U.S. Leaders More Cautious, Backed Israel as Fuller Story Emerged;
At Least 3 Among Dead Set out to Become “Martyrs”
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“Several European leaders were quick to condemn Israel’s campaign Monday (May 31) to prevent an illegal flotilla from reaching Gaza – well before information and video footage showed that the self-described human rights activists aboard one of the ships were armed and violently attacked Israeli military personnel. The White House, meanwhile, while mourning for the loss of life, refrained from criticizing Israel, and key U.S. leaders have since defended Israel’s actions.
Before important details of the incident became clear:
- French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he “condemns the disproportionate use of force…”
- French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, “Nothing can justify the use of such violence, which we condemn.”.”
- UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said “there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations. It will be important to establish the facts about this incident, and especially whether enough was done to prevent deaths and injuries.”
- Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said, “The reports of up to 15 people killed and 50 injured, if confirmed, would constitute a totally unacceptable response by the Israeli military to what was a humanitarian mission attempting to deliver much needed supplies to the people of Gaza.”
- Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere said “nothing can justify the disproportionate use of force against a civilian humanitarian initiative aiming to improve the living conditions of Gaza’s people.”
In contrast, U.S. leaders waited for facts and – after learning details of the mission – said Israel’s response to the flotilla was justified.
- Said House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), “While the majority of ships in the flotilla – 5 out of 6 – reacted peacefully when approached by Israeli Defense Forces, activists on board the Mavi Marmara were clearly bent on a violent confrontation.
“They further chose this path despite two week’s worth of repeated warnings from Israel that the ship would not be allowed to come ashore, and despite Israel’s offer to instead receive the humanitarian goods at Ashdod, inspect them there for weapons, and ensure their distribution to Palestinians in Gaza…To the extent that this act was in protest of the Gaza blockade, let’s be clear: Hamas could end the blockade at any time by recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence, and releasing Gilad Shalit.”
- House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also issued a statement: “As the facts trickle in and we learn more and more about the questionable nature of the crew aboard the Turkish-sponsored Marmara ship, it has become clear that it is false to characterize the nature of this mission as ‘humanitarian.’ Rather, this was an attempt to provoke Israel, create international uproar and force an end to an Egypt-Israel blockade meant to stop Hamas from arming.
“In keeping with its policy of delivering aid to the Palestinians, it is important to note that Israel is working to transfer the aid from the flotilla into Gaza. Yet the Hamas government, in the most cynical fashion, has blocked the aid from reaching their own people. Where is the international outrage?”
- Vice President Joe Biden told PBS’s Charlie Rose, “[The Israelis have] said, ‘Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship – if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza.’ So what’s the big deal here? What’s the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it’s legitimate for Israel to say, ‘I don’t know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping… 3,000 rockets on my people… Israel has a right to know – they’re at war with Hamas – has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in.”
All of the ships in the flotilla defied warnings by the Israeli Navy not to violate Israeli law by landing in Gaza. Israel ordered the vessels instead to dock in the nearby port city of Ashdod to unload the cargo for security inspections and subsequent delivery to Gaza. Despite the refusal of all six ships to detour to Ashdod, the Mavi Marmara was the only vessel where a major confrontation took place.
Israel intercepted the ship, which was carrying hundreds of Turks backed by a group with global jihadi ties. Nine people were killed on board after attacking Israel military personnel with knives, clubs and other weapons. Of those, three had set out on the voyage intending to become martyrs, or shahids – including three Turkish nationals – Ali Khaider Benginin, Ali Akhbar Iritilmis and Ibrahim Bilgen.’
Go to the link for their own statements concerning wish to become shahid (or martyr)
And for breakdown of what Israel’s been delivering in goods to those in the Gaza Strip (1,000,000 tons)