Oh, oh. Part Deux. The Rachel Corrie Gaza aid ship is now steaming toward the Gaza coast, and its communications may have been already jammed. It is flagged as an Irish vessel, and the far right Israeli government of Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman have vowed that it will not be allowed to reach Gaza.
It likely will be boarded and diverted without incident. It is increasingly clear that the violence on the Mavi Marmara came about in part because it was a large five-deck ship and could not easily be boarded from the sea. The Rachel Corrie is a smaller vessels and presents no such tactical challenge.
The new ship carries 19 activists including a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. It is named for an American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was deliberately run down by an earth mover at the order of the Israeli military while attempting to stand in the way of a punitive house demolition. A play about Corrie was prevented from being put on in New York by the Israel lobbies. The censorship was later initially repeated in Toronto, though ultimately the play was put on there.
Paul McGeough, one of our great war reporters and investigative journalists, has constructed one of the first rounded accounts of the boarding of the Mavi Marmara by Israeli commandos and the way it turned into a game of shooting fish in a barrel. McGeough was on one of the other ships and could see some of the events by moonlight. He then conducted interviews with the aid workers while they were imprisoned in Israel and on the plane to Istanbul. He reveals that an initial attempt to board the Mavi Marmara from an Israeli vessel failed. Then an initial attempt to land commandos on the deck also failed, when the commandos were captured, and some beaten until the captain and others intervened to stop it. Their weapons were confiscated and thrown overboard. At that point live fire was deployed, apparently both by helicopter gunship onto the top deck and by rappelling commandos. Unarmed people were shot between the eyes, shot in the top of the head, shot in the back of the head, shot in the chest, shot in the back, and shot in the legs. Other accounts say the wounded were piled up in a room by the commandos without any first aid and many left to bleed out. Then all the passengers were kidnapped and sequestered and silenced, and the Israelis confiscated and cherry-picked all the video and photos to show one moment of resistance to the first landing and erase all the subsequent murders by Israelis of unarmed passengers.
Fully six of the aid workers killed on the deck were shot by a single out-of-control commando, who is in line for a medal for bravery from Israel. Although he claims that Israeli commandos had already been shot by passengers, the aid workers deny this and since he’d be up on murder charges if he fired on unarmed people, he has a reason to paint the situation as already dire when he began his shooting rampage.
My favorite such moment was when CNN’s Tony Harris interviewed a flotilla survivor who had been released and asked her a lot of aggressive questions coming out of Israeli propaganda. She complained that he was working off the Israeli narrative. He threw a fit and pointed out that he was being nice enough to put her on the air and denied that he was working off the Israeli narrative.
His next question? So it is charged that the flotilla had links to al-Qaeda. How do you respond to that accusation?
I fell off my chair laughing and weeping all at once.