Gaza flotilla raid


The Gaza flotilla raid happened on 31 May 2010. It was in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli naval forces seized an aid flotilla of six ships carrying 663 or 682 pro-Palestinian activists from 37 nations,[1] known as the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla".[2] The activists were trying to breach the blockade of Gaza and deliver humanitarian supplies.[2][3] During the event, Israeli military forces seized a convoy of six ships carrying goods which should be brought to the Palestinian territories in the form of aid. There were 663-682[4] people on board these ships. The ships were headed to the port of Gaza. Israel had offered them to land at a different port, so that the aid could be inspected, but the crew had declined this offer. During the incident, at least nine people were killed.

The route of the flotilla's ships.

The regional overview change

The Gaza strip is part of Palestine. It is amongst the most densely populated areas on Earth. About 1.5 million people live on a surface of roughly 493 km².

The Palestinian Authority says that this is an occupied territory. They say, Israel is the occupation force, and it should withdraw, and give the territory back to the Palestinians. Israel has attacked and bombed Gaza several times.

Israel does not see things this way, since they gave over the territory to Palestinian administration in 2005, and have pulled back their troops over time . Meanwhile, Hamas, the Palestinian group which controls the territory, has launched rockets at Israel.

Hamas took over the Gaza Strip after the Fatah–Hamas conflict that was after the 2006 Palestinian elections Israel said Hamas to be a terrorist movement.[5] Egypt did not agree with Hamas removing the Palestinian Authority officials from Gaza.[5]

The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip was said to be a safety measure by Israel, but the Free Gaza Movement are opposed. Hamas, along with other groups had been causing trouble there and in southern parts of Israel. The blocked started in 2007. Many countries (like Egypt) feel sorry for the Gaza Strip, a few others (like Iran) hate or some how fear Israel and some (like the USA) agree with Israel.

The ships' route change

The Turkish passenger ship Cruse Liner MV Mavi Marmara was trying to take Turkish and Cypriot aid to the Gaza Strip on May the 31st, when the Israeli Navy found it. The 3 year old blockade was upheld by Flotilla 13. The Mavi Marmara was 40 miles from the Gaza Strip when it was raided. 27 British activists, 9 Palestinian, 8 Turks, 2 Irish, 1 Swedish, 1 South African, 1 American and 1 Albanian [4][6] were on the Mavi Marmara, along with a few others. The Mavi Marmara was followed by the Irish passenger ship MV Rachel Corrie and 4 other minor vessels. The ships carried a total of 663-682 [4] activists and aid workers,[6] including several Turks, several Malaysians another American, an Australian, and a Belgian.[7][8][9][10][11]

There were in total 663 or 683 people from 37 nations on board the 6 ships in the civilian flotilla.[6] Notable people included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan, former UN Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday,[6] Israeli-Arab member of Knesset Haneen Zoubi, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel Raed Salah, Swedish novelist Henning Mankell, and a number of politicians from European and Arab national governments and the European Parliament.[12]

The raid change

Israel said that the other 5 ships were boarded and taken over peacefully,[13] and that the only incidents took place in the Mavi Marmara, but many reports that several people from the other ships were also wounded.

The flotilla had planned to break through the Gaza blockade, ignoring Israel's plan for the activists to stop at the port of Ashdod and transfer the cargo through there.[14] After they ignored repeated calls to give in, soldiers from the Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) unit boarded the ships at around 04:00 IST[14]

The convoy organizers Arafat Shoukriof, of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), said the Israeli military story was not true. One of the co-organizers of the flotilla convoy, said those on board one ship had called them by telephone to say that Israeli helicopters had arrived to do a surprise raid.[15]

The MV Mavi Marmara is raided change

The boarding of the Mavi Marmara resulted in violent clashes between activists and Israeli soldiers, though the details are disputed.[16]

Apparently an Israeli helicopter dropped 30 specialist soldiers on to the ship. Fighting then broke out. An Israeli trooper was thrown over the side of the ship, some aid workers rioted and threw chairs at the Israelis.[17] The Israelis then used tear gas, tasers, stun grenades and smoke bombs.[17] Later several gun shots were fired by both sides. Finally, at the end of it all, an Albanian woman fell over the side of the ship. The soldiers, who used stun grenades, then asked for government permission to use their firearms, which they then received.[18][19]

The Israeli military said that the troops were suddenly attacked after climbing down ropes from helicopters onto the deck of the ship. Soldiers were reportedly beaten badly, one was stabbed, and one was thrown in to the sea[20] Two Israelis had their guns taken away. An Israeli commando said that there was live fire at some point against them from below deck.[21] Stun grenades and tear gas were used in an attempt to disperse activists. When this did not work the commandos requested and received permission to use shoot the resisting activists. The commandos then shot activists in the legs, which forced them to disperse. The commandos reached the bridge and took over the ship after 30 minutes.[22][23][24] Some fighting can be seen in videos released by the Israeli military and Free Gaza activists. The Israeli military released 20 videos of the incident,[25][26][27]

According to Major Avital Leibovich of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, the activists attacked the soldiers with knives, slingshots, spikes, and clubs, and with pistols that were found by the Israeli troops.[28][29][30] Adam Shapiro, a board member of the Free Gaza Movement, said that according to the Al Jazeera correspondents on the ship, the soldiers opened fire immediately as they came down the ropes.[31]

The wife of the Mavi Marmara captain, Nilüfer Ören, stated that IDF began tracking them after 90 miles (140 km). There were 40 Israeli ships following and snooping on the convoy until the troopers were boarding the ships from helicopters at 04:45 am. She also said that stun grenades and smoke bombs were used. Therefore activists and crewmembers used gas masks.[32] Norman Paech, a former member of the German parliament Left Party who was aboard the Mavi Marmara said he only saw three activists resisting on his part of the boat and said "They had no knives, no axes, only sticks that they used to defend themselves."[33][34][35]

Reporters for Iranian TV and Al Jazeera TV news told of the use of tear gas/CS gas and stun grenades. The Israeli solders said that the activists wore gas masks and ski masks. Neither side were fully believed by the United Nations, who tried not to take sides.

The MV Rachel Corrie is raided change

The MV Rachel Corrie gave in and hoisted the white flag of truce when boarded by the Israeli navy.

The Challenger One is raided change

The ship Challenger One sped up to allow journalists to take their photos of the ongoing raid.[36] Huwaida Arraf, an American activist who was on the Challenger One reported that Israeli soldiers attacked any one who tried to block them from taking over the vessel with kicks, tasers, and stun grenades.[11] Activist Huwaida Arraf reported that once on board the Challenger One, Israeli troops seized all communication equipment, cameras, mobile phones, radios and memory cards from activists.[10]

The ship Sfendoni is raided change

Former UK diplomat Ed Peck, who was on board the ship Sfendoni, said that the Israelite troopers were well-trained, and behaved well.[11] The soldiers scuffled with a few activists trying to block their access to the wheelhouse, but there were no major injuries, Peck said.[11] Paul Larudee, a 64-year-old former language professor from El Cerrito, California on board the Sfendoni, was beaten and tasered according to his family by the US Consul General and his lawyers; his family has reported that Israeli consular officials informed them that Larudee, a pacifist, was beaten after not following the orders of troops.[8][9]

Crewman Shane Dillon reported that Israeli troops used stun guns, broke the nose of a Belgian woman among them, and beat another passenger.[36] Australian photojournalist Kate Geraghty was attacked and tasered by Israeli troops aboard the Challenger One, while attempting to photograph the raid.[36]

The ship Eleftheri Mesogeios is raided change

Kutlu Tiryaki, a captain of the other vessel in the flotilla, said that the passengers did not have weapons at all, but only came to bring aid in a peaceful manner.[37]

The other, unnamed ship is raided change

The final ship in the convoy gave in as it was raided and hoisted a white flag.

The results change

9-19 were said to be dead and 32-50 were said tobe injured. 10 of the injured were Israelis and 1 of the dead was a Turkish politician .[38] Israel has confirmed four being dead.[39] Among the dead was İbrahim Bilgen, a Turkish politician from the Felicity Party.

At least 32 activists who had been aboard the ships were arrested and incarcerated by the Israel Prisons Service, after they refused to sign deportation orders, including two who were wounded but refused hospital treatment.[40]

Israel said that the navy forces "found weapons ready in advance and used against our forces."[41][42] IDF photos displayed knives, metal and wooden poles, flares, wrenches and slingshots with marble projectiles said to have been used against the soldiers.[43] The activists were said to have also lobbed stun grenades at IDF soldiers, and the IDF showed video illustrating this.[44] The Israeli searches of the ship found bulletproof vests, night-vision goggles, and gas masks.[45] A press-release by the Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel said that violence against the soldiers was already planned, and that "light weaponry" was found on the ships, including pistols that would have been seized from activists on the Mavi Marmara by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers.

A close-up picture presented to readers of Jerusalem Post as The array of equipment found on board the ships that made up the Gaza aid flotilla was as divergent as the flotilla’s stated aims, showed some knives and clubs. Israeli troops also admitted to finding wheelchairs, cleaning supplies and baby milk onboard both the ships.[46] A high ranking Norwegian officer stated after watching pictures that "This is not military equipment", and that most of the tools and kitchen knives would belong on a ship.[47] High ranking Officials in the Customs Undersecretariat called the Israeli "complete nonsense".[48]

Afterwards change

For the most part, the diplomatic result was harsh on Israel.

Egypt opened its Rafah Border Crossing with the Gaza Strip to allow medical aid to enter after world criticism of the raid. Hamas's leader Khaled Meshaal call for the border to be opened.

The Israeli blockade against Gaza itself is not illegal, and it's okay for Israeli ships to operate in international waters to enforce it," said Allen Weiner, former U.S. State Department [49]

The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, said international law says countries are not allowed to extend their rule on areas outside of their coastal waters. In Israel’s case, 24 nautical miles (44 km) from the coast.

South Africa's Ambassador left Israel and returned to South Africa as a form of protest.[4]

Turkey's deputy parliament speaker, Guldal Mumcu, said "[t]his attack was an open violation of United Nations rules and international law," and that "Turkey should seek justice against Israel through national and international legal authorities. The parliament expects the Turkish government to revise the political, military and economic relations with Israel, and to take effective measures."[50] Lawyer Dr. Turgut Tarhanlı of the University of Istanbul cited the ideal of innocent passage, under which vessels are given safe travel rights in a manner which is not "prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security" of the state.[51]

Cyprus stated its belief that NGOs must be allowed to do their work freely and lawfully. Further, it called for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza.[52]

North Korea's Foreign Ministry condemned Israel, which "mercilessly killed or wounded dozens of civilians aboard the boats." It went on to call the attack "crime against humanity perpetrated at the U.S. connivance and under its patronage and a blatant challenge to the Arabs including Palestinians and the Mideast peace process". The statement also "expresses full support and solidarity with the cause of the Palestinians and other Arab people"[53]

Iran Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei condemned the savage attack of the Zionist regime against an international aid convoy heading towards Gaza, and said the Israeli regime proved that it is more brutal than fascists.[54] Iran president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said that the incident was an "inhuman action of the Zionist regime against the Palestinian people" and that it would bring the regime "closer than ever to its end."[55] The Iranian government called for a boycott of Israel.[56] Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Saeed Jalili high lighted the need among regional and Islamic states to confront the Zionist regime of Israel effectively.[57] Iran's Foreign Ministry condemned the raid, saying "the incident once again revealed the criminal and war-mongering nature of the Zionist regime." Iran also on the UN Security Council and the OIC to take swift punitive action against Israel.[58]

The Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen described the attacks as "very serious" and stated that he feels the blockade action was a violation of international law. He also stated that people are allowed to receive humanitarian assistance.Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said he was "gravely concerned"[59]

French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned "the out sized use of force" against the flotilla.[60]

Belgium's foreign minister, Steven Vanackere, called the use of Israeli force "disproportionate"[61] and "invited the Israeli ambassador to explain how things happened."[62]

The Bosnian representative at the UN Security Council, Ivan Barbalić, condemned the Israeli attack, called for an investigation and wanted Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza.[63]

China Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu condemned Israel's raid on the international convoy and urged Israel to carry out UN Security Council resolutions and improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.[64]

The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry demanded the quick release of two Bulgarian journalists travelling in the convoy.[65] In addition, Bulgaria condemned the attack, saying "nothing can justify the violence that resulted in the killing of over 10 people on board one of the ships." It called for an investigation.[66]

Protest rallies hit the streets of Tottenham, Paris, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and Malaysia.[7]

The Czech Republic had gone out in support for Israel and declared that the Turkish flotilla was made to provoke Israel in to a military or political trap.[67]

The USA also expressed pro-Israeli opinions, while Nauru said Hamas was wrong.

The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the Israeli action, calling it a "criminal attack" and expressed its "most energetic condemnation." Cuba called for the lifting of the Gaza blockade and reaffirms its solidarity with the Palestinian people.[68] The former Cuban President Fidel Castro had condemned Israel's attack on the Freedom Flotilla as "Nazi fascist fury." He added that the Israeli commandos who boarded the ships fired at the aid workers.[69]

Montenegro, China, Zambia and the UK called for a peaceful solution to the situation.

The representative of Gabon at the UN Security Council expressed his shock at the events. He further called upon Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, and called all parties to end the violence.

Switzerland called for an international inquiry and summoned the Israeli ambassador.[70]

The Holy See expressed "great concern and pain" about the incident.[71]

The fate of the captured people change

Israel planned to deport all of the captured passengers within 48 hours of their arrival into Israel.[72] On of 2 June 2010 Israel had decided to release over 600 of the detained activists.[73]

References change

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  2. 2.0 2.1 Black, Ian; Haroon Siddique (31 May 2010). "Q&A: The Gaza Freedom flotilla". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
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  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "South Africa recalls ambassador over Israeli raid of Gaza flotilla". Christian Science Monitor. 3 June 2010.
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  7. 7.0 7.1 "Top news stories local and from around the world - MSN News Malaysia".
  8. 8.0 8.1 Parks, Richard (2 June 2010). "El Cerrito Man Beaten, Jailed in Israel, Wife Says". The Bay Citizen. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Berton, Justin (2 June 2010). "4 local pro-Palestine activists reported safe". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
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  14. 14.0 14.1 "Israel tows Gaza aid ships to Ashdod after 10 violent activists killed in clashes with navy". Haaretz. 31 May 2010.
  15. "Israeli PM 'regrets' deaths as troops storm aid ships". BBC.
  16. "Barak: Flotilla organizers to blame for 15 dead activists".
  17. 17.0 17.1 "IDF forces met with pre-planned violence when attempting to board flotilla". Israel ministry of foreign affairs. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  18. Israeli convoy raid: What went wrong? By Paul Reynolds, BBC News 2 June 2010
  19. Gaza flotilla attack: Israel's media assumes a critical stance By Rachel Shabi, The Guardian 1 June 2010
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  22. Ben-Yishai, Ron (20 June 1995). "A brutal ambush at sea – Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
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  24. The Daily Telegraph – Israel reconstruction: how the Gaza aid flotilla attack unfolded (31 May 2010)
  25. Stelter, Brian (2 June 2010). "After Raid, Videos Carry On the Fight". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  26. "Israel says troops acted in self defence". O2 News. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
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  29. For video footage see the "Other websites" section
  30. "Israel: Activists on Gaza sail had weapons". Ynetnews. 31 May 2010.
  31. Global Condemnation of Israeli Armed Attack on Gaza-Bound Freedom Flotilla: At Least 10 Dead, Hundreds Remain in Detention Democracy Now!, 1 June 2010
  32. Transcript of Nilüfer Oren Needs Turkish-English Translation
  33. "Gaza flotilla - Activist accounts". BBC News. 3 June 2010.
  34. "Israel News - The Jerusalem post".
  35. Eyewitnesses recount Israel flotilla raid, CNN
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Needham, Kirsty; Jessica Mahar (3 June 2010). "I was 'Tasered' by Israelis, says Herald photographer". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  37. Smith, Dorian Jones Helena (1 June 2010). "Israelis opened fire before boarding Gaza flotilla, say released activists". The Guardian – via
  38. CNN Wire Staff. "Israeli assault on Gaza-bound flotilla leaves at least 9 dead". Cable News Network. Retrieved 2 June 2010. {{cite news}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  39. Magnezi, Aviel (20 June 1995). "3 flotilla fatalities 'dreamt of martyrdom' - Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  40. Kyzer, Liel; Yair Ettinger (31 May 2010). "Israel detains dozens of Gaza flotilla activists upon arrival in Ashdod". Haaretz Daily. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  41. IDF forces met with pre-planned violence when attempting to board flotilla, Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel statement, 31 May 2010
  42. Report and videos, Ynet (Hebrew), 31 May 2010
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  44. JPost staff Activists threw stun grenades, 2 June 2010
  45. Yaakov Katz (1 June 2010). "IDF: Global Jihad on flotilla". The Jerusalem Post.
  46. Wheelchairs as well as weapons found on board aid ships; RON FRIEDMAN06/03/2010 06:39
  47. Geir Arne Kippernes (1 June 2010). "-Dette er ikke militært utstyr" (in Norwegian). Verdens Gang. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  48. Emre Soncan, Muzaffer Salcioğlu, Cihan Yenilmez (31 May 2010). "Customs officials deny Israeli claims weapons were onboard". Today's Zaman. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2010.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  50. "Israel to deport remaining Gaza flotilla activists". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Associated Press. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
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  53. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-09-11. Retrieved 2010-06-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  56. "Iran calls on world to cut ties with Israel". 31 May 2010. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  57. "Iranian Top Security Official Urges Regional Coordination to Confront Israel". FNA. 1 June 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  58. "Iran calls for UN, OIC's punitive action against Israel - People's Daily Online".
  59. "Israeli commando raid on Gaza aid convoy kills 10". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. 31 May 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  60. Israeli commandos storm aid flotilla; 10 killed Archived 2010-06-22 at the Wayback Machine, by Amy Teibel and Tia Goldenberg, The Associated Press, 31 May 2010.
  61. World shocked after Israeli attack, (in Dutch), De Tijd, 31 May 2010
  62. Belgium 'invites' Israeli ambassador to 'explain' Gaza raid Archived 2010-06-07 at the Wayback Machine,, Agence France-Presse, 31 May 2010
  63. UN Security Council Holds Emergency Session on Israel's Deadly Interception of Aid Convoy, Salem-News, May-31-2010.
  64. China Condemns Israel's Attack on Gaza Aid Flotilla Archived 2012-03-16 at the Wayback Machine, by Zhang Xu, Xinhua News Agency, 31-05-2010
  65. Two Bulgarian journalists arrested by Israeli forces during Gaza Aid convoy operation Archived 2010-06-03 at the Wayback Machine, by Nick Iliev, The Sofia Echo, 31 May 2010
  66. "Bulgaria summons Israeli ambassador over flotilla raid[permanent dead link]," Focus Information Agency.
  67. "Czech Support for Israel - Again". Israel National News. 3 June 2010.
  68. "Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Criminal Attack Perpetrated by Israel on the Humanitarian Flotilla". 31 May 2010. Archived from the original on 15 July 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  69. "'Israeli attack was Nazi fascist fury'". 3 Jun 2010. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 3 Jun 2010.
  70. A Wall Street Journal Roundup (June 2010). "International Reaction to the Israeli Raid -". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
  71. "Medio Oriente: assalto israeliano a pacifisti, Vaticano "preoccupato" - Corriere della Sera" (in Italian). 31 May 2010. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  72. Roni Sofer (2 June 2010). "Israel freeing flotilla detainees". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  73. Sherwood, Harriett (2 June 2010). "Gaza flotilla deaths: pressure builds on Israel for full inquiry". Archived from the original on 22 June 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2010.

Other websites change

International response
Israeli response
Israel Defence Force video footage on YouTube