Archive for the ‘War Criminals’ Category

Did God speak to the former US President G. W. Bush? Some reflections

August 8, 2015

Nasir Khan, August 8, 2015

“God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.”
— George W. Bush, quoted in Lancaster New Era, July 16, 2004

Such was the claim of the former US President. He said this after the US armed forces had invaded and occupied two large countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. At that time, he was the most powerful leader of the mighty militarist superpower as well as a ‘divinely’ elevated person because God communicated with him. To my knowledge, in modern history we do not find another instance when a mortal man and the immortal God joined forces for U.S. to unleash two destructive wars! However, the implications of his pronouncements had a direct bearing on his political stature and his policies. Even though, he made his policies and issued his executive orders with the help of his close neoconservative advisers and secretaries but in doing so he was doing God’s work. God was speaking through him; therefore, God mandated whatever he did. God had chosen the right man to do His work!

If we accept the claims of divine guidance, for the sake of argument, that he, in fact, made on many times, then we can point to the results he achieved by his genocidal wars. Under his leadership, the US armed forces invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq in the most brutal way. They killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghans who had no quarrel with the people of the United States or posed any threat to the global U.S. hegemony and power. The destruction of Iraq was systematic. The Bush administration undertook the destruction of Iraqi state and its infrastructure as a necessary step to imposing the imperial diktat in the Middle East. It uprooted the social and administrative structure of Iraq and replaced it with sectarian puppet regimes that followed the orders of Washington and the Pentagon.

To make the imperial take-over easy and to neutralise any resistance to the new geopolitical order in this vast and oil-rich country, imperial masters used sectarian discord of the population as a convenient tool. How did it matter to Bush if Sunni and Shia turned against each other and started terrorist violence against their own people – the people of Iraq? Religious fanatics and miscreants were free to weaken Iraq while the occupiers could have an easy task to control the country and its resources. Thus, the US occupation could continue with greater ease while the country was drenched in bloodshed and mayhem that is still going on.

Through his destructive policies in the occupied Iraq, the Bush administration destabilised the whole region and played with the lives of millions of Iraqis by reducing them to destitution, poverty, homelessness and helplessness. The rampant killings in Iraq have claimed the lives of uncountable victims. In the first 7 years of US occupation, about 1.3 million Iraqi died. The main source of this incredible catastrophe that engulfed Iraq in 2003 was the US invasion. The ultimate responsibility of the present cycle of violence and bloodshed remains with Mr Bush.

Mr Bush’s military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan resulted in large-scale deaths of Afghans. The brutal treatment of the prisoners of war and the innocent victims in the process of occupying Afghanistan is a dark chapter in the history of twenty-first century. The occupying power violated the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, international humanitarian conventions and all norms of international law. All this happened because God said to Bush to do so! In fact, this is a preposterous assertion that even Al Capone would not have resorted to! Let us take a common sense view of his claim and its consequences. What that means is that the former president is not responsible for the wars and war crimes but someone else is! In legal terms, he is implying that God is vicariously responsible for his wars and war crimes. In this way, he absolves himself of any responsibility for his actions and his policies as the head of US Government! A very convenient but cheap method to deceive the world, no doubt!

There is no need for us to enter into any lengthy theological discourse on God and his attributes. It is common knowledge that most believers see God as a kind, merciful and loving power. For having such attributes, believers hold Him in high respect and praise Him. It is hard to think that the Heavenly Father, as Christians call God, could have asked or encouraged Mr Bush to start major wars of aggression and commit the most heinous crimes against other weaker nations in this century. In brief, to impute such designs to God or because of fulfilling a mission from God is a reprehensible act on the part of Mr Bush. In the eyes of any sincere believers, he is maligning God in a vicious way if he believes in Him as he seemingly professes to do.

Alternatively, what if he really believed in what he asserted about God? That is something, which we can look at cursorily from a legal point of view. In criminal law, the actions of the alleged offenders are primarily judged for the mens rea – that is, their state of mind and intentions when they committed some indictable offence. In some cases, they are entitled to the defence of diminished responsibility or diminished capacity if their mental condition was impaired in such a way that they did not fully understand what they did. If such a defence is successful, the accused are given mitigated sentences or sent for medical treatment, depending on the gravity of offences involved. In an old case of acute insanity, one person beheaded a sleeping man just to see what he would do when woke up in the morning but didn’t find his head!

There are many cases when people hear sounds or messages from some unknown sources exhorting them to do something that may amount to a criminal offence. A hallucination is a perception that is not based on objective reality. It is very much a subjective condition of mind and in this condition, people may see or visualise things that having nothing to do with reality. In this age, we come across cases when some people say they have heard God or God has given them some message. If Mr Bush is sincere in his claims about God speaking to him, then that is something for which only the professional psychologists can offer their expert views.

In case  a judicial miracle (which I don’t see taking place!) takes place and the world sees the former US president, G.W. Bush, being prosecuted for his wars and the alleged war crimes in a court of law then the question of hallucinations would certainly be an issue in any legal process. However, facts point to a different direction: That he acted with deliberation and premeditation in pursuing his policies and his destructive wars.

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US soldiers ‘killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies’

September 9, 2010

Soldiers face charges over secret ‘kill team’ which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war

Chris McGreal in Washington, The Guardian/UK,  Sep 9, 2010

Stryker soldiers who allegedly plotted to kill Afghan civilians.
Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield are four of the five Stryker soldiers who face murder charges. Photograph: Public Domain
Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret “kill team” that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.

In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

According to investigators and legal documents, discussion of killing Afghan civilians began after the arrival of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs at forward operating base Ramrod last November. Other soldiers told the army’s criminal investigation command that Gibbs boasted of the things he got away with while serving in Iraq and said how easy it would be to “toss a grenade at someone and kill them”.

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Israeli Leaders Sued in Belgium for War Crimes

June 25, 2010

Baltimore Jewish Times, June 25, 2010

Paris
JTA Wire Service

A complaint was filed in Belgian court against 14 Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were among those charged with war crimes committed during the Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09, the French daily Le Monde reported. Former Gen. Matan Vilnai and other Israeli army leaders, politicians and intelligence officials also were included on the list.

Two lawyers representing 13 family members of victims of an Israeli army bombing of a mosque near the Jabaliya refugee camp during the war said they filed their complaints Wednesday in Brussels, according to reports.

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Israel’s Flotilla ‘Investigation’

June 18, 2010

The New York Times, whose regional bureau chief has a son in the Israeli militaryreports that Israel has just appointed a panel charged with investigating its attack on an aid flotilla that killed nine aid volunteers, including a 19-year-old American.

Isabel Kershner, who is an Israeli citizen and has refused to answer questions about her possible family ties to the Israeli military, writes the report.

Kershner reports that the White House hailed the announcement of the panel as an “important step forward,” stating that “the structure and terms of reference of Israel’s proposed independent public commission can meet the standard of a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation.”

In her story, Kershner reports that the panel will include eminent Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Lord David Trimble as an observer, but omits the fact that Trimble is a leader of the newly formed pro-Israel organization “Friends of Israel” and is close to Netanyahu associate Dore Gold.

Irish journalist Patrick Roberts writes, “This is a little like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.”

Kershner reports that the other foreign observer is Brig. Gen. Ken Watkins, former judge advocate general of Canadian Forces, but fails to mention that Watkins is known for stonewalling a 2009 House of Commons investigation into Afghan prisoner abuse.

One House of Commons member commented at the time about Watkins’ lack of cooperation with the investigation: “Obviously the cover-up continues.”

Kershner informs readers that the panel will be led by a retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice, but fails to mention reports that he does not believe in such a panel and opposed foreign participation.

Kershner reports in the bottom half of her story that Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper calls the proposed panel a “farce,” but does not mention that this is a longstanding pattern for Israeli governmental investigations (and lack thereof) into military human rights abuses. For example:

    ° In 2009 eleven Israeli human rights organizations released a joint report in which they called on the Israeli government to “Stop whitewashing suspected crimes in Gaza.”
    ° In 2010 B’Tselem found that the Israeli military’s “cover-up of phosphorous shelling in Gaza proves army cannot investigate itself.” An Amnesty International report concurred in this conclusion, finding that Israel’s investigations into Cast Lead had not met “international standards of independence, impartiality, transparency, promptness and effectiveness.”

In her story Kershner reports Netanyahu’s allegation that the blockade “is necessary to prevent Hamas from smuggling in weapons or materials needed to make them, and to weaken Hamas control.”  She goes on to acknowledge that “there is a growing consensus abroad that the blockade has taken a toll mainly on civilians,” but neglects to report the fact that Israeli closures of Gaza preceded the election of Hamas and that the “toll” is massive and calamitous.

She also fails to include any of the vast evidence for such a consensus, for example:

    “Nearly 99 percent of Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen are now considered either poor (making between $100 and $190 a month) or very poor (earning less than $100 a month); there are acute, sometimes lethal shortages of fuel, cash, cooking gas and other basic supplies; 98 percent of industrial operations have been shut down since 2007; and 3,500 families are still displaced from last year’s invasion due to Israel’s blockade on building materials.”

Although the Israeli government has failed to investigate itself honestly and thoroughly through the years, a great many respected international human rights organizations from Christian Aid to the Red Cross have done so, documenting a pattern of widespread human rights abuses by the Israeli military.

In 2006 independent researchers Patrick O’Connor and Rachel Roberts found that since fall 2000:

    “[T]hree of the leading human rights organizations focusing on Israel/Palestine – Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli organization B’Tselem – published 76 reports focused primarily on Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights, and four reports primarily focused on Palestinians abuses of Israeli or Palestinian rights. This weighting suggests that Israel has committed a disproportionate share of the human rights violations.”

During this time, the New York Times published two news stories on reports documenting Israeli human rights abuses and two stories on reports documenting Palestinian human rights abuses.

In other words, in its “even-handed” style, the New York Times covered fifty percent of the reports on human rights abuses committed by Palestinians, while covering under three percent of those detailing human rights abuses perpetrated by Israelis.

Chomsky: The Real Threat Aboard the Freedom Flotilla

June 10, 2010

By Noam Chomsky, In These Times, June 8, 2010

The Freedom Flotilla defied Israel’s policy of blocking solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on international decisions, and so it had to be crushed.

Israel’s violent attack on the Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza shocked the world.

Hijacking boats in international waters and killing passengers is, of course, a serious crime.

But the crime is nothing new. For decades, Israel has been hijacking boats between Cyprus and Lebanon and killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes holding them hostage in Israeli prisons.

Israel assumes that it can commit such crimes with impunity because the United States tolerates them and Europe generally follows the U.S.’s lead.

As the editors of The Guardian rightly observed on June 1, “If an armed group of Somali pirates had yesterday boarded six vessels on the high seas, killing at least 10 passengers and injuring many more, a NATO task force would today be heading for the Somali coast.” In this case, the NATO treaty obligates its members to come to the aid of a fellow NATO country—Turkey—attacked on the high seas.

Israel’s pretext for the attack was that the Freedom Flotilla was bringing materials that Hamas could use for bunkers to fire rockets into Israel.

The pretext isn’t credible. Israel can easily end the threat of rockets by peaceful means.

The background is important. Hamas was designated a major terrorist threat when it won a free election in January 2006. The U.S. and Israel sharply escalated their punishment of Palestinians, now for the crime of voting the wrong way.

The siege of Gaza, including a naval blockade, was a result. The siege intensified sharply in June 2007 after a civil war left Hamas in control of the territory.

What is commonly described as a Hamas military coup was in fact incited by the U.S. and Israel, in a crude attempt to overturn the elections that had brought Hamas to power.

That has been public knowledge at least since April 2008, when David Rose reported in Vanity Fair that George W. Bush, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Elliott Abrams, “backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.”

Hamas terror included launching rockets into nearby Israeli towns—criminal, without a doubt, though only a minute fraction of routine U.S.-Israeli crimes in Gaza.

In June 2008, Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire agreement. The Israeli government formally acknowledges that until Israel broke the agreement on Nov. 4 of that year, invading Gaza and killing half a dozen Hamas activists, Hamas did not fire a single rocket.

Hamas offered to renew the cease-fire. The Israeli cabinet considered the offer and rejected it, preferring to launch its murderous invasion of Gaza on Dec.27.

Like other states, Israel has the right of self-defense. But did Israel have the right to use force in Gaza in the name of self-defense? International law, including the U.N. Charter, is unambiguous: A nation has such a right only if it has exhausted peaceful means. In this case such means were not even tried, although—or perhaps because—there was every reason to suppose that they would succeed.

Thus the invasion was sheer criminal aggression, and the same is true of Israel’s resorting to force against the flotilla.

The siege is savage, designed to keep the caged animals barely alive so as to fend off international protest, but hardly more than that. It is the latest stage of longstanding Israeli plans, backed by the U.S., to separate Gaza from the West Bank.

The Israeli journalist Amira Hass, a leading specialist on Gaza, outlines the history of the process of separation: “The restrictions on Palestinian movement that Israel introduced in January 1991 reversed a process that had been initiated in June 1967.

“Back then, and for the first time since 1948, a large portion of the Palestinian people again lived in the open territory of a single country — to be sure, one that was occupied, but was nevertheless whole. …”

Hass concludes: “The total separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank is one of the greatest achievements of Israeli politics, whose overarching objective is to prevent a solution based on international decisions and understandings and instead dictate an arrangement based on Israel’s military superiority.”

The Freedom Flotilla defied that policy and so it must be crushed.

A framework for settling the Arab-Israeli conflict has existed since 1976, when the regional Arab States introduced a Security Council resolution calling for a two-state settlement on the international border, including all the security guarantees of U.N. Resolution 242, adopted after the June War in 1967.

The essential principles are supported by virtually the entire world, including the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic States (including Iran) and relevant non-state actors, including Hamas.

But the U.S. and Israel have led the rejection of such a settlement for three decades, with one crucial and highly informative exception. In President Bill Clinton’s last month in office, January 2001, he initiated Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Taba, Egypt, that almost reached an agreement, participants announced, before Israel terminated the negotiations.

Today, the cruel legacy of a failed peace lives on.

International law cannot be enforced against powerful states, except by their own citizens. That is always a difficult task, particularly when articulate opinion declares crime to be legitimate, either explicitly or by tacit adoption of a criminal framework—which is more insidious, because it renders the crimes invisible.

Israel’s Impunity From International Law

June 10, 2010

Both the Attack on the Flotilla and the Siege of Gaza are Illegal

By George Bisharat, Counterpunch, June  9, 2010

Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza “Freedom Flotilla” was flagrantly illegal. The flotilla, carefully searched for arms before disembarkation, enjoyed the right of free navigation in international waters, and Israel had no legal justification to interrupt its peaceful mission.

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The hijacking of the truth: Film evidence ‘destroyed’

June 6, 2010

Protesters say Israel had an assassination list. Israel says soldiers fired only in self-defence. So what really happened on 31 May? Catrina Stewart reports

The Independent/UK, June 6, 2010

Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara don lifejackets after  they are warned that Israeli naval ships are approaching; nine  protesters died in the commando attack the next morning
ERHAN SEVENLER / AP

Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara don lifejackets after they are warned that Israeli naval ships are approaching; nine protesters died in the commando attack the next morning

Jamal Elshayyal, a journalist with al-Jazeera, woke with a start to the opening salvos of an Israeli assault that would transform the decks of the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel bound for Gaza, into a bloodbath.

From the ship’s position deep in international waters, satellite images of Israeli speedboats and helicopters approaching the vessel were beamed across the globe before communications were abruptly cut off, leaving the events on the Marmara to unfold away from the eyes of the world.

Six days after the bloody assault that left nine foreign protesters, mainly Turks, dead, nobody can recount with any conviction precisely what happened that night. The convoy of ships, whose passengers included writers, politicians and journalists, had been expected for weeks, with organisers loudly broadcasting their plans to run Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and draw international attention to the situation there.

From the beginning, it was clear that Israeli forces were concentrating in their largest numbers on the Marmara, a ship carrying some 550 peace activists. The remaining five boats were much smaller and easily commandeered. After the Marmara was subdued, the passengers silenced, and their recording equipment confiscated, Israel disseminated a carefully choreographed account of the events that night that would dominate the airwaves for the first 48 hours.

Only as eyewitnesses, traumatised by their experiences, started to return to their home countries, were serious questions raised about the veracity of the Israeli version of events. Israeli commandos initiated the attack on the Marmara with stun grenades, paintballs and rubber-cased steel bullets. They were met with water hoses as the ship’s passengers tried to form a defensive cordon to prevent soldiers from reaching the wheelhouse. Next, the helicopters started their approach, hovering overhead as they tried to disgorge commandos.

From the other ships, passengers looked on helplessly: “The worst thing was seeing the helicopter come up because I knew they were going to invade,” said Ewa Jasiewicz, a 32-year-old organiser. “You could hear the screams when they started shooting … We wanted to stop and go back but there wouldn’t have been anything we could have done.”

From the moment the helicopters arrived, the sequence of events becomes confused. The dizzying number of claims and counter-claims serves only to present an incomplete account of a military operation that went badly, badly wrong. More than 1.7 million viewers have pored over the edited YouTube footage posted by the Israeli navy since Wednesday. In the dramatic clip, commandos rappel down on to the deck from a helicopter, where they are met by angry activists armed with iron bars and sticks.

This is a critical point, for Israel has rallied domestic opinion on the crucial claim that its soldiers dropped into a meticulously planned riot for which they were completely unprepared. Panicked, they acted in self-defence after they landed, shooting only those who threatened them.

The video is problematic, though. The images of angry protesters are striking, but they lack context. What happened before? What happened next? Had the soldiers started shooting when they descended to the deck? The only account offered by the Israelis of what happened next is left to Staff Sergeant S, a commando who claims he shot six of the protesters.

The last of 15 to arrive on the deck, he said he saw that two of his colleagues had gunshot wounds. Pushing others into a protective cordon around the injured soldiers, he shot at the protesters to force them to fall back. It’s a neat account, but several eyewitness accounts tell a very different story.

Mr Elshayyal, a reporter for the Arab channel al-Jazeera, was standing to one side of the ship and had a view of the front and back of the vessel when the fighting started. By his account, soldiers fired down on the protesters from the helicopters before an Israeli soldier had even set foot on the ship. A man next to him was shot through the top of his head, dying instantly.

“What I saw were shots being fired from the helicopter above and moments later from below – from the ships,” Mr Elshayyal said. “As far as I am concerned, it’s a lie to say they only started shooting on deck.”

At least two other eyewitnesses saw soldiers firing from above the ships before they landed on the Marmara’s deck. It is possible that this is what prompted the fierce resistance to the soldiers when they dropped down. Several passengers recount how organisers urged their peers to stop hitting the soldiers, aware of how it would harm their claim to be peaceful protesters.

Others on the ship claim they raised a white flag, but say that it was ignored. They also used a loudspeaker to reiterate their message of surrender and requested that the injured be taken off the ship to get medical assistance. Again, they were ignored.

At some point early on, the activists dragged three, possibly four, injured soldiers to a lower deck, either to keep as hostages or for their own safety. It was then, several passengers say, that the situation quickly deteriorated. Israel has insisted that the protesters took two of the soldiers’ pistols and used them, but others claim the pistols were taken away to prove that Israel planned to use live rounds.

Below, the protesters rummaged through captured soldiers’ belongings and claimed to unearth a document that they allege is a list of people Israel intended to assassinate. The booklet, written in Hebrew and in English, contained some photographs of passengers on the Marmara, including the leader of IHH, the Turkish charity that provided two of the ships, an 88-year-old priest and Ra’ad Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Mr Elshayyal said.

A military spokesman, Lt Col Avital Leibowitz, insisted soldiers acted in self-defence and that she “was not aware” of any list. But one thing is fast becoming clear – many of the dead were shot multiple times at point-blank range. One was a journalist taking photographs. “A man was shot … between the eyebrows, which indicates that it was not an attack that took place from self-defence,” Hassan Ghani, a passenger, said in an account posted on YouTube. “The soldier had time to set up the shot.” Mattias Gardell, a Swedish activist, told the TT news bureau: “The Israelis committed premeditated murder … Two people were killed by shots in the forehead, one was shot in the back of the head and one in the chest.”

When Israeli troops had subdued the ship, they rounded up the passengers, bound their wrists, in some cases forcing activists into stress positions, and prevented them from using toilets. Mr Elshayyal said he was given just three sips of water before he was taken off the ship more than 24 hours later.

Their ordeal, of course, was not yet over. Accused of entering Israel illegally, the captives were transferred to an Israeli prison, where many were held in cramped cells and denied phone calls. Furious, Turkey sent three planes to transport the activists out of Israel, threatening to sever all diplomatic ties if they were not all released.

Meanwhile, much of the video footage confiscated from Marmara passengers remains undisclosed, and Israel has sought to undermine some eyewitness accounts by alleging some of the passengers were terrorist sympathisers bent on martyrdom.

Questions remain unanswered on both sides. But without a full and transparent airing of all the evidence, the truth of that dreadful night on the Marmara may never come to light.

In the meantime, the organisers say they will seek again and again to breach Israel’s defences. Scottish protester Ali El-Awaisi said: “We sent six ships this time. Next time it will be 30 ships.”

The Israelis Attacked the Ships Bringing Aid to These People (photo gallery)

June 5, 2010

Axis of Logic, June 4, 2010

By Various Photographers
Ma’an News Agency and IMEU

After the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla on May 31, we would do well to remember the crimes of this rogue state for the last 60 years, including their 2009 slaughter of the Palestians in Gaza. The following photos were taken by various photographers and published in the Maan News Agency, after their 2009 rampage. These Palestinians were waiting in Gaza for the Freedom Flotilla with 10,000 tons of medicine and health care equipment, food, educational materials, building materials and other humanitarian supplies when Israel attacked the ships on May 31. Israel’s blockade of Gaza is meant to do one thing only: to drive all Palestinians from their land on which the Israelis dream of expanding their own Jewish State. The world simply cannot allow this to happen. If governments in other nations refuse to stop this genocide, we the people must force them to bring this great crime to an end, make reparations and receive justice, by whatever means necessary.

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Israeli troops slaughter 19 aid activists to Gaza

May 31, 2010

Israeli commandoes have stormed a flotilla of ships carrying activists and aid supplies to the blockaded Palestinian enclave of Gaza, killing as many as 16 [latest number: 19] of those on board.

By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent and Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem
Telegraph/UK, May 31, 2010

Link to this video

Fighting broke out between the activists and the masked Israeli troops, who rappelled on to deck from helicopters before dawn.

A spokeswoman for the flotilla, Greta Berlin, said she had been told ten people had been killed and dozens wounded, accusing Israeli troops of indiscriminately shooting at “unarmed civilians”. But an Israeli radio station said that between 14 and 16 were dead in a continuing operation.

“How could the Israeli military attack civilians like this?” Ms Berlin said. “Do they think that because they can attack Palestinians indiscriminately they can attack anyone?

“We have two other boats. This is not going to stop us.”

The Israeli government’s handling of the confrontation was under intense international pressure even as it continued. The Israeli ambassador to Turkey, the base of one of the human rights organisation which organised the flotilla, was summoned by the foreign ministry in Anakara, as the Israeli consulate in Istanbul came under attack.

One Israeli minister issued immediate words of regret. “The images are certainly not pleasant. I can only voice regret at all the fatalities,” Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the trade and industry minister, told army radio.

But he added that the commandoes had been attacked with batons and activists had sought to take their weapons off them.

Israeli military sources said four of its men had been injured, one stabbed, and that they had been shot at.

“The flotilla’s participants were not innocent and used violence against the soldiers. They were waiting for the forces’ arrival,” they were quoted by a news website as saying.

The flotilla had set sail on Sunday from northern, or Turkish, Cyprus. Six boats were led by the Mavi Marmara, which carried 600 activists from around the world, including Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the Northern Ireland peace protester who won a Nobel Prize in 1976.

It came under almost immediate monitoring from Israeli drones and the navy, with two vessels flanking it in international waters. The flotilla, which had been warned that it would not be allowed to reach Gaza, attempted to slow and change course, hoping to prevent a confrontation until daylight, when the Israeli military action could be better filmed.

But in the early hours of this morning local time commandoes boarded from helicopters.

The activists were not carrying guns, but television footage shown by al-Jazeera and Turkish television channels show hand-to-hand fighting, with activists wearing life-jackets striking commandoes with sticks.

The Israeli army said its troops were assaulted with axes and knives.

The television footage did not show firing but shots could be heard in the background. One man was shown lying unconscious on the deck, while another man was helped away.

A woman wearing hijab, the Muslim headscarf, was seen carrying a stretcher covered in blood.

The al-Jazeera broadcast stopped with a voice shouting in Hebrew: “Everyone shut up”.

Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza after the strip was taken over by the militant group Hamas in 2007. It has allowed some food and medical supplies through, but has prevented large-scale rebuilding following the bombardment and invasion of 2008-9.

The flotilla is the latest in a series of attempts by activists to break through the blockade. The boats were carrying food and building supplies.

Activists said at least two of the other boats, one Greek and one Turkish, had been boarded from Israeli naval vessels. Activists said two of the other boats in the flotilla were American-flagged.

The confrontation took place in international waters 80 miles off the Gaza coast.

It was attacked by the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.

“We call on the Secretary-General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, to shoulder his responsibilities to protect the safety of the solidarity groups who were on board these ships and to secure their way to Gaza,” he said.

Turkish television meanwhile showed hundreds of protesters trying to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul. The incident will be particularly damaging for Israel’s relations with what had been seen as its closest ally in the Muslim world.

“By targeting civilians, Israel has once again shown its disregard for human life and peaceful initiatives,” a Turkish foreign ministry statement said. “We strongly condemn these inhumane practices of Israel.

“This deplorable incident, which took place in open seas and constitutes a fragrant breach of international law, may lead to irreparable consequences in our bilateral relations.”

Colombia: State Terror in the Name of Peace

May 5, 2010
By James Petras,  Axis of Logic, May 5, 2010

Introduction

The first casualty of state terror is the corruption of language, the invention of euphemisms, where words mean their opposite and slogans cover great crimes:  There is no longer a world consensus that condemns crimes against humanity.  This is because   mass murder and assassinations secure investor ‘confidence’, because Indians are dispossessed so the mines can be exploited; oil workers disappear so the petroleum will flow; and the international financial press praises the success of el Presidente for “pacifying the country”.

When narco-presidents are embraced by the leaders of North America and Europe, it is evident that criminals have become respectable the respectable have become criminals.

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