Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Activists: "Israeli Forces Fired First"


Arriving at Istanbul's Ataturk airport with her one-year-old baby, Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin said Israeli troops opened fire before boarding the Turkish-flagged ferry Mavi Marmara, which was the scene of the worst clashes and all the fatalities. Israeli officials have said that the use of armed force began when its boarding party was attacked.

"It was extremely bad and very tough clashes took place. The Mavi Marmara is filled with blood," said Cetin, whose husband is the Mavi Marmara's chief engineer...

..."The attack on the Mavi Marmara came in an instant: they attacked it with 12 or 13 attack boats and also with commandos from helicopters. We heard the gunshots over our portable radio handsets, which we used to communicate with the Mavi Marmara, because our ship communication system was disrupted. There were three or four helicopters also used in the attack. We were told by Mavi Marmara their crew and civilians were being shot at and windows and doors were being broken by Israelis."

Six Greek activists who returned to Athens accused Israeli commandos of using electric shocks during the raid.

Dimitris Gielalis, who had been aboard the Sfendoni, told reporters: "Suddenly from everywhere we saw inflatables coming at us, and within seconds fully equipped commandos came up on the boat. They came up and used plastic bullets, we had beatings, we had electric shocks, any method we can think of, they used."

Michalis Grigoropoulos, who was at the wheel of the Free Mediterranean, said: "We were in international waters. The Israelis acted like pirates, completely out of the normal way that they conduct nautical exercises, and seized our ship. They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads; they descended from helicopters and fired tear gas and bullets. There was absolutely nothing we could do … Those who tried to resist forming a human ring on the bridge were given electric shocks.
Grigoropoulos, who insisted the ship was full of humanitarian aid bound for Gaza "and nothing more", said that, once detained, the human rights activists were not allowed to contact a lawyer or the Greek embassy in Tel Aviv. "They didn't let us go to the toilet, eat or drink water and throughout they videoed us. They confiscated everything, mobile phones, laptops, cameras and personal effects. They only allowed us to keep our papers."

Remember, these latter ships were not the Turkish Mavi Marmara.  But they still got the holy hell beat out of them, had their records of the attack seized, and were apparently kept in privation after capture. As I said earlier, the whole "they jumped us" talking point was used because it was appropriate to the footage they were able to isolate that would make them look the best. That's why they seized anything and everything that would contradict them. 

Now, though, it's clear that the whole "they jumped us" thing wasn't intended to be credible. It's just cover. It allows those who would suffer serious political fallout or cognitive dissonance to have something to fixate on that will justify the position they so desperately want to maintain.  They'll carefully ignore the electrocution of harmless activists and fixate on the few who decided to defend themselves, because it makes their brains hurt a little less.

They're lost. Hell with 'em. The question is what the rest of us decide.

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