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Fallout from the Gaza Blockade

By Ann Wright | Consortium News | October 22, 2015

A lawsuit has been filed in the United States against former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for his role in the 2010 Israeli commando attack upon the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in which eight Turkish citizens and one American citizen were killed by Israeli forces and over 50 Turkish passengers were wounded.

The trial would be the first time a former Israeli Prime Minister would be put on trial for reasons of international terrorism.

The family of Furkan Doğan, the American citizen who appears to have been executed in the attack — shot five times, including point blank to the head, according to the family’s lawyers — filed the lawsuit in the Central District Court of California. Notice of the trial was handed to Barak on Oct. 20 in Los Angeles when he spoke in the Distinguished Speaker series of Southern California.

According to a press release from the Turkish International Humanitarian organization that sponsored the Mavi Marmara ship, charges against Barak include his planning and leadership in the murder of Furkan Doğan and others in international waters, willful killing, attempted willful killing, intentionally causing serious injury to body or health, international terrorism, plundering, intentionally causing damage to property, restriction of people’s freedom and instigating violent crimes.

American attorneys Hydee Dijsktal and Dan Stormer; the British law firm, Stoke & White; British Professor Dr. Geoffrey Nice; and UK attorney Rodney Dixon are the legal team for the Dogan family.

Other legal proceedings against Barak and other senior members of the Israeli government are in the works.  In 2010 in France, the widows of Cevdet Kılıçlar and Necdet Yıldırım, two others executed by Israeli commandos, brought a lawsuit against Barak which he evaded when he was informed of the French lawsuit as he was about to deplane in Paris to attend a weapons expo.

In a case brought in the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ICC prosecutor has ruled that the attack by Israeli commandos upon the Mavi Marmara in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was a war crime.

Additionally, the Seventh High Criminal Court in Istanbul, Turkey, has issued a “red notice” for the arrest of four senior Israeli government officials in a lawsuit filed in Turkey. The Israeli officials named by the court are Israel’s former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former navy chief Eliezer Marom, former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin, and former air force intelligence chief Avishai Levy.

Due to political considerations dealing with the State of Israel, the Ministry of Justice of Turkey has delayed sending to Interpol the “red notice” much to the consternation of those seeking justice.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She also was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and worked in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the U.S. government in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. She was on the 2010, 2011 and 2015 Gaza Freedom Flotillas and has been to Gaza six times after Israeli attacks on Gaza.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama Doesn’t Seek Israeli Apology for American Youth’s Killing

By Dave Lindorff – This Can’t Be Happening! –  03/23/2013

The American media are full of glowing reports and praise for President Obama for “brokering” a detente between Israel and Turkey, two former allies who have been at loggerheads since May 31, 2010 when heavily armed Israeli forces boarded the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged vessel seeking to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza with non-military supplies, and killed nine unarmed peace flotilla activists.

In the deal arranged by the American president, Israel’s hot-head prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had ordered the raid, apologized “to the Turkish people” for “any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury.”

It was a lame excuse for murder, but it appears that Turkey’s government was ready to bury the hatchet and, as a client state of the US, was also under some pressure from this country too.

It is interesting and indicative of the continuing power of the pro-Israel lobby in the US, that President Obama did not, as part of this brokered deal, bother to demand that Netanyahu include an apology, weak or otherwise, to the American people for the killing of an American national. For one of the nine people slaughtered by Israel in that raid, a 19-year-old young man named Furkan Dogan, was an American citizen — a son of Turkish parents, but born and raised to adulthood in the U.S.

Dogan’s death has never been protested or even investigated or questioned by the US government — an astonishing abrogation of this government’s oft-repeated promise to protect American lives. Indeed, in his first debate in the series of three presidential campaign debates with Republican Mitt Romney last fall, President Obama said, in his first answer to a question from the moderator, that his number on responsibility was to protect Americans.

Furkan Dogan in Turkey before he was killed on a peace voyage to Gaza by Israeli Defense Force boarders

Furkan Dogan in Turkey before he was killed on a peace voyage to Gaza by Israeli Forces

Not young Furkan Dogan, though.

As we reported in ThisCantBeHappening!, the unarmed Dogan, who was filming the IDF boarding of the Mavi Marmara, was beaten and kicked viciously on the deck by two IDF thugs, who then fired at him with their shotguns at point blank range.

As we also reported, the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine conducted an official autopsy which concluded that Dogan had been killed by two shots to the face fired at close range — this as he lay already gravely wounded on the deck of the ship, having been already shot in the back, leg and foot.

This report, which was conveyed directly to the US Embassy in Ankara in July, 2010, was sat on, covered up and ignored, and went unreported. Turkey later relayed the autopsy report directly to the White House, and finally, when that elicited no response, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned it specifically himself during a state visit to Obama. The Turkish leader later expressed his surprise to reporters following his meeting with the president that the US had not protested the killing of one of its citizens. As he told reporters, ‘I asked President Obama whether the reason he showed no interest in one of his nationals being killed was because [the victim] was [ethnically] Turkish. He didn’t reply.’”

What a freaking outrage!

The idea that this president cannot demand even a mild apology from an Israeli prime minister for the brutal slaughter of an unarmed US citizen, even as he is brokering such an apology for the killing of nine Turkish citizens, is beyond appalling.

Equally, or perhaps even more appalling, is the complete failure of the US corporate media to mention this failure, even as they note that one of the nine killed was a “Turkish-American.”

Actually, he was more than that. He was an American, pure and simple. An American born in America, and you don’t get more American than that.

I guess if you think you have the right to kill US citizens without a trial, as Obama does, you probably figure you don’t have to demand apologies from foreign leaders who order their deaths, too.

The victims are just US citizens after all. No big deal.

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN Fact-Finding Mission Says Israelis “Executed” US Citizen Furkan Dogan

By Gareth Porter | t r u t h o u t | 27 September 2010

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.” (See Report [.pdf] Page 38, Section 170)

The report confirmed what the Obama administration already knew from the autopsy report on Dogan, but the administration has remained silent about the killing of Dogan, which could be an extremely difficult political problem for the administration in its relations with Israel.

The Turkish government gave the autopsy report on Dogan to the US Embassy in July and it was then passed on to the Department of Justice, according to a US government source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the administration’s policy of silence on the matter. The source said the purpose of obtaining the report was to determine whether an investigation of the killing by the Justice Department (DOJ) was appropriate.

Asked by this writer whether the DOJ had received the autopsy report on Dogan, DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney refused to comment.

The administration has not volunteered any comment on the fact-finding mission report and was not asked to do so by any news organization.  In response to a query from Truthout, a State Department official, who could not speak on the record, read a statement that did not explicitly acknowledge  the report’s conclusion about the Israeli executions.

The statement said the fact-finding mission’s report’s “tone and conclusions are unbalanced.” It went on to state, “We urge that this report not be used for actions that could disrupt direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine that are now underway or actions that would make it not possible for Israel and Turkey to move beyond the recent strains in their traditional strong relationship.”

Although the report’s revelations and conclusions about the killing of Dogan and the five other victims were widely reported in the Turkish media last week, not a single story on the report has appeared in US news media.

The administration has made it clear through its inaction and its explicit public posture that it has no intention of pressing the issue of the murder of a US citizen in cold blood by Israeli commandos.

On June 13, two weeks after the Mavi Marmara attack, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying that Israel “should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security” and that Israel’s military justice system “meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation.”

Another passenger whom forensic evidence shows was killed execution-style, according to the OHCHR report, is Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen. Bilgen is believed by forensics experts to have been shot initially from the helicopter above the Mavi Marmara and then shot in the side of the head while lying seriously wounded.

The fact-finding mission was given forensic evidence that, after the initial shot in chest from above, Bilgen was shot in the head with a “soft baton round at such close proximity that an entire bean bag and its wadding penetrated the skull and lodged in the chest from above,” the mission concluded.

“Soft baton rounds” are supposed to be fired for nonlethal purposes at a distance and aimed only at the stomach, but are lethal when fired at the head, especially from close range.

The forensic evidence cited by the fact-finding mission on the killing of Dogan and five other passengers came from both the autopsy reports and pathology reports done by forensic personnel in Turkey and from interviews with those who wrote the reports. Experts in forensic pathology and firearms assisted the mission in interpreting that forensic evidence.

The account, provided by the OHCHR of the events on board the Mavi Marmara on its way to help break the economic siege of Gaza May 31 of this year, refutes the version of events aggressively pushed by the Israeli military and supports the testimony of passengers on board.

The report suggests that, from the beginning, Israeli policy viewed the Gaza flotilla as an opportunity to use lethal force against pro-Hamas activists. It quotes testimony by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak before the Israeli government’s Turkel Committee that specific orders were given by the Israeli government “to continue intelligence tracking of the flotilla organizers with an emphasis on the possibility that amongst the passengers in the flotilla there were terror elements who would attempt to harm Israeli forces.”

The idea that the passenger list would be seeded with terrorists determined to attack Israeli defense forces appears to have been a ploy to justify treating the operation as likely to require the use of military force against the passengers.

When details of the Israeli plan to forcibly take over the ships in the flotilla were published in the Israeli press on May 30, the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara realized that the Israelis might use deadly force against them. Some leaders of the IHH (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid), which had purchased the ships for the mission, were advocating defending the boat against the Israeli boarding attempt, whereas other passengers advocated nonviolence only.

That led to efforts to create improvised weapons from railings and other equipment on the Mavi Marmara. However, the commission concluded that there was no evidence of any firearms having being taken aboard the ship, as charged by Israel.

The report notes that the Israeli military never communicated a request by radio to inspect the cargo on board any of the ships, apparently contradicting the official justification given by the Israeli government for the military attack on the Mavi Marmara and other ships of preventing any military contraband from reaching Gaza.

According to the OHCHR report, Israeli Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi testified to the Turkel Committee August 11 that the initial rules of engagement for the operation prohibited live fire except in life-threatening situations, but that that they were later modified to target protesters “deemed to be violent” in response to the resistance by passengers.

That decision apparently followed the passengers’ successful repulsion of an Israeli effort to board the ship from Zodiac boats.

The report confirms that, from the beginning of the operation, passengers were fired on by helicopters flying above the Mavi Marmara to drop commandos on the deck.

Contrary to Israeli claims that one or more Israeli troops were wounded by firearms, the report says no medical evidence of a gunshot wound to an Israeli soldier was found.

The OHCHR report confirms accounts from passengers on the Mavi Marmara that defenders subdued roughly ten Israeli commandos, took their weapons from them and threw them in the sea, except for one weapon hidden as evidence. The Israeli soldiers were briefly sequestered below and some were treated for wounds before being released by the defenders.

The OHCHR fact-finding mission will certainly be the most objective, thorough and in-depth inquiry into the events on board the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the flotilla of the four that have been announced.

The fact-finding mission was chaired by Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago, and included Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United Kingdom, former chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.

The mission interviewed 112 eyewitnesses to the Israeli attack in London, Geneva, Istanbul and Amman, Jordan. The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission by making personnel involved in both planning and carrying out the attack available to be interviewed.

The Turkish government announced its own investigation of the Israeli attack on August 10. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of a “Panel of Inquiry” on August 2, but its mandate was much more narrowly defined. It was given the mission to “receive and review the reports of the national investigations with the view to recommending ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future.”

September 27, 2010 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 2 Comments