Wire services reported early Saturday morning that the Rachel Corrie had been intercepted by Israeli war ships and that its communications had been jammed by the Israelis. The ship, which had set off from Ireland, was intended to land at Gaza with humanitarian supplies. International bodies estimate that only 25% of needed supplies are getting into Gaza past the Israeli blockade.
The nine bodies of aid workers that the Israeli authorities returned to Turkey have now been subjected to an autopsy, and it turns out that the nine were shot 30 times altogether by nine millimeter bullets. Most of the gunshots were from very close range, and some wounded the activists in the back of the head or in the back, suggesting that they were shot as they tried to run away. Only one body had just one entry wound, apparently that of a photographer who was sitting down when shot between the eyes. Targeting photographers suggests suppression of evidence of a crime, not self-defense. Multiple shots from close range also sounds more like venting than like self-defense. If you were menaced by an advancing crowd, would you stand around shooting the same person 4 times? Would you bother to shoot anyone in the back? (Remember, the shots came from close range, so it wasn’t that people were killed accidentally at a distance when the commandos missed their close-up target).
The aid workers maintain that 6 people are still missing, suggesting that the death toll may be 15, not 9 (Israeli Army radio reported 16 dead early on Monday, and surely they knew). You wonder if they had an impromptu burial at sea to get rid of the evidence (forensic analysis of the bodies would be eloquent about Israeli tactics).
Abbas al-Lawati says that Monday’s attack on the Mavi Marmara came in three stages– first stun grenades were tosed on deck; then an attempt was made to board from the sea, which failed. And then rubber bullets were deployed from above, which, however, killed or injured aid workers, enraging some of them…
Shane Dillon of Ireland, who was on one of the other ships, “said the Israelis had used stun guns, assaulted people with the butt ends of rifles, pushed people to the ground and stood on them.”