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Senior Israeli Officers Charged With War Crimes Over Flotilla AttackTim King Salem-News.com
Turkish court tries four senior Israeli officers for deadly attack on peace activists at sea in 2010.
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - More than two years have passed since Israel's deadly attack on the passenger liner Mavi Marmara and other vessels attempting to reach Gaza, a court is reviewing the case that left Turkey and Israel morally deadlocked.
The activists from the Turkish human rights agency IHH, were attacked by the Israeli military in a terrible bloodbath that left nine activists and reporters dead, a tenth in a coma to this day, and scores injured, beaten and abused... their human rights literally trampled upon; their pleas for mercy scorned.
The activists were unarmed, completely vulnerable, and Israeli forces knew this and actually boarded the vessel like pirates carrying 'hit sheets' of those to kill on the ship. One fell into the hands of an activist and then it was recorded by Iara Lee on the only video that made it out of Israel.
Regarding the activists' resistance against the boarding, shooting Israelis, knowing they were under attack, a few brandished metal poles and slingshots, kitchen knives were "found" (all kitchens have knives) but no Israeli soldiers were killed, they just did the killing and then their government paraded them as 'victims'.
Our friend and fellow writer Ken O'Keefe, is a former U.S. Marine who was aboard the Mavi Marmara. He helped subdue and disarm one Israeli commando carrying a submachine gun, with the help of a second activist, and he personally disarmed and subdued one Israeli commando with a pistol. He didn't beat or abuse the Israeli soldiers, he did not need to, and the statement that it was never his intention was obviously true based on what happened.
In each case Ken had the weapons and did not use them.
Specifically, he did not shoot any Israeli soldiers with the fully loaded, ready to fire weapons he confiscated from them. That is the open and shut case against Ken and other activists branded 'terrorists' who were murdered and wounded and denied medical care, then later beaten severely in custody.
Not one part of this uncalled for mass murder paid for by American taxpayers, caused an uproar among U.S. politicians. They had by 2010, truly reached a point where even cold blooded murder of American citizens (One aboard the ship was a 19-year old American/Turkish pre-med student) meant nothing if Israel did it.
Most people in America don't know that Israel attacked and nearly sank a very important U.S. spy ship during the Six Day War in 1967, killing dozens of American Naval personnel. U.S. President Lyndon Johnson did not take Israel to task for the targeted attack on the U.S.S. Liberty. Israel's attacks at sea are old hat for that government.
So the attack on the Mavi Marmara was nothing new, yet it was the straw that broke the camel's back because Israel really SERIOUSLY crossed the line when everyone in the United Nations on down knows Israel has no legal right to prevent Gaza boats from entering or leaving the immediate three mile area offshore. Making matters much uglier for Israel is the fact that the attacked happened many miles out to sea in international waters.
Mavi Marmara trial postponed to 21th Feb 2013
IHH announced in Istanbul today that the intermediate decision of the Mavi Marmara trial that began on 6th of November at Çağlayan Courthouse in Istanbul concluded on Friday after three day hearings. The court has decided to postpone the trial to 21th Feb. 2013.
In the intermediate decision it is said that the court decided:
The trial that was held at Istanbul's 7th High Criminal Court on Nov 6th, 7th and 9th with a break on Thursday, continued with testimonies of the victims from different countries demanding the punishment of the perpetrators. The complainants including foreign and Turkish passengers of Mavi Marmara, eye-witnesses of the attack and relatives of martyrs have been heard, their testimonies filmed and recorded by the court.
Important evidences also were submitted by the activists on board the Mavi Marmara. One of the activists who survived the attack carried out by Israeli armed forces, handed a footage shot at the time of the Israeli attack to the court.
The trial closely followed by politicians, lawyers, journalists and human rights activists from around the world. European Parliamentarian Nicole Kill-Nielsen, Egyptian Diplomat Abdallah Alashaal, Algerian Parliamentarian Douibi Mohamed, Sheikh Raed Salah, Palestine Solidarity Campaign's representative Sarah Colborne, International Humanitarian Institution for Human Development's General Director Fouad Lemhomad, Palestinian Center for Human Rights' Lawyer Davide Tundo, French lawyer Gilles Devers, Palestinian Lawyer Dr. Ramby Abdu, Lawyer Mireille Fanon Mendes, -, former US Navy signalman Joe Meadors, Bosnian activist Mubira Subasic, Swedish activist Dror Feiler and an observer of The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)were amongst them.
There are 490 complainants and victims in the case including flotilla passengers from 37 countries and relatives of the martyrs. The defendants of the trial consisting of former Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Naval Forces commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, Israel's military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and Air Forces Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi are tried as “fugitive suspects” in absentia.
They are accused of wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, arbitrary detention and arrest, violation of the freedom of expression, qualified robbery, illegal seizure of personal items, illegal capture of a sea vehicle etc. and sought prison sentences totalling thousands of years for each of these offenses.
The significance of this trial with regards to its consequences Yet the trial was held in absentia of the defendants, Istanbul 7th High Criminal Court is expected to issue capture warrants for the suspects. These warrants will be binding for Israel in line with the “extradition of criminals” principle. Both Turkey and Israel are parties of the European Convention on Extradition (No. 24). So, when Turkey issues capture warrants for these suspects or convicts them, Israel needs to extradite them to Turkey.
In addition, Istanbul 7th High Criminal Court will be able to ask International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) General-Secretariat to issue red notice for these suspects for the implementation of its capture warrants or convictions. In such a case, Israel will have to extradite the suspects. Although these steps are yet to be taken, if the indicted Israeli commanders leave Israel and go to another country, it will be possible to make an application at prosecutor’s offices of that country to make their arrest and extradition to Turkey possible.
Ken O'Keefe's thoughts on trial in Istanbul
In 1948 they were driven out at the point of a machine gun
From around the world good people tried
To get across the border to the other side
Almost all of them were turned away
Deported back to Turkey, Jordan, France, the USA
They were barred from ever coming back
Adam and Huwaida decided on a different tack
They loaded up a boat and managed to get through
That's when activists in Istanbul decided what they had to do
Armed with food and wheelchairs
And prosthetic limbs for victims of the bombing raids to wear
They packed cement by the ton
They had a few kitchen knives but not a single gun
They were determined to reach the bay
To break the siege of Gaza and not be turned away
As they left Turkish waters everybody wished them well
As for what would happen, only the Apartheid state could tell
All aboard the Mavi Marmara
Sailing toward Goliath's kingdom armed with nothing but a stone
Tell the children of Jerusalem you are not alone
Seven hundred people on board this Turkish ferry
They were sixty miles from the shore out in the open sea
In international waters with no plans for turning back
That's when Netanyahu told his soldiers to attack
They came down from helicopters, fired guns from Zodiacs
They shot some people in their heads and shot others in their backs
The captain raised a white flag high into the air
The soldiers kept on shooting beneath the floodlight's glare
The soldiers kept on shooting, it was a free fire zone
So many dead and wounded, just how many isn't known
So many dead and wounded, blood flowing on the floor
The soldiers kept on shooting sixty miles from the shore
Medics tried to treat the wounded, all they could do was watch them bleed
The soldiers wouldn't let them get the urgent help they need
Masked troopers held their hostages, the Navy towed the ship
They took every laptop, every camera and cell phone
This is what Goliath does to those who dare to throw a stone
The ghost of the Exodus is shouting at the sky
But Netanyahu isn't listening, he's just watching people die
For days nobody knew just what happened on that boat
Because everyone was held in jail and dead men do not float
All the world will remember what happened on that night
And to end the siege of Gaza more will go and join the fight
All aboard the Rachel Corrie
Sailing toward Goliath's kingdom armed with nothing but a stone
To tell the children of Jerusalem you are not alone
All aboard the Mavi Marmara
Sailing toward Goliath's kingdom armed with nothing but a stone
To tell the children of Jerusalem you are not alone.
The people who were killed by Israel 31 May 2010:
Cetin Topkoogelo, a 54-year old former Taekwondo champion who worked as a coach for the Turkish national team, was shot three times by the Israeli Defence Force 'commandos' who raided the Mavi Marmara. He was shot once in the back of his head, once in his hip and once in his belly.
Underscoring the tragedy of this highly accomplished man's loss, is the fact that he died as his wife tried to save him.
Mavi Marmara survivors Kevin Neish and Ken O'Keefe, both recalled during interviews how Arab Knesset Member Haan Zoabi repeatedly asked the Israeli's who took control of the vessel to take their wounded and transport the ones who could be saved.
The answer from the IDF soldiers was to train their weapons at Zoabi and say, "take another shot and we will shoot you in the head." Efforts to save Cetin Topkoogelo and others who died were all unsuccessful.
43-year old Vahri Yildiz was a fireman who worked in the town of Adiyaman. Married and father of four children, he was one of the many people who cared enough about the people of Gaza to take time off, far more than he anticipated as it turns out, and be a part of the Freedom Flotilla.
Israel's answer for him? Vahri was hit by five bullets, among them a fatal one in the chest.
Bear in mind that Israel has stated publicly that they used rubber bullets. First, rubber bullets are made of metal, surrounded by rubber.
They have the power of a regular bullet, especially when fired at close range.
I don't believe Israel's military would have sent soldiers on a mission to kill peace activists with rubber bullets. It is not to say that they didn't have some weapons with these rounds, but the ones that killed the Mavi Marmara crew and passengers, like Vahri Yildiz, were killed with standard Israeli military bullets.
Farrakhan Dogan - American
One person many were almost instantly familiar with, was an American resident aboard the Mavi Marmara; 19-year old Farrakhan Dogan, a student in secondary School who had hoped and trained and planned to become a doctor.
This was a young man that was well liked by others aboard the Mavi Marmara; they appreciated his depth for such a young man, and knew he sincerely cared about the people of the Gaza Strip.
Farrakhan's father is Doctor Ahmed Dogan, an Assistant Professor at the University of Irkiis; the young man was following his father's footsteps, that is what he meant to do. He is one of the people slaughtered by the Israeli military while working as an unarmed peace activist. Farrakhan held dual citizenship, both Turkish and American, and has two brothers.
Israeli military that overtook and illegally boarded the Mavi Marmara, shot this teenager five times – from close range, in the right side of his nose, in the back of the head, in the back and twice in the left leg.
41-year old Cengiz Okez was from Iskenderun, he was married, and the father of three children who were fourteen, twelve and nine years old. Cengiz is pictured here with his youngest daughter.
Like many people murdered that fateful night, Cengiz was a volunteer who chose to dedicate his time toward helping and saving the people of Gaza, who have been living in rubble since Israel's attack in 2008 and 2009 called "Operation Cast Lead" which was extremely successful, in terms of casting lead.
Over 1400 mostly civilians in Gaza were killed as a result of the attack. Israel specifically targeted homes, educational facilities, including a United Nations School, and hospitals and medical facilities. Israel has allowed minimal construction supplies in since the attack.
Israel's treatment of this man? Four gunshot wounds: back of head, right side of face, back, left leg.
47-year old Cengiz Sunqur was from the city of Izmir. A married father of seven children; he is another one of the activists who chose to take part in the volunteer effort to aid the people of Gaza.
On the Website American for a free Palestine, a woman named Pam wrote: "There are no words to adequately offer consolation to your wife and children. I only hope that the international community will insist that justice is served, that you and your comrades do not die in vain."
Another comment from a person named Marianne, speaks to the damage that Israeli politics invoke. She offered these words to Cengiz: "The courage of these men and the pain of their dreadful but heroic deaths - such a loss. The inhumanity of the Israeli soldiers and the Israeli government is not to be believed, were it not visible every day, every single day, in Palestine, and everywhere supporters of Israel try to defend the indefensible. My heart aches for the families of these good men. Would that we could all so brave. Free Palestine!"
Cengiz Sunqur was killed by Israeli commandos aboard the Mavi Marnara. He died from one gunshot wound to the front of neck.
An aid worker in the humanitarian relief organization (IHH) of the city of Malatya, Necdet Yidirim was married and also was the father of a little girl aged three years.
A comment about Necdet reads: "It is obvious from your choice of career that you were a man of integrity and compassion. You should never have had to pay for those ideals with your life. We are so sad to see, once again, the terrible pain and suffering exacted on families because of the Occupation."
The integrity of anyone who is willing to risk their life for the benefit of others is large. Of course Necdet like many people aboard the Mavi Marmara, like Cinematographer Iara Lee, say they expected a problem from Israel, but not in the form of a deadly attack in international water.
Israel's reaction to the presence of Necdet Yidirim on the Mavi Marmara that night? He was shot to death. The autopsy revealed two gunshot wounds; one to the right shoulder and one to the left back.
Kovdit Kililar, the 38-year old Web editor of the charity: The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief or IHH was married and father of two children.
IHH is a Turkish non governmental humanitarian relief organization active in more than 100 countries, that has existed since 1992. They do a lot of good work and other than in this particular case involving Israel, highly regarded. Israel has tried very hard to tie the work of the IHH to jihadists, but there is no evidence of it. Their goal in this mission was the same as the others; they were trying to break the siege of Gaza to deliver humanitarian relief.
Israeli soldiers who illegally boarded the Mavi Marmara attacked Kovdit Kililar. He was killed by a single bullet that hit him between the eyebrows as he raised his camera to photograph the commandos landing on the Mavi Marmara. This aspect of the story is particularly infuriating for those of us who work in dangerous areas as media with the understanding we won't be killed for performing our jobs.
Ali Heyder Bengi
29-year old Ali Heyder Bengi of Diyarbakir, was a graduate of Al-Azhar University in Cairo's Department of Arabic literature. He was married and the proud father of four children.
A comment left in his regard, states: "I cried all the way through these pictures. What fine looking human beings. What a noble ideal they were all murdered for : caring for fellow human beings in " the world's largest ever outdoor concentration camp.
"Shame shame shame on the silent governments of the world who say little or nothing about this crime against humanity by the Zionazi Entity : the Racist Jewish Nation - homeland for the Jews. Shame !"
Ali Heyder Bengi was shot six times, including once in the abdomen. Six times. Pam from Americans for a Free Palestine wrote: "Six times--how incredibly cowardly and dispicable. How can the world argue that this hero and his comrades were anything but murdered. I am so sorry for your family who will deeply miss this courageous man with such a gentle face."
Ibrahim Bilgen was a distinguished A 61-year old Turkish politician, engineer and activist who was married with six children.
A comment left online with his photograph reads: "Few politicians take such courageous risks as you did. Such a loss to your country and people, but most of all to your family. There is no excuse or lie that can explain this kind of carnage visited upon unarmed people delivering humanitarian aid."
Israel didn't allow this man's life and spirit to continue after that fateful night on the Mavi Marmara. Ibrahim Bilgen was shot once in the right temple, once in the right side of his chest, once in the back and once in the hip. Doctors performing an autopsy on Ibrahim found something of interest; the discovery of a tiny bag containing pellets, still intact in his brain, which the report said was fired from a hunting rifle.
So much for the rubber bullet theory. The Israelis don't even necessarily use accepted standard military weapons. Like their one sided politics, everything about Israel is a basic free-for-all.
Ken and Kevin Neish are both featured in my video below that tells in detail what happened aboard their ship.
However this story is about is about a development in Turkey, where four of the senior Israeli officials in charge of the attack against the Mavi Marmara and the other ships in the 2010 Freedom Flotilla, are on trial for the attack which left Turkey and Israel greatly divided.
I always have to wonder what would have happened aboard the Mavi Marmara on the last day of May in 2010, if the Israeli commando prisoners had been held below deck and not released.
We'll never know because the people in charge of this operation, IHH out of Turkey, in spite of the Israeli propaganda, never intended to allow a single person to be injured, and those Israeli 'commandos' were released to the hostile Israelis who gave no quarter for the gesture and kept right on killing and harming and threatening those on the ship.
Salem-News.com is one of the news agencies talking to people aboard the ship right up to the very second that Israel jammed communications.
Israel's Avigdor Lieberman came right out and said it: Israel will not apologize for killing nine Turkish activists during Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound ship in May. "The demand for an apology is more than chutzpah. Turkey is the one who should apologize before Israel. We are not the ones who began the escalation of events and the Turks can only blame themselves," Lieberman said. He is a Soviet-born Member of the Knesset, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel.
In other words, his words are very significant and representative of the Israeli position toward notions of peace and humanity.
And that's harsh considering that Israeli commandos under his command, raided the Flotilla ship Mavi Marmara at zero dark thirty in the morning on 31 May 2010 and killed six of the nine unarmed peace activists aboard that ship "execution style" according to the United Nations. He doesn't show signs of being reasonable in any respect.
From the United Nations Human Rights Council's findings:
Israeli-born Jazz musician Gilad Atzmon said, "The ideology that carried out execution-style killings on the Gaza aid flotilla the 'Mavi Marmara' is the same ideology that carried out the massacres at Deir Yassin, Qibya, Sabra and Shatilla, Qana, Gaza, Jenin and the murder of Rachel Corrie — more than that it is the same ideology that killed Christ." Heavy stuff, but who would know better than a man who reached his understanding while part of the Israeli machine? (see: Gilad Atzmon Interviewed by Shabana Syed - Salem-News.com)
The side stories that spun out of this, like the fake Israeli audio release where the Mavi Marmara crew reportedly said over the radio to the Israeli Defence Forces, "Go back to Auschwitz!" and, "We're helping Arabs go against the US. Don't forget 9/11, guys," are not only untrue but they are stupid, anyone who knows anything about the desperate effort to break the years long blockade of Gaza and reach its starving population denied nearly everything they need by Israel, knows everyone is focused on helping the 1.5 million refugees kept captive behind walls and guarded by Israeli naval boats.
They never ever talk about Auschwitz; the history they know is the last six plus decades of severe Arab disenfranchisement. They feel like the Native Americans, only of course some countries there like the UAE and Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and others, do very little to help their Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine, a land seized increasingly since Israel began in 1948, with a population bent in exterminating every indigenous Palestinian from the map. The Israelis have only become more militant and dangerous over the years, and they believe that religious prophesy gives them the right to steal land because as they say, "God gave it to me" and those Muslims and Christians whose homes are continually demolished to make way for new Israeli settlements don't think much of it.
Some of these, are the people who may later be referred to in Israeli and western media as 'terrorists' if they attempt to protect their homes or olive groves from destruction, and the crimes they sometimes do commit are actually military resistance actions, and they are often rooted in the great injustice these individuals have personally suffered.
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.
Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu
In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005. Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 23+ countries and regions.
Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label 'terrorist' is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel's destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide. You can write to Tim at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)
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