Press**Watch: Eyeless in Gaza again

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Press**Watch for June 3, 2010

 

Here is one of the accounts of the Israeli assault on the Gaza relief convoy, from Al Jazeera:

The Israeli assault took those of us on the ship by complete surprise.

During that hour an half in the early morning everybody on board the ship thought that no-one would survive the Israeli attack because we saw about 30 war vessels surrounding this ship and helicopters attacking with very luminous bombs, the sound of them makes you think you are dead.

That was a fear of war, complete war, on a ship that was full of men, women and even children.

The first soldiers on the ship were not killed, they were not shot at, they were captured by the defenders of the ship.

Moments later another bigger helicopter landed more troops and this time they fired immediately at people and killed as many as they could so that they could reach the cabin and take control of the ship.

I saw blood spilt on the ship and everyone knew that there were no weapons. We all knew the Israelis would intercept us and try to stop us, but we didn't think that they would open fire at the first moment.

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The Israeli propaganda ministries continued to control news today of the Israeli military attack on the Gaza humanitarian relief convoy. By showing distant edited videos of confrontation on a Turkish ship and by controlling the parameters of discussion, they have succeeded in getting US citizens at least to view the incident as one of Israeli self-defense. Of course the truth is the opposite; Israel has attacked unarmed citizens in international waters, gunning them down in cold blood. Though the story has also been controlled by holding the surviving victims incommunicado, the truth is beginning to leak out.

 

Here is a perspective from the Turkish press: (Huriyet)

 

Eyewitness accounts differ from what Israeli security forces have said.

An Australian journalist on board the Gaza-bound aid ship said Israeli commando boats had circled their flotilla like "hyenas hunting animals in the night" before his colleague was shot with a stun gun.

Two Swedes aboard the Gaza-bound aid flotilla intercepted by Israeli forces this week said in a radio broadcast Thursday they had witnessed "premeditated murder" aboard the Turkish ship that came under the heaviest attack.

And the leader of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation or, İHH, Bülent Yıldırım, said he saw Israeli soldiers shoot a photographer and an activist who had already surrendered.

A 'very ugly' incident

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Paul McGeough and photographer Kate Geraghty were released from Israeli detention and deported to Turkey on Thursday, and said they were slowly recovering from their ordeal.

"We're fine, we're both fine," McGeough told the Herald's website from Turkey.

"We are leaving Israel on legal advice that we will be able to appeal our deportation in absentia," he added.

McGeough said Israeli boats had circled the flotilla like "hyenas hunting animals in the night" before moving in suddenly, describing it as a "very ugly" incident.

"Kate and I got pushed around," he said, adding that the atmosphere was "testosterone-driven."

'We could have died'

"We were witnesses to premeditated murders," said Swedish historian Mattias Gardell who was on the Mavi Marmara along with his wife, fellow historian Edda Manga.

Manga and Gardell, who were among 11 Swedes taking part in the flotilla but the only ones on the Mavi Marmara, were on deck when the shooting began.

"I saw the ship's security personnel trying to prevent divers from climbing onto the boats," Manga said.

"Then one of our comrades said [the soldiers] were shooting and had killed three people ... [and] that we had to throw ourselves to the floor. We were on deck. We could have died," she said.

Shot after surrendering

Yıldırım, the leader of the Turkish İHH, said many people were wounded by gas bombs and that a journalist was taking photographs when he was shot by an Israeli soldier, adding that one of their friends was shot after he surrendered.

Yıldırım said passengers on the ship showed civil resistance, the press was there, and that the İHH called on the passengers not to allow Israeli soldiers in.

"We rendered ten of the soldiers who got on the ship ineffective, we took their weapons, but it would have been self-defense even if we had used those weapons," he said. "Still, we threw the weapons into the sea."

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Compare that account with CNN:

 

While the activists in five of the ships peacefully surrendered, the Israel government said soldiers faced violent resistance as they boarded the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara. The soldiers opened fire in self-defense, Israel said. Seven soldiers were wounded, it said.

The Free Gaza Movement denies there was violent resistance to Israeli soldiers, saying the soldiers immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians.

The Israeli military released a video shot from above the ship that it said showed soldiers being attacked, though the distance from which it was shot precluded immediate confirmation.

Most of the passengers in the ships were Turkish, as were most of the fatalities.

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Note the use of the term 'peacefully surrendered,' a phrase used to define the actions of combatants. These people may have peacefully surrendered, but they were being illegally attacked on the high seas, so it would be more appropriate and accurate to say that they mounted no defense, having no weaponry. They had no weapons to turn over, to render or surrender. They were not defeated in battle but victimized by an armed attack. CNN's use of Israeli-defined terms is rife in other reports and hardly varies from other US media outlets. Note also the phrase “soldiers being attacked,' though it was of course the soldiers who were doing the attacking. No one suggests that the peace activists rappelled on to Israeli ships and attacked soldiers; they were defending themselves with deck chairs after receiving a hail of bullets.

 

AlterNet published an article by Johnathan Cook on the distortions in the US press about the Gaza incident. He says in part:

 

If we needed any evidence of the degree to which Western TV journalists are simply stenographers to power, the BBC, CNN and others are amply proving it. Mark Regev, Israel’s propagandist-in-chief, has the airwaves largely to himself.

The passengers on the ships, meanwhile, have been kidnapped by Israel and are unable to provide an alternative version of events. We can guess they will remain in enforced silence until Israel is sure it has set the news agenda.

So before we get swamped by Israeli hasbara let’s reiterate a few simple facts:

* Israeli soldiers invaded these ships in international waters, breaking international law, and, in killing civilians, committed a war crime. The counter-claim by Israeli commanders that their soldiers responded to an imminent “lynch” by civilians should be dismissed with the loud contempt it deserves.

* The Israeli government approved the boarding of these aid ships by an elite unit of commandoes. They were armed with automatic weapons to pacify the civilians onboard, but not with crowd dispersal equipment in case of resistance. Whatever the circumstances of the confrontation, Israel must be held responsible for sending in soldiers and recklessly endangering the lives of all the civilians onboard, including a baby. 

Israel has no right to control Gaza’s sea as its own territorial waters and to stop aid convoys arriving that way. In doing so, it proves that it is still in belligerent occupation of the enclave and its 1.5 million inhabitants. And if it is occupying Gaza, then under international law Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Strip’s inhabitants. Given that the blockade has put Palestinians there on a starvation diet for the past four years, Israel should long ago have been in the dock for committing a crime against humanity.

Israel chose to direct its deadly assault not only at Palestinians under occupation but at the international community itself.

Will our leaders finally be moved to act?

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Here's Radio Havana's take on the incident:

Gaza City, June 2 (RHC)-- Survivors aboard the Free Gaza Movement flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip are beginning to provide their accounts of the Israeli assault that left at least nine activists dead and sparked an international uproar.

Israel has begun deporting the 682 people seized from the ships during the assault. Returning to Greece and Turkey, several of the activists gave the first eyewitness accounts of the early Monday morning attack.

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 claimed that the use of armed force began when Israeli troops were attacked, but that version is quickly being disputed.

Nilufer Cetin told reporters that she and her child hid in the bathroom of their cabin during the confrontation. "The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn't stop, these warnings turned into an attack."

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."

Turkey said it was sending three ambulance planes to Israel to pick up 20 more Turkish activists wounded in the operation. And according to the prime minister's office, three Turkish Airlines planes were on standby, waiting to fly back other activists.


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Here's an excerpt from Fox News on the incident:

 

"This wasn't a love boat. This was a hate boat," Netanyahu said. "I regret to say for many in the international community, no evidence is needed. Israel is guilty until proven guilty." 

A number of nations have condemned Israel for using deadly force, killing nine activists, aboard one of the six boats in the flotilla Monday. The United States has urged caution, calling for an investigation before any conclusions are reached. 

Netanyahu, responding to the outrage, said Wednesday that Israeli forces were not met by any "serious violence" on the other five ships and so no serious injuries occurred. But he said on the Turkish-flagged ship where the fighting broke out, "Something very different happened." 

"They were met with a vicious mob. They were stabbed. They were clubbed. They were fired upon," Netanyahu said. "The attackers had prepared their violent action in advance. ... These weren't pacifists. They weren't peace activists. These were violent supporters of terrorism." 

The prime minister said the Israeli soldiers had to act in self defense -- he said that he talked to one who had been shot in the stomach and knee. 

Netanyahu, citing the activists' support for Hamas, said Israel will continue to assert its right to inspect cargo headed for the Gaza Strip out of concern that weapons could be smuggled in for groups like Hamas.

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Listening to that, you could be forgiven for believing that Israel had been attacked by a flotilla of amphibious carriers. However, Israel is itself mobilizing a fleet, according to Haaretz:

Israel is to deploy three submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles in the Persian Gulf, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday.

According to the Times report, one submarine had been sent over Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, and in the possession of Syria and Hezbollah, could be used to hit strategic sites within Israel, such as air bases and missile launchers.

Dolphin, Tekuma, and Leviathan, all German-made Dolphin class submarines of the 7th navy Flotilla, have been reported as frequenting the Gulf in the past, however, according to the Sunday Times report, this new deployment is meant to ensure a permanent naval presence near the Iranian coastline.

A flotilla officer told the Times that the deployed submarines were meant to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents.

"We're a solid base for collecting sensitive information, as we can stay for a long time in one place," the officer said.

The flotilla's commander, identified only as "Colonel O," was quoted by the Times as saying that the submarine force was "an underwater assault force. We’re operating deep and far, very far, from our borders."

The submarines could be used if Iran continues its program to produce a nuclear bomb. "The 1,500km range of the submarines’ cruise missiles can reach any target in Iran," a navy officer told the Times.

Apparently responding to the reported Israeli activity, an Iranian admiral told the Times: "Anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the Persian Gulf will receive a forceful response from us."

Last July, defense sources reported that an Israeli submarine had sailed the Suez Canal to the Red Sea last month, describing the unusual maneuver as a show of strategic reach in the face of Iran.

Israel has long kept its three Dolphin-class submarines, which are widely assumed to carry nuclear missiles, away from Suez so as not to expose them to the gaze of Egyptian harbormasters.


 

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Last week I mentioned using Navy depth charges to seal the BP well.  It is worth noting that the US armed forces have giant non-nuclear devices like the MOAB which run to thousands of pounds, and approach the force of a nuclear device.  I do NOT recommend the use of a nuke to seal the Gulf gusher, but apparently nukes have been used in the past by the Russians--and this would appear to be the source of the comment that I first heard on Thom Hartman's show (AM 620 Portland):

http://www.salon.com/technology/how_the_world_works/2010/06/01/oil_spill...

This much we do know: In four separate instances dating back to 1966, the Soviet Union successfully used nuclear explosives to shut off runaway onshore gas wells. According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2000, "The Soviet Program for Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Explosions," the first successful application of the nuclear option took place in the Urtabulak gas field in Southern Uzbekistan. The Urtabulak well had been gushing more than 12 million cubic meters of gas per day for almost three years and had defied numerous techno-fixes.

 

Finally, in the fall of 1966, a decision was made to attempt closing the well with the use of a nuclear explosive... Two 44.5-cm (13.5-in) diameter slant wells, Holes No. 1c and 2c, were drilled simultaneously. They were aimed to come as close as possible to Hole No. 11 at a depth of about 1500 m in the middle of a 200-m-thick clay zone.... The location for the explosive in Hole 1c was cooled to bring it down to a temperature the explosive could withstand. A special 3O-kt nuclear explosive developed by the Arzamas nuclear weapons laboratory for this event was emplaced in Hole 1c and stemmed. It was detonated on September 30, 1966. Twenty-three seconds later the flame went out, and the well was sealed.

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Michio Kaku, who regular listeners will remember from his book interview on this program, has been interviewed about the BP oilmageddon, and the news ain't good. Here is an excerpt from Raw Story:

 

Physics professor Michio Kaku has some bad news: oil could gush from the leaking BP deepwater well for years.

After six methods for stopping the leak failed, BP is now trying a seventh method: "cut and cap." Underwater robots are attempting to trim the pipe connected to the blowout preventer -- and depending on how well the cut is made, either a "top hat" or "top cap" will be lowered from the surface which would then transport the spewing oil to a drilling ship.

The "cut and cap" method has several drawbacks. A perfect seal is thought to be almost impossible and some amount of oil will continue to leak into the Gulf. And the cap will have to be completely removed during inclement weather. The Gulf hurricane season began June 1, and it's expected to be the worst year since 2005.

If this seventh attempt fails, the next option will be to wait on one of two relief wells to intercept and block the original well. This is considered the best hope for permanently stopping the flow, but those wells won't be in place until August at the soonest. Some predict that it could take until Christmas.

But Kaku thinks that even those predictions could be too optimistic.

"You would have to win the lottery to get on the first try an exact, an exact meeting at the bottom of the well in order to pump cement to shut it off," Kaku told NBC's Matt Lauer Wednesday.

If the attempt fails, the drill will be reversed, the hole will be filled with cement and they will try again.

"You have to do this over and over again until you get it just right," Kaku said. "It takes many tries. So August is optimistic."

"So this could be spewing oil for months. Could it last for a year?" asked Lauer.

"It could last for years, plural. Okay? If everything fails and all these different kinds of relief wells don't work, it could be spewing stuff into the Gulf until we have dead zones, entire dead zones in the Gulf. For years," Kaku said.

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