Aletho News


Captain recounts attack on Flotilla

Press TV – June 1, 2010

A Turkish captain, among a Gaza-bound international relief convoy which was violently attacked by Israel, details the assault which killed 20 civilians.

Captain Huseyin Tokalak said the Israeli Navy had threatened to sink his ship, Gazze, before Israeli commandos took over the vessel at gun point, the Reuters news agency reported.

“They pointed two guns to the head of each of us,” Tokalak told a news conference on Tuesday. “They were really interesting guns, like the ones you see in the movies.”

The six-ship relief convoy, titled the Freedom Flotilla was carrying some 10,000 tons of construction material, medical equipment and school supplies.

Israeli forces attacked the Turkish-backed fleet in international waters 150km (90 miles) from Gaza on Monday, killing at least 20 people.

Tokalak said he and the other captains had assured the Israeli Navy that they were in international waters and carried nothing illegal.

“They started shooting directly at Mavi Marmara … They didn’t care if it was the front or back of the ship,” he also said referring to the lead ship of the convoy.

“I thought they would sink the ship.”

June 1, 2010 Posted by | War Crimes | 9 Comments

Concern grows over flotilla missing and prisoners

Free Gaza Movement & ISM London | June 1, 2010

International Solidarity Movement volunteers today expressed grave concern over the fate of wounded, imprisoned and missing flotilla activists.

The group said, with an information blackout from Israel preventing news of their plight reaching the media, speculation is mounting about the Internationals’ safety.

Theresa MacDermott (Scotland) Ewa Jasiewicz (Britain/Poland) and Caoimhe Butterly (Ireland) along with hundreds of other civilian passengers have not been heard from since before the Israeli attack on Monday morning.[1]

Israel has today refused Free Gaza lawyers permission to make contact with the human Rights defenders.

Sharyn Lock (England), founding member of The FreeGaza Movement and author of Gaza: Beneath the Bombs, said today:

“Through my experience volunteering with ambulances in Palestine, I know Israel regularly lets civilians die without allowing medical aid reach them.”[2]

She went on to say:

“It is deplorable that family and friends are being refused contact or information and we can only speculate as to their whereabouts and injuries.”

“We call on the EU member States to fulfil their obligation to protect the safety of human rights defenders.[3] We demand that Israel allows access to the injured and imprisoned immediately.” added Vittorio Arrigoni (Italy) who was himself injured by Israeli gunboats in 2008.

ISMers and former flotilla passengers Eva Bartlett (Canada) and Alberto Arce (Spain) are also waiting to hear from their missing colleagues.

“All of us are nonviolent activists who have personally come under fire from Israeli forces, and several of us have been wounded or detained. It is common for Israeli forces to open fire with live rounds on unarmed civilians, both Palestinian and Internationals.” said Eva, from Gaza.[4]

Human rights defenders in Gaza are attacked on a daily basis. Amongst them are Bianca Zammit (Malta), who was shot while accompanying farming families in Gaza on April 25th, 2010[5] and Adie Mormech (England),who was kidnapped and imprisoned after the FreeGaza boat The Spirit of Humanity was forcibly boarded by Israel on June 30, 2009.

All the ISMers mentioned in this release are available now for comment.


  • Sharyn Lock (Free Gaza Movement, England) +44 7881651 259
  • ISM London, +44 7913 067 189
  • Vittorio Arrigoni (Italy, based in Gaza) +972 5977 50820
  • Eva Bartlett (Canada, based in Gaza) +972 5987 10648
  • Adie Mormech (England, based in Gaza) +972 5977 17696
  • Bianca Zammit (Malta, based in Gaza) +972 5975 89688
  • Alberto Arce (Spain) +0034 6556 50048


  1. Ewa Jaciezicz is a freelance journalist. She and Caoimhe Butterly have trained as First Responder Medics. Theresa MacDermott is a postal worker.
  2. Alongside flotilla passengers Caoimhe and Ewa, Eva Bartlett, Sharyn Lock, Alberto Arce, and Vittorio Arrigoni worked daily with Palestinian medics during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, with Eva and Alberto filming the shooting by an Israeli sniper of medic Hassan as he tried to retrieve a body. The footage taken by Alberto and Mohammed Rujailah became their award-winning film “To Shoot an Elephant” Alongside flotilla passenger Theresa MacDermott in 2008, Vittorio Arrigoni, Eva Bartlett, and Sharyn Lock came under regular fire as they accompanied unarmed Gaza fishermen, who are often shot at not only within three miles of the Gaza shore, but actually on the beach.
  3. EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders: related resources here:

  4. Bianca Zammit received a gunshot to the thigh when Israeli soldiers fired on farming families, Gaza, 2010. Vittorio Arrigoni required ten stitches after Israeli gunboats attacked the fishing boats he was accompanying, Gaza sea 2008. Caoimhe Butterly recieved a gunshot to the thigh while rescuing Palestinian children, West Bank 2002. Sharyn Lock was shot in the stomach from an Israeli armoured personel carrier while walking backwards with her hands in the air, one of ten internationals injured, West Bank 2002.
  5. Bianca says:

    Israeli soldiers fire live ammunition at unarmed civilians, farmers and activists without any inhibition. On the day they shot me soldiers were shooting aggressively at the demonstrators. It was clear they had a policy of at least “shooting to injure”. I was filming and documenting when the bullet struck my leg. For me this was a clear message that Israeli soldiers do not hesitate to shoot at internationals but also that they feel threatened by our work.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Concern grows over flotilla missing and prisoners

The Legal Position on the Israeli Attack

By Craig Murray | May 31, 2010

I think that anybody with any fairness is bound to admit that the statement William Hague came out with is much better than anything on Israel which New Labour ever came out with, especially this bit:

“This news underlines the need to lift the restrictions on access to Gaza, in line with UNSCR 1860. The closure is unacceptable and counter-productive. There can be no better response from the international community to this tragedy than to achieve urgently a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis.I call on the Government of Israel to open the crossings to allow unfettered access for aid to Gaza, and address the serious concerns about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians.” –

But as I told this afternoon’s tremendous spontaneous demonstration on Whitehall, fine words are not enough and we must now see the kind of sanctions regime we saw against apartheid South Africa.

A word on the legal position, which is very plain. To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

In brief, if Israel and Turkey are not at war, then it is Turkish law which is applicable to what happened on the ship. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation into events and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel is obliged to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | War Crimes | Comments Off on The Legal Position on the Israeli Attack

Released Detainees Deny Being Armed, Say Israel Used Bullets, Gas, Electroshock

Al-Manar TV – June 1, 2010

Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi, who was on board the Marmara ship when it was raided by Navy fighters, held a press conference in Nazareth on Tuesday, in which she accused Israel of committing crimes during its takeover of the Gaza-bound aid ship. She called for an international inquiry into the incident.

Zoabi added, “It was clear from the size of the force that boarded the ship that the purpose was not only to stop this sail, but to cause the largest possible number of fatalities in order to stop such initiatives in the future.”

She said the flotilla’s participants did not have any violent intentions: “Our goal was to break the siege. We had no plans for a confrontation. Israel carried out a provocative military operation. Israel is used to doing as it pleases with the Palestinians. The main problem is not the ship, but the siege.”

She also demanded the activists held in Beersheba be allowed visitation. “We also demand a UN inquiry commission probe the Israeli claims. This is an international issue, because the passengers were from different nations.”

Of the raid itself, she said, “I entered the captain’s room. He was asked to stop by the Israeli soldiers. He said, ‘We are a Turkish ship.’ We were 130 miles off. It was 11:30 pm. We saw four Israel vessels, they were at a distance because we were in international waters. At 4:15 am we saw the ships approaching. They were dinghies and choppers. At 4:30 am the forces landed quickly. I did not hear any warning from the ships, because noise was coming from the ships and the choppers. Within 10 minutes there were already three bodies. The entire operation took about an hour.”

She denied any resistance from the ship’s passengers. “There was not a single passenger who raised a club. We put on our life vests. From where I was standing, I didn’t see any clubs or anything of the sort. There were gunshots, I don’t know if they were live bullets or not. There were gunshots fired from the ships in our direction.”

“A clear message was being sent to us, for us to know that our lives were in danger. We convened that we were not interested in a confrontation. What we saw was five bodies. There were only civilians and there were no weapons. There was a sense that I many not come out of it alive. Israel spoke of a provocation, but there was no provocation.”

Zoabi was released to her home Tuesday morning after being questioned.

Shortly before the takeover, Zoabi said, “We are part of the Palestinian people. They are trying to break us. The ships took us by surprise and started to call out to us. For four years, no one spoke about Gaza. Only in this past week did the entire world get to the war crimes of Israel, a country that occupies and violates basic humanitarian rights.”


Moreover, a Greek activist told of the moment Israeli troops stormed the ill-fated Gaza-bound aid flotilla, using rubber bullets, tear gas and electroshock weapons to subdue those aboard. “Israeli troops jumped onto the boat around 0530 on Monday,” Michalis Grigoropoulos said of the pre-dawn raid by Israeli forces.

Grigoropoulos was aboard the Eleftheri Mesogeio, smaller than the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara, which Israeli troops had attacked earlier. “They fired rubber coated bullets, tear gas and then used electroshock weapons on some activists,” he told Skai television shortly after Israel deported him and five compatriots to Athens.

“An hour beforehand, at 0430 local time, we heard gunfire on the Turkish boat Mavi Marmara, the Israelis jumped from helicopters onto the boat,” he said.

Israel is still holding hundreds of the 686 passengers they seized and took back to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where Grigoropoulos said he was kept incommunicado, denied access to a lawyer and made to sign papers he did not understand.

Grigoropoulos criticized “the wretched detention conditions at Ashdod (where) 500 people were packed in together” saying that “two Greek activists were beaten up” there by Israeli police. “They made me sign papers on my expulsion, without me knowing what was on the papers because I did not have the right to a translator, a lawyer or to communicate with my family,” he said.

The Eleftheri Mesogeio’s captain, Zaharias Stilianakis, who was among those returned to Athens, said that “after their assault on the boat, the commandos cut all means of communication.”


Three visibly shaken Germans who experienced the deadly raid by the Israeli military denied on Tuesday that anyone on board was armed. “The Israeli government justifies the raid because they were attacked. This is absolutely not the case,” former Member of Parliament Norman Paech, 72, wrapped in a blue blanket, told reporters in Berlin. “This was not an act of self-defense.”

His comments were backed up by two others on board the convoy when it was raided at dawn on Monday in international waters, MPs Inge Hoeger, 59, and Annette Groth, 56. “We felt like we were in a war, like we were being kidnapped,” Hoeger said. “We wanted to bring aid to Gaza. Nobody had a weapon.”

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | 3 Comments

What does Israel fear from media coverage?

By Glenn Greenwald | June 1, 2010

The New York Times, today:

A day after Israeli commandoes raided an aid flotilla seeking to breach the blockade of Gaza, Israel held hundreds of activists seized aboard the convoy on Tuesday . . . .Reuters reported that Israel was holding hundreds of activists incommunicado in and around the port city of Ashdod, refusing to permit journalists access to witnesses who might contradict Israel’s version of events.

Physically blocking journalists from reporting on their conduct is what Israel does (as well as others); recall this from The New York Times on January 6, 2009, regarding Israel’s war in Gaza:

Israel Puts Media Clamp on Gaza

Three times in recent days, a small group of foreign correspondents was told to appear at the border crossing to Gaza. The reporters were to be permitted in to cover firsthand the Israeli war on Hamas in keeping with a Supreme Court ruling against the two-month-old Israeli ban on foreign journalists entering Gaza.

Each time, they were turned back on security grounds, even as relief workers and other foreign citizens were permitted to cross the border. On Tuesday the reporters were told to not even bother going to the border.

And so for an 11th day of Israel’s war in Gaza, the several hundred journalists here to cover it waited in clusters away from direct contact with any fighting or Palestinian suffering, but with full access to Israeli political and military commentators eager to show them around southern Israel, where Hamas rockets have been terrorizing civilians. A slew of private groups financed mostly by Americans are helping guide the press around Israel.

Like all wars, this one is partly about public relations. But unlike any war in Israel’s history, in this one the government is seeking to entirely control the message and narrative for reasons both of politics and military strategy.

Isn’t it strange how Plucky, Democratic Israel goes to such extreme lengths to prevent any media coverage of what they do, any journalistic interference with their propaganda machine, in light of the fact that — as always — They Did Absolutely Nothing Wrong?  Is physically blocking the media from covering what happens the act of a government that is in the right?  Thomas Jefferson answered that question quite some time ago:

Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.

Israel is now not only detaining the victims of its aggression, but also threatening to prosecute and imprison them.  Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said yesterday:  “All those who lifted a hand against a soldier will be punished to the full extent of the law.”  So when Israel seizes ships in international waters and kills anyone who resists (and others standing near them), that is an act of noble, plucky self-defense.  But those who fail to submit completely to this lawless and barbarous act of aggression are the Real Criminals who will be prosecuted and imprisoned “to the fullest extent of the law.”  In other words, not only is Israel — which seized ships in international waters and killed civilians — the Real Victim, but the Real Criminals are those on the ship.  But doesn’t the victim of a crime usually want media coverage of what the criminal did?  How odd for the victim in this case to take such extreme steps to ensure that the world cannot hear from the witnesses.

* * * * *

Two other related points:  (1) as I noted yesterday, the real question for Americans is our own country’s responsibility for what Israel does; as virtually the entire world vehemently condemns Israel’s conduct, the U.S. — as usual — acts to protect the Israelis at the U.N. and joins it in heaping blame on its victims; and (2) Robert Farley highlights a small though typical piece of false Israeli propaganda, this one from supreme propagandist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, which pervades our discourse in unchallenged form.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | Comments Off on What does Israel fear from media coverage?

Obama Regime Blocks Condemnation of Israeli Crimes at UNSC Meeting

In defiance of international law the United States refuses to condemn Israel’s murder of peace activists in international waters.

Hamsayeh.Net – June 01, 2010

An emergency meeting of United Nation Security Council ended with United States once again blocking international efforts to condemn an Israeli attack on the peace flotilla on Monday morning.

A strong formal statement by Turkey demanding condemnation of Israel, a U.N. investigation, prosecution of those responsible for murder of peace activists, payment of compensation to the victims and an end to the Gaza blockade was vetoed by the US.

The Obama administration which according to some observers is under Zionist control tried to whitewash Israel’s crime on Monday. Many large corporations, media and financial centers in the United States function directly under a large network of Zionist elitites, which in turn handpick the North American country’s so-called democratically elected president every four years.

Following Monday’s attacks many countries condemned Israel’s crime against the international community. In Caracas Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called Israel’s action ‘an act of war’ on innocent civilians carrying relief supplies to Gaza Strip. ‘Venezuela will continue to denounce the terrorist and criminal nature of Israel’s government, even as it reiterates, today more than ever, its unbreakable commitment to the fight of the Palestinian people for freedom, national sovereignty, and dignity,’ Chavez said in a statement on Monday.

Likewise, Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the Israeli attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla as a gross breach of international law. ‘Russia’s Foreign Ministry expresses ‘condemnation and profound concern’ over the incident,’ read a statement. Russian Foreign Ministry demanded an immediate end to illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza Strip.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | 12 Comments

The Sudden Koehler Resignation

By Doug E. Steil | Aletho News | June 1, 2010

Yesterday’s surprise resignation, effective immediately, by the German President, who maintained a ceremonial office, is highly peculiar in light of its timing.

An article by the news agency Reuters, referred to controversial comments made by Koehler, prompting criticism, which he then claimed was not sufficiently respectful of his office:

Koehler, in office since 2004, said in a radio interview on his return from a trip to Afghanistan this month that German military action abroad also served economic interests.

A country like Germany with a heavy reliance on foreign trade, Koehler said, must know that “in emergencies military intervention is necessary to uphold our interests, like for example free trade routes, for example to prevent regional instabilities which could have a negative impact on our chances in terms of trade, jobs and income.”

This attitude was regarded as imperialistic and not consistent with the German Basic Law. However, an alternative and more reasonable interpretation of these comments, given German consistency in international diplomacy and lessons learned from history prior to the Second World War might be along the following lines:

Since Germany is so strongly dependent on exporting manufactured goods to maintain its income, a media smear campaign or boycott effort, which the Anglo-American axis would readily instigate against it, if its leaders did not do as they are told, would have adverse consequences. Since the Anglo-American axis has ordered Germany to maintain a stronger military presence in Afghanistan and elsewhere in support of a doomed and senseless effort, we really have no choice but to play along with this highly unpopular policy rather than risk the alternative.

In other words, Koehler was likely sending a coded signal, that the usual suspects were once again blackmailing Germany. These suspects are of course the same policy movers, who insist:

(a) on maintaining a continued military presence of US troops and air bases on German soil;

(b) on Germany’s large gold reserves remaining under strict custody in Manhattan (what good is gold if it isn’t also in your physical possession?);

(c) on Germany making yet additional reparations payments under the perennial war guilt trip;

(d) on Israel getting even more state-of-the-art submarines at giveaway terms;

(e) on Chancellor Merkel obsequiously groveling before the U.S. Congress and its masters to make a public display of who is really in control.

To make up for this indiscretion, opaque and codified though it apparently was, the usual suspects presumably forced Koehler to suffer the consequences, even though the public criticism did not go into this alternative interpretation anyway, which would be strictly taboo. Doing them a great big favor, Koehler, who had just recently been re-elected to a second term in office by the German parliament, pointedly timed his unusual resignation announcement, which of course nobody had anticipated, in a manner that could not have been coincidental.

Koehler’s announcement came after the news, that the Israeli terror attack on a humanitarian ship in international waters just a few hours earlier was already causing a massive public outrage in Turkey, where the incident had been broadcast live, and would surely cause outrage among the public elsewhere, including in Germany. Something very drastic would be necessary, to divert media attention away from the Israeli attack, which was destined to become another self-inflicted public relations disaster. Koehler obliged, and we will surely soon see that he will be rewarded accordingly in his next job.

In the meantime, since German law stipulates the formal selection into office of a new president within thirty days, this sudden predicament will surely distract German politicians and the media for the next few weeks, which of course must have been the intent of this maneuver.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Deception | 7 Comments

Let’s Follow the Brits’ Lead in Restoring Civil Liberties

By Michael Tennant | 28 May 2010

Here in the United States, liberal Democrats claim to be defenders of civil liberties, yet since taking power in January 2009 they have done little to restore lost liberties and much to encroach further upon them.

In just the past couple of weeks, for example, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has voted to pay state governments to collect the DNA of Americans arrested for, but not necessarily guilty of, crimes and to store that information in a centralized FBI database; and the Democrat-controlled Senate has voted to allow the federal government to collect detailed data on Americans’ every financial transaction.

Over in Great Britain, however, the leader of the Liberal Democrat party, Nick Clegg, not only campaigned on restoring Britons’ civil liberties but is actually making good on those promises just two weeks after assuming the office of Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition government with the Conservative Party. The government’s first initiative under Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron is a bill to repeal a national ID card and database, reports the U.K. Guardian. (This was not a hard sell to Cameron, who is also opposed to national ID cards.)

Just as 9/11 was used as an excuse to clamp down on civil liberties here in the former British colonies, so it was in the mother country. The Guardian writes that “compulsory identity cards … were first floated by the then-home secretary David Blunkett in the aftermath of 9/11.” After numerous attempts to pass legislation enacting a national ID card, it finally passed in 2006. Then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised in 2009 that the cards would not be compulsory, though that was only true, as the Guardian reported, if one did not “want to leave the country or legally drive a car” since obtaining a passport or driver’s license would automatically register a person in the national database.

Approximately 15,000 people have obtained national ID cards in the past four years; under the new legislation those cards will also be invalidated. “The role of the identity commissioner, created in an effort to prevent data blunders and leaks, will be abolished,” says the Guardian. The government expects to save one billion pounds between this legislation and other legislation “to cancel the next generation of biometric fingerprint passports,” the Guardian reports.

According to the Guardian, Clegg’s comment on the upcoming legislation was: “The wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive ID card system represents everything that has been wrong with government in recent years.” This is in keeping with his campaign rhetoric, as in this Associated Press report: “‘This government will end the culture of spying on its citizens,’ Clegg said during a speech in north London. ‘It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide. It has to stop.’” Among the civil-liberties violations Clegg promised to end or restrict were, in addition to the national ID card and database, the use of closed-circuit TV cameras to monitor citizens’ activities and a national DNA database. The AP points out that British police “currently have the power to take DNA or fingerprints from anyone at the point of arrest, and can hold the information of those found innocent for years.” Sound familiar?

The British government, having heard from its fed-up citizens that it was intruding on their privacy, is actually taking steps to rein in the worst of its abuses. Meanwhile, in the alleged land of the free, our government is headed in the opposite direction. The House wants to expand the national DNA database to include innocent people’s biometric data. U.S. cities are installing TV cameras at an ever-increasing pace; the AP noted, for instance, that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited London in an effort to learn how the British government spies on its citizens with cameras so that he could do likewise in the Big Apple. The REAL ID Act, which would create a de facto national ID card, although officially opposed by at least half the states, is still scheduled to go into effect next year despite then-Senator Barack Obama’s “flatly opposing” it in his response to a CNET questionnaire of 2008 presidential candidates. It’s time our government heard from its fed-up citizens and started cutting back on its violations of our privacy, too. Let’s not keep our opinions on the subject private.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | Comments Off on Let’s Follow the Brits’ Lead in Restoring Civil Liberties