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Israel’s Killing of Humanitarian Activists: An Outrageous Massacre to Enforce Horrific Crimes
May 31, 2010: In the middle of the night, in international waters, Israeli military forces stormed the Mavi Marmara, one of six ships carrying humanitarian relief to Gaza, killing at least 9 activists and injuring dozens of others. This is a shocking, horrific, and belligerent massacre.
While the details of the Israeli attack and killings are not all clear at this writing, and Israeli officials and media are unleashing a massive disinformation barrage, what is known is that the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the Freedom Flotilla were in international waters when stormed by heavily armed, elite Israeli military forces. Videos taken from the Mavi Marmara show armed Israeli commandos rappelling down from helicopters onto the ship. According to news reports, Israel claims the commandos used force only after coming under attack from those on the ship. But activists on the Mavi Marmara said the Israeli troops opened fire as soon as they stormed the ship.
Those onboard the Mavi Marmara ranged in age from 88 to 1, and included Christians, Muslims and Jews determined to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Some 700 activists from 40 countries were participating in the entire flotilla, including elected officials, former diplomats, aid workers and activists, a Nobel laureate, news correspondents and independent journalists. Most of those on the Marmara were from Turkey. According to organizers, the relief effort was carrying 10,000 tons concrete, toys, workbooks, chocolate, pasta and substantial medical supplies.
Israel’s massacre was illegal under international law, immoral, and intolerable. Like the murder of Rachel Corrie,1 and other brazen and outrageous attacks on those standing with the Palestinian people, it is a bloody statement from Israel to the people of the world that Israel’s terrible crimes, particularly the brutal, inhumane mass-imprisonment of the people of Gaza, cannot be challenged. This massacre must be exposed and politically opposed by anyone with a basic sense of right and wrong.
A Massacre to Enforce a Massive Crime
At the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, Israel launched a one-sided massacre of Gaza, delivering weeks of collective punishment to the people of Gaza, destroying schools and shelling hospitals, killing some 1400 Palestinians, and locking down the 1.5 million people of Gaza in what is called the world’s largest outdoor prison. Efforts to break the siege of Gaza, including the Gaza Freedom March a year after the massacre, have been blocked by Israel and Egypt, with the full backing of the U.S. government.
Israeli officials are combining brazen gangster belligerence with obscene lies about being set up for a “lynching” by the protesters. Available video and accounts from the activists show Israeli storm troopers attacking the ship in international waters (which is a crime under international law).
And the massacre on the Mavi Marmara is a crime to enforce an ongoing great crime. Amnesty International’s current Annual Human Rights Report states that Israeli’s siege on Gaza has “deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law.”2 According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report,3 there has been an increase in malnourishment, now at over 10 percent of children in Gaza, because of a chronic lack of protein, iron, and essential vitamins. Israel's 2008-2009 invasion damaged 15 of 27 hospitals in Gaza and damaged or destroyed 43 of its 110 primary health care facilities, none of which have been repaired or rebuilt because of the construction materials ban. Some 15-20 percent of essential medicines are commonly out of stock. And Israel's sadistic lockdown means that the people in Gaza are not allowed to leave and are totally cut off from family and friends outside.
Defending the massacre on the Mavi Marmara, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared that “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”
The Israeli massacre on the Mavi Marmara takes place in a tense, complex international arena, in which the U.S. is waging a widespread war in the Middle East to impose regimes and power relations that strengthen its position as the world’s sole superpower. Within this, Israel plays a critical role as an attack dog in the region and beyond. It is in that light that Barack Obama’s silence on this massacre must be condemned and exposed, as part of exposing and politically opposing Israel’s massacre on the Mavi Marmara.