Monday, May 31, 2010

Assault on the Freedom Flotilla

Israeli military forces have used lethal force against peaceful humanitarian activists in international waters:
"Israeli naval commandos shot dead at least 16 people and wounded over 30 on Monday morning, as they attacked an unarmed humanitarian and civilian flotilla - in international waters - trying to bring desperately needed aid to Gaza. The death toll was expected to rise.

"Chaos, confusion and outrage surround the exact circumstances under which the Free Gaza (FG) flotilla was stormed with live footage from a Turkish TV channel showing masked and heavily armed Israeli soldiers commandeering one of the six (FG) boats, the ‘Mavi Marmara’.

"An Al Jazeera correspondent who was on board, reported that Israeli troops used live ammunition during the operation. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) countered that some of those on board attacked soldiers with sharp objects, including knives.

"The organisers disputed this, saying the IDF opened fire as soon as they boarded the boats.

"It is uncertain how the Turkish channel managed to air the live footage. Israeli authorities had scrambled the boats’ communications system shortly before the commando raid in a bid to prevent the crews from using navigational equipment and contacting the crews on the other boats."

Juan Cole suggests that the shooting may have come when Israeli soldiers overreacted, but frankly any time you set up this sort of military encounter you have to expect the possibility for fatalities caused by the side with all the weapons. This was a brutal attempt to enforce a brutal and inhumane siege of one of the world's most impoverished patches of land.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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