Revolution Online, October 10, 2010

From A World to Win News Service

U.S. to Israel after the Gaza ship massacre: keep up the killing

October 4, 2010. A World to Win News Service. "The circumstances of the killing of at least six of the passengers were consistent with an extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution," a UN-sponsored fact-finding mission on the Israeli attack on an aid flotilla to Gaza last May has concluded.

Contrary to Israeli claims that the nine passengers on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara were killed by Israeli soldiers acting in self-defense, the UN Mission's report, based on forensic and other material evidence and 112 interviews with ship passengers, is a detailed account of reckless gunfire and cold-blooded murders.

Some passengers on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara had thwarted the Israeli commando attempt to climb up ladders to board the ship by throwing down "chairs, sticks, a box of plates and other objects that were readily to hand." When a helicopter lowered a rope for soldiers to climb down, passengers grabbed it and tied it to part of the deck so it couldn't be used. The helicopter began shooting at the top deck.

When, after that, soldiers descended from helicopters on a second rope, "a number of passengers fought with the soldiers using their fists, sticks, metal rods and knives." They used slingshots to fire objects at the copters, but "the Mission has found no evidence to suggest that any of the passengers used firearms or that any firearms were taken aboard the ship."

Once they were on board, Israeli soldiers raked the top deck with live ammunition, plastic bullets (which killed at least one man) and paint balls, hitting nearly everyone gathered there, and then sprayed the deck below, hitting people trying to escape or take cover. Some wounded men were finished off with bullets to the head. Nineteen-year-old Furkan Dogan, on the top deck filming the action, was shot four times from behind and then, while lying on the deck, apparently turned over and shot pointblank in the face.

At least 50 people were wounded. There was so much gunfire with live ammunition that "it seems a matter of pure chance that there were not more fatalities as a result."

There were no deaths on any of the other ships in the flotilla, whose passengers, the report says, offered only non-violent resistance or none at all. But there, too, Israel soldiers were enraged and brutal. Many of the more than 700 passengers and crew on six ships were beaten and electroshocked (with Tasers). Israeli soldiers carried out what the report describes as "torture" on handcuffed prisoners on the way back to shore, during the processing of the prisoners, and at the airport as they were being deported.

Journalists were targeted because of their profession. Some passengers said the commandos carried picture books of particular people they were looking for, presumably, the report says, on the basis of intelligence reports before the ships set off.

The Israeli interception of this flotilla on the high seas was unlawful, the report states after reviewing the facts and relevant laws and codes. Even aside from that, the use of lethal force was illegal, since even those carrying out legitimate law enforcement and military activities have a responsibility to avoid needless harm and death of civilians under all circumstances, and acts like the torture and summary execution of prisoners are always forbidden.

"There is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willingly causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health," the report concludes. Those open to legal charges under international law include both the individuals who may have committed crimes and their superiors at every level who under international law are responsible for the actions of their troops.

In fact, the report says, the Israeli government is actively covering up these crimes. It confiscated the CCTV footage, every camera, phone, memory card, and almost every single electronic or other device carried by the passengers so as to keep exclusive control of the evidence. It told the UN Mission that it would not recognize it or cooperate with it.

The Mission argues that Israeli accounts of what happened do not concur with the evidence cited in the report and that these accounts are mutually inconsistent and in many cases implausible. Since only the sound and camera recordings that Israel insists on keeping secret could substantiate its claims, then its failure to produce that material means that its arguments cannot be accepted.

Moreover, the report argues, again after reviewing the facts and relevant law, the Israeli blockade of Gaza is itself illegal, because its stated purpose is to punish the people of Gaza for having voted for the Hamas organization. Such collective punishment of a population is explicitly forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention, the so-called laws of war. Israel had deliberately caused a "severe humanitarian situation" in Gaza through "the destruction of the civilian economy and prevention of reconstruction of past damage." Imposing starvation on a civilian population is also illegal under international humanitarian law, and "the ordinary meaning of 'starvation'" under that law "is simply to cause hunger."

Israel continues to enforce this situation today as a matter of state policy, the report dated September 22 notes, despite minor adjustments to the blockade.

But there is an even greater crime here: the reaction of the U.S. and other imperialist powers to this report. Of the UN Human Rights Commission's 47 members, only one voted against endorsing the report: the U.S. All the European members abstained.

Why? Not one of these countries argued that anything in the report is inaccurate, untrue or legally unfounded. The American ambassador to the Human Rights Council simply criticized its "unbalanced language, tone and conclusions."

If the term "unbalanced" was meant to mean that the report did not sufficiently listen to the Israeli side of the argument, then how can the UN Mission be blamed for Israel's refusal to cooperate or allow any of its citizens to be interviewed? On the other hand, if "unbalanced" means that the report reaches definitive conclusions, that is not wrong but a good thing. This Mission "went where the evidence led us," said member Desmond de Silva, a British jurist and former chief prosecutor for the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The Mission chairman, Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, pointed out that the U.S. spokeswoman's "unfortunate" comments "came without any supporting evidence or argument. There has been no factual criticisms, as far as we have been able to glean from any reports."

U.S. Ambassador Eileen Donahoe did make one argument, although not about facts or law. She said that the report could be "used for actions that could disrupt the direct Israeli-Palestinian talks now under way or actions that could make it harder." (All quotes from The New York Times, September 28, 2010.)

Here we have it: the U.S. fears the truth because it might disrupt the Obama government's efforts to use diplomacy and political pressure to force the Palestinians into submission, in harmony with Israel's deliberately blatant and sadistic brutality to achieve the same goal.

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

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