Breaking: Turkish flotilla heading for Gaza?

November 2, 2011

(h/t Israel Matzav) A report just received on Twitter claims that there’s another Turkish flotilla headed for Gaza (Hat Tip: Earl Peacock via Twitter).

Flotilla heading for Gaza today consists of Irish boat MV Saoirse and Canadian vessel ‘Tahrir’. 15 people on Irish boat, 12 on Canadian

The source of that tweet is Mary Fitzgerald, a foreign correspondent for the Irish Times, who says that this has all been confirmed to her by the organizers.
She also notes that the Irish boat Saoirse is the same boat that flotilla organizers allege was sabotaged in a Turkish port in June.
They hope to be in Gaza by Friday. Should be a fun week. Heh.
UPDATE 6:37 PM
The full story is here. You will note the one thing it does not mention when discussing the Palmer Commission report, namely the fact that the Commission found that Israel’s blockade is completely legal.


Amnesty seizes on Palmer’s criticism of Israel, ignores rest of report

September 5, 2011
video
To its credit, the Netanyahu government has not accepted the advice of the Left and has refused to apologize to Turkey or pay compensation to the families of those killed aboard the Marmara. Moreover, the government has wisely used Turkey’s behavior as a means of building strong bilateral ties with other victims of Turkish aggression. Over the past two years, Israel has strongly upgraded is strategic ties with Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania. Israel should add to these accomplishments by strengthening its ties to Armenia and to the Kurds of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Amnesty International has come out with their comments on the Palmer Report. Curiously, they are only on video. What is not surprising is:

  • They seize on the one relatively small part of the report critical of Israel and completely ignore the other parts of the report – including those critical of Turkey and the flotilla organizers.
  • They do not address, at all, the parts of the report that completely contradict Amnesty’s own legal reasonings.
  • They continue to call the Turkel report a “whitewash” even though the Palmer report was much closer to the Turkel report in most important matters, and Turkel himself recommended that the testimony of soldiers be made public – the exact opposite of a “whitewash.”
  • They never responded to Turkel’s not Palmer’s, extensive legal arguments.
  • Truth does not seem to be what Amnesty is interested in. – EOZ

    I’m sure you are tired of me pointing this out again… but I don’t understand why anyone would call the behavior of the IDF excessive when they showed up on the ship with paint guns and only switched to bullets when there was serious violence on the ship. One of the IDF soldiers had his ear cut off. What was excessive at that juncture? defending your life is excessive? One thing the Palmer Report pointed out was that the blockade was legal… (of course that was just ignored by Amnesty above), but if the blockade was really found to be legal then why didn’t anyone in the world flinch when Turkey announced that their Navy would give a military escort to the next flotilla? If the blockade is legal then the threat of a military escort is an act of war. Instead of this game of smoke and mirrors, Amnesty is going to have to owe up to some reality sooner or later because there are unbiased third parties and they will lose the ear of these people. The photos and video from the flotilla are hard to obscure. There is a limit to how much spin you can put on the event. You would think that Israel’s enemies would be well advised to move on to the next event, because logic leads to proof of Israel’s righteousness on the flotilla issue. Turkey thinks the blockade’s legality is an opinion, but sea law just doesn’t work that way. What does sound opinionated is when soldiers show up on a hostile ship with paint guns and are attacked by people out of Quentin Tarentino film with actions like cutting an IDF soldier’s ear off… and then Amnesty and the UN call the IDF’s response excessive. I sometimes think this is all just designed to piss us off for the sake of controversy… and possibly if we ignore it… it will just go away, because the claims are so hypocritical that one might think it is all jesting.


    Turkish naval vessels will accompany civilian ships carrying aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

    September 3, 2011

    Turkey declares an act of war. says it will use it’s military to aid a flotilla. Why is the media missing this point?

    [Haaretz/Image from Mideast.ForeignPolicy]

    The Turkish navy will significantly strengthen its presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea as one of the steps the Turkish government has decided to take following the release of the UN Palmer report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla, Turkish officials told the Hurriyet Daily News. “The eastern Mediterranean will no longer be a place where Israeli naval forces can freely exercise their bullying practices against civilian vessels,” a Turkish official was quoted as saying. Turkey also announced its rejection of the Palmer omission report’s finding according to which Israel’s blockade of the coastal enclave was legal, with Davutoglu saying that Turkey could not “accept the blockade on Gaza.” “We cannot say that the blockade aligns with international law,” he said, adding that the stance taken by the Palmer Commission Report was the author’s “personal opinion, one which does not correspond with Turkey’s position.”

    There was a reason Turkey wanted an apology before the Palmer Report came out.

    The Turkish FM also indicated that the flotilla raid was the first time Turkish civilians had been killed by a foreign army, adding: “We cannot remain silent in the face of that.”

    oh? not sure the Armenians agree with that analysis! …for that matter if I were a Kurd I would be pissed off by that statement.

    “If Israel persists with its current position, the Arab spring will give rise to a strong Israel opposition as well as the debate on the authoritarian regimes,” he said.

    As if the Arabs ever were Zionist?

    The Turkish FM’s announcement came after Turkish officials told the Hurriyet Daily News that Ankara was also planning to take military action to enforce its interpretation of the blockade, saying that the Turkish navy will significantly strengthen its presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

    that is no doubt an act of war. any Western country should see this. Greece certainly will.

    Another goal of the plan is to ensure free navigation in the region between Cyprus and Israel. The region includes areas where Israel and Cyprus cooperate in drilling for oil and gas.

    …but the natural resources would have nothing to do with it?

    Additionally, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan instructed his foreign ministry to organize a trip for him to the Gaza Strip in the near future.

    Israel will have to board the ship Erdogan. Maybe they should bring a few Armenians to do it with them.

    “We are looking for the best timing for the visit,” a Turkish official was quoted as saying. “Our primary purpose is to draw the world’s attention to what is going on in Gaza and to push the international community to end the unfair embargo imposed by Israel.”

    it isn’t fair! they should have the right to kill civilians with rockets…. right?

    h/T @CIFWatch Wikileaks Cablegate: According to John Ging, Hamas has full control of security in Gaza.

    Looks like Hamas is responsible for it’s own territory according to the Wikileaks


    UN Palmer Commission Report: Israel Blockade Of Gaza AND Its Defense Is Legal

    September 1, 2011
    The New York Times has the complete text of the UN Palmer Commission Report (PDF).
    Below is the text of the summary of the report and the appendix with the rebuttal by Israel and Turkey to some of the report’s findings. The main issues where the report faults Israel are the warnings to the Mavi Marmara before boarding, the extent of the force used by the IDF (while agreeing that the soldiers were in danger) and the treatment of those on the Mavi Marmara after they were removed.
    These points are addressed below and rebutted by Israel in the Appendix quoted below after the summary.
    The difference between the points raised by Israel and Turkey below reflects the difference between the original reports Israel and Turkey produced after the Mavi Marmara incident.
    In the absence of legal sources to back their claim that the blockade is illegal, Turkey falls back on “common sense and conscience” to define the law–at the same time that it claims that the law is “highly complex”
    In the summary below, Daled Amos italicized points of interest.
    In the Appendix, where Israel’s rebuttal contained italicized portions, Daled Amos bolded some points.

    Summary

    On 31 May 2010 at 4.26 a.m. a flotilla of six vessels was boarded and taken over by Israeli Defense Forces 72 nautical miles from land. The vessels were carrying people and humanitarian supplies. The flotilla had been directed to change course by the Israeli forces who stated that the coast of Gaza was under a naval blockade. Nine passengers lost their lives and many others were wounded as a result of the use of force during the take-over operation by Israeli forces.
    The Secretary-General established the Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident on 2 August 2010. The Panel received and reviewed reports of the detailed national investigations conducted by both Turkey and Israel. Turkey established a National Commission of Inquiry to examine the facts of the incident and its legal consequences, which provided an interim and final report to the Panel along with annexes and related material. Israel provided the report of the independent Public Commission that it had established to review whether the actions taken by the State of Israel had been compatible with international law.
    The Panel reviewed these reports and further information and clarifications it received in written form and through direct meetings with Points of Contact appointed by each government. In light of the information so gathered, the Panel has examined and identified the facts, circumstances and context of the incident and considered and recommended ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future. In so doing it was not acting as a Court and was not asked to adjudicate on legal liability. Its findings and recommendations are therefore not intended to attribute any legal responsibilities. Nevertheless, the Panel hopes that its report may resolve the issues surrounding the incident and bring the matter to an end.
    The Panel’s Method of Work provided that the Panel was to operate by consensus, but where, despite best efforts, it was not possible to achieve consensus, the Chair and Vice- Chair could agree on any procedural issue, finding or recommendation. This report has been adopted on the agreement of the Chair and Vice-Chair under that procedure.
    Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident
    The Panel finds:
    i. The events of 31 May 2010 should never have taken place as they did and strenuous efforts should be made to prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future.
    ii. The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.
    iii. The flotilla was a non-governmental endeavour, involving vessels and participants from a number of countries.
    iv. Although people are entitled to express their political views, the flotilla acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade. The majority of the flotilla participants had no violent intentions, but there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH. The actions of the flotilla needlessly carried the potential for escalation.
    v. The incident and its outcomes were not intended by either Turkey or Israel. Both States took steps in an attempt to ensure that events did not occur in a manner that endangered individuals’ lives and international peace and security. Turkish officials also approached the organizers of the flotilla with the intention of persuading them to change course if necessary and avoid an encounter with Israeli forces. But more could have been done to warn the flotilla participants of the potential risks involved and to dissuade them from their actions.
    vi. Israel’s decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable:

    a. Non-violent options should have been used in the first instance. In particular, clear prior warning that the vessels were to be boarded and a demonstration of dissuading force should have been given to avoid the type of confrontation that occurred; b. The operation should have reassessed its options when the resistance to the initial boarding attempt became apparent.

    vii. Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers. Several others were wounded. viii. The loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the take-over of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable. Nine passengers were killed and many others seriously wounded by Israeli forces. No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the Panel by Israel for any of the nine deaths. Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel.
    ix. There was significant mistreatment of passengers by Israeli authorities after the take-over of the vessels had been completed through until their deportation. This included physical mistreatment, harassment and intimidation, unjustified confiscation of belongings and the denial of timely consular assistance.
    How to Avoid Similar Incidents in the Future
    The Panel recommends:
    With respect to the situation in Gaza
    i. All relevant States should consult directly and make every effort to avoid a repetition of the incident.
    ii. Bearing in mind its consequences and the fundamental importance of the freedom of navigation on the high seas, Israel should keep the naval blockade under regular review, in order to assess whether it continues to be necessary.
    iii. Israel should continue with its efforts to ease its restrictions on movement of goods and persons to and from Gaza with a view to lifting its closure and to alleviate the unsustainable humanitarian and economic situation of the civilian population. These steps should be taken in accordance with Security Council resolution 1860, all aspects of which should be implemented.
    iv. All humanitarian missions wishing to assist the Gaza population should do so through established procedures and the designated land crossings in consultation with the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
    General
    v. All States should act with prudence and caution in relation to the imposition and enforcement of a naval blockade. The established norms of customary international law must be respected and complied with by all relevant parties. The San Remo Manual provides a useful reference in identifying those rules.
    vi. The imposition of a naval blockade as an action in self-defence should be reported to the Security Council under the procedures set out under Article 51 of the Charter. This will enable the Council to monitor any implications for international peace and security.
    vii. States maintaining a naval blockade must abide by their obligations with respect to the provision of humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian missions must act in accordance with the principles of neutrality, impartiality and humanity and respect any security measures in place. Humanitarian vessels should allow inspection and stop or change course when requested.
    viii. Attempts to breach a lawfully imposed naval blockade place the vessel and those on board at risk. Where a State becomes aware that its citizens or flag vessels intend to breach a naval blockade, it has a responsibility to take pro- active steps compatible with democratic rights and freedoms to warn them of the risks involved and to endeavour to dissuade them from doing so.
    ix. States enforcing a naval blockade against non-military vessels, especially where large numbers of civilian passengers are involved, should be cautious in the use of force. Efforts should first be made to stop the vessels by non- violent means. In particular, they should not use force except when absolutely necessary and then should only use the minimum level of force necessary to achieve the lawful objective of maintaining the blockade. They must provide clear and express warnings so that the vessels are aware if force is to be used against them.
    Rapprochement
    x. An appropriate statement of regret should be made by Israel in respect of the incident in light of its consequences.
    xi. Israel should offer payment for the benefit of the deceased and injured victims and their families, to be administered by the two governments through a joint trust fund of a sufficient amount to be decided by them.
    xii. Turkey and Israel should resume full diplomatic relations, repairing their relationship in the interests of stability in the Middle East and international peace and security. The establishment of a political roundtable as a forum for exchanging views could assist to this end.

    —– Appendix II: Separate Statements from Mr. Ciechanover and Mr. Sanberk
    Statement by Mr. Ciechanover [Israel]
    As the Representative of Israel to this Panel, I join the Chairman and Vice Chairman in adopting this report. Israel appreciates the important work of the Panel and thanks Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Mr. Alvaro Uribe for their leadership. Their efforts should send a message to the international community about the need to engage with all sides to a dispute and to avoid prejudging an incident before all of the facts are known.
    Israel has reservations to a few aspects of the report, which are expressed below, but appreciates that the report concurs with Israel’s view that the “naval blockade was legal,” that it “was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea,” that the blockade’s implementation “complied with the requirements of international law,” and that Israel had a “right to visit and search the vessel and to capture it if found in breach of a blockade”, including in international waters. The Report rightly finding serious questions about “the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH,” notes that they planned “in advance to violently resist any boarding attempt” and classifies the decision to breach the blockade of Gaza as a “dangerous and reckless act,” which “needlessly carried the potential for escalation.” Israel also notes the importance of the Panel’s support for Israel’s long-standing position that “all humanitarian missions wishing to assist the Gaza population should do so through established procedures and designated land crossings in consultation with the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
    At the same time, Israel does not concur with the Panel’s characterization of Israel’s decision to board the vessels in the manner it did as “excessive and unreasonable.” The Panel was provided evidence of the repeated warnings it gave the vessels regarding its intent to board them. Israel feels that the Panel gave insufficient consideration to the operational limitations which determined the manner and timing of the boarding of the vessels and to the operational need for a covert takeover in order to minimize the chances for resistance on board.
    As to the actions of Israel’s soldiers, given the panel’s conclusions regarding the resistance that they encountered when boarding the Mavi Marmara, it is clear that the soldier’s lives were in immediate danger. For example, the Panel notes that “Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara.” The Panel confirmed that video footage showed that passengers were wearing “bullet proof vests, and carrying metal bars, slingshots, chains and staves” and that this information “supports the accounts of violence given by IDF personnel to the Israeli investigation.” The Panel further confirms that “two soldiers received gunshot wounds,” “three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk” and that “seven soldiers were wounded by passengers, some seriously.”
    Given these circumstances, Israel’s soldiers clearly acted in self-defense and responded reasonably, proportionally and with restraint, including the use of less-lethal weapons where feasible. The Panel’s characterization of the circumstances which led to the nine deaths on board the Mavi Marmara does not adequately take into account the complexities of what was clearly a chaotic combat situation. In such a situation, reconstructing the exact chains of events is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Given the close range combat that clearly took place aboard the vessel, wounds sustained at close range do not in themselves suggest wrongdoing by Israeli soldiers.
    Israel’s treatment of the hundreds of participants following the takeover of the ships was reasonable and compatible with international standards. Reliance on some passenger statements presented in the Turkish National Report as evidence of wrongdoing was particularly problematic. Israel raised serious concerns regarding the veracity and credibility of some of these statements.
    Still, Israel cherishes the shared history and centuries old ties of strong friendship and cooperation between the Jewish and Turkish peoples and hopes that the Panel’s work over the past few months will assist Israel and Turkey in finding a path back to cooperation.
    ……………………….
    Statement by Mr. Sanberk [Turkey]
    I hereby register my disagreement with the Chairmanship on the following issues contained in the report:

    – The question of the legality of the blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel. – The actions of the flotilla
    – Naval blockades in general
    – Appendix: The applicable International legal principles.

    This, for the following reasons:

    – On the legal aspect of the blockade, Turkey and Israel have submitted two opposing arguments. International legal authorities are divided on the matter since it is unprecedented, highly complex and the legal framework lacks codification. However, the Chairmanship and its report fully associated itself with Israel and categorically dismissed the views of the other, despite the fact that the legal arguments presented by Turkey have been supported by the vast majority of the international community. Common sense and conscience dictate that the blockade is unlawful. – Also the UN Human Rights Council concluded that the blockade was unlawful. The Report of the Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission received widespread approval from the member states.
    – Freedom and safety of navigation on the high seas is a universally accepted rule of international law.

    There can be no exception from this long-standing principle unless there is a universal convergence of views.

    – The intentions of the participants in the international humanitarian convoy were humanitarian, reflecting the concerns of the vast majority of the international community. They came under attack in international waters. They resisted for their own protection. Nine civilians were killed and many others were injured by the Israeli soldiers. One of the victims is still in a coma. The evidence confirms that at least some of the victims had been killed deliberately. – The wording in the report is not satisfactory in describing the actual extent of the atrocities that the victims have been subjected to. This includes the scope of the maltreatment suffered by the passengers in the hands of Israeli soldiers and officials.

    In view of the above, I reject and dissociate myself from the relevant parts and paragraphs of the report, as reflected in paragraphs ii, iv, v, vii of the findings contained in the summary of the report and paragraphs ii, iv, v, vii, viii and ix of the recommendations contained in the same text.

    the extent of the force used by the IDF I don’t get. The IDF used paint guns until things got out of hand.


    Turkish ultimatum to Israel: Apologize or face ‘plan B’

    September 1, 2011
    Clinton and Davutoglu (Photo: Reuters) (YNET) Turkey’s foreign minister issued a menacing warning to Israel Thursday, saying the Jewish state must apologize for a deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound vessel by the time the UN report on the incident is published. The UN Palmer Report is expected to be released in the coming days, and likely as early as Friday.

    Addressing ongoing delays in releasing the UN report on the lethal IDF raid, Ahmet said, “It is not remotely possible for us to agree to a six-month delay,” the Turkish Zaman news website reported.
    “For us the deadline (for the formal apology from Israeli officials) is the day the UN report gets released, or we resort to Plan B,” Davutoglu said, but did not elaborate on what the alternate Turkish route would be. “We are not in a position to tell the UN to release or delay it,” the Turkish minister added, referring to the upcoming Palmer Report, “but we will do as necessary when the UN finally does release it.”
    Ban Ki-moon announced that he was postponing the delivery of a UN panel’s report on Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine Turkish activists. He said the reason for the delay was to give the two governments more time to reach a “harmonious agreement” on its findings.
    Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel will not apologize to Turkey over the 2010 flotilla incident, despite an earlier demand by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to do so.

    At the time, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said it would be impossible for Turkish-Israeli ties to improve without an apology. Minister Davutoglu also addressed the issue in an earlier news conference, saying that “if the Palmer Report does not contain an apology, both sides and the United States know what we will do.”

    “Israel is facing a choice: deeper relations with Turkey or open a gap with the Turkish state that will not be overcome very easily,” he said.

    ‘Plan B’ scenarios

    Turkish officials already referred to “Plan B” and possible sanctions against Israel in the past, yet did not detail the measures they may adopt. However, according to information accumulated in Jerusalem, the Turkish plan may include the following steps:

    • Downgrading Turkey’s diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv
    • Rejection of the appointment of a new Israeli ambassador to Turkey
    • An Erdogan visit to the Gaza Strip in September
    • Full Turkish support for the Palestinian UN statehood bid, coupled with an effort to form a lobby and attempts to isolate Israel at all frameworks
    • Granting legal assistance to the families of Turkish fatalities and the filing of lawsuits against Israel, including ones submitted to the International Criminal Court at The Hague
    • Terminating the defense cooperation with Israel, a move that would include the annulment of joint exercises and defense industry projects
    • Imposition of economic sanctions and the cutting back of investments in Israel. While Israeli businesspeople will be allowed to operate in Turkey, Ankara would refrain from taking steps to promote trade.
    • Turkish newspaper Hurriyet recently reported that Ankara may adopt another step: Suspending all political and economic ties between the states. The same threat was voiced last year by Turkey’s ambassador to the United States

    Israel said no to Turkish apology because Turks would never restore relations to normal

    August 19, 2011

    The New York Times reports that Israel refused to apologize to Turkey because the cabinet was convinced that any apology would be deemed insufficient anyway.

    Why in the hell was Israel even considering that bullshit apology has me pondering.

    The Israeli official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Turks kept adding conditions for a reconciliation, raising uncertainty in Mr. Netanyahu’s government over whether they were sincere and whether they would consider the case closed even if a deal were reached. As a result, Israel’s security cabinet refused on Wednesday to endorse a package of understandings with Turkey that would have included an Israeli apology for any operational errors during the commando raid and agreement to pay into a compensation fund for the victims in return for a Turkish commitment not to pursue legal action against Israeli soldiers.
    But Turkey also wanted the impending United Nations report shelved and added the demand to lift the blockade on Gaza, according to the Israeli official.
    “This was a red light,” he said. “It made us realize that whatever we agree on, the Turkish government may not feel committed to the understandings.”
    He added, “Most cabinet members who were not opposed to the indirect apology in the deal now felt on uncertain ground about what Israel would get in return.”

    The Palmer Commission report is speculated to be relatively pro-Israel…er kind of.

    Turkey is keen to bury the report, because while far from being a pro-Israel document, by upholding the legality of the blockade it places some of the responsibility for the flotilla fiasco on Turkey’s shoulders.

    which is why it is so important to the Turks to suppress it.
    From Israel’s viewpoint, that’s a reason why the report ought to be publicized.

    The NYTimes says:

    While Turkey is said to object to the draft conclusions of the United Nations report, Israeli officials who have seen the draft consider much of it favorable to Israel. They say that the report has concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza and its enforcement, even in international waters, is legitimate and that the report is severely critical of the organizers of the 2010 flotilla. At the same time, the Israelis say, the report criticizes Israel for having used excessive force during the raid.

    How could Israel have the ability to stop a United Nations report? It does not appear that Israel has a lot of pull in the general council. Why would Israel be responsible for this and what in the hell does Israel’s apology have to do with a fact finding report?