In a saner world, Dr.Gerstenfeld, and a host of other ME experts, analysts, commentators and news pundits and bloggers wouldn’t have to spend their time laying out the factual record, to an already obvious case of jihadi thugs manipulating useful stooges, in a planned attempt to further delegitimize the Jewish state of Israel in the world’s nightly news. Dr.Gerstenfeld does excellent work in fleshing out the facts behind the Flotilla of the Huns incident, of the Mavi Marmara. KGS
IHH Jihadi caught on film:
Had I known Gerstenfeld would be on the case,
I would have never posed for this picture
The Gaza flotilla was a well-thought-out provocation against Israel. The flotilla was falsely presented as an enterprise of humanitarian aid to a needy population. If that were indeed the case the organizers would have accepted Israel’s offer to dock the flotilla at the port of Ashdod. The main ship, the Turkish Mavi Marmara and two others, transported people only and no aid. Part of the aid, such as camouflage netting, was clearly meant for Hamas‘s military purposes. Some samples of the aid, such as medicines, were past their sell-by date. One of the undeclared aims of the main organizers was to support the Hamas regime that rules Gaza. In its charter Hamas promotes genocide of Jews.
The main organizers of the Gaza flotilla were the Turkish IHH, a body for which there are strong indications of having terrorist links. There were also others on board with terrorist links. Several of the participants on the Mavi Marmara were prepared for violence with weapons and attacked the Israeli soldiers. The weapons found were far from normal for a ship purporting to be bringing humanitarian aid. Seven of the nine dead had expressed their wish to die as martyrs before they departed on the journey.
Negative opinions about Israel were hastily expressed by senior officials of various countries and international bodies. They did not care to wait until a reasonable amount of facts were known. Today if one analyzes their statements one finds many fallacies in them. In view of many other far more violent actions by some Western countries on various occasions, the claims about disproportionality of the Israeli interception of the flotilla convey double standards.
The German response to the flotilla affair merits special investigation. On 2 July the German parliament issued a unanimous resolution with an anti-Israeli bias. Never in its history has the Bundestag issued a resolution against any rogue state. The Jewish Central Council in Germany adopted a statement saying that the Parliament’s resolution was based on incomplete information and a mixture of half-truths and prejudices.
I. Introduction: The Flotilla
On 30 May 2010, a flotilla of six ships left Northern Cyprus heading to Gaza, carrying 718 people from thirty-seven countries and up to ten thousand tons of what the organizers called humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip. The proclaimed intention of the flotilla organizers was to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza and break the blockade on the territory, which Israel imposed in 2007 to prevent arms from reaching Hamas, the Islamist terror organization that rules the Strip. It later became clear that three of the ships were not for freight and were not carrying any humanitarian aid. Among these was the largest one, the Turkish Mavi Marmara. The other two were the Challenger 1 and the Sfendonh.
The Israeli government warned the flotilla organizers in advance that they would not be allowed to enter Gaza. However, Israel offered that the flotilla could dock at the Israeli port of Ashdod. The Israeli authorities would then inspect the cargos for weapons and subsequently deliver the humanitarian goods to Gaza by land. Israel additionally offered to coordinate with a third party representing an independent organization such as the United Nations during the proposed goods transfer. The flotilla organizers, however, rejected the offer.
On 31 May 2010, an IDF naval commando unit intercepted the flotilla on its way to Gaza, in international waters about eighty miles from the Israeli coast. The commandos landed on the Mavi Marmara by descending on ropes from helicopters. Video material showed activists wielding metal bars while awaiting the IDF commandos. One can see the activists sawing through the ship’s railing to use it as iron bars against the soldiers. Israel says the activists used axes and knives, and fired shots from a gun taken from the soldiers, and from some weapons they had brought. In the fighting nine people aboard the ship were killed, of whom eight were Turkish and one a Turkish-American. Fifty-three activists were wounded along with seven of the Israeli commandos, two of them seriously.
Preparations for Violence on the Mavi Marmara
Video and photo material released by the IDF reveals that prior to the boarding, numerous passengers of the Mavi Marmara were preparing for a violent confrontation: they put on gas masks and armed themselves with rods, slingshots, broken bottles, metal objects, and water hoses. When the IDF soldiers landed on the ship, large groups of passengers immediately started to attack them with these objects. They threw one soldier over the side of the ship. As the flotilla organizers themselves admitted, some of the passengers seized weapons from soldiers.
The IDF says the activists also shot at them. Initially the Israeli commandos used paintball guns. When ferociously attacked, the commandos opened fire to defend themselves. An internal military probe, conducted by Israel and released on 11 July, found that shots were initially fired at the boarding commandos from weapons that the passengers had brought with them. The bullet that was extracted from the knee of one of the soldiers was of a different caliber than that used by the Israeli navy.
(1) The Flotilla Organizers
The major organizer and funder of the flotilla was the Turkish organization IHH (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief). It was established in 1992 and formally registered in Istanbul in 1995. According to a 2006 report by the Danish Institute for International Studies, the IHH had links to Al-Qaeda and global Islamist networks during the 1990s.
The IHH was the subject of a Turkish criminal investigation in 1997, when sources revealed that senior IHH activists were purchasing automatic weapons from other Islamist groups. When they searched the IHH offices, Turkish security services found weapons, explosives, instructions for manufacturing IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and documents indicating that IHH members were planning to participate in terror activities in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.
The report also notes that the current president of the IHH and organizer of the “Freedom Flotilla,” Bulent Yildrim, had galvanized anti-American sentiment, and incitement against U.S. troops, in these areas during the Iraq War.
The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) describes the IHH as a “radical Islamic organization” that has prominently supported Hamas in recent years, as well as global jihad networks. According to the ITIC, the IHH transfers “significant amounts of money to Hamas institutions in Judea and Samaria, including the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron and the Al-Tadhamun Charitable Society in Nablus – Hamas’ two central ‘charitable societies,’ both outlawed by Israel.”
A report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes that “in the mid-1990s, Yildrim was directly involved in ‘recruit[ing] veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming holy war [jihad]. In particular, some men were sent to war zones in Muslim countries in order to acquire combat experience.'” The IHH telephone records in Istanbul reportedly included repeated telephone calls in 1996 to an Al-Qaeda guesthouse in Italy and to North African terrorists active in Europe. In addition, a 1996 CIA report on terrorist abuse of charities stated that the IHH had links to “Iranian operatives.”
The IHH is a member of the Union of Good, an umbrella organization of more than fifty Islamic funds and foundations around the globe that channels money into Hamas institutions in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories. According to Palestinian intelligence, this organization “is considered – with regard to material support – one of the biggest Hamas supporters.” Israel outlawed the Union of Good in February 2002, and the United States named it a specially designated global terrorist entity in November 2008.
Because of its support for Hamas, the IHH was also outlawed by Israel in January 2008. According to U.S. State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner in June, the United States is likewise considering designating the IHH a terrorist organization. In July 2010, a group of Italian lawmakers under the lead of legislator Fiamma Nirenstein proposed that IHH be included in the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations. “The Islamic fundamentalist nature of IHH has been documented by numerous declarations praising martyrdom and Israel’s destruction,” said Nirenstein.
In Germany, the Coordinating Council of German Nongovernmental Organizations against Anti-Semitism likewise called on the government to place the IHH on the EU list of terrorist organizations, because “like Hamas the IHH is an anti-Semitic organization that promotes terrorism.”
Former French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, who investigated the IHH in the late 1990s, said the group was connected to a 1999 plot by Al-Qaeda to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. He described the IHH as having “clear, long-standing ties to terrorism,” and stated that the group was “basically helping Al-Qaeda when Bin Laden started to want to target U.S. soil.”
Other Participants in the Flotilla
The Free Gaza Movement, the second group involved in organizing the flotilla, is a multinational coalition of pro-Palestinian groups and activists. It has been trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza since 2008. The Free Gaza Movement has been endorsed by international figures, including South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire. Israeli intelligence agencies say the coalition has grown to include dangerous Islamic organizations with terrorist links.
A number of individual passengers, not directly affiliated with the IHH or the Free Gaza Movement, appear to have ties with terrorist organizations. In early June, the IDF released a list of five passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara who are linked to terrorist organizations, and stated there might be more. One was Ben O’Keefe, an American-British anti-Israeli activist who, according to the IDF, wanted to enter Gaza to form and train a commando unit for Hamas. Another of the passengers, Ahmad Umimon, a French citizen of Moroccan origin, was identified by the IDF as a Hamas operative. According to the IDF, Hussein Urosh, a Turkish citizen, was supposed to assist in smuggling Al-Qaeda operatives via Turkey into Gaza.
Also on the boats were several functionaries of the Turkish party BPP, which experts describe as militant and anti-Semitic. The BPP has been linked to the murder of an Armenian-Christian journalist in 2007. Michael Kiefer, a German expert on Islam, said the BPP’s program is in some aspects comparable to that of the NPD, the German neo-Nazi party. The German Left Party, three members of which participated in the flotilla, described the BPP as having a “racist-nationalist orientation” and a “propensity to violence and…totalitarian structures.”
In contrast to the public claims of the flotilla organizers on their nonviolent intentions, the IDF concluded from the preparedness of the activists that the violent attack on the Israeli soldiers was “clearly premeditated.”
Prepared for Violence and Martyrdom
Passengers on the other ships peacefully complied with the instructions of the Israeli soldiers and were led safely to shore in Israel’s southernmost port of Ashdod. It was only on the Mavi Marmara that numerous passengers violently resisted the boarding. All casualties occurred on this ship.
Photos from this ship show an Israeli soldier who appears to be crying in anguish, gripping the back of his head while someone from behind grasps his arm to direct him down a flight of stairs. His face is bruised and cut, his shirt is ripped open, and he does not appear to have his weapon. Another soldier lies on the floor with blood on his hand while activists look as if they are removing his bulletproof vest. In other pictures this soldier is either being carried or dragged down the stairs; then hands are seen on his chest. He may be attempting to fend them off with his own raised hands. Some of the pictures show a figure in civilian clothes holding a short, black-handled, serrated knife. It is not clear whether this could be a military knife taken from one of the commandos.
In a video shot on board the Mavi Marmara on 30 May by one of the passengers, Yildrim is seen on board telling dozens of activists to throw Israeli commandos overboard if they attempt to board the ship. “If they board our ship, we will throw them into the sea, Allah willing!” he says.
The MEMRI research institute has released footage of statements made by Yildrim prior to the flotilla raid, which read: “From here, I call upon all the leaders of the Islamic world, and upon all the peoples…. Anyone who does not stand alongside Palestine – his throne will be toppled…. everything is progressing towards Islam…. What Can The Enemy Do To Me?… If They Kill Me – That Is Martyrdom for the Sake of Allah….”
In footage that the IDF captured on the Gaza flotilla, a passenger describes how he has attempted in previous convoys to become a martyr and that “with God’s luck” he will succeed on this flotilla.
Of the nine passengers who died, eight belonged to the IHH radical Islamic group, and seven of them had expressed their desire to die before the flotilla set sail for Gaza. According to a Turkish newspaper, nineteen-year-old Furqan Dogan, the youngest of those killed in the fighting, had written in his diary: “These are the last hours before I join the sweet experience of being a shahid. Is there anything more beautiful than this?”
After the deadly clash of 31 May, the flotilla organizers repeatedly affirmed that their intentions had been of a purely humanitarian, nonviolent nature. However, a statement issued by the Gaza Freedom March before the raid revealed that the outbreak of violence was considered a possible, if not desirable option from the beginning: “A violent response from Israel will breathe new life into the Palestine solidarity movement, drawing attention to the blockade.”
In contrast to the “humanitarian” posture that most of the activists were careful to stress before and after the raid, a MEMRI video and translation showed that Yildrim explained at a Hamas rally in Gaza that the operation was part of a global jihad to overthrow governments and install Islamist dictatorships.
Content of the Cargo
The content of the cargo that was supposed to meet the needs of the Gaza population raised further questions about the alleged humanitarian objectives of the organizers. When the IDF inspected the goods, they discovered that some of the medication brought by the flotilla has passed its expiration date by more than a year. Also found on the ships was fabric in camouflage colors, apparently meant for Hamas terror operatives. Hamas refused to let aid material enter Gaza after the raid.
According to a report by the ITIC, most of the fifty-three injured passengers, twenty-three of them severely, in the confrontation on the Mavi Marmarahave been identified as activists of the IHH and Turkish local networks collaborating with it. All but one of them are Turkish nationals. They are “most probably Islamist by nature.”
On the other hand, not one of the injured passengers belonged to pro-Palestinian organizations or human rights organizations from Western countries. The report concludes that “this is yet another testimony that human rights activists who joined the flotilla out of humanitarian considerations took no part in the violent confrontation initiated by IHH.”
As a Washington Post editorial pointed out,
Turkey’s ambassador to the United States makes the argument that Israel had no cause to clash with the “European lawmakers, journalists, business leaders and an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor” who were aboard the flotilla. But there was no fighting with those people, or with five of the six boats in the fleet. All of the violence occurred aboard the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, and all of those who were killed were members or volunteers for the Islamic “charity” that owned the ship, the IHH.
Open Jew-Hatred among the Activists
On 25 May, a Greek activist aboard one of the ships compared the flotilla to the fight against Nazi Germany, claiming: “We’re helping the Palestinians, just like the Greeks helped during World War II against the Nazis.”
On 29 May, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said: “If the ships reach Gaza, it’s a victory for Gaza. If they are intercepted and terrorized by the Zionists, it will be a victory for Gaza, too, and they will move again in new ships to break the siege of Gaza.”
An audiotape published by the IDF revealed that the activists on the flotilla told the IDF to “go back to Auschwitz” when the IDF commandos contacted the boats via radio. The activists also said, “We’re helping the Arabs go against the US, don’t forget 9/11 guys.”
An Al-Jazeera report from 28 May, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, shows activists on board before departing for Gaza, chanting intifada songs aimed at Jews and praising martyrdom. Chants include “Intifada, intifada, intifada! Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Mohammed will return!,” referring to a battle between early Muslims and Jews in the seventh century.
The Turkish Government’s Involvement in the Flotilla
Before the flotilla departed, Turkish officials turned down Israel’s offer to deliver the humanitarian goods via Ashdod, claiming they could not impose their will on the IHH, which they described as a nongovernmental organization. The fact that Murat Mercan, a deputy of the ruling AKP, participated in an earlier land convoy to Gaza raises further questions about the Turkish government’s alleged noninvolvement in the affair. The IHH has strongly praised Turkish prime minister Erdogan in the past. “All the peoples of the Islamic world would want a leader like Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Yildrim proclaimed at a Hamas rally in Gaza in 2009.
According to the ITIC report, Erdogan maintains close links to the IHH. The flotilla was launched “with the full knowledge and agreement of Erdogan, who expressed personal interest in its success and his intention to exploit it [to] promote his status in Turkey and the Arab-Muslim world.” The report quotes passengers saying that prior to the flotilla, Erdogan reasoned that a possible confrontation with Israel could serve his own needs. These statements were supported by descriptions found in files on laptop computers belonging to the passengers.