.
The Zionist military command, whose navy killed nine people May 31 during a violent attack on the Mavi Marmara ship, now says that Israel's agreement with the United Nations was only reached on an exceptional and temporary basis. Israel said there was no mention of including construction materials. Israel is still holding all the aid, with the claim that it will not permit the construction materials.
The Israeli chief of internal security (Shin Bet), Yuval Diskin, said Israel would expose itself to serious danger if it lifts the blockade imposed in June 2007 on the Gaza Strip. The blockade was the U.S.-Israeli answer to democratic elections in Gaza, won by Hamas. Hamas now and then is well known in Palestine for rebuilding homes, hospitals, schools and defending civilian infrastructure, which the U.S.-Israeli occupation and aggression systematically destroy. The UN states it has been forced to build houses out of mud at this point as the siege means no other materials are available. Destruction of civilian infrastructure, whether through the U.S.-Israeli siege or bombings, is a war crime and crime against humanity.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev reiterated that the Israeli navy would intercept any other ship that sails toward Gaza carrying humanitarian aid, and do so in international waters. This is in response to an announcement that the Iranian Red Crescent would send two ships and that many others are also now organizing aid ships to Gaza.