After the recent flotilla killings, the Israeli PR is in full swing trying to manipulate the news reports we see and read. Following is a series of refutations to some of the claims Israel has made in order to justify its indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians and aid workers aboard the flotilla.

Source: MuslimMatters

FACT CHECK

Weapons On Board the Flotilla

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said Monday morning that the pro-Palestinian activists on the flotilla sailing to the Gaza Strip were carrying weapons on board [Source]

RESPONSE: Nothing could be further from truth. The ships had discharged from Turkey after the government checked for weapons. Forget the Turkish claims; common sense dictates that symbolism of peaceful resistance that the flotilla mission was engaging in would not allow the presence of weapons. Finally, the video released by the IDF itself shows that those on board were using miscellaneous items to fight off the soldiers (pirates), not any arms.

“Allegations that there were weapons aboard the Turkish ship are baseless,” Fevzi Gulcan, the head of customs at the Mediterranean port city of Antalya, said on Monday.  He added that passengers had been allowed to board the Mavi Marmara ship after they were searched and scanned via X-Ray, the Anatolia news agency reported.” [Source]

Israel Acted in Self-Defense

“Israel, though, insists its forces fired in self-defense. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says they had to “defend their lives, or they would have been killed.” [Source]

RESPONSE: Like all the “self-defense” claims that Israel as one of the world’s mightiest military power makes against kids with stones, this one doesn’t fly either. See the video below released by none other than the IDF. Let’s assume for argument’s sake, that the NGO participants on board the ship started the altercation. As an illustration of the hollowness of the self-defense argument, let’s assume my neighbor comes to my house and kicks and punches me. I am in full military fatigue, I have all the weapons, while my neighbor is employing his boots to the best of his ability. In return, I take him and his family out. What would the court say to my self-defense argument?

Furthermore, there are strict guidelines on the response by military and police in law enforcement situations. Under San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, Section II (Armed conflicts and the law of of self-defence). Note the condition of proportionality mentioned twice for emphasis:

3. The exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations is subject to the conditions and limitations laid down in the Charter, and arising from general international law, including in particular the principles of necessity and proportionality.

4. The principles of necessity and proportionality apply equally to armed conflict at sea and require that the conduct of hostilities by a State should not exceed the degree and kind of force, not otherwise prohibited by the law of armed conflict, required to repel an armed attack against it and to restore its security.

Israel’s “Proof” of Self-Defense — the Proverbial Foot in its own Mouth:

Israel’s Interception of Flotilla was in Accordance with International Laws

Israel maintains that it has the right to defend its territorial integrity, in accordance with international laws.

RESPONSE: The attack took place in international waters, so in fact, Israel was in full breach of international laws. For instance, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has already come out in asserting that Israel’s attack on aid flotilla violated international law.

Robin Churchill, a professor of international law at the University of Dundee in Scotland, said the Israeli commandos boarded the ship outside of Israel’s territorial waters. “As far as I can see, there is no legal basis for boarding these ships,” Churchill said. Also, a group of lawyers in Israel have petitioned the High Court, charging that Israel had violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea by capturing the boats in international waters.

Under the same San Remo manual, Part II, Section I, hostile actions are forbidden on neutral waters, and clearly the Israeli action took place in international waters by all accounts:

14. Neutral waters consist of the internal waters, territorial sea, and, where applicable, the archipelagic waters, of neutral States. Neutral airspace consists of the airspace over neutral waters and the land territory of neutral States.

15. Within and over neutral waters, including neutral waters comprising an international strait and waters in which the right of archipelagic sea lanes passage may be exercised, hostile actions by belligerent forces are forbidden. A neutral State must take such measures as are consistent with Section II of this Part, including the exercise of surveillance, as the means at its disposal allow, to prevent the violation of its neutrality by belligerent forces.

Furthermore under Section V, Line 67, Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked. Clearly the flotilla flying the flags of Greece and Turkey fall under this category. The exceptions to this default state include “reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade… engage in belligerent acts on behalf of the enemy” and a bunch of other categories where there is clearly an “enemy” involved. While Israel may state that the ships were breaching a blockade, this argument is patently false, since the blockade itself is illegal and not approved by the international community.

But there is even further qualification, by exemptions for certain type of vessels, under Section IV,

136. The following vessels are exempt from capture:

(ii) vessels engaged in humanitarian missions, including vessels carrying supplies indispensable o the survival of the civilian population, and vessels engaged in relief actions and rescue operations;

Flotilla Organizers Have Ties to Al Qaeda

“Before the flotilla entered Israeli waters, rumor had it that the organizers [of the aid initiative] had links with the al Qaeda terrorist network,” Arthur Avnon was quoted as saying on the website of public broadcaster DR. [Source]

RESPONSE: “Rumor has it”… Rumor? Are we now going to depend on rumors? Desperation? Here Israel is using, once again, the Islam vs. the West “clash of civilization” fear-mongering approach. Increasing Islamophobia has been a strategic goal of the Israel Lobby. As long as Westerners are afraid of Muslims (=Palestinians), Israel will always be justified in all its ruthless actions to subdue the uncivilized Muslim populace. Ever since 9/11, Israel has made great pains in equating the terrorists with Palestinians fighting occupation. The great differences between the two situations conveniently escapes Israel, but it has still been effective at making this case. No surprise when many Americans still think Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.

The response is actually quite simple. Al-Qaeda is a caustic entity, besides being a terrorist outfit. No cause would want connections to this organization as it will instantly digress from any positive message. Thus, not only is it unreasonable, but it would be foolish to include Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, since when did Al-Qaeda tactics shift from terrorism to unarmed humanitarian efforts?  Let’s review the list of notable personalities on board. Would they even remotely risk being tied to Al-Qaeda? The list includes newspaper journalists, members and former members of EU states governments, a member of the Israeli Knesset (!), Swedish historians and artists, actors,  a survivor of the USS Liberty, former United States Ambassador and more. See the entire “Al-Qaeda’s Who’s Who List” on Wikipedia:

No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

On a related note, since this flotilla was after all meant to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister reminded reporters recently  “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza” [Source].

RESPONSE: This is a lie (=disinformation) in so many ways that it boggles the mind that someone can even make this claim:

Sophisticated Approach to Media by the Israeli Lobby:

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