Alice Springs racism; Flotilla; SMH editorial

In the Northern Territory

As if to show how bad Alice Springs could be, after the 5 white men beat an Aboriginal man to death, only to have their character applauded by a judge, who went on to resign because of the terrible crimes he’d seen Aboriginal men do (no white men had shocked him), read this

Police allege a four-wheel drive driven by Gaff, and with Nadich as a passenger, pulled up to the campsite.

Police allege Gaff and Nadich had earlier picked up a shotgun in Alice Springs.

When the vehicle approached, the court heard the alleged victim went to the window and Gaff said: “You’re right mate. We thought you were blackfellas and we were going to shoot you”.

The prosecution alleges Gaff then asked if the man and his companion were “having a root” and the conversation became heated.

Police allege Nadich then shot the victim from a distance of about two metres, hitting him in the chest and the upper arm. [Emphasis added]

Flotilla: Snippets

Paul McGeough tells his story. Interesting bits:

On hearing the machines, activists on the upper decks rushed to the top level of the ship – grabbing the commandos even before they landed, disarming them; beating them until, according to some who were present, leaders demanded the Israelis not be harmed; but in one case, one of the Israelis was hurled from one deck of the ship to the next.

There were conflicting accounts of the first commando landing – some activists said he was injured and was being carried inside the ship for treatment by the flotilla doctors. However, a Serbian cameraman, Srojan Stojiljkovic, said some of the activists had armed themselves with lengths of chain and metal posts that had served as cordons around the ship’s lifeboats.

“Some of the people caught the first commando before he touched the deck – a few started to hit him, but a lot of people moved in to shelter him with their bodies,” the cameraman said. “Another soldier with a bleeding nose was brought in … a few people threw punches, but not as many as I would have expected.”

Matthias Gardel, a leader of the Swedish Palestinian support group, confirmed the soldiers had been beaten, but insisted those involved were unarmed and in keeping with the ship’s non-violent charter, the soldiers’ weapons were thrown overboard.

Soon after the soldiers had been treated, injured and dead from among the boat’s passengers were brought in. Stojiljkovic said: “Some were not badly wounded, but then a guy was brought in with a point-blank shot between his eyes – he was dead and I was told that another person was killed in the same way.”

The Turkish actor Sinan Albayrak said he had witnessed one of the most senior of the Turkish activists ordering passengers to cease beating two of the Israeli soldiers.

Later, he saw a Turkish photographer who had been shot in the back of the head; while he and others had been attempting to assist another injured activist, “Israeli troops had opened fire on them . . . we ran away from the injured man”.

Gardel said the bulk of the passengers had remained in the second-deck saloons and had not been involved in resisting the Israelis –”but a bunch of people tried to protect the bridge, the engine-room and the point from which we streamed the live video”.

Another activist, a Turk, lifted his shirt to reveal 10 puncture marks in a rough and black-bruised circle, about the circumferences of a teacup. He said the marks were inflicted when he was bitten by an Israeli security dog – while he had been assisting the Israelis by acting as a translator.

The dead include a Turkish journalist, Chetin Genghis, whose head wounds suggested he had been shot from above – possibly from one of the helicopters. After witnessing his dying moments, his colleague Hisham Goruney said:”I want to forget – I still don’t believe that I saw it.”

Another of the dead was said to be an Indonesian cameraman, Sura Fachrizaz, shot in the chest. Also among the dead was a Malaysian doctor who, activists said, was shot while treating the wounded.

Another survivor testimonial in England.

“At around 4.10am I woke up, went up to the deck so I could see outside and I saw small dinghies bristling with guns and Israeli military speeding towards the ship,” she said.

“Helicopters then appeared and gas and sound bombs were used … We then had the first passenger fatally injured. He was brought to the back of the deck below. He was shot in the head.

“I saw him. He was in a very bad way and he subsequently died. There were bullets flying all over the place. We asked for the Israelis to stop the attacks. We asked this in English: ‘We are not resisting, please help the injured.’ Instead of helping the injured the saloon remained surrounded by soldiers targeting individuals with laser sights.

Richard Silverstein blogs on a NYT story that appears to have been altered judging by google searches. This is about a 19 year old killed by Israel.

The Cihan news agency reported that Mr. Dogan had one bullet in the chest and four bullets fired into his head from close range.

The NYT story doesn’t feature this. I’ve seen it alter headlines and so on before.

Another from Silverstein.

Al Jazeera television cameraman Andre Abu Khalil, who was on the Mavi Marmara, said that after the initial Israeli assault on the vessel, four Israeli troops, suffering from “fracture wounds”, were held below deck by the activists.

He said other commandos, trying to scale the ship, opened fire to break up a human chain of about 20 Turkish men, who were using slingshots, water hoses and metal pipes to try to hold off the boarding party.

Abu Khalil said the line disintegrated after the troops shot one of the men in the neck and the other in the head. In all, the cameraman counted 40 wounded passengers, many with bullet wounds to the legs, apparently to disable them. Others were shot in the eyes, stomach and chest.

On the lower deck, Abu Khalil said, someone using a loudspeaker told the Israelis: “Your soldiers are fine and they’ll be released if you provide us with medical help for the wounded.”

An Israeli Arab legislator [Hanin Zoabi] who participated in the flotilla acted as a mediator. She raised a white flag and wrote in Hebrew on a piece of cardboard, according to the cameraman.

According to the Turkish aid group

In a shocking account, Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) President Bülent Yıldırım, who returned on Thursday, said a photographer, whose first name was Cevdet, was shot in the forehead by a soldier one meter away from him. “Our Cevdet [Kılıçlar], he is a press member. He has become a martyr. All he was doing was taking pictures. They smashed his skull into pieces. We soon made out that these were real bullets they were firing. Rubber bullets also kill because you shoot at very close range, between one-and-a-half and two meters.”

Kevin Ovenden of Britain, an activist on the ship that arrived in İstanbul on Thursday, also said a man who had pointed a camera at the soldiers was shot directly through the forehead with live ammunition, with the exit wound blowing away back of his skull.

Independent testimonies.

The cameraman added: “20 Turkish men formed a human shield to prevent the Israeli soldiers from scaling the ship. They had slingshots, water pipes and sticks. They were banging the pipes on the side of the ship to warn the Israelis not to get closer.”

He said the stand-off lasted about 10 minutes until the Israelis opened fire. “One man got a direct hit to the head and another one was shot in the neck,” he said, adding that he saw some 40 wounded people, some with bullet wounds to the legs, apparently to disable them. Others had wounds to the eye, stomach and chest. One activist used a loudhailer to tell the Israelis the four captive soldiers were well and would be released if they provided medical help for the wounded.

With an Israeli Arab Knesset member acting as mediator, the Israelis agreed to the request and the wounded were brought to the top deck where they were airlifted off the ship. Mr Yildirim, of the IHH, admitted there had been “hand-to-hand combat” and that “some of the soldiers” had been disarmed. He denied that any of the arms had been fired and said they had been thrown into the sea. He claimed: “We told our friends on board, ‘We will die, become martyrs but never let us be shown as the ones that used guns.'”

And look at the chutzpah of Israeli pirates

The Foreign Press Association in Israel yesterday complained that the Israeli authorities had released video footage without the permission of the foreign journalists who shot it.

Army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said there was “a certain chance” the footage was filmed by journalists, but that most was filmed by activists. She said it was not confiscated and was found after activists were cleared from the boat. [We know you stole their equipment and footage]

I think we still don’t know what happened. The questions which we need to find out are a) Did Israeli soldiers start shooting before their commandos slid down the ropes on the boat? My suspicion is that this is so. b) How many were killed? How were they killed?

Max Blumenthal has a blog, where he quotes from a translated Maariv article.

Subhead: The sea encounter that will occur at the end of the weekend is already planned detail by detail. From the moment that the ships will pass the “red line” on their way to Gaza, the fighters of Unit 13 will take control and transfer 800 passengers from their boats back to where they came from. And special arrest units were set up.

From the body of article: This operation was approved by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak and will be led by the commander of the Navy, Lieutenant Colonel Eliezer Maron, who is nicknamed “Cheney.” If the people aboard the boats will not agree to turn around, the operation will transfer to the stage of force. “We are afraid that there will be a terror attack by the boats,” said a high ranking officer. “If terrorists have gotten on the boats or if there is an intention to use hot weapons against our forces, we will use full seriousness and caution. We want to avoid using force but as soon as there will be danger to the life of our forces we will be forced to use live fire as a last resort.

[…]

After our fighters take over the boats, OKETZ unit dogs and forces of the IHLM unit corps of engineers will inspect them looking for sabotage materials and fighting tools. [Emphasis in Blumenthal]

This is such cynical bullshit. It’s worth noting – Israel now claims IHH is related to al Qaeda. Okay, then why didn’t they realise these terrorists were on board till after they killed 9 of them?

Anshel Pfeffer – no leftist – says that the diaspora Jews have failed Israel by supportings its stupid policies.

We need a strong, unified voice from the Jewish leadership in the United States and Europe telling Israelis enough is enough, you are hurtling down the slippery slope of pariahdom and causing untold damage to yourselves and us. Lift your heads above the ramparts and see that the world has moved on.

Every Israeli cabinet minister who is greeted by cheering audiences during visits abroad fails to see all those who, disgusted, prefer to stay at home.

They return to Israel convinced that at least the Jewish people are still behind us and that our opponents are simply anti-Semitic. Other voices, such as the new lobbies JStreet and JCall, are ostracized by the establishment instead of being treated as what they really are, authentic voices for many concerned Jews.

When the history of the Jewish people in the early 21st century is written, the conclusion will be unavoidable. In its hour of need Israel was let down by the Diaspora.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is reportedly considering easing the naval blockade. This is pure PR – they figure they can’t stop boats without looking bad, so they’ll only let in activists, and let it be known anyone else isn’t welcome, and continue the siege by land.

I enjoyed watching the debates with Finkelstein and Scahill. Finkelstein says tomorrow we’ll see some revealing video footage. If he’s right, this could be huge. So far, if you look on youtube, every majorly watched video is from the IDF.  Everyone has seen Israel’s version. Now we can start to hear – and hopefully see – the other side.

SMH Editorial

This is pretty remarkable stuff.

IN SEEKING to reassert forcefully its blockade of Gaza, Israel has succeeded only in calling its action even more into question. And each new ramification of its action in boarding the pro-Palestinian protest vessels attempting to run the blockade serves only to undermine its case further.

The Herald has covered the protest from the start. Running the blockade was clearly a political act in the guise of a humanitarian one – provocative and dangerous, but nonetheless legitimate.

The Israeli government was informed, through its ambassador to Australia, that the Herald journalist Paul McGeough and photographer Kate Geraghty would be with the flotilla. The two were detained along with the protesters on board the boats. That was predictable, given the confusion of the night-time interception in which nine protesters lost their lives. But what followed was not.

Once their identities were known, instead of being allowed to carry on with their professional activities, the two had their equipment confiscated and despite legal action pending in the Supreme Court of Israel against the legality of the country’s action on the high seas, they were deported yesterday morning to Turkey. They signed notes assenting to deportation: in the circumstances they had little choice.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu, which routinely thumbs its nose at international opinion, clearly treats Israeli law and due process – and the freedom of the media to cover events in the region – in a similarly high-handed manner. No doubt its mailed-fist approach to protests which push the Palestinian cause will win it support among parts of the Israeli population; other Israelis, though, will view with dismay their country’s gradual descent from the democratic ideals with which it was founded, in which the shooting of protesters is only the latest stage. Israel’s allies are right to urge a full inquiry into the assault on the vessels. It would be a first step to reasserting Israel’s great claim that it is the only democratic country in its region.

We believe that it is time for Jews of the diaspora to question Israel’s actions. For too long the spectrum of Jewish opinion outside Israel has been narrowed on Middle Eastern questions to a compulsory, unquestioning support for the Israeli government of the day, no matter what. A few brave individuals challenge this orthodoxy – to their cost. No similar constraints exist in Israel itself, where debate even now is robust about the rights and wrongs of intercepting the blockade-runners, and broader issues of Palestinian rights. Not the least reason for the domestic criticism is that Israel’s excessive response has now guaranteed the Gaza blockade protest will have imitators, all of them confidently expecting the Israelis to repeat their initial blunder.

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Comments
One Response to “Alice Springs racism; Flotilla; SMH editorial”
  1. Rocky says:

    Liebe Nachbarn, danke fuer euer nettes Angebot. Wie ihr ja wisst, haelt sich mein gruener Daumen immer noch sehr gut versteckt. Deshalb habe ich beschlossen fuer die zwei Pflanzen, die ich noch habe ein kleines Suvarval-Cimp zu veranstalten. Mal sehen wie hart die beiden sind! Passt mir gut auf das Haeuschen auf und ich steck alles ein was ich in Hollywood bekommen kann! Ganz liebe Gruesse, Eure Stephie

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