Posts Tagged ‘Free Gaza’

IDF troops attacked on board Mavi Marmara Israeli right-wing human rights group Shurath ha-Deen (aka Israel Law Center) sent an official letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting the latter to start an investigation into US-based ‘Free Gaza’ movement. The group that led an assault on IDF soldier on board the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ last week, backs Gaza-based Hamas and harshly criticized Israel, with some comments bordering on anti-Semitism:

The Free Gaza organization is providing military assistance to Hamas by attempting to break the Israeli blockade while Hamas continues its attacks on Israeli civilians, Darshan-Leitner said. In doing so, it is taking part in attacking a state friendly to America – a violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act (18 U.S.C. 960).

The Neutrality Act states, “Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both." ( Channel 7 News )

FREE GAZA IS known for its anti-Israel stand. As the group set sail for Gaza, it was asked to transfer a package to Israeli POW Gilad Shalit, in exchange for Shalit family’s official support for the sail. The group refused. Later, the group posted a set of testimonies of their website, calling them ‘Survivor testimonies’. According to the radical group, IDF soldiers used violence on all ships, although no evidence of such on vessels other than Mavi Marmara was produces. Moreover, all testimonies discard IDF-posted videos and pictures, illustrating heavily skewed picture. Among other things, the activists claimed the soldiers used live fire prior to landing on the ship and at the moment of touchdown itself. However, Free Gaza failed to explain why its activists are seen strolling on all decks of Mavi Marmara, if the ship was indeed under live fire.

On its Flickr photo stream, the group published most flattering images of themselves, picturing the activists caring for the injured soldiers. Missing from the stream are other pictures – where troops are seen injured, on the floor, with persons holding them at knifepoint. It is propaganda at its best.

Best testimony to Free Gaza’s fervent anti-Israel stance is the GPS map posted on its co-website, WitnessGaza:

GPS map posted on WitnessGaza.Com

Capture2 The map fully ignores Israel (as well as the West Bank and Gaza, for that matter), but details borders and cities in Jordan and Lebanon. The logo promoting the website is a blunt propaganda, showing IDF troops assaulting the ships (from Mi-26, surprisingly), with activists pulling the injured. Unsurprisingly, there’s no evidence of relentless beating the soldiers endured onboard.

 

In the meanwhile, Israel seems to enjoy support in the United States, an additional incentive for Eric Holder, who constantly takes flak over various issues and enjoys relatively little popularity among the American people.

In a most recent expression of such support, Democrat John Kerry countered critics’ accusations of Israel being a ‘liability’ for the US. Democrat Chuck Schumer sent a letter to US Secretary of State Clinton, asking the State Department to investigate linkage between organizations backing the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and various terror groups:

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a key player in US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, said that "there are obviously tensions with respect to certain policies" but that Israel "has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled in after the thousands of rockets that have been fired on it from Gaza."

Schumer demanded that the adminisration examine whether IHH provided financial, logistic and material support to any organization included the State Department’s list of terror groups.
According to the senator, IHH funded terror organizations and send rebels to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. He also called for a probe into a French judge’s claim that IHH was involved in an attempt to bomb the Los Angeles Airport in late 1999. ( Ynet )

Fueling further backing of Israeli by Obama administration, recent Rasmussen poll shows only 19% of Americans believing Israel should bear blame for grave outcome of IDF’s Marmara boarding. 32% were not sure, while staggering 49% defended Israel’s actions.

IDF's 'Flotilla 13' soldier attacked and dragged by the IHH Mere two days after Israeli Defense Forces boarded the ‘Freedom Flotilla’, where they were beaten, stabbed, clubbed and shot at, Turkish ‘Palestinian rights group’ IHH thanked Israel for the ‘publicity’:

"We thank Israel for its raid," said Omar Faruk, a member of the organization’s directorate. "We’ve become famous."

(Ynet)

I believe this quote precisely point to the insanity of the ‘activists’, who hail a victory in propaganda battle, over mourning their loss.

On the flip side, however, Israel has much to thank IHH for. As few times before, IHH’s attempt to murder IDF troops on board Mavi Marmara brought all Israelis together in their vehement support for the IDF and their country, save for Israeli Palestinians and most radical Left wingers.

I spoke to a woman today, who in the past shared with me she voted for the extremist MERETZ party. This faction is advocating conceding as much as possible to the Palestinians. Her stance, however, surprised me:

“I am Left wing and everything, but I understand we have to defend our country.”

Hers is an expression of feeling familiar to many Israelis today. With the international community viciously attacking the Jewish state and relentlessly denying it any opportunity to effectively defend itself, the Israelis feel at the brink. Many – amongst themselves – restore memories of the World War II, where peoples of Europe were slaughtered, and powerful nations stood on the sidelines.

But with fear comes strength. As during the 2008-9 operation Cast Lead, the 1982 Peace of Galilee and 1967 Six Days War, Israelis feel protective of their country and of their nation. Unlike any other people, for thousands of years Jews were the homeless person, deprived of own home. Today, more Israelis than ever stand on guard to defend homeland. And that is the greatest gift no one but the IHH – and the likes – could give the Jewish nation.

'Free Gaza' activists on board 'Rachel Corrie'. Peaceful or more attempted murder? As was predicted by some – me included, although it isn’t tough a prediction to make – the crew of ‘Rachel Corrie’ – an Irish vessel bound for Israel late, refused Israel’s offer to dock in Israeli port of Ashdod, to have its cargo examined and then transferred to Gaza. Not unlike the crews of six ships led by IHH’s Mavi Marmara – who suggested Israeli Navy soldiers should go back to Auschwitz – ‘Rachel Corrie’ told the IDF and Irish government it would proceed to Gaza:

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs announced Friday that it had reached an agreement with the Israeli government on the ‘Rachel Corrie’, by which it would dock at Ashdod and submit the aid it was carrying to inspection, but that the ship’s crew had refused.

According to the agreement reached between the two states, the Rachel Corrie would dock at Ashdod port, where its cargo would be inspected under the supervision of UN officials.

Then the supplies, which reportedly include 550 tons of cement, would be transported to Gaza through the Erez crossing. Two crew members would accompany the transport until that point.

(Ynet)

THE ACTIVISTS ON board ‘Rachel Corrie’ said their intentions were ‘peaceful’ and said they would not resist IDF troops boarding their vessel. Hm, that reminds me of those Free Gaza activists on the six boats ‘Flotilla 13’ boarded recently – didn’t they say they were peaceful as well? And then proceeded to do this:

That looks like some real peaceful activism to me, up close and personal…

Anyway, the Israeli authorities warned the ‘Corrie’ – again – saying they were not interested in confrontation. While one could understand the move – Israel does not want to look harsh – it is likely to spark even more resentment among the ‘peaceful activists’, whose objective – among others – is to murder or injure Israelis. Seeing signs of weakness, Free Gaza crew would continue to push forward, with estimated arrival time being Saturday.

From previous statements by Free Gaza organizers, it is clear the objective is to break the blockade, not necessarily deliver the aid. And hey – Hamas are in no hurry to receive the aid themselves, as recently it was reported they declared Gaza would not permit entry of Free Gaza aid as long as group’s activists are held in Israel. If everything Free Gaza says is indeed true and people are starving on Gazan streets, what is Hamas doing, allowing its people to simply die out? I mean – what about the lack of food, lack of medicine? How cruel is that?

Well, not everything’s as simple as it looks. Danish reporter Steffen Jensen visited Gaza on Tuesday (June 1st, 2010) and discovered that while Gaza has some problems – grave problems indeed – there are no dying people on the streets, no Africa-like, hungered children. What a surprise that is…

 

Update 05062010 0727GMT: You can follow live updates on the ‘Rachel Corrie’ from IDF’s Twitter reporting. Most recently, the vessel ignored IDF’s second request to dock at Ashdod port.

Hamas' murder of hundreds does not worry me. Erdogan

In the past decade, the Thanksgiving country made an effort to join the European Union. For Turkey, such accession would mean additional boost for the economy, better relations with mostly prosperous Europe and an opportunity to further its influence into Europe. The European Union, in its turn, would acquire further influence in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, as well as opening own markets to 71 million consumers. The EU required Turkey to comply with quite a few conditions to join, such as enacting liberal market policies and improving Turkey’s competition policies.

Well, today it all went down the drain, when Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan aligned his country with Hamas, stating that the latter was not a terror group, but in fact a democratically-elected movement:

Speaking at a ceremony in Konya, the prime minister announced that Hamas was not a terror organization. "They won an election. You always speak of democracy, but you will not let Hamas rule. What kind of democracy is that?" he asked.

"Hamas’s resistance fighters were meant to defend their land. They won an election. I’ve told American officials before that I do not consider Hamas a terror organization, and I still don’t. They are defending their land," he was quoted by Turkish media as saying.

(Ynet)

UNSURPRISINGLY, ERDOGAN FAILED to tell his people that after Hamas indeed won elections (garnering about 40% of the vote), it proceeded to round up its opposition – Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah faction – execute and expel them from Gaza. At the time evil Israelis opened the checkpoints to allow thousands of Fatah members and their families to run to the West Bank. After forcibly exterminating its opposition – which led to an immense rift between the two groups – Hamas progressed to imposing a strict Islamist regime in the Gaza Strip, under which music, alcohol and public express of affection is barred and punishable by jail.

Moreover, ‘democratic’ friends of Erdogan still execute people on the streets for ‘collaboration’ with Israel – a sentence where the accused has no lawyer or a right to defend self – closes NGOs and steals large sums of money from Gaza’s banks, using unpublished ‘court orders’ as pretense.

So well done, Mr. President. You have officially aligned yourself with murderers and genocidal maniacs. What does that say about your ‘Freedom Flotilla’?

There are no supermen in the Israeli Defense Forces. These are regular men, well-trained and well-prepared, for the situations they were taught to deal with. It seems ‘Flotilla 13’ troops acted appropriately when in danger of life, although we are yet to get all the information on what happened aboard the ship. Few things are clear, though:

  • Despite claims by the radicals inhabiting the boat that IDF troops fired shots before touching down on the boat, none of them could produce evidence of such, despite Al-Jazeera’s journalists’ presence on board, recording throughout the night.
  • It is clear soldiers could not have shot their weapons as soon as they touched the top decks, as they were immediately grabbed, beaten, had their weapons stolen and some thrown overboard – despite claims to contrary by the radical Left-wing activists on board.
  • ‘Peace activists’ were armed by pipes, rods, chains, knives, ready to attack the incoming troops. Injuries sustained by the ‘Flotilla 13’ troops – and by some of the attackers – point to extensive use of sharp attack objects.

As the international community attacks Israel over the nine fatalities on board the Mavi Marmara, no one seems to ask if any of the deaths occurred due to Turks’ use of IDF’s firearms. Two ‘F13’ soldiers were wounded by gunshots from handguns taken off the soldiers by the rioters, yet each firearms contains at the very least six bullets. It is possible some of the shots taken at the servicemen hit the rioters.

 

ISRAEL COULD NOT have won the ordeal. Consider the situation: militarily-speaking, there are few ways to stop six ships at sea, besides using infantry in a takeover. You can ram them, you can shoot them, you can block their way and let them ram you. In any of those cases, the protesters and the press would accuse Israel of interfering with a humanitarian mission.

The IDF could attempt a takeover in Gaza’s blockaded territorial waters. The move would be unnecessary, as Israel did have the right to act in international waters in this instance, but would silence a few critics. The option, however, would put the IDF in further danger, within reach of Hamas’ anti-ship and anti-aircraft weapons, as well as small boats with armed Hamas fighters onboard. Such a blockade-imposing mission could turn into an armed confrontation with many more casualties to both sides. This would turn out to be much worse a nightmare than what Israel already has on its hands.

Then Israel could allow the ships into Gaza. The move – while sparing immediate negative press – would be hailed as a victory for the radical flotilla organizers, as well as their Hamas patrons. Feeling their victory, notorious Free Gaza movement would organize additional blockade-busting flotillas – many more, with many more ships and activists on board. This would allow Hamas and its supporters to smuggle dozens of tons of weaponry, such as rockets, mortars and other ammunition. For Israel, blocking such stream of weapons among dozens of ships would be all but impossible. Future raids could include armed firefights with Hamas men on such vessels, resulting in severe losses.

So Israel couldn’t win. Whatever path the Jewish state would take, critics would find a way to severely criticize it. Taking above scenarios into consideration, IDF’s command decided to go for a proven tactic, used last year – board the ships with ‘Flotilla 13’ fighters, equipped with pacifying, non-lethal arms.

The decision was made to lower the soldiers off helicopters onto the ships as an intimidation technique – soldiers rappelling off helicopters would keep potential rioters away, went the logic.

The plan was presented to the political echelon, which approved it. And this is where it went wrong.

The commanders on the ground had nowhere to hurry – with 70 more miles to go to reach Gaza, the officers had hours to gather intelligence and reconsider the situation. Helicopters approaching Mavi Marmara noticed dozens of civilians on the top deck and had the opportunity to bug out and return later – or stay and gather intelligence. Snipers could be located on the helicopters and the rubber boats, to observe the ships using night vision and thermal equipment. Those would notice the ‘peace activists’ preparing gas masks, vests, metal rods, chains, knives and other assault equipment.

On one hand, the IDF commanders on the ground – or water – desired to keep the element of surprise. The helicopters delivering troops were not turned back when it was revealed top deck is not free, as to not give up the element of surprise and aggressiveness. The soldiers did not deploy tear gas and stun grenades prior to landing, as to not anger the protesters. However, the IDF forgot the main feature of such a tactic – surprise itself. Hostile elements cannot be taken by surprise if they see IDF boats cruising alongside for long minutes – if not hours. If the IDF command wanted to make the assault a surprise – the helicopters should have appeared out of the black, with no prior notice. Only then would the soldiers stand a chance, have the opportunity to regroup, work methodically and clear the boat of hostiles. Yet, the high-ranking officers were too cocky to imagine soldiers’ lives could be in jeopardy. Whoever sat at that planning table, and on the other side of the screens forgot the army spirit and brought disgrace upon his uniform.

After the fact, it is easy to point out the mistakes. At the time, the command did what it thought was right, and it seems soldiers did no wrong while defending their lives. Yet, as grave mistakes were made, here are some future tips for the ‘cocky officers’ planning further takeovers of such vessels:

  • Do not assume. Assumptions is what will cost you a battle and a war.
  • If you want to surprise – do so. If you want a surprise attack – come out of the blue, fast, and finish the mission in record time. Speed is essential.
  • Every person could carry a knife on his belt and a metal rod in his hand. In order to ensure safe deployment of soldiers in highly-populated areas, it is essential to deploy smoke or CS gas in order to prevent direct attack on the soldiers.
  • Sending soldiers poor-equipped would bring disaster. Each soldiers must have stun grenades, CS grenades or Stinger grenades on his body to deploy those in case of danger.
  • Armed units should be on stand-by within three minutes of arrival to the scene. It is enough time to get quick, yet far enough to keep the soldiers from using lethal force unnecessary.
  • Snipers are essential during intelligence-gathering phase and operational phase. Two snipers in a small rubber boat located at a distance of under a mile could provide necessary observation and should intervene in extreme cases of use of lethal force against the troops.
  • It is about time soldiers deployed would carry an on-helmet or an on-weapon cameras. Feeds from those could be received directly by the command, giving it a full picture. Those could also be used to fight off media-lynching of the troops.
  • Having IDF cameramen is crucial: each helicopter delivering troops should have an IDF cameraman joining in. Another option: mount cameras on the bottom of the deploying aircraft, allowing recording of the deployment process.

There is little left to say about the failed operation. The soldiers fought brave, facing mob doing their best to murder them. Yet, they were the casualty of poor planning, poor intelligence and poor execution. While the decision to block the flotilla was a correct one, the approval process lacked on every step of the way – military and political. One thing is clear: with another ship – Rachel Corrie – soon to arrive in the region, the IDF would have to rethink its tactics. Let’s hope they will make the correct decisions this time.

Free Gaza's logo The notorious Free Gaza organization, which attempted to break – and did break – the blockade on Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt, is at it again, with Turkish support. The organization set sail to Gaza again. Obviously, they are heroes, intimidated by evil Zionists – you know, the people surrounded by hundreds of millions of genocidal Muslims:

The Free Gaza Movement, which has launched eight other sea missions to Gaza, confirms that Israel has tried these kinds of threats and intimidation tactics before in order to try to stop the missions before they start. “They have not deterred us before and will not deter us now,”  said one of the organizers.

Ship to Gaza — Sweden, a Freedom Flotilla coalition partner, together with parliamentarian Mehmet Kaplan (Green Party) yesterday asked for an audience with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Carl Bildt, to discuss what measures the Swedish government and the European Union will take to protect the Freedom Flotilla’s peaceful, humanitarian voyage. Earlier this week during a meeting with the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza – another coalition partner, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyib Erdogan expressed his support for “breaking the oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip…which is at the top of Turkey’s list of priorities.“

Coalition partners, Ship to Gaza – Greece and the Turkish relief organization IHH, stressed that the ships, passengers, and cargo will be checked at each port of departure, making it clear that we constitute no security threat to Israel.

(Free Gaza)

THERE IS INDEED no doubt Free Gaza by itself constitutes no threat to Israel or its security. However, isn’t it true that 15 tons of cement Free Gaza plans to supply to Gazans would be seized by Hamas and could be used to create fortifications for its own troops? Isn’t it true that if Israel allows Free Gaza and the likes to enter Israel freely, radical elements could join the group, supplying Gazans with arms and explosives? After all – who inspects the supplies? Are we to trust the organization – openly anti-Israel – to monitor itself?

In the meanwhile, the politicians debate each other on how the ‘flotilla’ should be greeted. This year, however, Israeli civilians decided to take a stand:

A grassroots campaign calling to sail out and confront the foreign activists at sea has gained many followers – and 15 ships.

Arutz-7’s Hebrew news service spoke with Matan Freiman, one of the organizers of the counterprotest. “Our goal is, first and foremost, to send a message to Turkey,” Freeman said.

Israeli activists will also remind the approaching foreign ships that Hamas bears responsibility for the fact that ships cannot enter and exit Gaza freely. Hamas refuses to release Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit, Freiman said, and is thus to blame for the situation in Gaza.

The goal is to get Israel’s point of view into the media, both in Israel and abroad, he explained.

(Channel 7 News)

As the group announced the action, nearly 1,500 people signed up for its Facebook group, through which organizers hope to gather volunteers for the action. It is indeed a tremendous effort, first of its kind by Israeli civilians. While Free Gaza’s operation is supported by governments and NGO’s, Israeli action was created and is supported by regular people. Such efforts indeed should be supported.

The "SS Free Gaza". Couldn't have said it better myself. International activists for Hamas are at it again, preparing another ship to set sail for Gaza:

The foundation is organizing a flotilla of eight ships, known as the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, which are set to depart for Gaza on May 23, its chairman, Bülent Yıldırım, noted. The İHH ships will be joined by 12 others that will set sail from a large number of countries including Venezuela, Malaysia, Germany, Italy, France, Greece and the United States.
The İHH’s role in the aid ship project was first announced last month with the motto, “Palestine is our destination, humanitarian aid is our load.” “We want this embargo to end. We broke it with an aid convoy [to Palestine] in December of last year. The aid ship project has carried the embargo back to the world’s attention,” Yıldırım remarked.

The foundation recently purchased a passenger ship from İstanbul Seabuses and Fast Ferries Inc. (İDO) to take a delegation of around 500 people to Gaza. .

“Palestine is faced with an inhumane embargo that lacks any legal basis. Civil society organizations should take the initiative to break this unjust embargo,” Yıldırım added.

(Sunday’s Zaman)

ALSO IN LAST December, there were stories Viva Palestina’s convoys pelted with stones at Egyptian border, and of international activists stuck in Gaza due to Egypt’s anger at them for breaching the Israel and Egypt – imposed blockade.

The activists surely believe in their goal, and they receive much monetary support – so much they can allow themselves to buy a ship of their own. However, the media stunt will do little to Gazans, who will receive little of the supplies, but would do much for Hamas, which violently controls the Strip, but would use the opportunity to express its anger at the evil world for not allowing it to kill the Jews right away.

Sure as hell, though, the donations will keep on flowing.